Peace, mate.

14 04 2010

Well here I am. Still in a bit of a zombie state (shout out, Newdos) , completely thrown off by the time difference, but at last in Melbourne, Australia. I’m writing from the Melbourne Uni (yeah, I say “uni” now.  how Australian am I, right?!) equivalent of Clemons Library (or fondly, “Club Clem,” for those who are familiar…) surrounded by an amalgamation of Australian & international students. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d like to take a moment to quote the both wise & melodious philosopher, Julie Andrews– Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good… etc

I tearfully and anxiously said goodbye to my parents at Dulles Airport on Sunday afternoon, having already parted with Ephraim, Fitz, & the guineas back at home. The knots in my stomach had grown increasingly worse over the past few weeks, both from the stress of leaving my job, bidding farewell to friends, & preparing for my journey abroad. Like the expert procrastinator that I am, I saved packing for the absolute last possible night (probably not a good idea when trying to allay anxiety, but oh well…) As I descended the escalator, thoughts ran furiously through my mind; did I say I loved my parents enough times, had I sent goodbye texts to all of my friends, had I finished everything necessary at work, etc etc! I took a deep breath, remembered Sunday’s gospel, & reminded myself that Jesus really desired for me to be at peace. This helped a bit, but my eyes and face were still tear-stained/swollen by the time I boarded the plane.

Cut to the flight from LA to Melbourne. I was seated next to two adorable little girls. From an Orthodox Jewish family, they ate Kosher meals, and thus got their food long before the rest of us. Those lucky Jews!! No offense. Really. I’m just noting the benefits of eating Kosher, guys. Calm down. Anyway, off we went, little Toby, Leah & I, off into the big sky on our absurdly elaborate & massive Qantas plane. I’ve never encountered more luxury at such high altitudes. I tried my best to hide my Jesus pillow from the girls as we got settled. (yes, I have a Jesus pillow for those of you who weren’t already aware…I’ve had it since I was circa 4 years old, so pipe down. Everyone’s already had a good HAHA about it.) But I figured the girls & I might not get things off on the right foot if I waved my hey-I’m Christian-here’smySavior-Jesus-everheardofhim?-pillow in the faces of two little Orthodox Jewish girls just returning from celebrating Passover with their family. I figured if I kept it face down, they might just might mistake it for one of those WWF wrestler pillows that have an uncanny resemblance to my Jesus pillow… right?

…Maybe not? Maybe they were just too young to remember those WWF pillows anyway…

Anyway, I had a night chat with Toby about the Hebrew pronunciation of my sibling’s names, Passover, & what I should see in Melbourne. Pretty standard, really. Dinner was served, and as I downed a glass of red wine and a Xanax (also trying to do as inconspicuously as possible), I really was overcome with a great deal of peace…Perhaps that’s not so much what Jesus intended, but still.

I slept for the majority of the flight which was a HUGE plus. I woke up with swollen legs, a dry mouth, & a kink in my neck, but I’d say it was worth it to not be awake for the meat of the 16 hour flight. I watched “The Lovely Bones” as the sun came up which was a great flick but a big mistake. As the flight attendant came to ask me “hot or cold breakfast?” I looked like I had just experienced some sort of terrible existential crisis, my face smeared with tears & various other sad fluids. I managed to get out a sniff “hot please.” sniff, tear.

I arrived, collected all of my luggage (HOO-RAY), made it through customs (yet I still have a miniature panic attack every time they bring the dogs by my bags… WHY IS THAT? I KNOW I’m not carrying anything illegal, but the dogs make me feel as though I am. Freaking unnecessary guilt-inducing dogs…) and successfully rendezvoused with Tom Everett (my lovely Kiwi friend to whom I introduced myself in the basement of Phi Society at UVa after several rounds of beer pong & overhearing an accent. That’s really all it takes for Grae to introduce herself.) Tom was a real gent & drove me to Newman College at Melbourne Uni where I am living for the extent of my time here. We had a good lunch at the only cafe we could find open, and I made a series of faux pas: 1) You don’t ask to “doggie bag” something or “to take the rest of it home.” They look at you like you’re on crack cocaine, and proceed to place your pizza in a paper pastry bag, which it quickly grease-bleeds through thereafter, rendering it generally impossible to handle & highly unappetizing. 2) You don’t tip. This will induce another look of “what have you been smoking, you crazy American.” Something along these lines…

I got all my things to my room with the assistance of both Tom & Luke’s friend Renae who works at Newman. The room was surprisingly nice. I had a sink, several windows that look out to Eucalyptus trees, a FRIDGE (!), and a closet to store everything. I said goodbye to Tom, prayed for a bit in the BEAUTIFUL chapel adjacent to the dorms, & went back to my room to unpack and take it all in. As I laid in my bed, the cool Melbournian breeze rustled the leaves of the Eucalyptus, carrying the soft scent into my room. Kookaburras chattered back & forth, & in the distance, reggae music drifted from a nearby flat. I was definitely at peace.

A knock at the door-

Hi, yes um, we’re here to take the fridge? Yep, it’s mine & I’ve moved, so we’re going to go ahead and tote it out.”

Strike one.

My beloved fridge is carried off into the distance, & my grease-laden-pizza-paper-bag is now homeless. I decide to take everything out of my suitcases and organize, to make it feel more home-y, when I realize I have ZERO hangers for the closet.

Strike two.

I get directions to the nearest equivalent of a CVS, which here is called a “chemist,” which sounds way too intense for its own good. I felt like I was going to a drug deal, rather than casually picking up body wash & shamp./cond. “Yeah I’m just going to the chemist to pick up the rest of the ingredients we need to complete our home meth-lab.” (shout out Grand Marc) I’ve gathered all my items at the counter when I go to take out my wallet to pay. And oooh guess what, friends? IT’S NOT THERE.

Strike three, you’re out. AKA freaking pissed/terrified/muttering unholy words under your breath.

As I embarrassingly left & sprint-walked myself back to Newman to search desperately for my livelihood, between nervous cursing & self-beration, I sent up dozens of prayers to ol’ St. Anthony & big guns upstairs.  I went to the chapel for the second time, pleading with God to help me find my wallet.

Was it because of the red wine & Xanax, Jesus? Was it because I was nervous about hiding my Jesus pillow from the little Jewish girls? Are you still upset about St. Patrick’s Day, God? I’m really really sorry about that, you know I am…

I gave up the search, told Luke over the phone about the loss of my wallet & laughed in that way that on the surface says “I’m okay with this” but under the surface says “I’m probably going to be on the verge of sanity for the remainder of the trip.” I showered, dressed for Formal Dinner, & awaited Luke’s arrival.

He came to my room to take me to dinner, & we caught up hurriedly as we rushed to dinner. “There are lots of rules, but just follow my lead” Luke says. “Oh, and you have to wear this academic robe.” At this point, I’m thinking this has to be some sort of practical joke. “We’ll be sitting at High Table with Renae & Frith, & there’s a procession into the dining hall after pre-dinner drinks.” It really wasn’t a joke. So, there I was, wearing a freaking college graduation gown, processing into a dining hall reminiscent of Hogwart’s, jetlagged, weirded out, & anxious as the Australian day is long. There was some sort of elaborate system for passing the dishes around, but I have a feeling no one ACTUALLY knew what it was. I realized that it’s all about LOOKING like there’s a system, and pretending it’s important, & then everyone is satisfied. I ate what I could, we were invited to have a tour of the College’s art collection, & went to post-dinner coffee & conversation, where I chatted with a Polish English professor & a very shy & awkward priest about Lord-knows-what.

Luke gets a text from Tom. What does it say, you ask? Friends, I’ll tell you. It says that TOM EVERETT HAS MY WALLET. The relief begins oozing out of my ears. …Ok that imagery wasn’t the best, but I was more relieved than you can ever imagine. I practically fell down the stairs as I read the text, my knees were weak with joy.  I had left it in his car, amidst fumbling over my grease-bag & 36 suitcases, but it was SAFE. I could NOW AT LAST  REALLY have PEACE, and enjoy the rest of my time in Australia.

After sitting in on the Newman book club (they are so intellectual around here…ha), and a sleepy walk back to my room, two gentlemen behind me offered for me to indulge in a little NewmanCollege-midnight-garden-joint-smoke-fest with them. (Ok that’s not exactly how they offered, but you know). I politely declined, made collages out of magazines in my bed for an hour (who am I…I mean, really Grae), and slept until 1 PM today.

Great success.

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One response

15 04 2010
Patrick

LOL great stuff Grae – hope you keep it up!!! xoxo pap smear

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