‘Coincidence’ as the Jewish say ‘is not a Kosher word’ and as I sit here stretched out on this chair, 1052 kilometers from the last place I knew as home, looking out onto a crystal blue bay so close I could maybe, just maybe disturb its mirror surface with a pebble if my right arm summoned the strength, I can appreciate that the Jewish rabbi who first uttered the words which became that well known saying was not necessarily being as tongue in cheek as the modern text claims but rather he must have known something which I am just now beginning to grasp: There are no mistakes in life, there is only purpose and our purpose unfolds before us disguising itself in ‘accidents’ or ‘coincidences’ or ‘disappointments’, getting troubling news or ‘missing out’ on an opportunity. I can see now that purpose has to hide within these so called upsets as if it didn’t hide and we learned our story too soon, we would surrender to our human nature and want to manipulate the outcome and so since we were children, planning our future from even those first sentiments of ‘when I grow up I want to be a fireman!’ or in my case “when I grow up, I want to be a mermaid!’ Purpose has been sitting back idly, grinning and nodding wisely, tapping its pipe out on the heel of its shoe knowing that despite all our plans and all our preparations our true purpose would prevail, treading on the toes of our plans if need be, yes even disguising itself in accidents or let-downs if need be.
Anything to prevail.
Anything to unfold without our meddling.
And here I am, the perfect example of a victim of the necessary trickery of purpose! For only a few weeks ago I was mourning over my circumstances, fearing homelessness and the death of my plans and cautiously laid out self-purpose and praying endlessly that God would grant my prayers as if he were a genie and I was the one who had rubbed the tarnished exterior of his lamp. But my plans were so short sighted and so shallow and so unimaginative so as to only beg God for a home, and when I found this one simple request denied, it was days before I realized that it was not because God didn’t care or didn’t hear me but rather that my purpose was forcefully pushing through my premeditated and weak plans to unfold before me. And this is kind of how it happened:
We didn’t get granted that house, as you may very well have guessed already.
I was left panicked, my plan was falling apart and with only several days before I had to be out of my home, I had no other option but to surrender to whatever fate was unfolding before me. I decided in that moment to abandon the search for a home, and instead be free.
It took one day to arrange for our belongings to be packed and collected by the storage company, and a further few days to pack what was left of my life into my small car, get new tires, check the oil and hit the road.
As I watched the man take my possessions away and put them on the truck I felt lighter and lighter as more and more disappeared behind the raw wooden doors.
We left with a car bursting with the only things we dared to salvage but we got no more than several miles before I made the first stop and abandoned more possessions to any rubbish can that would hold them and with every secret stop such as this I would feel more light, more free…more able.
By the time we made it to Ulladulla we had little more than two shallow washing baskets containing 1 towel, some forks, the tent and the books my son and I were reading at the time. The camera was out of battery but full of photographs spanning over many days. Photographs of the long roads ahead of us, of sunsets and crossing boarders, setting up tents, reading by the light of a torch, sleeping in the car and relaxing in the sun. We didn’t have a home, we didn’t even really have a plan but I lost track of how many times on that roadtrip down here that I stood watching the sun go down with my hands on my hips watching my boys play in the river near some rest stop we had parked in or play in the trees of some camp ground we had found and had my eyes well up with tears because I was just so damn happy and I couldn’t get over the irony of it all. We didn’t really have anything. We didn’t even know where we were going but we were happier than we had been in many years.
I know now more than I have ever known that possessions don’t make you happy, experiences do. Wherever life takes you, whether it be small towns or big cities, it is inevitable that you will come across small minded people who think that it is things and more of them that make you a worthwhile person but I learnt something during those many days that it took us to get here. I learnt that so much happiness is overlooked if it does not cost anything. Happiness is like the simple wooden, handcrafted toy you used to play with when you were young, which now sits in the attic, covered in dust hidden by the things you have tried to occupy your life with to try and bring you happiness and distract you from your unhappiness. When I was hurriedly packing my things into that large storage container and clearing out the cupboards of all my old papers and documents and toys and things, I found that dusty little wooden toy and I held it up and said ‘oh, there you are my happiness! I wondered where you had gone!’
But it was there all along wasn’t it? Overlooked because of its simplicity.
After 5 days on the road we finally arrived in Ulladulla.
Ulladulla is like small harbors with boats rising up, then falling down on gentle tides. It’s like small, quiet roads leading to water holes and rock pools. It’s like the smell of salt rushing in your open windows at night with the breeze. It’s like the mist from the ocean which drifts across the roads and tangles in the trees. It’s like sunsets which bleed the sky…
Its small and nothing really happens here, and when you mention how much you love it people who have lived here all their life say ‘oh yes, but it really is so small and nothing ever happens here’
There is a small cinema which only accepts cash, boutique stores which sell cotton dresses and floppy hats and café’s in old houses with balconies and good coffee.
There are markets on Sunday along the beach.
Musicians with hats at their feet play guitars or harmonicas or both, trying to drown out the crashing of the waves. Grey haired women sit behind stalls selling lemon butter and knitted booties, which stand beside other stalls with old vintage suitcases and antique jewelry.
Gum trees hang lazily over the parks and mothers sit up against the trunks reading books while the children chase the dog and pick through the sand looking for shells.
When you come here you become a doll. The man at the post office will say to you ‘Would you like that standard or express post, Doll?’
The lady on the street will say ‘Thanks Doll’ when you make way for her. The couple you meet at the markets will wave and say ‘How’re you doin, Doll?’
Ulladulla is like that. Its small and nothing really happens here, and everyone is a Doll.
A few weeks ago I saw a job advertised online. A place called Cupitts winery was looking for a waitress in their restaurant so I thought what the hell, picked up the phone and said that I would take their job, if it was still there for the taking.
I got granted a trial shift and was given directions and told to wear black.
The next day the directions took me along another quiet road which was dotted with holes like pockmarks. Finally I turned into a gravel driveway and as I did this is the view that rose to greet me:
I am a girl who gets very moved by beautiful scenery and as I took in this view I had to slow my car almost to a stop so I could absorb it all. By the time I parked the car I had decided I was in love with this property and would work there for free if I had to, just so I could keep coming back.
One of my favorite quotes of all comes from the movie ‘Donnie Darko’ and is: “This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that Cellar Door is the most beautiful”.
Ever since hearing that I have loved hearing those two words together. Even saying it out loud to myself now makes me smile. ‘Cellar door, Cellar door…. Cellar door’
When I stepped up to the restaurant I could see they had two main buildings connected by a large pergola. One was the restaurant, balcony and kitchen, and the other was where the wine tasting was done and above the door was a sign which had on it the name of this room: Cellar Door.
Oh life, you can be so beautiful.
In the restaurant people sat around tables. Above their heads the subtle noise of chatter and laughter flitted like a hummingbird and everyone looked warm and happy. The light of the setting sun idled in through the windows so as everyone looked as if they were surrounded by apple juice and on every table sat glasses of wine and as the light hit them they glowed bright as if little lanterns and so if you were there beside me that day, looking at this and seeing what I saw you would probably think the same thing as I did which is, ‘how in this world have I come to be in a place as beautiful as this, where the rooms have names like ‘cellar door’ and glasses on tables light up like lanterns as the sun sets over the hills…..’
And so this has been my life for the last few weeks. I wake up to the breeze blowing my light, white cotton drapes across my pillows and when I walk into the living room the ocean is right outside. I take my boys to the beach and they will play for hours in the waves, only stopping to turn and wave to me and I smile and wave back. I am starting to recognise faces in the street and have gotten used to finding sand in everything. I have been working in the evenings and the beauty of that property still takes my breath away every time I drive down that gravel driveway.
I never want to leave this place and when I arrived home a few nights ago and stood under the moon watching the mist of the sea breathe through the trees and smelled the salt mixed with dew on the night air I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to leave. It was then I knew that we would stay.
And so we are.
I’m so happy here and when you find yourself in a place that makes you as happy as I am right now, why leave? I will iron out all the details in the weeks to come, but as I sit here, stretched out on this chair, watching the boats come into the harbour and the kookaburra’s fly in and out of the gum trees I know without a doubt that I am home.