An apartment across the street
Through a close friend of mine and Karl’s, Leo, a real estate agent, I find a new apartment across the street from Rose’s flooded house. Leo apologizes that it is noisy, shabby and poorly insulated.
I explain that I am homeless, and an apartment with a broken lease with four months to run suits me entirely. I will be moving to Canada in precisely four months.
It’s a blessing, for sure. (Thank you, Karl!)
And it’s bloody hard work.
Back and forth, across Vulture Street, and up and down two flights of stairs, I trek, loading and unloading the boxes of my remaining belongings.
I can’t believe that I am repeating what I did only a few months ago: unpacking boxes. And then repacking some of them for my move to Vancouver.
I am depressed, dispirited, and broken. The new flat is so noisy and hot that I cannot sleep. I move to an air-conditioned hotel for another 10 days.
The ferocious heatwave continues throughout March, with daily highs in the mid-thirties Celsius. Soldiering on, I reaffirm my deadline for my move to Vancouver and continue to cull my belongings. Nearly 49 years’ of stuff must fit into 10 boxes.
I battle exhaustion and several further break-outs of PTS, one landing me briefly in hospital, after a minor car crash. After the collision, I run from the taxi and collapse, sobbing hysterically on the sidewalk.
God wants what I want
Throughout all this trauma, I sense that Karl is listening to my pain, and our heartfelt connection strengthens. In the morning conversations I record in my journal, we share our love for each other, and I experience great bursts of forgiveness and begging for forgiveness. Both Karl and I accept that Earthly life is a precious gift.
Finally, grudgingly, I admit what Karl has been trying to tell me for over a year since he died: God wants what I want.
I am also learning to open to and contain Karl’s powerful and palpable energy as he enters my being.
From March to May 2017, I live the life of a hopeful, wounded seeker. I sense God’s energy powerfully within me. Acknowledging that I have had a hard year, I accept the reality of miracles. I remember, acknowledge, and bless the gentleness of my shared intimacy with Karl.
And I glimpse my new identity as a writer.
I accept that I have always marched to a different drum. So why should my grieving be conventional?
I imagine my new life in Vancouver.
With the help of Michelle, a wise psychologist, I finally accept that I could not have saved Karl’s life in our submerged car.
In four Australian capital cities, gracious friends organize joyous farewell parties. I catch up with old friends and colleagues. I embrace old mates and hear appreciation from the lips of some I thought would never say such things. I feel celebrated, validated and affirmed by lots of tears, hugs, and expressions of appreciation. I hear Corinne Fisher, a prominent Sydney activist, recounting her experiences of approaching many planners to help the Better Planning Network campaign against draconian changes to the engagement provisions of the State planning legislation.
Corinne explains that most planners were afraid to risk it – especially speaking in front of the Minister for Planning. But I dared to stand up for the community’s right to be heard.
Hearing Corinne’s words in front of other Sydney friends and colleagues emboldens me. My courage and sacrifice feel worthwhile.
The C*** Coloring Book
Over my 49 years in Australia, I spent 17 years living in Adelaide. At an event hosted by Angela, Michael, Kristin and Suzy, my “bestie”, Anne Dunn, shocks a crowd of wellwishers by producing an important document from our young feminist activist days in the mid-seventies: The C*** Coloring Book.
I smile, and I cry, bathing in the pleasure of my Adelaide friends’ reminiscences in a workshop-style farewell. They record their most potent memories of me. I hear about my “enormous appetite for life” and my “systematically intuitive” way of thinking.
One old friend remembers me as “a walking, talking example of being present in all she does.”
I return to Brisbane with a full heart.
Where is MY home?
The gate is closing to my old life. And a new pathway beckons.
My soul asks the two questions that Mark Nepo highlights in his writings on courage:
Where is home?
How can I complete my lifetime’s work by choosing my adult belonging?
I respond to both questions.
I make my deadline and fly to Canada.