Tagged: travel

Or did I make you f*ing dance?

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A few months ago, I heard a track on the radio. I have to warn you, it contains expletives. But then, a lot of good things do. It’s by Robert DeLong, and it’s called Global Concepts. Here’s how it starts:

I think it burns my sense of truth
to hear me shouting at my youth
I need a way to sort it out.

After I die, I’ll re-awake,
redefine what was at stake
from the hindsight of a god.

I’ll see the people that I use,
see the substance I abuse,
the ugly places that I lived.

Did I make money? Was I proud?
Did I play my songs too loud?
Did I leave my life to chance
or did I make you f***ing dance?

So, where have I been these past five weeks? I’ve been dancing, people. And I intend to make the entire f*ing world dance along with me.

Sorry. Expletives. They’re contagious.

But anyway, what is the crazy lady talking about? Where were we?

The last time we spoke, I was sitting by a pool in Malaysia. Since then, I’ve shivered my way around Copenhagen, driven really fast around Northern Italy, and returned home to lovely sunny Sydney, just as the trees were beginning to shed their leaves.

And the whole way through our whirlwind adventure, I had this song on my head.

Did I leave my life to chance
or did I make you f***ing dance?

Did I leave my life to chance
or did I make you f***ing dance?

Did I leave my life to chance
or did I make you f***ing dance?

You get the idea.

What does it mean? It means that since I’ve had the potential of an early death flashed in front of me, I’ve been suffused with the desire to take life by the balls.

Sorry. Language again.

I realised that there have been many, many times in life, too countless to mention, where I’ve made the sensible decision. Where I’ve said well, that’d be fun… but it’s not strictly necessary now, is it?

And in Italy, in Lake Como in fact, I suddenly realised that this has to stop.

I’m not a woman of faith. I’m really not convinced there’s any life after this one. And as such it would be a bloody shame to miss out on any opportunity for enjoyment.

The upshot being, I decided, among other impulsive decisions, that I wanted to get married.

Those of you who have known me for a long time will know that I have always proudly been not the marrying type. Not being religious, it’s simply not necessary (see above). And I’ve always liked questioning social norms and expectations. And plus, I didn’t (and don’t) want to be a party to some archaic institution that discriminates against human beings who love just as truly, deeply and honestly as I do. If gays and lesbians aren’t allowed to marry under Australian law, why should I be?

So, why the change of heart then?

A thousand reasons.

In the past year, my various families (nuclear, de facto and urban) have taught me just how important family is. Charlie’s family in particular were so incredibly supportive, loving and wholehearted through my treatment that I began to question my naive assumption that one family (my nuclear one) was enough. I’ve long called myself sister-in-sin to Charlie’s siblings but just plain old sister is nicer.

My emotional baggage about my parent’s marriage was also troubling me. I knew deep in my heart that part of my lack of desire to get married stemmed from my fear that if I married, my relationship might go the same way. I also feared bringing disparate parts of my divorced family back together and opening up old wounds.

Part of the healing process for me is confronting my own demons. Accepting that my I am not my parents, and that my family’s ancient histories are not my problem or responsibility is a big step, I believe.

The other thing that’s been troubling me has been certain people’s treatment of Charlie and myself. A subset of people have long treated our relationship as somehow less worthy or genuine because of our lack of desire to get married. I even had one person ask me if we were in a holding pattern until better prospects came along. I mean… seriously?

It’s not that I’m keen to impress these people. I think their attitude is pretty reprehensible, actually. But right now I feel I need to make a definitive statement. We’ve been through a lot this past year and all the deep connections that have been forged need to be celebrated.

And finally, I want to gather all my favourite people together in one room and f*ing dance.

Last expletive. Promise.

So, Europe.

It was absolutely wonderful.

There were sweets, and gloves, and lots of neon purchases in Copenhagen:

 

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Lake Como was breathtaking. And life changing. And life affirming.

We stayed in a truly ridiculous spa that was once the home of a famous opera singer. We joked that we were staying in George Clooney’s boudoir.

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Jazz hands in Como.

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Milan, where I admitted over a 2 Euro glass of prosecco in this old Monastery that I wanted to get married.

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We took in a tiny portion of the Salone (Milan Design Week).

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Then…

Parma…

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Siena…

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San Gimignano…

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Bergamo…

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Verona…

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And San Pellegrino Terme. Once a glamorous spa town, now an almost forgotten historical relic.

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It was a beautiful trip, but the beautiful times didn’t end there.

It’s nice to be home.

xo

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The bucket list tour

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Goodness. I hope you like photos.

Take this as a good sign. I’m a person who lives for pictures. When I’m sad or sick, my desire to record and create images just about vanishes. Which is why this blog was text only for so many months.

When I’m well, I start looking at things again. And planning and plotting things. So herewith, one almighty image dump.

Firstly, where am I?

I’m on a trip that I’ve dubbed “the bucket list tour”.

Last year, when I got my diagnosis in June and everything just sort of stopped, a rather lovely holiday fell by the wayside. Charlie and I were planning to head to Venice for the Architecture Biennale, and to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding. Surgery, and IVF, and chemo, and all other unpleasant things took precedence. Of course they did.

Rather than lovely holidays, I had months and months as a virtual prisoner in my own house or various hospital rooms. I believe I wrote a blog post at some point about skipping the country. It wasn’t the right time, but of course it was the starting point for plotting my next trip.

It’s a strange one. Don’t expect logic or order here, because it’s a “bucket list” trip. I connected the places I wanted to go and the people I wanted to see, and went for it.

Our journey starts in Cambodia. Two dear friends, Eva and Loris, are living the most remarkable life in Phnom Penh right now. However, they’re soon to pack up their wonderful apartment and move back to Australia. So we simply had to visit them before the time ran out.

In no particular order, here are some mementos of our time in Phnom Penh.

First up, lady boy feet in animal slippers at a regional food fair in Phnom Penh. This was a big night out Phnom Penh Style. There was a rather intense moment where I sipped snail porridge in front of an adoring crowd of regional Cambodians*. There were a whole lot of young fellows with amazing sweeping K-Pop coifs. We learned how to dance anti-clockwise around a fruit table half-Khmer half-Hip Hop style (that’s our dancing posse in the next photo down- note a couple of regional Cambodian fellows who took it upon themselves to teach the dorky white folk to dance). It was an awesome night.

*There may have been two rather explosive cases of food poisoning following the snail porridge experience. Or was it the deep fried crickets at the market the next day? Impossible to say for sure.

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These rather lovely tiles are inside a once grand hotel which is now occupied by squatters and slowly crumbling away. Apparently the film City of Ghosts was shot partially in this building. I haven’t seen it as yet but if the building is anything to go by it’s pretty atmospheric.

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Fishy delights at the Phnom Penh Central Market. Post food poisoning, the dried seafood display now looks to me like neatly laid out micro-organisms of the gut churning variety. At the time they just looked pretty.

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Lovely, lovely mangosteens. The rest of the world deserves mangosteens.

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Cambodia is a survivor of some really horrendous stuff. It feels incredibly crass to draw a parallel between my own recent experiences and Cambodia’s slow healing process post- Khmer Rouge, but the country really spoke to me in a way I don’t think it would have pre-cancer. The humility, dignity and quiet acknowledgment of terrible wrongs in the too recent past was inspiring if saddening. The people of Cambodia want us all to bear witness to the terrible wrongs, and so we travelled to the Killing Fields on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The memorial stupa contains around 9000 skulls, most showing serious head wounds. The ground still holds slivers of bone and rags of torn clothing. What terrible wrongs are inflicted, human being on human being. Shall we ever learn to just live and let live?

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In a rather alarming twist, a tourist guide sheet hanging in a Tuk Tuk offers “shopping and shooting”, “malls and machine guns”.

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Another faded colonial gem. Squats with satellite dishes?

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Next stop, Malaysia. We were here to attend the wedding of an old family friend, and to catch up with my brother who I hadn’t seen in several years. First, a motor bike wall mural inside a bunker in Fort Cornwallis in Penang.

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Random kitsch in the old Fort.

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Creepy china dolls and other oddities in the Peranakan Heritage Museum.

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Random vistas in Old Penang.

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A short trip to Malacca, between bouts of food poisoning. The upside of the Snail Porridge Amoeba Incident was that I got to meet a wonderful Chinese doctor. He not only quickly prescribed a quick solution to the food poisoning, but he gave me a spontaneous character sketch (frighteningly accurate) based on my blood group, with diet suggestions with a view to managing my “chronic illness”. I stayed away from alternative medical advice during my treatment but I’m now open to suggestions and may try a little of what my new doctor friend recommended.

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It’s now 24 hours until we leave South East Asia and I’m sitting by the poolside watching torrential tropical rain thunder down. I am truly content and so, so happy to be here writing this post in happier times.

Love to you all.

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