adelaide, south australia. all words are from my own heart.
[background image taken at the murray mouth, south australia.]
my chest just tightened when i thought about it.
my breath is leaving me anxious. i’m flooded with vivid memories of maui. that feeling i thought i’d filed subconsciously away just reemerged with a vengeance. i felt the air. the smell of the little hut i lived in…marijuana mixed with insect repellent and lavender.
the humidity and the burning sun and the sand stuck with sunscreen on my skin. the blandness of the water running over my mouth when i stood in that outdoor shower and washed the salt from my face. the sound of the creak in the gate, and the bang as it swung shut.
the heat of the nights.
the sprinklers on shopfronts that cooled me as i rode my bike down front street. the asphalt of the road on my toes as i stopped at stop signs. and dragging my thongs as i took off again. palm trees passing shadows over my body. the air-conditioning of grandma’s place. the big terracotta tiles under my feet in the kitchen, the darkness of the shower with the broken lights and heavy curtain.
the shade of the banyan tree.
the coolness trapped between the mountains near the waterfalls near the winding roads. the dampness of the ground and the smell of wet dirt under bamboo plants so tall.
the feeling of my legs indented with marks from the swinging cane chair that hung from a palm tree, under the hut, next to the pool, at the place i called my home.
it hurts my chest to think about it.
i go to the beach and try to stay clean. i can’t remember the last time i didn’t care about the sand in my swimsuit, my hair, my mouth. i want to go to the beach and roll in the sand and build a castle and dig a big fat hole.
that will be a good day.
i don’t slip or slap, but i slop.
i imagine it bubbles. fries, as it browns. sizzles, as it pinks. shedding and peeling and drying and wrinkling. unfair. the price of beauty. everyone looks good with a little colour. it’s bad for you we are sternly told, from when we can remember listening.
i pack my i heart hawaii backpack with the days necessities: sunblock, water, ipod, phone, money (just in case). towel. i walk across the road. look left then right. i walk down a thin path shaded and cool under my feet, heated by the concrete just seconds before.
along the beach, i consider where to stop. i’ll stop here, no here. or maybe here. i think, and end up walking for five minutes. to the palm trees. i lay in the sun, glistening with sweat. praying for zero cloud cover and a slight breeze. i roll in the sand. unintentionally. i manage to cover myself in its grit. it sticks chronically with sunblocks and oils and sweat. i try, so hard, to scrape it off. i sit up in frustration. my hands, now also covered in sand, tell a story of a girl who tried too hard to stay clean on a beach towel that doesn’t compensate for the length of her body.
so i lay back down, turn my ipod up, and after working up a sweat, i make my way to the shore line, feel the warmth of the water, walk out a little more and commit, finally diving through an oncoming wave in the ocean so clear.
satisfied with my 1.5 hours, i retreat to the shade and the cool. walking back, i get to the hot concrete, run across the road and slip into the rinsing shower outside. it’s own little cove.
gasp. the water so cool on skin so hot. fresh water smelling distinctly different to the salt my body drank minutes before. rehydrating. cleansing.
i wrap my towel around my hips and walk around the pool. i sit in a chair that swings and spins and makes me feel both relaxed and excited. my skin is cooled yet still warm to touch. you wouldn’t guess it, but pretty sure i’m addicted to the sun.
everyone was on the beach this morning.
men, women, kids, dogs, drunks, photographers. a pregnant lady, a painter with an easel, a boy with a bike. couples, singles, grey beards, no beards, birds, crabs crawling in and out of hand made homes in the sand.
the beach was bustling.
people learning to surf, so proud when they finally stood up, a smile from ear to ear. towels were being lain gently, so as not to be covered with sand too soon - somewhat delaying the inevitable. sunblock smeared on the white bodies of tourists so easily picked from the locals. some wandering, some talking, some floating in the ocean. all happy to be near the ocean on an island. in paradise.
am i a tourist? no. i’d like to think of myself as a traveller. i am experiencing maui in a different way, on a different level. as an adopted local. it’s nice to observe from a different angle. as a tourist, you don’t get much from any place your in, except a hole in your wallet, an extra few kilograms on your tummy and a bazillion photos with no memory of why you absolutely needed to get that shot. as a traveller, you immerse yourself. find a reason for everything. realise things are different. but appreciate it all.
so as i walked along the beach this morning, i watched and learned and saw how (i’m sure) i would be at some points in my life. a tourist. even if not on holiday. simply coasting through life. day to day. mundane. usual. uninteresting. breathing, not living. not taking the time to stop to listen not just hear, and see not just look. and taste and smell and touch. and fall absolutely head over heels in love with everything around you.