Throughout the tapestry of her life there had always been a thread of loneliness, in every relationship, encounter and memory, for as long as she could remember. She felt a deep yearning in her soul of a great purpose but the specific detail eluded her. Her purpose in life was something she couldn’t grasp. This knowing without really knowing kept her feeling slightly aloof from those she loved and liked, until she met him.
Together the loneliness dissipated and the need to understand the greater purpose no longer seemed quite so important.
“Let’s just do it Lach, come on it will be fun,” Jas excitedly declared into the still and peaceful room.
It was a sleepy Saturday afternoon in a quiet country town. Lying together they could hear a housemate doing some dishes, the churning of an overloaded top loader washing machine, the occasional car driving past, the sound of a lawn mower in the distance and the high pitched protests of tired children fighting. Then of course there was Costa, breathing heavy next to the bed, as he patiently waited for somebody to stir and maybe take him for a walk.
“Do what?” Lach sleepily murmured.
“Travel around Australia together. Let’s just quit our jobs, sell our stuff and drive around Australia,” in that moment, right then and there Jas thought it sounded so easy and brilliant.
Lach’s practical brain still worked well even in a relaxed and semi-sleeping state.
“What would we travel in, how would we pay for it, where would we go first, where would we work?” he rattled off a long list of practical and perfectly legitimate questions, while Jas who was getting overly excited by the idea was waving her hands around saying “Oh I don’t know, let’s just do it”.
Lach, trying to hide his own excitement at the idea, conceded “Righto, let’s save our money and plan to leave in a year, on one condition”.
Jas was still caught up in her own fantasies, planning more persuasive arguments and nearly missed the fact that Lach had just agreed. The conversation had just unexpectedly, and positively, accelerated and Jas wasn’t keeping up, she didn’t know what to say next.
“Did you hear me Jas, on one condition,” Lach repeated.
“Oh, sorry babe, what is the condition,” she said, still stunned.
“I want you to marry me before we go”.
Jas prided herself on being a level headed, sensible, educated and fairly rational young woman but in that moment she forget herself and squealed.
She sat staring dumbly at Lach, she was thinking to herself “This sort of thing does not happen to me. This is what happens to beautiful people, or rich people, or interesting and famous people but not me. Is it a joke? He wouldn’t do that, would he?”
Before she could still her racing mind and gather her thoughts enough to speak Lach reached over with a big smile and playful pushed Jas onto her back, looking intently into her face, his eyes filled with laughter, love, hope and a bit of fear.
Jas, trying to gain a little bit of control of this situation, used her hip to rock Lach upwards and pushed him onto his back. She looked at him and asked earnestly “Why, why would you want to marry me?”
“Because I love you and if I have to carry this ring around in my bag any longer my nerves will give me a bloody stroke”, Lach hopped up and in one step was over at his bag reaching in for something. He knelt beside the bed, opened the ring box and revealed a sweet diamond cluster ring. Jas cried, taking the ring, she slipped it onto her finger and she kissed her fiancé.
After nine months of living like hermits and scrimping and saving every single cent their trip was finally a reality. At work Jas had printed and laminated the motivational sign “Laugh more, live longer”, and arriving home with a bottle of chilled champagne, she grabbed three glasses, raced out and stuck the sign inside the bus and declared “Now it is ready”.
Lach and his Dad, Bede, stood back from the now complete project and shook hands, and then reluctantly and awkwardly embraced. The father son duo had worked on renovating the bus and the end result was terrific but Bede knew his beloved son would be driving off into the sunset with no real plan to return.
Meanwhile Jas excitedly opened every cupboard, sat on every seat, opened the microwave and loudly announced “This is more exciting then when I got Strawberry Shortcake for Christmas”.
“What about when we got married”, Lach retorted and Jas dismissively and playfully said “Oh yeah and that too”, giving her husband a sideways grin.
Just weeks later, after most of their possessions had been sold and the rest placed in storage, they turned the key in their brand new home. It was the most surreal feeling and amongst the excited goodbye hugs, calls of good wishes and teary waves that feeling of loneliness began to creep into her consciousness once again. However, the anticipation and excitement on their very first night of camping alone was exhilarating and enough to overshadow any feelings of doubt.
“Well Mrs Milton, I am off to catch you a fish for dinner” and then in his very worst Neanderthal impersonation Lach added “You, woman, must prepare vegetables”, and he walked, more quickly than usual, towards the river.
“Whatever! I’ll wait and see if you catch anything first Rex Hunt” Jas yelled after him, as she reclined in her swanky new camp chair to read her book, and she cautiously opened her heart just a little more and let the feelings of happiness and joy wash over her soul.
Only minutes later she looked up to see her hunter-gatherer husband wrestling with his line that was very obviously snagged, and giggling to herself she thought “It will be sausages for dinner tonight”.
Not too much later Lach returned heading to the back of the bus and loudly pulled out the old gas barbeque, but after a packet of matches and still no flame he banged around in the bus for a while. Jas then heard him open the microwave and soon she smelt the familiar scent of cheese and chives pasta and sauce.
She couldn’t help it, she laughed at him, Lach leapt out of the bus and picked her up, carrying her towards the river pretending to throw her in. She laughed loud and big and again let the love wash over her completely and the quote “I just wanna go on more adventures, be around good energy, connect with people, learn new things, grow” raced into her head and tickled all her senses. Right now life was better than she ever imagined possible and their journey was just beginning.
Each day of bliss was followed by another and another. The sense of freedom and excitement at the start of each day never got boring. They created and shared wonderful moments and memories together. Days spent swimming in crystal clear beaches on the south coast of New South Wales, riding bikes through the historical regional townships of Victoria, stopping continuously to admire the endless beauty of the Great Ocean Road and surviving restless nights in the potentially murderous roadside camp sites.
It was on the Nullabor Plain that the spirit of the country started to become undeniably noticeable.
One night, not far from the West Australian border she stood barefoot on the earth. A surge of ancient and wise energy came from the dirt and moved through her body. She had never experienced such raw spirituality, especially not generated from the ground. In that moment an appreciation of the spirit of the country began to awaken in her.
In the setting sun Lach was walking towards her, she wanted to tell him that she had a revelation, that she felt so loved, deeply loved and accepted by the land but before she could speak Lach had his own announcement to make.
“Don’t go to the toilets, they are chock a block of crap, stinks to freaking high heaven in there. You’ll have to pee behind that tiny bit of scrub over there”, which for some reason he thought was amusing.
Jas smiled to herself , up until that very moment she always assumed spiritual awakenings happened in Churches, or at retreats, or at the very least in a room with some incense, but no, wisdom can come to rest on your soul in the most unusual and unexpected places.
It was right there that her thinking shifted forever. The barren and relentless Nullabor Plains had tugged on her heart and pulled a thread in what she had always held as true. As her feelings of loneliness started to unravel she caught a glimpsed at the truth. Life really could be good and abundant and fun so long as she always kept her feet firmly planted on this great and ancient land.