Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where did you always want to go?

I got a call from the library yesterday that my reserved book was waiting for me - Old Friend From Far Away. I am on the second round of borrowing this book, and it does feel like an old friend; actually, it did the first time I got it. Natalie Goldberg has pulled together writing practice memoir ideas in her newest release. Indeed, her years of doing writing practice has resulted in a great panning of gold.

For example, "what have you held onto too long?" or "Write everything you know about mashed potatoes."

"Where did you always want to go but didn't?" Natalie prompts.

I am sitting in my living room, and when I look up I see the windowless wall with a laminated poster of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.

Nelle brought the poster back for me when she went to Australia many years ago. I remember a conversation we had about the moon the night before she left. The moon was full, and we pondered what it looked like from down under. She made a point of calling me when she got off the plane to say it looked exactly the same.

When I was 19 years old, lonely in Winnipeg, I dreamed of going to Australia. I don't remember what beckoned me to the land so far away, except perhaps that it was that far away. I saved my hard-earned money from the factory work in a special bank account - each pay day, I walked the several blocks to the bank and knew that I was one step closer to my dream. Eventually, I knew that the work that gave me the opportunity to save, was draining all of my life energy. With $600 in the bank, not enough to get me to Australia, I went back home to ponder.

And then, I was caught up in the wind of life, that takes you so far off course, you can't even remember where you were.

For years now, the laminated poster has been put up in every living room where I have moved. Sometimes, the tacky adhesive pries loose and the poster falls on the floor behind the couch or the TV and I am reminded again, of those long-ago dreams. Old friends from far away.

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