“Beneath the halo of a street lamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp…”

It’s been a few weeks of introspection. First of all, I’ve been able to work on the mother of all problem statements for my new project.

This one is a doozy. It’s like trying to untangle a skein of knotted silk yarn. Not pretty. A little patience and teasing a few kinks, and I’m finally making headway, but it’s a delicate operation. I seem to be torn between what the hell am I doing?! and what the hell were they doing?! which startles me somewhat, but since I appear to know more about what I’m doing than what they were doing, I think I’m on the right track.

We have had such a golden summer here in the Capital
We have had such a golden summer here in the Capital

There is an element of parallel in how I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks (stuffy/allergied/slightly panicked) and this scenario I’m needing to sort through, and that’s actually having somebody care. This poor library that I’m trying to analyse to fix hasn’t been given any love or serious attention in years. It had been cast adrift to certain extent, and now people have noticed, and are looking at ways to restore it. While it is not sentient like I am, I have tended to disregard my well-being for the sake of an I’ll sleep when I’m dead attitude. It’s just me, after all, isn’t it?

Well. No. Not when you find yourself being looked after. When there are others who go out of their way to make sure you’re alright, this sort of attitude screeches to a halt. You have to reconsider that you can’t just do what you’ve always done. It’s kind of surprising, really. Humbling, too, in fact. Especially when you get to the point where you swallow all pride and bravado, and ask for help. There are a few of you who know how that feels – DrK writes very eloquently on the subject too. And I’m so very proud of her too. She’s come such a long way, even the (relatively short amount of time I’ve known her – a whole, what? 6 and a bit years?) She’s off on another adventure after something that knocked her to the core of her being, and, well… she is amazing. And I am learning from her.

I have a new cephalopod project bag. I think I may have a problem...
I have a new cephalopod project bag. I think I may have a problem…

But in all honesty, I have actually consciously started to reign myself and my mad shenanigans in. I didn’t walk the half marathon a few weekends ago. It was good for my body that I didn’t, even though mentally, it was complete and utter hell. I could have done it. And quite easily, but: I couldn’t do the possibility of crutches again. Not where I’m now living, and I’m not going to do that to anybody else.

And then there was Melbourne last weekend. And that brought on a whole other gamut of thoughts, emotions, and illumination. How? This is going to be slightly around about, but let me try to explain.

The aliens I saw in France and Spain have begun their invasion of the southern hemisphere.
The aliens I saw in France and Spain have begun their invasion of the southern hemisphere.

For me, place can effect emotion, and music can transport one back to a place or time. It has been a week of processing this information, and one example really struck me last night.

I was going through a music playlist, and lo – there was Chris de Burgh’s The Spanish Train and Other Stories – which I would have listened to over and over again as a child in the car, travelling, but it was Simon and Garfunkle’s Sound of Silence that brought about this introspection of place and emotion.

You see, I love that song. It speaks to me. It is possibly one of my top 10 songs if I had to choose 10 (and that would be ridiculously difficult), and while I have listened to it countless times, now it will always take me back to a split second in the middle of winter in 2004, Dunedin, at about quarter past eleven at night.

I had just finished closing up the Science Library there, and was on my 3 minute walk home. The wind had dropped, and it was clear (and dark), and I had paused before crossing Cumberland Street. I have no idea why this image of the hazy streetlights and my breath hanging in the heavy air, the empty road and darkened windows (Dunedin in mid-winter can be cold and miserable) has stuck with me. Yes, I was listening to Sound of Silence at the time, but I had listened to it countless times before and have done so since. It was like a musical photograph. I can be anywhere, and when I listen to the song, that image, and the feeling of being there, will come unbidden to mind. It was particularly clear last night, and I have to wonder why.

But this does follow on from my trip to Melbourne last weekend to see another brilliant performer live on stage. And be able to sing along to every song (and I’m still trying to figure out where this crazy little gnome reference/song comes from). But it was the first time I’d been in Melbourne – properly – since August 2009. For good reason.

It was a lovely evening, and we had a perfect spot.
It was a lovely evening, and we had a perfect spot.

You see, I jokingly had said I’d given the city to my ex when I left (apparently Amanda Palmer has a song along these lines too – I need to find it), but it turns out, I wasn’t joking after all. It was a very odd feeling to fly back into Tullamarine, and catch the skybus in, and take the train out to see Becky and the Wee Scot. Everything jarred.

Degraves street. My once-Mecca
Degraves street. My once-Mecca

The city really hit me. It reminded me of how caged and isolated I had felt, and how miserable I was there. It offered me a(nother) snapshot: of how I could have been had I stayed (not nice)… And just how much I have matured – on all levels. The streets, while familiar, had no pull – and while I was happy to visit a few favourite shops – the place was cold, blank, and blah. It’s amazing how it impacted on me.

And yet: Seeing Nick Cave live: there are no words. And three of my favourite songs of his live was just… That was great. And hanging out with Becky and the maniacal Scot was very, very overdue.

But those two flashes of light aside (and the only reason why I was there anyway), it was such a relief to touch down in Wellington on Monday. To be home. To be so very lucky with my job, my friends, and to finally be happy. And to have felt, truly, how far I have come. Some people may never know the exact extent of my journey because I really don’t like talking about any of it, but I am closer to who I want to be than I’d ever thought. Maybe this new decade will be one of laughter and fulfilment. I now know where I’ve come from and where I am. Where the road will take me is going to be a great adventure. And accepting all of that makes it better.

I went to an old pen shop haunt of mine and they fixed my pen(s)! Geekery ensued
I went to an old pen shop haunt of mine and they fixed my pen(s)! Geekery ensued

So it’s time to be good to me. And to take care of myself. Maybe I really did learn more about who I am on the Camino than I thought. This being a responsible adult thing really isn’t too bad, is it? That being said, I’m going to go read some more Terry Pratchett. I’m re-teaching myself how to read and enjoy fiction. He’s a very good place to start.

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2 Comments

  1. music and place are so evocative arent they? i think you learnt a lot on the camino, you just dont know what yet. and its really only the comparisons you make that bring out the reflection. im so glad you feel at home finally and are finding some happy spaces. i have a leeeetle idea of how far youve come and what a challenge happiness itself can be, and it makes me all teary to think you’re learning anything from me. i just stumble from one thing to the next, wear my heart on my sleeve and blog about it too much really 🙂 i need to come over there soon xx

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