Last week I was bedridden. Throwing up, headaches, fevers and unable to breathe properly. It takes a great deal to send me to bed. Either I can’t stand on my feet due to spinal pain or breathing is difficult due to pneumonia. My daughter made her lunch each day and got out her workbooks. I was so very proud of her. Sculptures by the Sea was on in Sydney, and I thought that the ocean air may help my recovery. We departed early, the sky an ominous grey. By the time we left Museum Station, a storm had begun. The wind was ferocious, and turned my sturdy umbrella into a weapon. We found a café to take shelter in. The barista was a delightful young lady from Wales, and I was entranced by her accent. I couldn’t understand a thing she was saying, mind you! I asked for a coffee in a mug as big as my head and my request was granted.
My child and I discussed cancelling our trip to the ocean walk to see the sculptures. My mind started with its anxiety reel. What if my phone runs out of battery and we get lost? What if our Opal cards run out of money and we can’t top them up? How will we get back from Bondi? What if there is torrential rain? I noted that two friends and their kids were going to brave it. They posted that the weather was much better on the coast. Another friend mentioned that she and her son had danced in the rain the day before and had a ball. My daughter looked at me, and said in a determined voice, “Remember our motto? The Angelou girls never give in and never give up.” Trapped by my own motto! It astounds me the way we try to talk ourselves out of new experiences; out of adventures. We found the bus we were to take, and enjoyed a pleasant trip through the Eastern Suburbs. The only hitch was that I went the wrong way when trying to find Tamarama Park. We walked in circles, my anxiety growing stronger. What if my phone goes flat, what if our Opal cards run out, what if we are lost… What if I am not enough for this amazing daughter of mine? She squeezed my hand and smiled, “it’s okay if we can’t find it. Being together is what it’s about.” I gave it one more try, and to our delight, we found it!
The ocean air did indeed clear my lungs and head. It was like magic! It was quiet, given the wind and mild temperature. The sun was hidden, but the beauty wasn’t. Somehow it made the scene all the more haunting. The children climbed rocks and sprayed each other with this enormous bottle.
They ran barefoot and wild, just as a child should be. As one of them swung on monkey bars, performing daredevil tricks, I overheard two young women as they went by. “Look at that little girl! I love that she has no fear.” I told my friend what they had said about her child, and she smiled. She said that older people usually criticize her lack of terror at her child’s antics! My daughter found a wishing pot and made a special wish.
We could taste the salt on our lips, feel it in our hair. It was like fairy dust, a light smattering of medicine. For two hours, the children played games, laughed, ran and discussed the sculptures. These two spoke of some of the issues of their generation. The ‘Barbie Wave’ was created from thousands of discarded dolls, and spoke to our rampant consumerism. The child holding their phone and sitting mesmerized spoke of our obsession with technology.
As we were leaving, we came across a massive blackboard a resident had placed outside her home.
We only stayed two hours, as our friends had to get back to the car or face a hefty fine, but time seemed to be fluid, rather than linear. We caught the bus back into town with a cacophony of smiling people. A lady in her 90’s regaled us with her stories. Today taught me that I am enough for my daughter. I am going to be okay and I shouldn’t let fear stop me from doing anything. If the Opal Card or phone had run out of power, I would still be okay. There is a big world out there to explore, and there are more magnanimous people than bad.