This story starts in the year 1997. Its my first day of high school and I am nervously scanning the room for any potential new friends. My gaze settles on this ethereal platinum blonde fairy sitting nearby. I overhear her proclaim her love for Boys 2 Men and I am quick to also express my eternal devotion to Boys 2 Men and TLC. I see a flicker of approval in her eyes and in this moment I know I have met my twin flame, at 12 years old, in the roll call class of North Sydney Girls High School.
Fast forward to today. Nina is now living her dream as a travel writer, married to the most wonderful pirate/winemaker of a husband, Pete. When they are not enjoying vintage in Burgundy or witnessing baby elephants fight off lions in Zambia, they split their time between their Coogee beach apartment and Krinklewood, the most gorgeous biodynamic vineyard in the Hunter Valley. In short, they are living the dream. They don’t claim to make a ton of money, but they have made a life for themselves thats rich in the things that they love. Textiles, travel, good wine, good food (life’s essentials right?) – the biggest highlight of my trip was without a doubt sinking into their routine. Beach, farm, beach farm.. if there was ever a reason to move back to Australia, the lifestyle (their lifestyle) in particular is high up on the list.
On our first weekend in Sydney, Aleph and I went camping (excuse me glamping!) up at Little Beach with Nina, Pete, and their very gracious friends. We pitched my Wild Things tent and decked it out with all my newly bought Bhutanese textiles (we forgot to bring water, but rest assured we looked fabulous even when parched) . We were practically swimming in biodynamic Krinklewood wine, so between the wine, the textiles and Aleph carving on the beach – we were just in pure heaven. The psychedelic sandstone had as all tripping on nature, and before the end of the camping trip I had decided against clothing altogether. All in all, it was the most delicious welcome home weekend of my life. I don’t believe that you can jinx yourself by proclaiming how good life is. Truly, those moments were some of the most beautiful i have ever experienced. There was an acknowledgement of what a great year this last one was for me professionally… bursting with love and gratitude for all the beautiful relationships in my life: for Aleph, Nina, Pete. The sweetness of being back home with my family. The relief at finally knowing I’m on the right path, headed in the directions of all my hopes and dreams.
For those who think that my life is without difficulty or heartache, let me also add that there were also a few challenges I faced on this trip back home. Like everyone else sometimes the pressure of seeing your family can build up, and my mother and I faced some challenges during our time together. Here I found that NV communication (thanks Aleph!) saved the day. If you are Latin and feisty like my mother and I, or you just want to dive into the art of communication – I highly recommend googling NVC. It is the next lesson I am trying to incorporate into my life, alongside DE (see my previous posts).
Personal growth aside the rest of the trip looked like this: Our radiant, badass friend Vanessa flew in from LA and New Years was spent drinking Krinklewood sparkling and getting psychedelic in her Coogee pad (which resembled a club from Lagos circa 1969 for the nights Aleph and I stayed). The first day of the year was similarly spent in various states of undress, drinking more biodynamic rose, scandalizing the north rocks of Gordon’s bay. A few days later the crew drove up to Krinklewood where we helped Nina and Pete move into their new house on the property – i don’t think anyone has enjoyed mopping up floors, cleaning up cobwebs and rearranging furniture more than we did those few days. A big thank you to Pete and the Windrim family who hosted us for those magical 2 nights. I am so blessed to call you guys my friends.
Then the 3 amigos (Aleph, Vanessa and myself) rented a campervan which we later christened “Sheba” to drive all the way up to Byron Bay. Applying the principle of Do Easy to travel, we savored the 9 hour drive up the coast, camping (sometimes illegally) in the carpark of secret beaches. A couple of nights all 3 of us snuggled in the back of the van, post Vanessa’s amazing macrobiotic dinners, listening intently to This American’s Life serial podcasts (is anyone else addicted?). Those we were some sweet moments. Swimming naked on deserted beaches and sinking into the deep magic of the land -home of the Bundjulung nation. Byron Bay and the surrounding areas are so steeped in magic, it was impossible not to observe with jaws wide open, the abundance, fertility and natural beauty of this country that I call home.
And on that note I will wrap this post up. Home. My home. My family. My friends. My girls (Waterloo, Redfern, you know who you are). Australia, I am so grateful to call you my home. I am grateful for the 2nd chance you gave my (single) mother and I when we immigrated here 28 years ago. I am grateful for a life spent smelling eucalyptus trees and sunbathing topless on your beaches. I will admit that I never fully appreciated you until I left, but isn’t that always the case in life? Well that ignorance is no more. I have travelled the world, I have seen beautiful things and experienced the most magical of places. But in my case the cliche is true. There is no place like home.
*Nina, Pete & Krinklewood for all the wine, hospitality and side splitting laughter.
*Vanessa for your delicious food and company. It was such a pleasure to have you in my home country.
*Wild Things for my favorite tent – i always hated camping, but GLAMPING is a whole other story!
*Ginger & Gilligan for the beach tipi of my dreams.
*Edwina for letting us crash your glamping party.
*Mara Hoffman for my bathing suit and NYE outfit.
*All That Remains for my crochet bikini.
*My beautiful Koori boys and girls (now all grown up) in Waterloo/Redfern. Thank you for holding down the community – remember… you have the dreaming!
*And lastly my mama, Rosa. Thank you for the brave decision you made all those years ago to move to this amazing country. I love you more than words can express.