December has been a whirlwind month. After getting back to writing in November, I disappeared again. Besides finally seeing some of what the state of Victoria has to offer, I struggled balancing crazy holiday work hours, a hunger for alone time, and weird emotions of holidays abroad. Something is tearing me apart.
December has been a bit of a weird month for me. In November I vowed to explore more of Melbourne and the surrounding areas. At the same time, as December crept up, it brought holiday work hours. That means longer days, bigger and busier nights, and holiday chaos. At least in the restaurant business. And since this job is literally paying for new adventure tickets, I’ve been battling my desire for time off to write and explore in order to pad my wallet. It’s breaking me a little.
Even with the insanity that comes with the holidays (pushy shoppers, office parties, herds of aggressive drunks, erratic hours) I did manage to see a few beaches this month. To get a little fresh air. To be in the embrace of nature for just a little while. I’ve been quiet on the blog because if I wasn’t working and coming home to pass out, I was actually seeing things. Actually exploring. Early December, some work mates and I decided to rent a car last-minute and explore the Great Ocean Road of Australia. WOW. That’s all I have to say now, but I’ll share some pictures below that will make you blurt out the same thing. And it brought my emotions back up to a high point after feeling down much of November.
How could that not boost your mojo?
I also took a trip down to Mornington which is a winery destination close to Melbourne, though I didn’t make it to the beautiful coastal areas of Mornington Peninsula. That’ll come at a later date. But instead of taking one of those $100+ tours down to Mornington, I figured out a much cheaper (though lengthier) way to get there by public transport for $5 one way. It’ll cost you 2 hours of your day each way, but if you’re on a budget it’s worth it. And I’m the kind of person that will take the longest way possible to save a few bucks. It makes for great people watching after all. This coming week I’m hoping to finally hit the peninsula for some hiking.
Because I need to. Desperately.
Nature is definitely where I’m most happy, and this month I’ve noticed just how much of an impact it has on my emotions given the highs and lows I’ve been experiencing. Yes, I’ve been able to squeeze in a couple of brief escapes from work and the city to soak up the energy of the forest and beaches and waterfalls, but there’s always a ticking clock at the moment. I have to be back at work. I have to make money.
While driving on the Great Ocean Road I came to the realization that I love being on the road. I love movement. My spirit is transient. As much as I needed to relax after my wild 3 months in India, and as much as I needed to make some fast cash, my spirit might never be in a constant state of happiness in a city. At least not one like Melbourne or any young city of a western influence.
Don’t get me wrong, Melbourne is awesome. There’s a ton to see and do and discover. It has one of the most exciting and unique food scenes I’ve seen, and restaurants and cafés like no other. Wander the streets and it has some of the best street art and street musicians in the world. But Melbourne is too young. No, I’m not bashing anti-conformism of the young hipster elite and their vintage swag, or the just out of high school wannabe fashion models in seedy clubs. It’s different. Not in the way that Berlin is said to be a clash of youthful ideas and culture emerging from an old soul, but in Melbourne’s actual age. It shows.
As much as the early 1800’s and 1900’s Victorian influences fascinate me in the row houses of Melbourne, it doesn’t have that deep soul that cities like Rome or Prague have. The music scene might be eclectic and awesome here, but it isn’t anything like watching a 90-year-old man in Budapest play the accordion like his father and father’s father had played. All the while in Heroes Square beneath the statues of ancient warriors.
I can sit in a cafe and people watch and be fascinated by the comings and goings, but I can’t sit in a window and ever truly feel like I’m in a place where thousands of years of history have unfolded. Melbourne baffles me and amuses me and excites me — it just doesn’t speak to me. Maybe I’m an old soul, but my recent wanderings have tugged on something in my heart. That I haven’t been able to find constant happiness while living in one place in a city as young as Melbourne or Washington DC. It could be because I’m still not in a position to survive off of my passion, and I’m waiting tables.
Or it could be that I’m just a restless spirit.
While driving the Great Ocean Road I was tempted to just keep on driving and not go back. The cities of Australia are young like the United States, but the land is ancient. Of course I’d be fined by the rental company for that, but I felt the draw of the winding roads and unfolding horizons. It was out of Melbourne and standing before the wind-swept cliffs that line the Great Ocean Road where I felt it most. Rivers and forests and mountains that have been there for millions of years spoke to me. Camping under the infinite blanket of the stars watching the shooting stars write stories across the universe. The rock “Apostles” worn by wind and sea for centuries stood in the never-ending waves. Here I only needed to feel her, Mother Nature, and smell and touch and hear her. When I’m living in the city, I feel more of a draw to buy something, or feel like I need a drink, or that I need to watch something for distraction.
Nature needs no distraction. Same when I’m actually on the road.
Not just nature, but in ancient cities. I hunger for history. When I was in Rome or Prague or even Chiang Mai, I can sit and relax all day. I could wander the streets all day like a little kid. I never felt the need to “escape” the city. I wander Melbourne’s streets and admire the art and musician and cool hole-in-the-wall joints…but it’s an adult admiration. I don’t feel my imagination flourish. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a feeling I’ve had all month. Maybe even since I arrived. For now I can inject myself with a small cure by seeing more of Victoria and its natural attractions. And when the time comes, exploring more of Australia’s wild side.
It’s clear I need to find a balance. It could also be the pressure of the approaching New Year that the world puts on “changing your life” and that I’ve been constantly fighting with my dislike of working in restaurants again. It could be that I’ve decided on some exciting travel plans for 2016 and I want ache to be on the road again already. It could just be the feeling that I’m stuck working now instead of being a free spirit.
Either way, the road is ever calling me — my disease, the “fernweh” or farsickness I have for places I’ve never been. Sometimes it hurts. I can feel the pull of it tearing at my chest but I’m grounded here at the moment for monetary reasons. Some days I’m at work and I can’t kick the feeling that I just want to walk off. Not that it’s a bad job, and I really love the people I work with, but dammit I hunger for roads and trails and ancient streets. I just need to wait a little bit longer, and make the best of a situation that isn’t so bad — just not the one my spirit desires.
Maybe I need meditation?