Tasmanian Devils: 0
Possums: 1 (with a cute furry tail!)
Times asked for directions in an unfamiliar city: 5
Australia has and has not been the place I expected it to be upon my arrival a month ago. There aren’t kangaroos or koalas just roaming the streets (I believe kangaroos are more like our deer in the NW – you know they’re around and sometimes they jump in front of your car, but they don’t generally cross the streets during rush hour) but there are birds galore! Cockatoos (yellow crested), lorikeets (green and rainbow), galahs (kind of like rose-breasted green parrots), ibis (I don’t know how to pluralize that), magpies (black and white and loud) and random seagulls, geese and kukaburrahs.
The weather here on the Gold Coast has been rainy the past few days and quite chilly at night (right, I am technically in winter) but when the sun shines it’s strong – though the reversal of the seasons isn’t what throws me off. More than anything, what still weirds me out a bit is the driving/riding/walking on the other side of the street! The first few days were the worst – I was constantly flinching when I’d see a car in the opposite direction, afraid we were about to get ourselves into a head-on collision! I’m sure it drove Matt crazy (sorry, baby!) but it was involuntary. I haven’t driven yet myself – every time we talk about it something prevents us from the drive – but soon. And I’ll make myself a sign that says “please give extra room to the uncertain American driver”. Or perhaps a more succinct “AMERICAN DRIVER” will give everyone all the information they need.
Australians on the whole have been extremely helpful and friendly and haven’t openly mocked my Yankee-ism too much. This I had expected (the niceness, not the mocking…. Well, the mocking too, actually) as almost all of the Aussies I have met in the past (as passengers, usually) have been super chill, always good for a laugh and up for a beer, and most of those I’ve met here have fulfilled that image! Then again, the majority of the people I’ve met have been Matt’s friends and co-workers, but that isn’t to say that I haven’t had random chats with strangers while sipping coffee (I’ve found my favorite to be a long black with milk) or wandering thru boutique shops that are waaaaaay out of my price range.
Reuniting with Matt was better than I could have imagined! Just being in his arms again, hearing his sexy Australian accent (we still clash on the pronunciation of certain words, especially concerning food) and laughing and spending time together. Upon my arrival we took a grand tour of our humble abode (a 3 bedroom, 2 ½ bath townhouse) before he unveiled his first surprise for me: rose petals, a stuffed bear, a book filled with love photography, champagne and cheese and crackers! The perfect arrival! The next night saw us in Brisbane to ride “the Wheel” and see “Jesus Christ Superstar” – front row! Matt has been treating me like a princess – his princess! – ever since my arrival, with a recent monthiversary surprise of a lovely Italian dinner and “Burn the Floor” – a Latin/Ballroom dancing production that was absolutely breathtaking!
We’ve had the chance to do some traveling – Matt for his work and me as a sidekick/tagalong – and thus far have visited: Sydney, Bundaberg/Hervey Bay, Canberra, Melbourne and Mackay. Left on the agenda is Tasmania (we leave next week) and Cairns, Townsville and another night in Mackay. All of these cities have been great, each providing me with yet another window into the world of Australia, though Melbourne is definitely more my scene and I had the greatest time walking around the “arcades” (alley ways) and poking my head into boutiques, restaurants, fashionable high-end stores and checking out the history and architecture in the CBD (Central Business District – a term I wasn’t familiar with before), like Federation Square and the General Post Office (GPO). In Bundaberg I toured the Bundaberg Rum Distillery (seriously – compared to Flor de Cana, Zacapa and Havana Club, this stuff is crap. Sorry, Aussies) and wandered along the beach in Hervey (pronounced Harvey) Bay; Canberra saw me in myriad art galleries and kitschy shops chatting with the locals before Matt and I visited their largest annual event: Floriade! Thousands of flowers surrounded by local artisans, food and services – including a place where you could create your own hanging plant – left us full of culture with no need to head back to the city (although I will say that I could do with another visit to the War Museum – AMAZING information, layout, everything! And a proper visit to the Australian Museum would do good – we ran out of time due to Floriade) as Canberra – Australia’s capitol – isn’t the most exciting place to spend your vacation time.
Last weekend was the AFL (Australian Football League, or “footy”) Grand Final (like our Superbowl) so we flew up to Mackay to meet Matt’s best friend and watch the game. The time there was fun; the game was a bit of a downer. As I learned, in the case of a tie – which this game ended up being – they don’t tack on extra time or play sudden death. No no, they do the whole thing again a week later! So that means tomorrow will see us sitting on the couch drinking too much to be healthy and cheering on a team that we want to win only because we so badly want the other team to lose. I look at it as cheering on any team playing the Patriots: even if I don’t like that team, I’d still rather they win than the Pats. Editor’s note: “our” team won this past Saturday by 40+ points. Good times!
Meeting Samara, Matt’s daughter, has also been great. She’s just over 2 and is so fun and smart that we have a good time playing together. She doesn’t read yet, but she loves her books and can sit for ages on her own making up stories. We spend a lot of time going to the park or any fairs that are on during the weekends. She definitely rules the household and has Matt wrapped around her little finger! Thankfully she likes me, too, and poor Matt has been all-but-forgotten about when Samara and I are hanging out! It’s a great family unit/dynamic we have going on. And of course there’s Buddha as well, the hairiest member of the family, who has deemed it his official duty to shed as much hair as possible on a daily basis so that one might be able to create an entirely original dog. Incredible. But also very lovable and friendly, and we enjoy taking long walks together around the area.
Overall the best part has been spending time with Matt. I have found the most special someone who understands me, who treats me how I’ve always dreamt of being treated and tells me he loves me and all the amazing, wonderful things that I’ve seen in movies. He encompasses everything I’ve ever looked for in a partner, and I fall more in love with him every day! We are still enjoying getting to know each other and learning new quirks and stories, but I love every minute of it! It’s been a bit un-Joslyn-like being so domesticated (staying home during the days, cleaning and cooking – even baking cookies! – but being at home when Matt gets off work always brings a smile to my face! I know it won’t be like this forever – soon I’ll get a job (the next trip down here in December) and maybe have to work late, or have an evening yoga class or theatre rehearsal and “real life” will kick in more, but as for now I love living like a bum and devoting my time to my love! I know, I should start writing more (that was one of my big goals when I came down here – it’s been a month and this is the first blog post, so clearly the writing is going exceptionally well) and get my mind focused on what I want to do with my future, but it’s hard sometimes when our couch is so comfy and cable brings the cheesy television straight to me. Terrible, I know!
Ok that seems like a too-long update, but there’s even more to fit in that I won’t bore you with right now! Keep in touch, and for those of you in Portland – I’ll be back before Halloween so there better be a party planned! I can’t believe how quickly the time is passing here, but I’m not too sad to know I’m leaving soon ONLY BECAUSE I already have my ticket to come back! Woohoo!
Much love and many hugs,