What I have found most comforting about reading my diaries and journals from the past is that although it was originally childlike, my voice has never really changed. To know this is affirming. It’s reassuring. It’s comforting.
It’s good to know that my desire to travel, to write and to romanticise have always been innate. Of course I’ve grown and the pages of my life have at times cindered with both passion and pain but I write the same words, I narrate the same story. To know that who I am is unbending gives me a feeling of strength, of confidence, of warmth.
And so for this ‘Memoir Monday’ I present to you twenty two year old Brooke.
On the precipice of my two years in London I decided to build ‘travel confidence’ by booking little trips on my own. This account is of my first ever night away alone on Magnetic Island. After catching my first solo ferry trip I recount BBQ night with an eclectic gathering of solo women at the ‘Small, Clean and Friendly’ guest house on the beach.
What’s evident is that I have always wanted to ‘know’ people. It’s a curiosity that has seen me observing, conversing and writing about people all over the world.
I think that this natural desire to observe and record, and my fascination with people, was the budding writer in me. It was the beginning of the sacred strand between heart and paper.
This is where it begins. Most travel journals or recollections begin boarding the plane or at least after the ticket has been purchased. But mine will begin from now. For last night, in a caffeine bolstered flurry of heartbeat and dreams, I set a departure date in my head. This is where it begins.
This is a new episode in my life… the traveller. I feel as though I have a certain amount of credibility, chewing my gum, looking out to sea. Yes, it’s just me. Sometimes I do have the ability to dramatise an event. I mean, it’s only Maggie Island, it’s actually just a suburb of the town I live in for God’s sake! Of well life is a stage and we are all just actors…
Tonight is BBQ night. Salad is provided. Meat; bring your own. The lounge brings new visitors. A young American, Ursula, who is taking a break from her Sydney Uni exchange program. She is brown, wears a bandanna and has John Lennon style specs. Alone like me, she talks about her life.
Her father, a professor who travels the world to study crocodiles, has inspired her to similar academia as she is here studying frogs. I imagine what it would be like to study frogs. I think that I could enjoy it. I like frogs.
There is a mirror ball above. As Ursula speaks her blonde mustache glints in the disco lounge. Her hair is black, her mustache is blonde. She doesn’t seem to be the type to bother with bleaching; a curiosity that occupies my conversation with her.
Basha arrives. She is originally from Poland but now a citizen in Canberra. She too is alone but strikes up a conversation with Uma, a woman from Holland.
Philippa is the last to the disco lounge. A Melbournian who works on the stock exchange. She has a week off and she has chosen this spot with the ‘close your eyes and where your finger lands on the map is your destination’ trick. Her finger was wise, for in this heady, disco beach BBQ the atmosphere is gentle and slow.
We sit talking around the fire. Yes, this is what I was looking for. We talk about travelling, about places we call paradise, about frogs and the stock market. The fire crumbles and shifts, embers now emit a dull glow over our sunburnt limbs. Curlews visit our group. They curdle and scream their haunting cries into the cool air around us.
I wash my coffee cup and see Basha open a book and begin writing. She is filling her travel diary. She tells me that when she travels she writes in it every day and has had her stories published.
It’s not that I feel inspired but reinforced in my own quest to travel and transmit story. I go to bed with words tumbling through the space between my ears. I sleep restlessly but do not fell discontent. Rather, each time I wake I enjoy the beach-bunk-bed actuality of my resting place.
I think to myself… tomorrow I will make my way to the top deck of the ferry and chew gum with the wind in my hair.