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Wish I May Wish I Might is a blog created by writer, creative director, and citizen of the world, Julie Gordon, to help make the world a safer place to be human.

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Goodnight moon.

Julie Gordon

This is it. My last night Down Under.

In the past month and a half I have traveled to 16 different cities in two surprisingly different countries: Sydney, Melbourne, Christchurch, Queenstown, Franz Joseph, Greymouth, Nelson, Picton, Wellington, Waitomo, Rotorua, Onemana, Coromandel, Auckland, Cairns, Brisbane, and back to Sydney, not counting the islands, beaches, and forests I’ve visited along the way. I’ve taken four ferries, one at night. I’ve flown on seven planes. Tomorrow will be my eighth. I’ve driven approximately 2,418 kilometers (1502 miles) through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful, insanely winding, meticulously speed-monitored roads I’ve ever seen. I’ve taken countless trains and buses, and walked many, many miles. I’ve swam at three beaches and four reefs, in two seas and one new ocean. I have crossed multiple bridges by foot, car, and train. I am tan, but was never burned. I have walked in the rain, but never gotten soaked. I have eaten some of the most delicious food, discovered some of the most wonderful ciders, and imbibed some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. I am full, but not stuffed. Satisfied, but still curious. Healing, but not whole. 

I have been told that it’s good to want things. I don’t want to leave. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this new world and touch down in my old one, even for a short while, even though I would like nothing more than to shed this turtle shell of a pack and wash everything it contains. I want to hide out for a little longer in plain sight somewhere where no one knows me and that’s okay.   

I find it hard to believe that a month and a half has tripped past me. That’s why I started the list up above. I needed proof that I’d done a lot in order to justify the time, whipped like tablecloth out from under my place setting. To you it might feel like a long time, but that’s what happens when you stand still and watch it go by on the clock in the corner of the screen. You can chalk that up to things I don’t miss. Except you. I miss you.

It still amazes me that I can walk down the street here and feel completely invisible. I had this silly idea that Australia would notice me the moment I arrived, probably in the same way that people feel when they arrive in Los Angeles. “I’m here! I’m ready for my fame and fortune!” But the thing about being seen is the world has no reason to see you unless you do something worth looking at. I continue to be happy that I can choose when to be seen and when not to. I’m also happy that I’ve gained a better understanding of how I contribute to my own anonymity and visibility by being who I am.

It doesn’t surprise me that my favorite stops along the way were the places where I knew people or met people off of whom I could bounce my thoughts and ideas. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy every place simply for its newness, it’s more that my remembering brain has an extra fondness for the reinforcement of conversation in the places where I had the most.

As I sit here in rain-soaked Sydney, my brief overnight stop before heading out, I am happy to be inside for a moment, listening to the whoosh and spit of the coffee machine and the collective gibberish of foreigners chatting. I spent what was left of my time today re-treading familiar haunts, slurping up soup dumplings from that place I loved on the fifth floor of the Eye, drinking coffee at the foot of the Opera House, and watching the night ferries trace their established paths in and out of Circular Quay. I was planning to walk the Harbour Bridge tonight, but the slippery drizzle of rain prevented me from spending yet another $200 on an unforgettable experience. To think I was too afraid to try it when I arrived is laughable now. I’m 43 days into being a local here. I can scale mountains and dive with sharks. I can guide newbies into the right train stations and bus stops. I can coach Brazilians on job finding locations in Brisbane. I can hop from dock to dingy to boat and back again. I have mastered the delayed gratification of jumping between wifi hotspots. I prefer flat whites to long blacks, Cherry Ripes are nice, and if you want to put my scrambled eggs on top of my toast that’s okay too. The answer to “How are you going?” is “Good, how are you?” And if someone says, “Good on ya!” they mean it as a compliment of the highest order. “No worries” is always the right thing to say if someone apologizes, and I no longer have that many worries, especially when the sun is shining. There is a pleasant sanity to the patterns here, and even though it’s expensive, it was all worth it, every cent.

My email alerts have reminded me that my next adventure starts on Friday when I return to LAX to fly the other direction to yet another continent, my third this year. I wish Panama counted as having visited a fourth continent, but I’ll just have to settle for three this time around. It’s April, however. The year is still young.

This time, I have company. Evie and I convene in Madrid, where we’ll celebrate Easter and our collective wisdom earned over our 40 years on this planet. From Madrid, we’ll head south towards Seville and Grenada, and then east into Portugal to see Lisbon and Porto. Knowing us, we’ll eat too much and sleep too little and that’s just fine by me. Our last city will be Barcelona to gaze up at Gaudi’s masterpieces in built form. Just as I did with Sydney, we’ll hit up Madrid for one last hurrah and then we’ll part ways, Ev back to SF, me on to London. I booked an overnight train trip to Brussels in the middle my last leg, because 20 years ago when I tried to visit the city of my mother’s birth, a train strike prevented me from seeing anything more than the interior of the train station, because I preferred to get stuck in Paris instead of Brussels. It felt right to try again this time around. Touristy as it may be, I need to see Mannekin Pis with my own eyes, and walk around imagining what it must have been like in 1947-50. Plus, there are waffles and frites to enjoy, as well as chocolate. I’m only a little glad that I can’t drink beer, but I may try one, just to say I did. And because I think my brother might kill me if I didn’t have at least one sip.

In London, I have my friend Aleks to visit. And Brighton to see again, 20 years after attending University of Sussex. There’s the Tate, the Tate Modern, Notting Hill, the London Eye, midday pub lunches, and all of the other self-deprecating, standoffish, posh, dodgy, alcoholic and other oh-so-British things a person can do and see. Home isn’t home again until late on May 13th, when I have to admit that this adventure is on pause while I round up another year and earn some more cash to set out again.

Let this post stand as notice, I won’t be staying put forever. My soul is too restless, too curious, and too hungry to stand still for too long. To those of you who express jealousy at my adventures, I double dog dare you to put your money where your mouth is and try it out for a bit. It’s okay if you don’t like it, but first, try. Go somewhere safe if you have to, but go. Break out of your patterns and step at least one foot outside of your comfort zone. If that works, try the other foot. Or don’t. But if you don’t, be okay with that. Dig in and build a wonderful life around you, for you. Static or mobile, a home is a home. Don’t for one second think that anything will erect itself for your enjoyment just from wishes. Be active in the pursuit of your own happiness. Add it up, experience by experience, laughter stacked upon more laughter. Make it from mistakes and accidents, plans and careful intentions. When I started this trip, I was shattered and weak. Cruel people had chipped away at my strength and sapped the energy from my stores. I was giving out more than I could take in, despite the Herculean efforts of the other kind people I chose to surround myself with. The kind ones let me push off of them like the walls of a pool as I swam lap after lap before leaving. Quitting created the earthquake and the tidal wave that slammed me out of the water. Flying away gave me perspective. Traveling gave me strength. Solitude gave me space. Introspection started the conversation. And the tide is bringing me back again. The best part of all of this, everything good and bad, is that I did it. It’s all mine. And now, I can start fresh. I swept the stoop, and organized the house. Tomorrow is eternal, literally. I land before I took off. But I’ll still be in the future, and that’s all I can possibly ask for after this. A future with the past stirred into it for good measure, with two continents and counting out cruising by slowly in the darkness out the window below. 

Now that my ladder’s gone, I must lay down where all ladders start. In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
— William Butler Yeats, The Circus Animals’ Desertion

Hola amigo, miso soup!

Julie Gordon

Have you ever made homemade tortillas, cooked shrimp in garlic oil, and listened to an album all the way through while drinking cider? What about on a boat? In Brisbane, Australia? If you haven't, this should be on your bucket list. Seriously. 

The sad news is that we never got to sail out to Moreton Island. That would really have been the icing on the best cake ever. Looks like I'll just have to find a sailing buddy when I get home. 

As a consolation prize, I've gotten to spend this week exploring the nooks and crannies of Brisbane, visiting with my friends mostly on dry land, except when we're on their boat in the river, drinking, eating, and conversing. I'm lucky, my friend Victoria is an excellent cook. And Tucker and Victoria's boat is charming as hell. So are their kids. The title of this post is courtesy of their son, Miles. We we talking about speaking Spanish, and this was his version of Spanish. It starts well. And ends better. A perfect metaphor for my travels here in Oz. 

Today it's raining. As it does on many occasions here in the Northern part of the East Coast. We're at the tail end of the rainy season, or what they would call the shoulder. I don't really mind the rain, in fact I rather enjoy it. I have but one rainy day wish and that is for my hair not to frizz up so completely and unappealingly in the rain, but that is definitely what they call a first world problem, and therefore not a real concern. Also, it will never happen, so it's best to save my wishes for things that truly matter. 

Before the drizzle commenced, I walked across the Victoria Bridge to the West End to have breakfast at Gunshop. Another of those "eat by font" places. It has a bold star by it in my guidebook, and was given another enthusiastic star by Tucker and Vick, so I knew it would be good. When I got there, there was a queue. Always a good sign. 

I was given a table in the corner, away from everything and everyone, but I didn't mind. The quiet was nice for reading, and people who are there with other people may have needed the hustle and bustle more than I did. I'm neck deep in The Book Thief, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Marcus Zusak is a masterful manipulator of words. I adore his writing. A novel narrated by Death himself is compelling just on the surface. Once you dive in, it's even better. It would be nice if Kindle noted page numbers instead of percentage of completion, but again, that's not a problem worth wishing away. 

I decided to order food that was out of type from what I normally order, but still from the Gunshop favorites menu. I chose Toulouse sausage with a sweet potato hash cake, tomato jam, a poached egg, and rocket (arugula). It was magnificent. I can see the reason for all the stars and the queue. I ate the whole thing, not wanting to waste a bite. Also because I've taken to eating two meals instead of three, and it's worked out well. I tried a new type of banana I'd acquired from the farmer's market yesterday as I walked across the bridge. It was good, but it tasted like a banana for the most part. No revelations there. 

I didn't have the heart to linger at my table after I was finished eating because I could see the queue ebb and flow outside the window, filled with hungry people eyeing my progress, keen for me to move on. So I walked out into the rain. It wasn't pouring as it has before, it was collectively dripping. I walked a circuitous path from tree to overhang and back as I skipped and danced my way amongst the drops down the sidewalk like The Rabbi and the Twenty-Nine Witches. I managed to find my way to the convention center on my way to meet my friends for a movie. It was nice and dry inside, and I'm now sitting on twinkling green couches enjoying a little unexpected free wifi while I quickly type this up before the movie.  

I don't want this all to end. I know I have another adventure coming up, but this part has been so wonderful I want it to keep going indefinitely. I just have to figure out how I can do this going forward, on some kind of more permanent basis. Or is there a way to create this feeling at home? Two very worthy prospects, both worth exploring. 

Running dry...

Julie Gordon

I'm not sure why today I'm not feeling like writing, but it's one of those days when the words are hard to come by. 

I walked a lot today. Out to "The Valley" (Fortitude Valley) to meet Tucker for coffee, and pick up a travel skirt on sale at Katmandu. Coffee was great. They were shooting a little documentary about the coffee shop, and I found it odd that they didn't ask anyone's permission to be in the video nor given them waivers to sign. Perhaps that's a hangover from my job, or just common sense to me, but regardless, it didn't happen and I didn't say anything. I was happy to contribute to their video by passively existing in the background. And I didn't even say anything to them about it. 

Yesterday, when I was walking back into the city from the other side, the West End, some guy was taking pictures and saw me looking at him and snapped a picture of me looking. Same thing. Didn't ask permission. I said something over my shoulder as I passed by. Don't steal my likeness. Ha. 

Tucker is trying to rally the troops to go drinking. I joined him a "Jelly," his nerd Meetup for programmers and other people who work in the computer industry. He's attempting to distract me so I won't finish this post. It's working. The words are....

Observations on Australia

Julie Gordon

People are friendly, overall.

They cannot dress themselves, however. At least not in any style to which I am accustomed. 

They walk. Everywhere.

They exercise and build their cities around the concept of movement.

Everything is extremely expensive.

They focus on the coasts too. East dominates West here.

They don’t drive particularly well.

70% of people think LA is AWESOME. 30% think it’s crap. 50% are correct.

Telling someone that X reminds me of LA, SF, or NYC is a huge compliment.

Everyone dresses up for work. In weird, formal clothing.

The workday ends at 5pm for most people.

They like their drink.

They tell me they think Americans are obnoxious, except for me.

They’re not predominantly fat or thin, they’re normal.

Their bread is bad. Too white and fluffy.

Don't order a bagel if you're a Jew. Internal monologue: THIS IS ROUND (BAD) BREAD. 

Coffee is important. (Thank god.)

Their bacon is not bacon like we know bacon.

Their eggs have orange yolks and are the most delicious eggs ever.

They put beets on burgers. Like that's normal or something. 

Red peppers are called capsicums. 

Catsup is called tomato sauce. It's not the same. 

They really like sweets. I have eaten more chocolate here in one month than I normally do in a year. 

They have states too. With funny names like Queensland and New South Wales.

When it rains, it pours.

They’ve probably traveled somewhere far away, but not within their own country.

I was hoping the streets would be lined with Aussie hunks. Alas, they aren’t. Where is my Hugh Jackman? Chris Hemsworth??

Men don’t really approach women.

Their children have Aussie accents and I can’t get enough of it.

Their teeth are bad. I blame the English.

The word “no” has about 16 syllables and uses all the vowels.

Their radios stations suck. But they play awesome music in their cafes and bars.

Melbourne is the most cosmopolitan city. Everyone seems to agree on that.

And boy howdy is the food good in Melbourne.

I’d move to Melbourne if the opportunity arose.

Australia and New Zealand are like siblings who fight but really love each other.

Everyone here has tattoos.

There is no one “look” for an Australian person, but I can usually tell a local.

Sydney has the most tourists. Then Cairns.

There are loads of Asian people here. Mostly for school. This also means that the Asian food is super legit and delicious. 

Except for the sushi. It's almost all cooked fish, with weird stuff inside. Like tuna fish salad rolls. 

It is completely normal to hear at least five languages while walking down the street. 

I’m not sure what they think is cool or beautiful or interesting. After a month being here. In Cairns, I pointed out a ridiculously, magically, gorgeous rainbow to someone passing by, and he might as well have patted me on the head like I was a child and said, "Good job!"

Public spaces are used, and used well.

I rarely hear people say “G’day.”

They do say, “How are you going?” Which is probably just as weird as “How are you doing?” to most foreigners.

There are no homeless people.

Things close early.

Sydney is the Los Angeles of Oz. Brisbane is Seattle. Melbourne is San Francisco. By culture, not weather. Our East Coast doesn’t have any parallels here as far as I can tell.

They recycle.

“Ta” means thank you. So does “Cheers.” So does "Thank you."

It’s safe. Like, really safe.

People lock up really nice bikes with really chintzy locks and bike theft seems rare.

Secret alleys with unmarked shops are trending. Annoying to find, but way cool when you do.

They advertise free wifi like we did in San Francisco in the ‘00s.

They walk on the left. Just like they drive. No matter how many times I tell my brain to do this, I am pre-programmed to walk on the right. I have received many an annoyed look while doing this. Sorry, mates. 

Orion is upside down here.

The Southern Cross constellation is on the Australian and New Zealand flags because it's the only constellation that cannot be seen in England. (As told to me by a Kiwi.) 

To be continued...

Living la vida local.

Julie Gordon

We're going to play a game. This post starts now and will end when I need to leave, regardless of where I am in the post. Fair warning: I am in the greatest bar and have no interest in leaving. Especially not when I have free wifi vibing through my laptop and a delicious cocktail beside me. No matter that the drink cost $18. This is Oz. It's 'spensive here. 

When in doubt, eat by font. In this case, drink. Oh how I love a letterpress business card. 

I'm sitting upstairs in the mezzanine. One of the best words ever. 

So here I am in Super Whatnot. I love this bar. It reminds me of home, actually. Even though I've sought out difference as much as possible, about a month into this trip I began to enjoy seeing signs of home. Occasional signs were good. Too frequent rotten staples like McDonald's, Burger King, and Subway can take a lonnnnnnng walk off a short plank, thankyouverymuch. 

It's funny how people's faces light up when I tell them that something reminds me of Los Angeles or San Francisco. That seems to be a high compliment, which I'm happy to dole out if it's true. Super Whatnot has that Downtown LA/Hayes Valley SF vibe. Secret, fun. It's down an alley, with great cocktails and random, fabulous decor. And damn are they playing fantastic music right now. 

It seems that our sailing plans have been foiled. The weather just won't cooperate. So instead I have holed up in a hotel right in the center of the CBD, smack dab in the heart of it all, and I'll just stay there until Monday, when I fly back to Sydney for my last hurrah in Oz before heading back Stateside. I'm not ready for it to be over. I'm not ready to say goodbye to this side of the globe. The sun. The people. The quirks. The wandering. The beach. The food. I want it all, forever. I want to exist in two worlds. Schrodinger's Cat-style, except alive in both places. And I'm sure I'll want to exist in all worlds once I see Spain and Portugal. "Location independent." This is my goal. 

Brisbane is awesome. There's a nice laid-back vibe here that makes it relaxed and special. Being able to exist along a river so there's always water nearby makes it perfect. That's one thing I know about myself, I will always live by water. I just need to know it's there for peace of mind. The fact that you can walk across the river on multiple walk bridges, on walking paths even on the driving bridges, and take a free ferry along the main drag exemplifies the Aussie lifestyle. They build their lives around things that make sense, like walking everywhere, seeing beautiful scenery, relaxing during the day, and meeting friends for dinner. The only thing I can't wrap my head around is how the cafes close at 3pm. You can get crap coffee later, but who wants a bad cuppa joe? Speaking of, thanks to my friend Victoria, I found delicious iced coffee today. The kind without the ice cream. The sell it at John Mills Himself, another quirky, hidden, awesome coffee shop. It's from [bunker] coffee nearby. I think I'm going to walk there tomorrow morning to check it out and maybe stock up. 

The more I'm here, the more I think I may need to leave the U.S. and live somewhere else. I just don't appreciate how we do things. Our emphasis is on the wrong stuff, namely on stuff. I don't give a flying fuck how much someone possesses, I care about who they are what they have to say. I care about art and writing and food and life. I want to live the hell out of whatever time I have left. I'm just going to have to figure out how to do that in LA, and if I can't, I'll leave. Not sure what I'll do with the house. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. And hopefully I'll be able to walk across it. 

It's 5.53pm here. I've been sitting up here in the mezzanine for nearly an hour now, and starting at 5pm, it's filled up considerably. That's because the work day ends at 5pm. On. The. Dot. People apologize to you if you have to work late, or, godforbid, on the weekend. Apologize. Can you imagine? I can't even count the number of times I had to apologize to my bosses when I had to leave early, sometimes at 5pm, just to go to the doctor or catch a plane for my pre-approved vacation. Or apologize for even taking a vacation. A vacation that wouldn't even last a week most of the time. What. The. Bloody. Fuck. That's just one of the reasons I had to quit my job to travel for this long. If any Aussies are reading this, consider this when you think of the U.S. and how cool it seems. Come visit, please. But if you stay, know that we'll work you to the bone. If we let you stay, that is. But that's another matter. And you hardly let us stay here, so I guess all is fair in love and work. 

Speaking of, I ran into the Brazilian folks earlier who I met on the ferry on the way to meet Tucker for lunch the other day. It was funny to run into someone I "know." They're looking for work. Pounding the pavement, old school style. And they're having absolutely no luck finding anything. I stopped to chat with one of them and asked how he was doing, and he said terribly. I felt so bad for him. Trying so hard and coming up empty handed every time. I wished him luck and went on my way. 

I just took a nice break to chat with folks sitting next to me at my table. I sat here because it was next to a plug and I needed to charge my phone. It was empty when I sat down. Then as the bar filled up, it became clear that I was just one person hogging a huge table. So when they came upstairs I offered them the seats, which they gratefully took. They were funny and open. He grew up here in Brisbane, his mum in Scotland, and his wife in New Zealand. So we covered all the bases. They're avid travelers. Keen to chat. They didn't much like LA, but who can if they just visit for a week? I think you have to live there to like it, and even then, it's not for everyone. Coming from Brisbane, I can see why home would appeal more. 

Okay, planning drinks with Tucker. Julie, out.