Chapter Seven - Moments
Maybe it's the Jewish mother in me but I love to feed people and make them feel at home.
So in many ways this new job comes naturally to me. I mix with travellers everyday so I have to be inquisitive and welcoming. It's a role where you need to be organised, warm and friendly.
But last night one of the guides took me aside. I sensed I was in trouble. What had I done? A feeling of dread rolled over me.
We were at Kings Canyon. It was 9pm. The campsite was quiet, the fire still blazing the stars out and bright.
The tour guide, David, asked me if I had a minute. This wasn't good. I followed him into the kitchen, footsteps behind him. He turned down the gauge on the boiler. I thought he was going to tell me off, something to do with the boiler.
I followed him out again. He pulled up two fold-out seats at the campfire, lit a cigarette, took a deep drag and proceeded to tell me what a great job I was doing.
Phew, what a relief. I thanked him for the compliment. He was impressed and enjoyed working with me.
In the corporate world, compliments are harder to come by. I'm not the quietest person and corporate etiquette never came naturally.
Sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day drained me. There was no room for creativity. The energy and enthusiasm I wanted to inject into my job wasn't possible.
Here, I'm free to be me – nothing less and nothing more.
It's a way of life I'm getting very used to.
From Pigeons to People
I can't see myself living in a big city after this experience. Life is so relaxed and everyone knows everyone.
I'll tell you a story that illustrates this.
My parents have been here for the past five days, which has been great and also an eye opener for them.
They have seen the way I live and for the first time in their 70 years of life, they stayed in a hostel. It was a culture shock for my eastern suburbs parents, who are used to buffet breakfasts, crisp white sheets and showering with no shoes on.
When I told my dad there was no ensuite, he thought I was joking.
On their last morning we went to Telegraph Station. The preserved site has rich history of the communications lines in Alice and was one of three Commonwealth institutions used to house members of the stolen generation.
It's steeped in history and something I will revisit in my next chapter.
There is a sweet café that serves tea and scones, toasties and coffee. We got something simple, just cheese and tomato sandwiches and coffee.
After we ate we took a walk around the property, then hurried to the car to get my parents ready for their flight home.
They walked ahead, about 100 metres in front of me.
As we passed the cafe again, I noticed a distraught woman with an arm around what looked like her mother – her head was tilted and she has drool around her mouth.
I shouted to my parents that we needed help. Since mum is a nurse and dad is a doctor, the timing was fortuitous.
Dad took her pulse but there was nothing. He looked up at my mum and shook his head.
My mum instructed the daughter to lay the woman on her side, while she stuck her fingers into the side of her neck to open her airways. The woman, who was 74, took a deep breath.
She was alive.
Later that night I retold the story at dinner. One of the girls at the table, an ER doctor at Alice Springs Hospital, knew her and had treated her and she was fine..
Last week it was pigeons, this week its people.
Birds Eye View
It was a late birthday present to myself.
I was strapped in, harnessed to 'Herbilious', about to jump out of the plane at 12,000 feet in the air.
It was epic.
When I looked outside, I could see Uluru and the Olgas. It was incredible.
As we exited the plane, I let out a little shriek, instantly losing my breath.
What was I doing? I was not enjoying this.
The free fall was scary, but as soon as the parachute shot up, I loved it.
It was the closest I have ever come to flying.
Seeing the Rock from a different perspective added another layer of awe and excitement to its natural splendour.
I'd ticked off seeing one of the eight wonders of the world from a birds eye view.
All I could think was, when can I do it again?