TLOML and I just sat down to watch some TV this evening and by complete happenstance stumbled across an interview with The Chef, with whom we went to school. I was in school with her from years 9 - 12 and TLOML was with her from Kindergarten to 8 and then 11 to 12 (the final two years of school saw us all at the same school). We, the two Displaceds, were stunned to see The Chef on TV as neither of us had ever seen her on TV before but more to the point we wondered what she would think if she could see the two of us, laying back on the couch in our underwear, holding hands, and watching TV. I think it would be a reasonably safe bet that we are the only two women named Displaced that The Chef has ever met. I wrote about The Chef once before in a blog I called "Thoughts on vulnerability". I don't suppose any of this is all that interesting aside from the fact that I am so constantly (literally) amazed by the turn my life has taken. Suddenly I have been transformed from someone on a long run of misfortune to The Luckiest Woman In The World!
The week in Sydney was very hectic, TLOML and I had to debate a little and juggle the competing priorities of each of our friends and families. On top of those moments of friction (that were all handled amicably and with ease) my body was freaking out a bit and was giving me a few very painful days. Last Friday, the 13th LOL, I had my last appointment with Dr McLovely and aside from filling up with petrol she was our last stop in Sydney. TLOML and I began our journey north. She had said so many times "I hate long car rides!", "I need to stop AT LEAST every two hours". I just shook my head because I not only LOVE long road trips but I am very goal focused so I push on and delay stops as long as possible. She had told me that she liked to relax in the morning and then head off after a leisurely layabout morning... I had told her that I need to get the work of driving done before I will relax and do anything "leisurely". It all looked quite foreboding! We had five days to travel 2400km. It seemed almost a certainty that this journey would be the cause of our first fight.
The first night was spent with my brother and his partner and that took us only about 450km out of Sydney. The plan was to try to get up the coast in the morning so that we would have time for a swim in the surf before going to my brother's. There are few places in the world with beaches more beautiful than the Mid North Coast of NSW. Seemingly endless tracts of white sand and the glorious South Pacific sending in wave after wave makes it a very appealing place to anyone who enjoys body-surfing. Everything went pretty much according to plan with one rest room stop en route and plenty of snacks that were cleverly packed by TLOML. By mid afternoon we were swimming alone on a beautiful beach. TLOML is particularly keen to swim where there are waves because her tropical island home is inside the Great Barrier Reef and is therefore inadequate in the wave department. I love the surf and always have but I can't really trust myself any more. I used to be a very strong swimmer but I have to dial it way back now and make sure that I pace myself. The last thing I need is a big exercise induced flare while I am trying to drive up the coast! The night with my brother was great. We had a delicious dinner with super tender steak and vegetables. Time slipped away far too quickly.
I woke early in the morning and found a few extra corners of space in Shermie (my car) to jam in some of my old tools that my brother's partner had been minding for me (for 12 years LOL). I will be needing them if I am going to make myself useful around the place here. We headed off in fairly good time. The second night was also planned. We needed to travel about another 450km to The Gold Coast where we were staying with TLOML's step-mother for the evening. TLOML was pretty keen to get another swim and we were shooting for a stop at Byron Bay. Unbeknownst to either of us Byron has been bypassed by the highway and I completely missed the turn off. It was such an unobtrusive sign! I was sure there would be another exit but after about 10 minutes still heading north it became apparent that there wasn't one! Oh well Brunswick Heads would have to do. TLOML pouted a little about missing Byron but we were in agreement that going back was too much of an inconvenience so she picked up the lip and we made for the gorgeous surf beach at Brunswick. We had a lovely swim, the waves were a little too choppy for body surfing but it was still refreshing and invigorating. We arrived in Surfer's Paradise with time to spare. We had a terrific evening with TLOML's step-mum, including beautiful accommodation on the 37th floor AND dinner at a seafood buffet where I managed to consume about 100 oysters. (I know I sound like a terrible piggy but there was a challenge involved!!!)
The third day we were planning to have an early swim in the surf and be on the road by 10am. TLOML was having such a nice time with her step-mum that we decided to skip the swim and leave a bit later. Still not a single cross word between us! Step-mum (who is lovely!!!) made us the most beautiful gourmet sandwiches for the road - smoked salmon, ricotta cheese, multi-grain bread, avocado - absolutely scrumptious! We had vaguely planned to head to the most northern surf beach in Queensland but unfortunately on this day we hit quite a lot of rain. I was not making great time but skipping the swim allowed us to reach Rockhampton for the night. This night was spent in a strange motel. My Minnesotan friends would call it "different". For a start the woman at the desk seemed so incredibly depressed that she looked like something from 'Night of the Living Dead'. The entire outside of the motel was tiled in big pseudo travertine tiles. When we managed to get inside the room we found that everything but the ceiling was tiled too!!! There was a single bedside table with the name of the motel written on the top AND on the drawers in permanent marker, the jug and the bar fridge were similarly labeled. Still the sheets were clean, TV worked and we were together!
Day four was trying because of some quite heavy rain and the almost complete lack of overtaking lanes on the two lane "highway". The day before had featured occasional signs saying "overtaking lane in 5 km" presumably to prevent us taking big risks overtaking but on day four no such signs appeared. I guess one saying "overtaking lane in 347 km" might not have been as effective. We actually could have made our destination on day four with just a little more endurance but we decided to stop about an hour south. We stayed in a nice motel and ordered food from the restaurant, none of the furniture or appliances were labeled with the motel's name so this motel appeared to have a higher standard of clientele.
Right on schedule we arrived in the morning on Day Five and were home by early afternoon. We even unloaded the car, though doing that nearly finished me off. I gratefully collapsed and was lovingly cared for by TLOML.
So here we are. Still not a single argument nor a cross word. Every decision has been reached by consensus. It's almost freaky how well we relate and how easily we get along. We are both quite emotional and sensitive women yet we seem to be able to help each other get through and over things more easily. It occurred to me that we defuse each other. Somehow we give or say the right thing at the right time. It is almost like between us we have a self-leveling mechanism that settles and resolves the issues that each of us has sometimes struggled with alone. It feels like we have always been together in the way that we manage to interact with virtually no anxiety. I can truly say that I have never had any relationship, in any capacity, even in work or in friendship, that was so harmonious. She is slender and beautiful with sparkling blue eyes that make me melt from any distance and I am completely, head over heels, besotted with her. I'm my own flawed and dilapidated self and yet she loves me, I mean, she really loves me and constantly demonstrates it with care and affection. Between us there is an easy flow of loving words and acts that completely back up and support the words. Doing not just saying. I am quite sure that we should be handing out nausea pills to anyone who has to spend time with us together.
We sometimes wonder what might have happened if a fortune teller had shown us a picture of this time and place when we were schoolgirls together 32 years ago. We both think we would have said "Why wait?" The interesting thing is that the answer to the question "Why wait?" was only revealed by the waiting. We have each learned some hard lessons and seen some dark days; enough to know that something as beautiful as this needs to be cherished and protected; enough to know that, as perfect as it feels right now, there will be obstacles and difficulties we need to face together as time moves on; enough to know just how much we should appreciate each other - we know how lucky we are.
So what would The Chef think?
I hope she would be happy for us both!