When I finally board the Prospector and push my backpack, tent and camera bag up into the overhead of the car, I will have been in Australia for 8 weeks and seen nothing except freaking Kalgoorlie.
I don't mind. I, in fact, will say, good. There are a lot of amazing things to see - and on this journey, where i have time to take my time, seeing is not what makes the trip. Standing in front of the shiny doors or the lit candelabra or the stunning architecture is not what sticks with me. The paint, the plaster.
I have come to know this place, these people I have found in it, to become a PART of it, all dysfunctional family in the 1950s boarding house, the new friends, the ones that I made then second guessed, the evolution of this nomadic community and living - really living - with a group of diverse, divergent and all equally fascinating cast of characters.
I have gotten to know, and to trust and be trusted, by Aboriginal members whose histories I have only scraped the surface of as a young kid, mesmerized by what "they" - any tribe - knows that we will never imagine. They have whispered their langauge and it is sacred to my ears.
We have laid in the dirt together, as friends, laughing and digging for honey ants, and I have sat beneath the full moon at 3 a.m. sidetracked for taking a wee, feet planted in the hard-packed red dirt, whispering to myself, wow, I am here, standing below the moon, experiencing this and learning from them. Telling their story.
Being invited to do so.
My work here will be used for generations and form a scrapbook for the families.
If nothing else, this is worthwhile, the miles, the hours.
I have moved into a backpackers and the first day wrote that I did not think I would make friends here. Perhaps the only place.
Five weeks in, it is truly a family - all dysfunctional, get on your nerves, come and go, know their selves ways. We LIVE here, so you know people as they are, not just dressed up and ready to go out.
Yesterday, I walked home, hungry and waiting for a friend to arrive, and thought: I feel like I live here now. It's hard to explain. There's F-ALL to do here in Kalgoorlie, but I like it. I have been here long enough and feel enough that I am part of it.
I remember in Arequipa, when Kellan and Yaci were off in Bolivia and I decided to stay behind for a few reasons, the big two being writing a magazine story and the other money in short order.
I thought, would I be bored being here 9 days? That's a long time. And not much to see or do I have not done.
A few days in, I wanted to have more time, to do a photoseries of "my street." I got to know the streets I wandered, and the place, the people in a way that being a tourist is not possible.
There a lot of amazing sights and things to do in Australia.
I can never see or do them all.
I accept that. I don't get bent out of shape about it.
This experience - these 6 months - have taught me that there truly is adventure around every corner. That every new experience is a surprise - literally - and the biggest emotional connections and epiphanies can be super-quick blunt force trauma to the head, or little worms that wiggle their way in while you are not looking.