Yesterday was perfect. I bumbled my way onto the right bus, finally, after standing on the wrong side of the street for one round like a dumb American, and then settled back into my seat for the ride to Bondi. I knew that I was heading to a wonderful walk along the coast, but I had no idea it would look like this.
It's what I picture the French Riviera to look like. But having just looked up pictures of the Riviera, I think Bondi is more beautiful. Which reminds me of a hilarious SNL sketch with Bill Murray. He's playing a Spanish gameshow host. He coyly asks the question, "Quien es mas macho, Fernando Lamas o Ricardo Montalban?" Exactly.
Every time I turned the corner on my walk, I was met with new sights. Another cove of turquoise waters. Ethereal clouds. A cemetery with the view of the century. Too bad those folks had to die to live there. I took a picture of the sign with the details of how to buy a burial plot just in case I want to plan ahead at some point. (Dearest family, please take note. I'm only half kidding.)
Just before walking over the crest of the cemetery I stopped to have lunch in Bronte. I was lucky that arriving there coincided with my stomach growling loudly. There was an adorable little strip of restaurants off the beach, past the chip shops and other seaside tourist traps. I chose my restaurant by the sign font (once a design type, always a design type) and by the salad that two girls were eating at a table out front.
One of the things that mystifies me in the best way here is that every single place I've eaten at, big, small, touristy, fancy, or whatever, the food has been delicious. I ordered an arugula salad with cous cous, beets, oranges, candied nuts, and grilled haloumi cheese. It was divine. So fresh. So tasty. So expensive, like everything here is. But so worth it.
I took the chance to rest in the shade and recharge my phone. While I sat there taking in my surroundings, I overheard the incredibly cheerful cafe owner talking to her friends and telling them that she'd just returned from Europe from her father's funeral. He'd gotten cancer and died within months, which was surprising in a number of ways, not the least of which he was her mother's caretaker, so now she and her brother were left to care for their mother very unexpectedly. It was sad and inspiring to hear her talk. She didn't say much about their relationship, but whatever it had been, she seemed to be taking his departure in stride. I have this conversation with people a lot, actually. When they learn about my mother's early death and contemplate how they'd handle themselves in that situation, they almost always ask, "How did you keep going?" The answer is simple: You just do. It's not like life gives you a choice, or at least not the choice you wish you could have. The only choice is how you will handle it. You can try on different coping mechanisms at first, but the whiny self-loathing ones annoy everyone, and if you're lucky enough to have quality people around you, they will steer you towards acceptance. That's where I was headed anyway; I've never been one to mope and wallow, and it's faster to jump on the train yourself. Grieving always felt like a private thing to me anyway, and I prefer it that way. I've found that when you make your grief public, people assume things about you that I don't like. That you're fishing for comfort and support. That you're weak. That you're not handling things as they would handle them. That last one is the killer. Judgement. You do you, and I'll do me. Okay? The world would be such a better place if we could all just agree on that.
The walk was magical and healing. I can feel the cracks and fissures filling up already. One part sunshine, one part ocean, one part far, far away. It's an excellent recipe that will evolve along the way. Until then, here is a picture of a man playing with his dog in the ocean. It doesn't get any more zen than this. Yes, his dog dove in right afterwards.
To see more pics, go to Images: Bondi to Coogee.