Byron Bay Visits Me…

Driving up the PCH with my window all the way down, letting that pungent, day old fish market odor blast me in the face, on the cold breath of a zephyr, living today twice over as he flies across the Pacific, I am relieved. I’ve just freed myself of that noose of traffic choking LA from the 10 to the 110 to the 101 to the 405. I open my mouth to drink the winds’, cold, foul breath. I gulp it down my constricted throat, opening my airways with burning, moving air.

Hugging coastal curves, it’s hard to remember how I felt so free without driving. I come up past the big rock that separates the beautiful Malibu stretch of highway from that aluminum-guarded stretch, for which the USA is so well known. Watching the Pelicans dive, to catch their fish over the water to the West, big rock to the South, road to the North, sitting on the fringe of a whole country rolled out, behind me to the East, I listen to the wind gossip about places I’ve been.

Back in Byron Bay, living it up for one last week in Aus, I screamed into the wind on the beach. Drunk on goon and cheap shots from cheeky monkeys, that ubiquitous backpacker bar complete with dirty dancing contests, and a nightly brawl, I stood on the sand, holding hands with my fellow journeyman, feet bare, screaming screams for the fun of it. I wanted to see if they’d make it round the world, back to me.

That week, moody weather rolled across the face of the sky looking down on us, stormy then sweet. You couldn’t avoid the rain if you wanted to catch the sun so you danced in both, did handstands, and cartwheels on the beach, and splashed through little rivers, dribbling down to hide in the ocean. That’s how I met Jade and Vicki and Hayley and Catherine and Aaron and Chris and all the other outlandish gypsies who tipped back shots to my departure. Byron Bay in known for it’s unconventional set, in flowing skirts, and hammer pants, hobos sleeping on the beach or in vans on the side of the road, grilling delicacies “fish in a hubcap” and “roo in a shovel” over engine blocks. That last week swirls in my brain, like the plastic cups of goon we swirled, promising ourselves in propelled by cognative dissonance that drinking this box of wine had to be better than the last, because hangovers are a skill you have to work at.

The wind towsles my hair, and traces from the fingers of my fellow travelers at my farewell do make my skin prickle. We were 7 deep on the tables at Cheeky Monkeys lining that narrow passage, letting no hair style pass, unmolested. I don’t remember my feet touching the ground that week. All I remember is floating and freedom, and wind and storms, and it’s coming back to me, having traveled around the world over and over, it’s coming back to me now.

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