Wednesday snuck up on me with no topic for the blog. Desperately searching for an idea, I thought about trying a "this day in history" type of approach. You know, open "the Google" and peruse the vast catalog of human affairs to discover what significant events transpired on this date. But I never got that far. Instead, I began to wonder about my own personal history.
Like everyone, I have certain Red Letter Dates that mark the momentous occasions in my life. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings--all are in the permanent record, part of the known canon. But what about the daily experience? From a certain perspective, every day is a revelation. The minor calamities and small celebrations of everyday life inform your existence, but they rarely earn a spot on the timeline. Maybe that is why Facebook is so popular. Every single day can be highlighted in the infinite ether. As long as the internet is accessible, you can see what you had for lunch exactly 4 years ago.
Then I remembered. Twenty-two years ago--when Mark Zuckerberg was still picking is nose in the 1st grade--I traveled west for one full year, circumnavigating the globe and writing it all down in a journal. So this morning I dug out the old box. I thumbed through one yellowing notebook and found today's entry:
March 13, 1991
This morning the girls took me to the turn off and dropped me off. Before doing so, they gave me their addresses and told me to call them up when I pass through Adelaide. Patty and Phillipa live in Adelaide; they had traveled out to Sydney on sick leave and were heading home when they picked me up last night. I hadn't eaten properly since Sunday night; all I had were cheese sandwiches from the ever present road food bag. Nevertheless, I felt great. As it had in New Zealand, freedom revealed itself as a tangible feeling. It's great to be absolutely free and hungry!
It was only half an hour after being let off that I caught a ride with an older gentleman named Laurie. He gave me a non-stop cruise to Melbourne. He was a very interesting character, a sort of old swashbuckler and a bit of a renaissance man. He was leading flying missions with the RAAF during WWII and had clocked hundreds and hundreds of hours before the age of 21. He aided a Philippine resistance force and a network of guerillas in Malaysia fighting the Japanese. He lost his Philippine wife--who was pregnant with his child--to the Japanese. He designed state of the art gliders after the War and in his spare time he builds boats. He was truly an amazing guy. He had to be in his early 70s and he still has the energy to lead scout troops on expeditions, to run around Australia visiting old friends, and to chase women. He currently is seeing a girl who is "much younger" than himself.
He took me to a great vegetarian restaurant once we got to Melbourne. When I tried to pay for my $10 entree (a fabulous fettucini) he wouldn't let me. He bought lunch and told me that I had made his day. It's funny because I was thinking the same of him. He took me to the St. Kilda district of Melbourne and dropped me off. We shook hands and sadly parted company. He gave me his phone number and address and I promised to send him a card from Tasmania.
So I arrived in Melbourne almost 26 hours after leaving Sydney. I spent a total of $1.70 on the way (Coca Cola, chips). This hostel is pretty cool. It's an old Victorian house that's been renovated. It has been awhile, though, since I've been in a youth hostel. The last one was in New Zealand. But hostel dorm room funk is universal; you can't miss it. Sweaty socks and BO. Like most hostel rooms the world over, mine stinks to high heaven. Well, I guess it's back to life on the high road, eh? I'll sign off now.
So there you have it. On this day in 1991, I was hitchhiking from Sydney to Melbourne on my way to Tasmania. Along the way I caught rides with a Swiss banker living in Canberra, two energetic female prison guards from Adelaide, and a man for all seasons named Laurie Stinson.
Later, I would hitch through the Outback and down the Gold Coast.
Why all this looking back?. Maybe it's because I play it safe these days. Having a family and a mortgage rightly tempers the impulse to do something too brash. For now, I'll just try to say "yes" a little more and worry a little less. And when I'm flying down the highway at 75 mph, I'll try to remember the perspective from the side of the road.