These last few weeks have been a whirlwind! In thirteen days, I travelled from home to Queensland and back again, and bussed down to the South-West Kimberley before finally coming back home to stay for a while – that’s four flights and four bus trips, travelling solo. It was the first time I’d travelled by myself within Australia to stay in Australia, booked accommodation and travelled via bus before, but it was a really fun time away.
My real reason to go to Queensland was for my cousins’ wedding. She’s the cousin on that side of the family that I’ve spent the most time with so far, and I really wanted to be there for her special day. Before I arrived there though, I spent a few days with some friends in Queensland I met at a conference back in April, when we were last over east. The C family gives the vibes of a big warm hug, every one of them and as a family, so I felt right at home. We had a blast!
We went shopping and I learned that girls and guys can go shopping together and have fun – it just requires some give and take! I learned to play Pool – a lot of fun, although I still need some practice. It inspired me to learn table tennis, since we own it and it’s sort of similar in its people dynamics and level of physical activity. They introduced me to Costco pizza – oh my giddy aunt, it’s so big! We talked and talked and talked until all hours of the night about all sorts of things, from relationships, to the future, to coffee, to music! We caught up with another family who are good friends of my family’s and the C’s, which was hilarious and a lot of fun as we played Sequence, listened to music, showed each other our houses on Google Earth, and talked (lots). They also spoiled me with a belated birthday chocolate fiesta of brownies and mousse!
After a couple of days, it was time to head off to Toowoomba for the wedding, and I did. not. want. to. go. at. all! We sat there at the bus stop, me in the bus, them standing outside, texting each other, everyone wanting to cry (if they weren’t already!). Once I arrived in Toowoomba, however, and gave my aunty, cousins and grandparents a squeeze, I felt better, and I am so thankful I had the chance to be there.
I ushered for the wedding, which was fun! I didn’t know anyone except for my extended family, but I made up for it by having who-can-hand-out-the-most-orders-of-services competitions with the other ushers.
The wedding itself was beautiful and the bride was just stunning. Of course, you have to have some twist in a wedding, and this time, they couldn’t find the rings. The groom and best man searched through their pockets, but all they could find was a pair of sunglasses in the best man’s pocket. He then surprised everyone by putting them on and signalling to the back of the room. Perfectly timed, Mission Impossible started playing, and a drone, carrying the rings, appeared out of nowhere!
I was unsure how I’d go during the reception (and, between you and me, dancing… I don’t dance much yet!), but I spent a lot of time talking to my cousins, who are sincere, hardworking, fun-loving and caring people, and lo and behold, the couple sitting next to me at the table were good friends of Josh’s! He had told me to keep an eye out for them, but I was highly skeptical I’d run into them, let alone know the connection. It wasn’t like they had signs above their heads with FRIENDS OF JOSH written on it. However, I must, because as soon as they sat down they asked, ‘are you related to Josh?!’ It was quite funny! (And as soon as the dancing moved into the Hokey Pokey and The Chicken Dance, I was all in. Hey – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.)
After the wedding, I spent a few days with my grandparents and other cousins, aunties, and uncles. It was so good to spend time with them. I live on the other side of the country to them, so any time I get to spend with extended family is valuable. It was especially good to spend a few hours with my older cousin, who I always looked up to as The Nicest Person Ever, and hadn’t seen in eight years, so it was special to spend time with her and her husband and kidlet and get to know each other.
During these few days, I also spent more one-on-one time than I ever had with my Grandad, talking about Gallipoli, our family history, and problems in the world today. He isn’t well, and spending time with him really hit me hard. Nobody close to me has ever been that frail, and though I’ve seen him several times since he’s been unwell, it hasn’t been one-on-one time. It felt ironic to spend quality time with him, and feel sad ‘experiencing’ (opposed to just seeing) his physical state at the same time. Holding his hand at the table, for example, wasn’t just because he gets the shakes, but because we both love each other, but the two merged into one thing. He still has an amazing memory, though, tracking our family history of the top of his head back to the 1840’s, and a great sense of humour!
After a few days enjoying the beautiful weather and people, it was time to head home. I was back in town for about seven hours, before I bussed back out of town further south to spend time with a friend for a few days. To be continued!