So dear people, I’m home in South Fremantle now, and have been home for just over a week. In that week has been carols and Christmas, an art exhibition opening, feasting, over-feasting, singing, weeping, guerilla picnics on the median strip, snuggling back into life here in my wonderful home (well, actually, living in a caravan out the front!) and of course several swims a day at our local beach. It is stupidly hot. Or maybe I’m stupid, cos hot.
So yes, it’s been very lovely to come home. It’s not been a difficult transition from track life. It’s not been strange. If anything, it’s been startlingly easy to slip back to life here, and I don’t know how I feel about that! Part of me wants to be all melancholic and mal-adjusted and still full of the track, and closing my eyes and seeing it all there, immediate, close, present… What to do? I know it’s not about holding onto the track. No, please no. And yet… How can I be sure that my experience out there will not simply recede further and further into the past? I have told stories several times over. I now know the story better than I can be in the memory. I have the same questions asked a hundred times. I now have well-worn word ruts as I say the same things again and again. I have poured over my photos, cropped and touched them up, printed some out… They are now the images immediately in my eyes of the track.
It’s not that this is a problem… I guess it has to be like this – if one is to come home, that is. But… how do other people deal with this? It’s like the experience has gone from raw to cooked. It’s different.
When the track was fresh in me, and I don’t know, maybe it still is. I could feel light in my eyes. I don’t know how else to describe it. All of the elements of such a journey, the out-doors-ness of it, the walking, the watching and breathing of it… they work a magic, and I know that that makes a radiance that isn’t about ‘me’… but a shining through of something. Anyway, that’s how it feels. And now, in my home life. Which I do love. I feel that that radiance is quietly lessening, going underground? Disappearing? Being veiled? I think that’s what I find a bit sad, and not super-sad… just wistful, maybe. Because I want to keep that. And I can’t.
Ha ha. Makes me smile, too. As if that were important, somehow, and about ‘me’ after all.
I don’t know. Maybe you readers think that there’s something special, something magic about this journey – and there was, sure – and yet it’s not personal to me. Like that radiance I could feel in my eyes isn’t me or mine. All of the gritty and grubby and grizzly parts of me, well, they didn’t go away. And yet, yet, I do feel that this pilgrimage has been a time of going, yep, that’s all me. And whereas maybe before I would need to hide that from myself (and others), or put a shiny thing over it, or pretend it was different… now I can stand just a little bit more firmly in that this is how it is. And know that there is space around me, and grace, and that it’s not about how I feel. And that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, then I will get there. And that the weather will pass. The heat of the day will at some point give way to the evening.
Thank you everyone who has followed my journey to this point. A thousand thank yous to my track angels, my food droppers, my scribes, my dear friends met on the track, my snail-mail correspondents, my chocolate and anzac biscuit senderers, my hosts and guests. Everyone who listened, hugged, laughed, empathised, congratulated, gave and loved.
I do love you.