So there I was, after 9 days camping in the forest, 4 of them fasting and on a wilderness solo, the rest surrounded by some of the most emotionally courageous women I know, and I felt tired and radiant. I walked through the front door after being wowed by the greenery on the previously bare trees in the street. And there was my cat, the ninja Ginger Annie, glad to see me and complaining of being hungry (a perennial condition it seems). Then there was my mail to open, the threads of my life to get back to, and we had a new housemate.
I sat in the small lounge room, aware of how stinky and feral I was, but not feeling bad about it. Most of my camping gear I had unloaded from my car, and took up the two flights of stairs into my study. Then I had the longest shower I could, washing out 9 days worth of dust, sweat, and oil off my body and out of my hair.
Then I sat downstairs in our small lounge room while exhausted, chatting with my housemates, trying to find out what had happened while I had been away. Things had changed. I had changed, and the household had as well. There was now a dog, Zoe, negotiating the rules of conduct with Ginger Annie, and this rather shy middle-aged man, an outdoorsy type, trying to gauge where he fit in. And I was weirdly still landing from an extraordinary but ordinary experience of being in a bush-land setting, the only human but not alone.
Chatting and asking everyone what had gone on, I found myself curious about this new member of the household. And he was similarly curious about me.
Now, I consider that first day and night a bit of a sniffing around each other.
Now, it is 4 weeks since and I have been oscillating between having this reasonably distracting interest in him, wanting to chat with him every chance I get, and there I see in him, that sad little boy, the gangly awkward teenager, the young man who was cut adrift from family, venting frustrations and grief.
And then there’s last night….chatting and kind of venting with him, sharing some of the fun of teaching yesterday, the stress of Mum’s operation and all the expectations, then sitting out under the stars, and him reminding me that the stars are enough, that I don’t need the app to know them, just to witness them and observe them. He is both ordinary and extraordinary. And I find he is trying to find similarities between some of his friends and some of my experiences. He asked me last night what I’m reading, and I realised I wasn’t reading anything. We talked and I mentioned I’ve been reading some poetry. He said he likes Paul Kelly and his book, Lyrics, which of course I have. I told him I had a couple of books I thought he might like.
This morning I left them in a bag outside his room…..