Australia is a strange land. It’s nothing like North America. It’s not even anything like Europe. It feels familiar, but foreign. It’s like stepping into another dimension, parallel, but unrelated to this one. It’s just Australia unto Australia. Itself unto itself.
And when I was there, I was like a parallel version of me. Like Alice in Wonderland.
In Australia, I had a new name. Tricia, the way they say it. Michael’s Tricia. I had new friends – a whole group of them – that seemed like they’d just been waiting for me to get there. Strange, romantic, wonderful people. So inclined to like me, to love me. I had new money in my wallet. New streets and towns. New words jangling around in my head.
And there was no adjusting to it! There was no time of “settling in.” I went to sleep on the plane and woke up and then suddenly Michael’s arms were around me. And I was in Australia, deep down the rabbit hole, among mad hatters and march hares.
It just happened. The week just happened, as though it had been happening all along and I'd never really known it.
I moved Michael into a house and we lived -- lived -- there.
We cleaned the old kitchen and hung clothes on the line. I met the neighbors. We ate cold chicken with Dave and Lucinda in the middle of the night. We ate cereal in the morning sun, sitting on the flagstones in the backyard. And we wandered Sydney at night with Simon and Victoria, ducking in and out of pubs, dodging early-autumn rainstorms.
And Michael was there. He was there when I went to sleep and there when I woke up.
And every time I saw him, it was like a miracle. That we were there, and I could reach out and touch him. That we could go buy groceries. Groceries! Shopping was a revelation. Riding the train? An adventure.
And yes, of course, we did things. But we didn’t do anything that wasn’t a part of his life now, a part of my parallel life. A tourist goes somewhere to see something they wouldn’t ordinarily see. I felt like I was seeing things I’ve already been seeing things for months, for years. Because they are familiar to Michael’s eyes.
And because Michael is a part of me.
And because when Alice wakes up, she finds herself on a riverbank, and she tells her sister the dream of Wonderland. But her sister knows that Wonderland is not a dream, not an inaccessible dream anyway, but a lovely dream that lives and breathes and goes on and has a life of its own.
And that’s Australia.
I’m back in California now. But Michael and I have a life of our own. And that life goes on. We carry each other.
And we go on, parallel, Australia, California, Michael and I together like a heartbeat, on and on.