Come what, May? A review

At the end of 2011, I asked myself if life could possibly get any better. In a year, I had travelled Europe, moved interstate, visited my original state six times, gone to the Northern Territory twice and to Adelaide once. I'd started several new jobs, a new degree and made dozens of new friends. I went to tens of fantastic events across my new city. And then, to polish off the year, I ran away to Ghana.

At the end of 2011, I knew 2012 would be big. I didn't think it would be this big.

May 2012 has been one of the most intense - physically and emotionally - months of my life. Ever. It's been a learning curve, an international journey, a time of new friends and, often, a time of tears. Change isn't always easy. And just when you think you've gotten things sorted, life throws yet another challenge at you. Or more specifically, at me.

A perfectly cut, perfectly green lawn sitting underneath grand old shady trees, park benches at the side and quiet pairs walking past, minding their own business. My cousin was driving us around in her classy Mustang, looking for exactly the right spot. Lost, she decided we should get out of the car and wander on foot. "It's just over here," she called. We'd been drawn to exactly the right spot in this idyllic landscape. "There are the Cousin M's parents, and your grandparents are just up here, see? All the brothers and sisters and their partners together." And there, beneath our feet, was our entire family. The tightest family of ten children, with thousands of stories to boot. The sisters from whom my grandmother 'borrowed' clothes to win best dressed in her class despite the family living hand-to-mouth, the war-years where the women fretted together and from which the men luckily returned, the fights and the tears, the smiles, the family to conquer all families with their noise, character and sense of belonging. The family I remember fondly from one entirely overwhelming evening in my grandparents' home, seemingly three hundred strangers poking and prodding my five year-old body with a knowing kindness that I could not at all understand. A night where I searched desperately for the cousins for whom I wrote with adoration letters of "I love you" and from whom I sought the safety of their grown-up arms. And there, at the end of the row in this beautiful park, were my grandparents. My eyes welled up with tears for two people I hardly knew yet, surely, knew me more than I will ever understand. For my grandma, we left two roses because "she always liked to have more than her sisters" and red roses were always her favourite.  For the first time in a long, long time, I got to say Shalom. As we climbed back into the car, I knew this was hello, goodbye, and peace be with you.

I hardly had time to say hello to Chicago before I said goodbye. A whirlwind tour of my dad's old stomping grounds was like some bizarre walk through a history steeped in the sepia of Dad's many stories.  These were the mean streets my dad walked, the cleaned streets of a changed city. In the Windy City, feet move fast on the pavement and the stories are lost on the zephyrs that whip down the sky-scraping tunnels. If you move your head just right, you might catch a long-lost echo of time.

Before I knew it, I was jetting off to San Francisco, the last stop on my four-city, two-week tour of the US. Family history was replaced by the forward-thinking and entrepreneurial spirit of the city that lives in a bubble almost immune to the ups and downs of the rest of the world.  It was here that I cocooned myself in cafe couches for hours, absorbing the spirit of the city and turning it into productivity. A newly-born project went from late-night collaboration on the back of hotel stationery to an excited and solid collaboration. The cogs were turning the wheels on time and with them grew the fabric of my future. It was here I caught up with old friends making new plans and new friends solving old problems. In the Bay Area, anything is possible.

Anything, that is, except stopping time. Five days into May, the bell tolled for my return to Sydney. A fourteen-hour flight brought me right back to the reality of lectures, early mornings at clinical school, bills and piles of washing. Being me, I has also pre-booked much of my first week with catch-ups, Skype-meetings and participating in University research studies. That, and Living Below the Line. Exhausted, lacking in nutrients and slightly overwhelmed, I spent my first weekend home sitting in the park working on both my Vitamin D levels and my ability to talk really quickly. 

The month continued to fly by, meetings and class, work and friends all melding into one chaotic rush. I spent a weekend down in Melbourne as a late Mother's Day gift. It was a 36-hour visit that involved multiple restaurants, two galleries, five friends and no study whatsoever. The emails that welcomed me home promised endless hours of fruitful intellectual adventure. Projects that had been sitting on the back-burner suddenly came into play, dreams progressed towards reality, old friends got back in contact and as quickly as everything changed, it shifted back into a new place.

TEDxSydney came, inspired, and went, coinciding with the beginning of Reconciliation Week. An email read at some ridiculous hour of the night informed me that I'd been accepted for a workshop interstate. An interview on the Tuesday lead to an international Medical Placement scholarship for December delivered on the Thursday. 

And at the end of it, I ask, "come what, May?" You were intense, challenging, overwhelming, incredible, eye-opening, exciting, frustrating, upsetting and utterly unexpected.

And then came June...


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