Leaving Nelson

I walked out of the Styx at the end of my last shift and I noticed the silence. From the goodbyes and best wishes of many people I’ve come to love, to just the sound of the sea rolling in. Loud silence. A slap in the face with silence.

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Is being alone really as good as I think it is?

I remind myself that it’s time to go, because I’ve got words to put on paper and melodies to string together, plants to smell and an ocean to talk to. Because I’m not ready to fall in love, and I better get out while I still can.

I laugh about it too. Telling my closest friends and my mom that I care too much, and I came here not to. Then, to no one’s surprise, I suck at it. I amped myself up to walk out on a short-term job the other day. Something I have never done. It was going to be good too, for I had nothing to lose, and they deserved it. Or so I thought. Then in my first bit of eye contact, the man apologised and instantly, a grudge was just too slippery to hold on to. At the end of the night he gave me a great compliment, a bottle of wine, and a hug. I walked out smiling and thought, “Ok self, you’re the same.”

I’m just going to keep going on the way I came in; walking, singing, and feeling too much. No place has ever noticed it more than Nelson.

I’ve been seasonal for 10 years now. I’ve left a lot of jobs, but there was something very special about the mix of characters in this team. An air of getting through something together, like a crew on a ship. Each of us carrying our story with us, our families, and our homes, and somehow that messy table full of all of our junk looked beautiful. We were lucky for it. Still are.

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My friends Jeff and Brittney were talking to me on the phone the other day. They asked what I was up to and I said. “I just left Nelson.”

Jeff jokingly said, “Who’s Nelson?”

I laughed, but it made me think a bit. I use to think of it as a where. It was a killer farmers market, an ocean next to the Richmond Ranges, a good vegan scene, fantastic hikes up the Grampians and the Centre of New Zealand. A few months later, I realise Nelson has become a who. Nelson is Anne and Tom making me smile during their morning coffee. It’s the tea lady and the mug guy at the market. It’s Ryan, my guitar dad, and my two guitar brothers Vinny and Ben. It’s getting to know an old friend all over again. It’s connecting and relating to women who inspire me. It’s the compassionate company of good hearts. Its writing dates and 3 am Harry Potter talks. It’s Pru and Jess and Dana and Sharon and Fawn and Katie and Tom and Robert. It’s love.

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I thank my lucky stars for leading me to it, and I walk on with a grateful smile.

Long may you shine, Nelson.

To Ashes

She exists in a container now. Although she sort of doesn’t. That’s what makes it all so interesting to navigate.

There are many feelings. You’re left wondering which one to choose.

There’s sentimentality, the most presumed. Take a little part of it with you everywhere you go.

There’s the reality slam. Holding it and thinking about what it means. You knew it would come to this, but it would have been impossible to truly imagine.

Plus there’s all the stuff in between, that got us here. Those which have been shut out purposely, in hopes not to lose sanity. It’s not erasable and it’s taken a lot to steer our brains away. Just try.

There’s wondering how to treat it. Is it sacred or is it nothing? Is it both or neither? Do I touch it with my fingers, do I scoop it with a plastic spoon? Should I pray in some way, at least to her?

Then deciding what to do with it. All boiled down to one big question…..

Can I keep you?

Though I already know that I can’t. Then again, what do I know?

I can hear her voice saying that I can. I see her boisterous nod. I know she wouldn’t mind any of this. “I’ll walk with you.” she’d say. Or, “Just toss me in the garden. Put me in a coffee mug.”

God it’s hard to let you go. You deserve to be free. You deserve to be flung joyfully.

Still, I know that you don’t mind if I hold on, for now.

There’s humour and there’s lightheartedness, mixed with ache and gratitude. Desire to keep you alive the way that’s left for me.

Here we sit, with ashes.