Monday morning I’m off to the cafe straight away. I order a latte, lemon poppyseed muffin, and veggie juice with kale, lettuce, and apple. I sit and write while the commuters come in and out and get morning coffee before the train. I’m not sleeping very well and it’s a struggle not to get fatigued. I can feel it in my cloudy head and headache in my upper lobe. After coffee I’m off to shower at the airbnb and to take an hour long bus ride to the university of New South Wales. The museum of human disease is at the university. It’s a train ride to central and a transfer to a bus. The bus is full of college students talking. My head feels like it will explode with so much chatter. Overload. Google maps directs me to get off at a gate that’s a ten minute walk to the museum. I walk through campus and it’s up and down stairs and through tons of students talking and chattering. It must be orientation or something. This is nuts. At the museum I pay the $7.50 entry fee and look at black lungs, brains with aneurysms, thyroids and all matter of diseases. The museum is 70’s style. A lot of the specimens gross me out and I can’t look at uterus and cervix stuff. I pass that section entirely. The counter clerk had given me an iPad with information about the different diseases. I barely used it and handed it back after I couldn’t stomach anymore diseases organs. I buy a weird purple t-shirt with a cow on it advertising the museum. It will be a new Jazzercise workout shirt. After the museum I take two more buses to tourist ridden Bondi Beach. It’s ok. The other two beaches I’ve been two are more awesome. bondi is overcrowded restaurants, a beach full of college women, muscle men exercising and hot. After walking the boardwalk I’ve had enough and take a bus and two more trains back home to lay around with the airbnb bichon frises Duffy and Lulu.
I get off the train in Katoomba, a small town 60 miles west of Sydney. I walk the 1.5 miles to the Three Sisters, a rock formation in the Blue Mountains. I stop in at two different thrift stores and purchase an African wall hanging for $2, some tiny decorative spoons and a mug with fake Australian recipes for wallaby soup. It’s warm and I sweating. I’m always sweating. I change my clothes, do laundry, hang it to dry and take two showers a day.
The Three Sisters is full of tour buses and Tourists. The view is breathtaking with the blue mountains in the background. There’s a deck below that I walk to and people are taking selfies left and right. I break through the crowd and snap a picture of the three sisters. I grip my phone so I don’t lose it. It would be gone forever. I try and hike to katoomba waterfall but get lost and my feet are tired. I decide to head back to the train station and visit another town 20 minutes east. I get lost going back to the train. Or rather google maps steers me in the wrong direction. I race to the train, squeeze myself in between the door and realize I’m on the wrong train. I need to be going east. Not west. I decide to just get off at a stop that I had seen on the way in. I could see store fronts and funky shops from the train window and remembered it.
Every morning I repeat the same thing : drink 2 cups of coffee, read, check Facebook, read, check Instagram, read, check Facebook and email. My airbnb hosts get up and leave for work somewhere I don’t know. They drive together an hour each way. I get up and make more coffee. The bitchin frises trail me around the house. I make a plate of tomatoes, figs, raspberries, cheese and prosciutto. The dogs watch me eat. I decide to sit out, read and tan. I am not a person that sits out. Since it’s constantly 75 degrees I decide to take advantage of it. I set up to chairs facing each other on the brick backyard patio. I’m out of the chair in a matter of minutes. I don’t sit for very long well. I get my Chapstick and sit down. Read a few pages of my book. My feet are burning. I get the sunscreen back out. Sit down. I sit for 30 minutes and decide to shower. The clouds have come in and I’m still getting sun but restless. The dogs follow me around the house. I take a shower and go downtown to Martin place on the train. There’s a free museum on Australian currency that I’m headed to. At the currency museum it’s me and a guard. No one else. There’s a special exhibit on how Australian money is the only kind in the world that uses polymer, a clear coating, in it’s money. The money is cool and there’s a cute little old man on the $50 bill. He looks less serious than George Washington or Abe Lincoln. At the museum my feet are killing me. I rock back and forth while I stand and read the info on the exhibits. I can’t help but feel distracted. I find a seat toward the end of the exhibit and sit for a little bit. It helps a little. I head back to the train at Martin place. The escalators going down are giant and long and I lean against the railing to keep from having an anxiety attack. I’m hungry and my feet still hurt.
bed. I fall asleep at 8 pm and wake up at 315 am. I try and go back to sleep at 5:30 but it doesn’t work. The damn birds are louder than shit. I drink 3 cups of via coffee, take a shower and leave to take the train to the New South Wales art gallery. At the gallery two giant tour buses pull up and little kids jump out. I bob and weave in and out of little kids taking pictures of 18th century art. I wonder if they even know what they are taking pictures of. A guard tells a woman getting her picture taken not to lean up against a sculpture. A little kid touches a picture of the Buddha. I shake my head. I try not to be a judgmental jerk but it’s hard. My maternal grandmother and mom were and are the same way. It’s in my genes to be a judgmental jerk face.
I go back to the house and lay down for a little bit. It’s hot and my feet hurt. The dogs come and snuggle with me on the bed for a little while. I get up and decide to go to a Korean restaurant I walked by earlier in the day. I walk to the restaurant and I’m craving japchae, sweet potato noodles with beef, portobello mushrooms and peppers. There’s no one in the restaurant when I arrive and it looks closed but it’s open. I order japchae and go to the restroom. There’s a dead cockroach under the sink. I ignore it. My standards for cleanliness, normally bordering on OCD (also thanks to Grammie and mom) go out the window when I travel. That dirty bathroom in lefferts gardens at my airbnb? Didn’t care.
Nasty carpet that looked like it needed to be pulled up ages ago in la at another airbnb? Wore my slippers and didn’t care. The japchae arrives along with kimchi, potatoes and apples mixed together in a mayo like sauce that wasn’t mayo, and something that looks like tofu ribbons mixed with sweet and sour.
After eating half of the japchae I was done. The food was hot and the restaurant wasn’t air conditioned.
I arrive at Pdx and try to check in. I have everything ready: my carry on, checked bag and passport that doesn’t expire for 2 years. The Delta agent tells me I need to have a visa. I silently freak out In my head and the muscles on my face are loose from fatigue. I find a seat near the check in counter and submit an 18 page visa application on my phone that I didn’t know I needed to submit. I check my inbox over and over and over for results. My international flight is in 6 hours and I don’t know what I will do if it’s not approved. I get up after it’s all done. I go through security.
The airport is deserted and I find a seat in concourse d in a nearly empty seating area. A bunch of young workers plop down twenty feet from me. Annoying people flock to me like shit. Young women squeal and laugh and irritate the shit out of me. A workers radio squeals and echoes as they laugh. I decide it’s time to move. I get up and pee and move away from their annoying teen girl squad sounds. I move away to another deserted area near the Starbucks. It the sound of trash bags being changed in the distance and their squeals from far away.
My approval is granted for the visa. At least I think it is. It says so online. On the plane from Pdx to Los Angeles I’m relieved and scared at the same time. I’m not as scared as when I went to Stockholm by myself on my first international flight a few years ago that scared me. On the flight from JFK to Stockholm I sat next to a woman from Quebec City who was super friendly and told me where to go in Stockholm. We chatted for a few hours and in the middle of the night a Middle Aged man shushed us.
Ricky and I go out to the gay club in Salem. His ex girlfriend, now best friend Megan, spends 2 hours doing my make up. She brings salmon and sea foam green vintages dresses over for me to try on and I settle on one.
Ricky takes 10 minutes to get ready. We get to the club in our fancy outfits even though I can’t remember what they were.
We find a table away from everyone else in another room and Ricky goes to the bar to buy me drinks. It’s Halloween and there’s a woman at the next table dressed as Brittney spears in a red skin tight outfit, blond hair tied back and a fake microphone attached to her head.
It’s 2000: Brittney is hot and dating justin timberlake. Those cheating rumors are just that: rumors. Before Brittney had her meltdown.
There’s this aloneness while I’m at the table: Ricky loves me but I’m still empty. I’m smart and my job is stupid and I hate life. I have this bachelors degree and I’m in Salem at a bar on Halloween. Everyone else is having fun.
Ricky comes back with a pint glass full of rum and coke but mostly rum. I suck on the straw and drink it down. I can drink a lot of people under the table. This is my accomplishment: not the bachelors degree from my private, upstate new york women’s college. I can out drink you and I’m amazing.
Ricky and I make fun of everyone dancing and get up and dance ourselves. Ricky listens to bands I’ve never heard of and buys records. He plays bands like Bonnie Prince Billy on the record player in his room while we have drunken sex. Ricky doesn’t listen to top 40 but we get up and dance anyway to justin or Brittney or whoever was playing. We grind against each other and we are the best drunken dancers you have ever seen. The dance floor is hardwood and the red and green lights are a blue of awesome.
It’s a week night but Ricky came up to Portland to get me in his newer model Toyota corolla. I have a license but don’t drive. I take the bus into downtown Portland for work every morning. There’s a group of four or five people who talk and look so happy. I want to slap the happy off their faces. I don’t understand what’s so great about taking a bus into Portland for a stupid 9-5 job.
I look out the window at the grey and rain and depressing Oregon winter and wonder why I even went to college for this.