follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
Canoe adventures with Terence and his family were amazing! It was a three day trip down a river, and there were only two capsizes, one case of almost missing the trip because we forgot what day it was, one almost lost phone—which was plunged into some rapids, mourned of its passing, and then miraculously found in the river via a surprise pair of goggles...definitely the only time I have ever heard of that happening, and it was fucking incredible—four cases of really bad sunburns, four cases of crying from exhaustion, and countless delightful dips into the river when it was too bloody hot. Not to mention the gorgeous scenery, the super fun and often super frustrating rapids, and the hours each day spent tossing banter and support and play from canoe to canoe, from person to person.
I’m back at Terence’s mum’s place now—laying next to my bubbuh, passed out, about to have our final sleep in Australia. We head off to Costa Rica tomorrow to meet up with some of our dearest friends and to go to Envision Festival together! I feel a sense of shock and discombobulation that our time here is already done, that our next adventure is upon us—though I know we will meet our next chapter with wide open arms. We are approaching the parts of our travels that are a bit more unscripted—the parts allowing for the wonder of being in a new place and wanting to explore without restriction. After Envision, we have no plans and no plane tickets home until the beginning of April. AND I AM SO EXCITED. To be in a part of the world I’ve never been to before, to continue traveling with my partner, and to soak up all the juices that Costa Rica can offer.
There has been an overwhelming abundance of beautiful and meaningful encounters and moments that have occurred over the last two weeks here in Australia. Particularly, moments spent with Terence’s family. And moments where I witnessed Terence connecting with his family in ways that are completely new. T’s sole intention in coming to his homeland this time around was to connect with his family as authentically as he could. To spend the time re-learning who they are in each moment, and developing more skills and patterns for communicating and accepting each other as they are. In my experience, the Carfrae’s have some of the most tender hearts, the quickest wits, and most intelligent and ruthless ways of poking each other with banter I've known. Not to mention how ridiculously capable each of them is—whether it’s starting a business, winning triathlons, or rangling chickens, this family has got amazing determination. And, this family has been through some shit and a half—the details of which I don’t feel right in sharing, but I will say that their resilience is palpable.
And today, the day before we leave, Terence looked at me with a sense of gratitude that his efforts to open his heart with vulnerability and integrity did, indeed, lead to a deepening of connection with his family—just as the entire family gathered for their first family photo in about sixteen years. The grandma, grandkids, kids, and partners. And with the depth of emotion and chaos of the planning of this photo, I witnessed sweet, genuine play—from everyone, but more specifically from the mumma of the whole fam, who wore a rainbow dress, and a shiny rainbow wig for the shoot (making it clear that Terence and I must get her to Burning Man). And I felt so honored to have been included in this photo, in this gathering, in this blossoming intimacy of family. To have been welcomed. To have been embraced.
As I feel the time of this evening passing, I recognize there have been many more of these special moments of family over the last two weeks. Moments that I have wanted to write about, and didn’t feel that I had the time or space to write about them with the fullness of presence I felt they deserved. And part of me is grateful for this, because it means I got to have the moment for myself. And another part of me realizes that these stories want to be told. They want to have a listener as well as an experiencer. But there’s too much! Too much to say! How could I possibly put that into words! say the anxious parts of my body, wanting to do the moments justice. But I have given myself this commitment of writing this blog for at least one year for this very reason. Because there are aspects of it that are challenging for me.
I am enjoying the memories of this time in Australia resting in my sun kissed skin and my activated heart. I am working on getting better at creating the presence in myself for the stories to fall out as they desire. I am allowing the multilayered epicness of the Carfrae family to inspire my gratitude and my creativity of words.
There are these moments in life where kindred spirits are met and found. I imagine this will happen quite a bit along this year of travel. These moments of synchronicity, where regardless of the actual events, there is a feeling of I know you, and I'm grateful to have met you, for however brief it was.
I was going for a morning walk around where Terence and I were staying in our little Airbnb in The Pocket, and on my way back past houses and pastures and cows and birds, I found a sweet brown dog, wagging his way into the middle of the road to meet me. His owner came out from behind the fence to tell him to get back inside, and we got to talking. Before I knew it, we were discussing art, bubbles, and photography.
I enjoy getting into conversations with strangers. And I really enjoy getting into conversations with strangers when there is an ease of being who we really are—the bullshit of the weather or where you're from, even names, aside. We didn't end up exchanging our names until we learned each other's energetic names first. These kinds of unexpected encounters are some of the most moving for me as an artist. They remind me that inspiration often comes from the most unexpected of places, that age and gender and beliefs has nothing to do with capacity for connection, and that it's always a good idea to allow a playful state of mind.
His name was Peter, and he couldn't quite pronounce my name right as it sounds a bit weird in an Australian accent, so he tried to do it with an American one instead. It made me chuckle inside.
Peter showed me some of his work as we sat on his porch with his dog Tookie, classical music playing faintly in the background. He brought out abstract cartoons done with black pen, depicting stories he had visioned in his mind. Each scene had a descriptive paragraph below it explaining where the vision had come from—a second work of art accompanying the first. All I want to do with my art, is to make people chuckle, or make them think. He said. He then started blowing bubbles with a little gadget of his, wanting me to see the amazingness of my own reflection in the giant rainbow mirror slowly falling to the grown. I was lit up inside—by the weird profundity of his cartoons, by his gentle excitement in sharing his creations with a stranger, by the artist in me yelling yippeee I found another one!
I didn't see Peter for a few days, but promised to visit one more time before Terence and I finished our stay in The Pocket. I returned the day before we left, and we sat on his porch, classical music playing, his dog Tookie at my feet. He asked how my stay was, and I shared about my relationship, some highlights of our stay, and eventually shared a bit about this year of travel—the excitement, the intentions, the journey's already had. And then, happily, I listened to him tell stories from his life...
He shared about a faulty Fuji camera he once had, and how he sent cartoons making fun of Fuji to Fuji until they gave him a new one that worked. He shared about how dancing saved his life, and the boys and girls who he has taught to dance, and, with tears in his eyes, the dances he has shared with his daughter. He shared that his real name is not the name he signs on all of his art, so many still don't know that his art is by him, and the giddy pleasure he gets out of someone asking him have you seen this cartoon in the paper? He shared about his neighbors' son demanding a mobile phone, and how Peter cleverly took two tin cans, painted them with all the fixings of an iPhone, connected them by a piece of string, and gave it to the boy as a gift. By the next week, everyone at the boys' school had their own tin can phones. He shared about his life of art, what he has created, the photos he has taken, the people met and the places been, shuffling past anything about awards and money only to say Meh, I don't need money anymore, I like to do it for myself now. He draws his cartoons as gifts for his friends, and is continuously coming up with creative ways to entertain, inspire, and fascinate his neighbors and himself.
I rave, I know that I rave, he said, of all his storytelling. Living alone, I don't often have people to talk to, returning back to his gaze out towards the road, where the cows and grass and trees were. We just sit here, every day Tookie and me, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. And oh how I have seen these trees grow...
When I first asked him if I could take his photo, he said Why don't you get one of me at my drawing table? I don't have a single photo of me like that... That is the photo you see above. I feel so honored that I could take it. That he opened up his studio and himself for a moment to be captured in time of him in his space of inspiration and creativity with his best friend by his feet. But, I still felt like he was feeling the need to pose for the camera. Innocently assuming that I would only want a photo of him in the space of his life's work. But after we had transitioned outside once more, and I was getting ready to leave again soon, possibly not to return again for a long time, I asked if I could take a photo of him where he sits every day. Him and Tookie, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. That, was the true essence of this artist, to me, from the short experience I had with him.
So that is what you see below. Accompanied by a photo of two pieces of art that describe a part of his soul and his humor—one by him, and one from a friend.
Thank you, Peter, for inviting me into your space, your art, and your stories. My artist heart feels full, and I'll long cherish this moment of befriending.
The Pocket, NSW
I LOVE THIS HUMID HEAT.
You probably think I'm crazy? Or lying? But honestly, the humid heat here is the best. It is literally hugging my body. It is hugging my body oh so sweetly. It is hugging my body like the hug I shared with Terence when I first arrived in Australia 8 days ago--stimulating my joy, inspiring relaxation, igniting excitement, kissing me with history, gently opening my heart, and inspiring the desire for sweat stained skin and giggles in a cold shower. The rain here certainly takes care of the showering part though! I didn't realize that it rains as much as it does here...and it is so nice. A perfect refuge when the heat becomes a bit too much. It has sprinkled down numerous times each day, and (as Terence likes to put it) pissed down hard many times as well. Ahh that Aussie charm.
Terence and I spent our first few days in Brisbane with his family—eating hella mangoes, having dinners drenched in the witty-biting-charm of his mum and siblings, and going for long walks around the neighborhoods in the mornings. We are, in a way, rediscovering each other after being apart for one month. So time with his family filled up one part of my heart, but this other part was needed...
We're now at an Airbnb in The Pocket in New South Wales together for 8 nights. All that can be heard is the breeze, the bugs and the birds. It is this gorgeous little getaway experience—with nature, with each other, with ourselves. An opportunity to do whatever the fuck we want, without being beholden to anyone or anything. Ahhhhhh....
We've spent most of the days naked or in a swimsuit--cuz we're either swimming through this humidity or this rain!--lounging around the house, eating more mangoes, napping or reading or watching this wonderfully silly tv show called People of Earth. We have explored beaches and towns nearby, and made a visit to my favorite secret waterfall spot in the forest (featured above) which I was introduced to last year—the place where I am certain fairies are born. We have made yummy meals with the food from local organic shops in Byron Bay, featuring lamb, beets, sweet potato, rice, bok choy, and my once arch-nemesis-turned-best-friend, sauerkraut. There has unfortunately been an instance of food poisoning since we've been here... Terence got sick and we are still investigating what it was. It was the salami Teagan! No, it must've been the kefer...NO. It was the CASHEWS. Definitely, the cashews. He makes me laugh. Truth be told, whatever it was, Terence moved through it like a champ slash devoted monk. Listening to the signals from his body, and actively inviting it instead of fighting it, he cleared that shit out thoroughly and effectively. It was almost like it was a ceremonial purging—which, in a way, I can't deny that it was—so much so that he said he had visions. Damn. I both admire and am amused by the way this man can experience profound learning from the things the rest of us so often dismiss as unnecessary. Nice work, my love.
After being here in The Pocket for 5 days, this feeling of raw exposure that the humid heat is offering me is such a surprising and welcome gift. I'm on my last day of menstruation, feeling the bloating and pudge of my belly as I walk around butt ass naked—and actually, genuinely, adoring it. I used to feel the need to hide behind certain clothing when my body went through this phase. Wrestling with the shame and self judgement that this isn't how I look most of the time, so I should hide this from the world. And the fucking exhaust of that pattern; influenced by the media and stories a part of me welcomes in, while another part of me knows it pushes away a radiance of my being. With it too hot and damp to wear pants (or anything at all), I'm able to see the amazingness of all of my body in its pure rhythms. And I love that Terence is witnessing me in this as well. I am struck with the resonant truth that rests deeper than my insecurities that I am in one of my most natural states of beauty like this: sweaty, bleeding, and bare. That there is no need to hide, from myself or my partner. And that I am actually celebrating this time of the month now.
So yes. This heat is divine. And it is a surprisingly delightful teacher, influencing my time with myself and with Terence. It's not necessarily a simple thing to reconnect with a partner after a month in two very different parts of the world, especially when the reconnecting time is overlapping with some solo-decompression time. But we have been finding some flow between the processing and the play, feeling the blessed heat and how it makes us sweat out all our junk whether we meant to or not. And sweating it all out with my caring, patient, quite remarkable partner, fills my soul with gratitude and a sense of ease. The whole experience so far has been rightfully, and deliciously sweaty! Yum!
A short and sweet entry, like my time in Australia so far...
I have arrived in Brisbane! Ahhhhhhh it feels so good to be here. Resting in the presence of my beloved. Cradled by Australian summer. After one month of solo journey and growth in California and Massachusetts.
Sometimes there is so much to be said—about an experience, a feeling, a transition, a moment—that not much can be said. At least not only with words. Not only with the words of this one language. Do you find this? Perhaps through dance, perhaps through the touch of skin, perhaps through silence, or a combination of these languages, it can all be expressed—the This of being here.
The This of being here is full. In Australia. With this land. With myself. And the This of being here with Terence, specifically, is so much. It is so much for me. In the best of ways. The absolute best of ways. And I'm sure he will chuckle as he reads this. I'm an emotional being sweetheart! It is so much that I don't want try to squeeze all of it through the confinements of words. I want to let it Play and Sing and Jump and Roll, and find its multitude of languages before I translate it into my own. And I know the natural flow of time will come for this language of words to re-become the form through which my This Plays and Sings and Jumps and Rolls. But not right now. Right now this is enough. The simplicity of This. The expanse of This. The This of This.
So for all the languages I may have—of English, of Heart, of Body, of Dance, of Song, of Touch, of Action, of Gaze—I feel that everything that is needing to be said right now, is being said.
As she smiles, naked in their bed, and goes to join her love in the kitchen to make breakfast...