Today was a strange day for me, and a beautiful one, haunted by a slow melancholy. This time a year ago I learned of the deaths of neighbours of ours in the Lockyer Valley, during the terrible floods that swept from Toowoomba down through Brisbane. Until that day we had been hopeful they might be found alive. I felt so helpless that morning, and even a year later, the pang of that loss, of the lives, livestock and livelihoods of people we loved, and of the lives still broken and resolution-less, tastes like metal in my mouth. This morning I awoke alone in my sorrow.
Today none of my plans seemed to come together. Friends ran late, or bailed at the last minute, leaving my day disjointed. I’d stayed in Brisbane because of an important commitment that required me to be here overnight. Because of it I’d cancelled plans, declined invitations, and re-jigged a myriad of things to create availability. At the last possible moment that commitment too was cancelled, and suddenly my schedule unhinged. It was too late to make the party back at home near my farm, too late to catch up to friends for dinner.
I felt flat, miserable and lonely. The last thing I wanted to do was go out. The house was empty, with not even a cracker in the cupboard. I decided to venture to a suburban shopping centre, hoping that the supermarket might still be open so I could buy a few scratchings for a meal.
Night was falling, and the vast carpark was almost empty. Foreign. And it reminded me suddenly of Sophia Coppola’s beautiful movie – Lost in Translation. Perhaps you too have seen it, or have travelled, and know what I mean. That feeling of being displaced, out of rhythm with the world around you, surrounded by strangeness and unfamiliarity.
Many a time I have arrived on a foreign shore, wasted by jetlag, and addled by time zone differentials. It creates a disconnect; but at the same time as some things get fuzzy, other things become oddly focussed, and you see yourself and the world in a new light.
In a space of disconnect, in a town I used to know, I walk into the shopping centre just as they are dropping down the security doors for the supermarket. I turn, and head back towards the carpark, empty-handed. The air is thick and muggy outside the air-conditioned building. I am despondent, and weary to my bones. Tonight I do not feel like I belong to my life.
I pass a small Indian restaurant, empty except for a group of staff who are sitting at a table in the corner, watching the cricket test match on a big tv screen. Australia versus India. I slow down and peer through the window, hoping I might catch a glimpse of the score.
In a moment they are ushering me in, pulling me up a seat, plying me with iced water and poppadoms. Inexplicably I am soon drinking the best chai tea of my life, and eating delicate milk cake and peda, watching the cricket with these kind people. We don’t really talk. We just sit and watch this giant television. My cup is filled again and again. More food comes. Occasionally someone gets up to serve a customer, but the restaurant remains quiet.
At stumps, India are 4/88. It has not been a good day for the Indian cricket team. My colleagues are circumspect, but cheerful. There is always tomorrow they say. They put some sweets in a box for me, shake my hand, wish me well. I still do not know their names, and they do not know mine. They will not accept any money. Australia is a good country they say. They are happy to have shared their table with me. I can come and watch the cricket with them any time.
My aching soul is soothed with the kindness of strangers, and the bizarre camaraderie afforded by this interest in sport.
At every turn there is something affirming about life, and the ability of the human heart to connect us, one to another. Life breathes in love, breathes out pain, breathes in friendship, breathes out loss, breathes in hope, breathes out peace. Peace in your hearts, Dear Ones. Love connects us all. ♥
If you click the link above it takes you to a beautiful video, that perfectly captures love, hope, goodbyes and sweet melancholy.