Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Early Friday afternoon I packed very lightly and headed to the bus station for a long planned 24 hour getaway.... to Canberra.* As I am sure I have said before, two of my best mates live there, as well as other assorted friends, so I try and spend some time there every few months. 

This trip was organised a couple of months back and I very nearly didn't go, given how I have been feeling lately. In the end I decided to go, given that the friends I was seeing know me pretty well and I wouldn't have to 'act' too much, although of course I wasn't planning to wallow. I spent Friday evening having dinner with M. and his girlfriend, who I'm slowly getting to know and who is tops, and then most of Saturday with E. These guys couldn't be more different, but they're both terrific and I love them to pieces. M. was claimed by our group after he dated a girl who we no longer hear from and we realised he was the better person (not that picking sides is something I usually condone, but in this case....), E. has suffered almost the reverse fate, floating to the fringes after he and his ex broke up some two years ago. It doesn't help that he isn't the best at keeping in touch with people, something I talked to him about at length on Saturday. He's moving overseas on a government posting next year, and I've begged him to try harder. I don't want to lose him. 

It was a good trip. I got to watch my AFL team get through to their first grand final in six years over a couple of very fine beers at a lovely local, and then play with M.'s cats (the house has 3 of them). On Saturday E. and I had a really lovely lunch, a walk by the man made lake that defines Canberra's landscape, and then spent the afternoon at one of the nerdiest museums going, although I did get the feeling this museum is mostly pitched at school children. When I eventually go to D.C. I will be interested to see if museums there have the same vibe; I was disappointed at how 'dumbed down' some of the national history stuff is. I think a lot of this is because Australians think we have really boring history. 

It was just nice to be with people with whom I am mostly able to be honest. 

It's the trip I want to talk about though, the running away. I really felt like I was on this trip, as I do when I head country to be with other friends elsewhere. I am running away from the person I am in Sydney and running towards the person I really am with people I love and trust. I'm aware this makes me sound dishonest, like I am constantly lying to everyone. With the exception of a close friend at uni and my sister, who I'm still building something with, it's not like I have people to talk to on a regular basis. Most of my close friends don't live here and the ones who do aren't around much. My one on one time with my friends is rare and very precious. 

There is my mentor, of course, but he's my teacher and I try very hard not to talk him to death about my problems or use him as a default psychiatrist. And here's how I know I really haven't been well lately - I have been hiding from him for almost 2 weeks. I promised both him and myself that I would be honest with him about my health this year, and it's a promise I haven't really honoured these last weeks. Truthfully I would let it go even longer, but it's mid semester break next week and I can't hide from him for almost a month, that's just wrong. Especially given we are at the business end of the year. 

One of the best things about a trip is leaving and seeing the city go behind you. I actually prefer trains as you can get lots of things done and it's more smooth, the journey, and the world sweeps past at such a rate, it's exhilarating. You also have more room to hide on a train....are you seeing a pattern here, with my behaviour? But it's a lovely thing, leaving. The worst part is coming back, knowing you're coming back into your old life, old ways, and the work that you can't possibly do right now. Plus a birthday at the end of the week. When the bus eventually got back into Sydney, and very quickly, I might add, I just didn't want to get off. 

The worst part of my illness is that my future disappears when I get really sick. For 24 hours it was nice to remember that I have people who love me, who know me, at least a little. It's what I remember when it feels like I am clinging on with my fingertips. On the trip down the guy across from me on the bus had a notepad turned to a blank page ready for something. He never wrote anything, the whole four hours. Although a blank page is an impossible thing as a writer and researcher, I'm hoping my future is still there, still blank.

*I clearly need to perfect the art of a getaway, Canberra's rated G, well, except for being the porn central of Australia. Wikipedia can tell you anything else you want to know.

**I'm on the fence about cats - good cats I love, bad cats are just *awful*. 


  1. We all wear "masks" for the different parts of our lives.

  2. Robert is right! We all have 'multiple selves', it's perfectly normal. Some of us are just more aware of this than others. I'm glad you had to opportunity to getaway :)


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