the mind wanders back.
and i find myself in australia. often.
sipping lattes as we americans cannot seem to replicate.
endless afternoons. countless cafes. the rich, dense sydney light angling across blank pages before me.
there are so many reasons i went to australia last august.
adventure. need. perspective. more that i probably can't even admit to myself, or here actually (here. yes, that's it. some secrets are just that.).
but the impetus was a phone call from my classmate stephen.
we had brunched (ha, doesn't that sound so pretentious and new-york-ish to make brunch a verb!) a few months back, just before he left for sydney (home) and he had spoken of a girl. so when in the message he said he had important news, i knew. he was getting married. of course he was, and i would go. i would be there for him, to celebrate, to meet this girl--this lovely girl.
friendship is a funny thing.
and for a very long time i was not particularly skilled in that arena because i, quite frankly, didn't have the energy to invest, nor the foresight to understand that friendships are relationships--relationships that take work. real work.
so it was important to me--to make up for all the lost time--to go. to fly across the world. and support a friend.
for a week and a half stephen allowed me to intrude on his australian-way-of-life. i met his gorgeous fiancee. and we embraced adventure and comfort simultaneously.
on the saturday before i returned to the states, stephen and i headed to luna park, just the two of us. giddy with expectation we practically skipped from ride to ride assessing the damage we could do in the few hours before the park closed.
not much as it turned out. the rides were exorbitantly priced. so we settled on the three-pack and set out. stephen and i, both amusement park aficianados--with a penchant for the thrill of terror, immediately agreed on the park's one true roller coaster: wild mouse. we would take on the small, unassuming child's ride. and i demanded we do it together.
the boys in charge pandered to my impish demands and said, of course, of course you can both fit in one mouse car. we could not. well, i could fit, plus one of stephen's legs. or stephen could fit. with one of my butt cheeks.
so, nope, there was nothing to be done. we would not be riding together.
and so stephen set off, leaving me to scramble into the subsequent cart, calling out for him to wait-up (what, was i five? and like he had any control over it?).
so off i went.
and it was there on the slow-moving mouse-trap, nestled right up against sydney harbor that i first thought i might die. as the car moved around turn after turn, i thought: it's just going to keep going. it's going to topple right off. and i will fall right into that-there water, spending eternity with nemo and company. i mean, surely no one has ever weighed as much as i. i will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. this is where the ego goes, you know?
needless to say, this was not the kind of terror that thrilled me. i became very quiet and thought very seriously about screaming out to those boys at the front. if i begged for them to end it--would they? would they even be able to hear me? and would they they climb up to retrieve me? no. no, of course not. instead i would be the one person who would just head right off the track, silently, eye's shut tightly. and the only sound would be that of the cart hitting the water. and i'd be gone.
when the ride finally ended i met stephen on the other side. and truly, in some ways it felt like that: the other side. and we both took deep breaths and then began to tell our tales of the mouse-trap-that-near-did-us-in. and the thing is, stephen had the same thoughts. he figured he would be the one--the one who would finally cause the cart to divert from it's pre-destined path.
and then he turned to me and said, meg, can you imagine where our minds would have gone if we had actually ridden together? how we would have felt knowing there were two of us--a combined weight, too much for too small a space?
and oh god, did we laugh.
i didn't actually see stephen get married when i was in australia. they decided, at the last minute, to elope to hawaii, as they should have. but it didn't matter you know? because i went.
and we had luna park. and i found myself thankful for the many, many different ways that friendship manifests itself.