That night we owned the world and I’ve never forgotten it.

  • Saturday, September 29, 2018
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Yeah, the last plane out of Perth has almost gone
(Khe Sanh, with love and thanks to Cold Chisel.)
The last time I left Perth Gayle drove me to the airport in her old car, we had the windows down, the slipstream rushing past blowing her copper hair in mad tangles across her face freckled with the glow of eternal youth, in the cassette player JETS, the iconic Western Australian rock band played, the music distorted by the cheap speakers and snatched away by the howling wind. She had driven me down this same highway months earlier to see them perform in a downtown hotel and we had bonded over life, enormous jugs of beer and pyrotechnic rock. That night we owned the world and I’ve never forgotten it.
I’ve learnt that we must cherish the special people we are given for however long we have them, the last memory I have is her standing by the open car door, lanky and a little angular, her eyes, soft, blue and deep and mirrored by the ageless sky. I left her there and by mutual agreement never looked back, not long after cancer killed her and I never saw her again.
I’ve just returned to Australia 30 years later without my mullet and my youth, a little fucked over by life and accompanied by two of my kids. I had many reasons for coming back. I came to think, to have conversations, ask questions and hopefully reset myself. I came for answers and I came to lie on the grass and look up at the Southern Cross. I came because I fell in love with Australia all those years ago and it’s never faded. On this trip I had space and time to go for long runs along the coast with the wind in my face and salty lips. I took time to stop on my runs and clamber over the rocks with the waves foaming at my feet to watch the cormorants fish and search the far horizon. I ran through the bush and dunes, the silver sand sliding beneath my feet like the passing of time and where numerous signs warned that I was running through snake habitat. Nothing venomous came out forming itself into the grim reapers scythe curling across my path and I was grateful.
And then there were the Dolphins.
Faith is strange. It works, at least in the small things or what we may be tempted to call small but may possibly be terribly profound. The big issues often remain, the things that are hard to accept or understand like the black depressions and the unending struggle to make ends meet. I went to the sea everyday for 17 days while I was in Perth. Every time I went with the hope and the expectation of seeing Dolphins and on the penultimate day in the setting sun of the late afternoon they came, their backs curving like Katanas and gleaming with the foamy surf.
It felt like a promise fulfilled.
Running through the bush and dunes.

I am home now and I feel a sweet sorrow that Summer is gone. Just this afternoon I’ve come in from a great run in beautiful Autumn sunshine and re enacted my Summer habit, sitting in the sun with my kids and drinking the last cider in the fridge. It felt like a valediction of what I feel has been my best summer of running ever. Australia was the high but there was also some great runs either solo or with Annie, Kate or both of them together.
I loved running in the heatwave, solo, gasping and brown, sweat silver against my skin and my heart pumping violently inside my chest, the earth so dry and cracked that I could put my feet into it up to my ankle. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so fit, alive and able to soar above myself.
I had a fabulous early morning go with Annie at the beginning of August, the mist was rising vertically from the damp vegetation, Annie was fresh off the plane from Vietnam and we had a long chat about developing countries and globalisation and the impact of unrestrained capitalism on poor people used to living simple lives. Kate and I ran a few days after I returned and we had a really deep and honest talk about work life balance, raising kids, education, guilt and marriage. Both of these women are bringing out the conversation in me and when you run and talk with people you comfortable with and trust the miles fly past with almost no effort, time as a concept almost disappears, that line gets blurred and you cross over into effortless freedom.
Recently I watched the documentary Finding Traction featuring ultra runner Nikki Kimball which featured a quote by Bernd Heinrich who wrote the great book Why We Run. He said, “ Running appeals to a lot of people now especially because we are more and more constrained. We can’t really be ourselves, we have to follow these rules and those rules. We have less and less freedom and freedom is what we need and running is an outlet for true freedom and letting loose “
Anyone who reads any of my posts will know this freedom is one of the true planks of my running.

 Snake country
Clambering over the rocks with the waves foaming at my feet

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