The night before, I caught the bus from Adelaide to Canberra. I spent the night in Canberra, as the bus to Surf Beach left early the next morning.
I knew she would be waiting for me, had some idea what to expect from the letters and phone calls we’d been exchanging since we met at a “Survival and Beyond” conference.
I arrived tired and cold, but the sun shone and I could see the waves crashing on the shore. It was peaceful there. I planned to stay a week, and looked forward to seeing what was so special about this place.
When I saw her waiting for me I was both relieved and excited. She looked different than I remembered, more relaxed and at peace. She talked about where she was living, the cat that followed her to the beach, the things she had been up to. Her dark brown hair reached below her shoulders, longer than I remembered, and her eyes were dark brown too.
That first day, we had few hours before the community bus came to take us back to her place, so we explored the shoreline. Dolphins frolicked in the waves as we walked along the beach and jetty.
Over that week we went to different places. My friend is a keen fisherwoman, and I was happy to sit and watch her, taking in the beauty of the area. Once, travelling on the community bus with a group of passengers, we took in the sight of a whale cruising happily by in the ocean.
Walking along the beach at low tide one day I trod on a stingray buried in the sand. It shot out from under my foot, leaving me both scared and relieved. My friend laughed, as she knew it was part of the low-tide amusement. Treading on its head meant I wasn’t stung, but I was more careful next time we paddled in the shallows.
I could see why she liked living there, the energy of the place so calming and relaxing. I was sure I would come back again, perhaps next time to live.
Later, I did move to Surf Beach to live, and shared a place with my friend. I thought moving away would be a fresh start, a new beginning. But it didn’t turn out the way I’d planned. My problems followed me there. I did not change. And it ended in tears.