Backyard Ponder

Views From a Bike Ride North
I sit here in the backyard of a house is mine for 3 more weeks in a bikini and a hat that I traded for a hat this past weekend at a festival. The hat is approximately 3 sizes too small, but just big enough to fit over my long sand laden hair, salty from days spent in the ocean. The wind is blowing the water out of my drying laundry and threatening to blow the hat off my head. The sun is gloriously warm, taunting me with the hints of a sunburn. I am proud to say I haven’t been burnt yet down under, which comes as a surprise due to the impressive number of warnings I received before coming here. That being said, there is always today, and I haven’t applied my usual 3 rounds of sunscreen. 

Well. What is there to be said about living in a town, full of amazing people, with a cool job that pays a living wage and easy access to endless beaches? Should I start with how wonderful and strange it is to consider almost-strangers my closest friends? Or how I now give directions to places without pulling out the map to decipher it all? Or should I start with the fact that homesickness still exists, though it comes and goes like spring storms? There is so much and so little to say at the same time. 

The balance of work and play is forever in question as a working holidayer. The traveler in me wants to savor every second of every day with as many different kinds of people as possible, learning their stories and their lives with limitless amounts of “yes.'” I want to say yes to everything. I want to go to as many social events, as many national parks, as many beaches, and camp trips, and adventures as possible. I want to do it all, though the reality of time and money seem to always be singing melancholy tunes on my eyelids drooping from not enough sleep and too much sun. Something in me keeps going though. As a barista, I question whether my happiness comes from the world around me or the espresso inside me, and usually I just accept the happy synthesis of the two. Without my undeniable attraction and addiction to espresso, I would potentially be one of the least productive humans out here. I am forever amazed by its simple power.

Painting with Friends After Work

So, what am I doing here? I am an American girl with a college degree working as a barista in Wollongong Australia. Is there any order to the chaos? Do I doubt my decision to jump into something so huge with so little forethought? Sometimes. Honestly. It is not easy to not have answers to the questions everyone seems to want answers for. I wish I could paint a pretty little map with a timeline of my life. The current section would be titled “That time I went to Australia to live life for a while because I wasn’t ready to commit to adulthood.” Cause the truth is that I am not ready to sell myself to a 9-5 in an office or to additional schooling that I may need for “Whatever I am doing for the rest of my life.” I am happy to be in a country, quite honestly doing what I love while being immersed in one of the most wonderful communities I have come across to this day. 

You see, coffee for me has always been a way to connect. A warm cup of coffee in the morning is one of the simplest and kindest gestures you can do as a host or friend or lover. So, making coffee in a coffee shop is in a similar way giving people a space to slow down before they speed up into their days, and catch up with the people that matter. Even if those people are just themselves who need to sip on a warm drink in a comfortable arm chair. I enjoy the rush of caffeine-crazed individuals, and the precision of weighing out each espresso shot, and the madness of grouping orders with milk types and numbers of shots. I love watching the community move in around me, just detached enough to watch everything as though I am living out my own personal drama. I love the coffee culture and I don’t regret for a second being immersed in it. In a sense I am living out my degree too. 

Environmental studies is the awareness of the environment around us. Working in high quality coffee brings awareness to high quality ingredients and therefore the quality of care which went into the products that eventually enter our bodies. The care it takes to make each individual drink is nearly magic in itself, and that people are willing to wait the extra 5 minutes to get their orders shows the attitude of patience that is being cultivated through the understanding that things take time. Great things take time. Great coffee takes time. Healthy bodies, minds, and nature take time. Time takes time to heal and change and craft everything in its path. And as I take time to make the perfect coffee, I take time to let myself become whatever it is I will. No matter how winding the path, I trust that time will get me there. Even though it is scary not to know, I know I am learning all the while, and enjoying the ride the whole way. 

Beach cafe before the Bike Ride
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Dreaming


This is for the girls who think in poetry. This is for the people out there who aren’t sure where reality ends and dreams begin. This is for those who are keeping their dreams alive because the same people who told them go ahead, held them back when they did. This is for those dreams. May they live on as long as possible against all reason. 

She was on a bike. The bike was moving. Her body was moving the bike. The ice plant hung to the sides of the road; an unwelcomed welcome guest. Her hips jiggled on the bumps. She felt herself smiling. She wrote in third person. She saw life as a wonderful and fleeting thing and she was never the person she was ten minutes ago. She was always morphing into others. “Oh you’ll find yourself someday,” they all echoed in her ears. “I have,” she said, knowing she was a million different people in one. She wasn’t afraid of the truth. She loved it, she sped towards it, and climbed over the walls protecting it, and asked and dug and ran. She scared people unknowingly because she was a dream they had locked away in some part of their hearts.

She was tired of scaring people, but ordinary conversations didn’t interest her anymore. She realized how fleeting life is one day while watching a dandelion get trampled in the duff. She realized she was made up of the same things. When she was sad, she would lie in the sand, or ocean, or grass, and try with all of her might to dissolve into anything else. Something else. Anything other than that body she had been born into. She used to hate her face for the ways people didn’t look at her. Then she hated her face for the way people did. She was ashamed to be society’s standard of “pretty.” So she hid in every way she could. She fell in love more times than she could count so that she would be able to share some of the things she thought were beautiful in her. 

And she had dreams. Oh boy, she had dreams. But those dreams lived inside her and everywhere around her constantly. Sometimes they would slip out and into the ears of her good friends “I want to go to Australia,” or “I want to fall in love.” Usually they would just sit there around her, playing with her hair, tickling her feet and scratching her belly, hoping that she would recognize them. She would always say “I’m not ready yet,” then skip off into something else.

This is for the dreamers. The one’s whose dreams are begging for attention. The one’s who carry them with them everywhere they go, and see them in everything they see. It is us that will stand smiling at the ends of our lives. We will never regret the risks we took as much as the one’s we didn’t. For you, my dreamers, this is the wick that will keep your candles burning. Let your flames breathe, and when the time comes, set the whole world on fire.