Chapter Two - Freedom
My job is not glamourous. I strip beds and then I make them again. I've learnt how to make 'hospital corners' – hard to believe it's taken this long, given my mother is a nurse and my father is a doctor.
It's a world away from being a publicist, hosting editors to lunch, networking over cocktails and attending industry events. But I've come to really enjoy the meditative act of raking burnt orange dust, the productivity of organising a linen closet, and the fact that it's a million miles away from corporate life.
This job takes me to remote places, and working three days on and three days off affords me the luxury of writing, reading and being present.
I would have never done this in my twenties. With a Bachelors and Masters under my belt I would have thought it a waste of my education. But now I recognise that it's healthy to have time out. I've either been studying or in the workforce since I finished high school, so this change is perfectly timed.
A 'Townie' Like Me
When I'm not working I'm what they call a 'townie'. I hang around town with friends, catching up for coffees, meeting for beers or swimming at the local heated pool.
I parade my new Akubra (thanks work friends), wear my R.M Williams, denims and a t-shirt. It's hard to keep clean with all the red dust but I do my best.
Believe it or not, Alice is a pretty trendy place. My local cafe, Page 27 on Todd Street (the main street of Alice), has great coffee and food.
When I first arrived I recognised the barista from Jed’s cafe in Bondi, one of my favourites before it closed. We talk about mutual friends, Perth girls that he used to work with, a list of Bondi Jews he knows.
What's also surprised me about Alice and the other 'townies' is that they are a very good-looking crowd. At the pub last night I could have sworn I saw McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy. Everyone is friendly and we exchanged a smile when he left the pub.
The women are beautiful, natural and a little hippy.
I've also just been told Alice Springs is the lesbian capital of Australia. It's not obvious at first, but once I knew it made more sense. Alice is a very welcoming place and I can understand the attraction.
Since I arrived 2 weeks ago. I've made a plethora of friends; likeminded individuals that are passionate about nature, sustain adventurous spirits and are curious about the world.
We're a small, tight group of tour guides, hosts, travellers and Aussies living the dream. Since no one has family here, we've formed a circle and rely on each other like family.
There is Madi and Keiran who are the cutest bush couple you'll ever meet. Madi is part of the reason I'm here. I met her 8 weeks ago when she was my tour guide, a job she absolutely loves. Her enthusiasm was so infectious that I changed my life and find myself here writing from the ranges of Kings Canon, a 5-hour drive from Alice Springs.
There are some people doing remote work to extend their working holiday visas. One of them is Eric, a softly spoken Scottish guy. He's become an adventure buddy and is always up for exploring new territory. Last week we climbed Mt Gillian, a steep mountain range overlooking Alice. He had me on the verge of a heart attack as he chased wallabies up cliff faces and earnestly looked for snakes under every rock.
My next few paragraphs were supposed to go something like this...
We leave late Friday night and head towards Palm Valley, about a two-hour drive from Alice. We've packed our swags, billy and ingredients for making damper. It's our first camping trip and we're excited to spend the next 24 hours within the belly of Mother Nature. We roll out our swags and settle under a sky tattooed with stars.
However, my night went something more like this...
We pulled into Alice Springs around 9pm. I was late for my camping trip so the crew had decided to postpone the experience.
At my hostel you have to let them know before 7pm if you're staying the night, but because I had been out of range I hadn't booked a room. So I checked myself into a hotel just up the road from the hostel.
It was the first time in two weeks that I didn't wear throngs in the shower or had an entire double bed to myself.
I ordered room service, drank tea in bed, binged on bad TV and then fell fast asleep until front desk called to see when I was checking out. They promptly reminded me that if I didn't vacate by 11am there would be a penalty.
I woke up in a daze, remembering my dream – Michael Jackson and Beyoncé performing together in what was an epic and memorable concert.
I quickly packed my things and walked back to my hostel. I had returned home and I liked it that much better.
Boy, have I changed.