The adventures of a single woman
Starting a new life as a single woman at the age of 50, Kay Green, from Huddersfield, embarked on an adventurous year touring the world. She writes about her love for the Australian way of life, and how the trip has become a journey of self-discovery, in her series Shoulders Back, Deep Breaths.
It’s Sunday morning, I’m in Australia and as I write this I’m sitting on a balcony that overlooks the ocean. I’m so close to the beach I can hear the waves as they make their way onto the shore.
The breeze it brings is creating a gentle rustle in the fronds and leaves of exotic trees and plants. I can feel its coolness as it moves over my skin. I’ve just spent the last hour in complete task avoidance and instead of writing I’ve been cleaning the bathroom and washing up, taking my mind away from trying to unlock the puzzle of how to express myself to you, how to compress a thousand wonderful stories into such a small space.
I want to be able to do my time here justice. I want to be able to use my words to take you to the places I’ve been, to describe the friendships I’ve developed, and most of all tell you how it all feels, how I feel. I’ve learnt so many lessons while I’ve been here, each one has come as the result of a situation or time or person, has its own merit and deserves a mention.
I realise that I’m not the only person who takes a ‘journey’ to discover who they are. I appreciate that a great many people who travel extensively do it for the same reason as I have. After my
marriage breakup I lost faith in everything, including myself.
When I decided to take this trip it was with the hope that I would become a better person from my experiences. What I didn’t fully understand was how far out of my comfort zone I would be
prepared to take myself. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m learning to stop listening to the woman I used to be, to stop her from talking me out of things because of ingrained fears learned over a lifetime. I’m choosing to ignore the doubts I have about myself and my capabilities, and so far the rewards have been life affirming. I’m delighted with my selfreliance and independence: I’m starting to trust myself again. I feel like I’m finally becoming Kay Green; and I like her.
Rather than follow the route a lot of backpackers take and hop from place to place, staying a few days and then moving on, only meeting other fellow travellers, I’ve created my own path.
It didn’t take me long to realise that sleeping in shared bedrooms in hostels wasn’t for me. I’m 51 years old, and while I don’t place any importance on the number, I do have my middle-aged woman limits. Sharing a dormitory with up to a dozen strangers at any given time is at the very edge of what I’m prepared to put up with.
I really don’t mind wearing the same set of clothes all the time; living out of a bag doesn’t bother me at all. OK I have a confession to make. I do miss strutting my stuff in a pair of high heels, I
have a yearning to put my feet into my tan suede stilettos, but conversely for most of last week, I didn’t wear any shoes at all. In fact, when it came time to leave the place I was staying, a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef – more about that at some point in the future – it took me ages to find my flip flops.
Realising what I did and didn’t want in terms of my accommodation made me look at things in another way. Finding the Helpx website and deciding to spend part of my time here exchanging my labour for bed and board was a stroke of genius on my part, even if I do say so myself. It’s allowed me to experience aspects of life that would otherwise have been lost to me. It’s given me the chance to live in one place for a while, to get to know an area and what it has to offer, but most of all it’s given me the opportunity to settle in, to become part of a community and a temporary
member of a family.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be welcomed into ordinary, everyday life, and it’s turned my head. There’s something about Australia and its inhabitants that appeals to me so strongly. Life here is like a breath of fresh air. Almost everyone I’ve come into contact with has hobbies and passions. They have surfboards and dive gear, boats and fishing tackle, bikes and four-wheel-drive vehicles that are ready for anything; they get out and do things.
Apart from helping my dad realise a long-term ambition to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, I really have no idea what made me choose Cairns for the start of my trip. I genuinely believe that my unconscious decision lead me to a place I could call home*.
I loved the feel of the tropical weather, of being surrounded by mountains covered in rainforest, driving past fields full of kangaroos, watching flocks of wild cockatoos make their way across the sky, and bats the size of seagulls starting their feed at dusk. This country fills me with wonder. Its beauty takes my breath away. I’ve learned to stop screaming when I see a cockroach, and although I get bitten by some bug or another most days and my legs feel like a Braille book, I realise that is just the result of being where I am. I’d go so far as to say I’m getting used to it.
When I arrived I hadn’t made any plans for my explorations beyond Cairns, so in the first few days of my stay, as I started to come round from the grief of my parents leaving, I gradually decided what I wanted to do and see. I plotted my route down the east coast to finally end my trip in Sydney, in time for my flight to the Philippines at the end of July, (when I have no choice but to leave
because my three-month visa ends.)
I organised my accommodation and the places I would live and work, I bought my Greyhound ticket and reserved my seat for the date I was due to leave for my next destination. Finalising my plans and knowing what was next gave me an even greater feeling of starting my own personal adventure. It created shift in me and I started to open myself up to those around me. I began to develop friendships and to look for possibilities to make my stay as memorable as I could.
The sense of freedom that came from meeting people who had no preconceived ideas of who I was, the realisation of what I was doing and the fact that I was living my dream hit me every day, when it did it created a bubble of laughter in me I found hard to contain. I was exhilarated.
I’m a firm believer in the theory that everything happens for a reason, that the universe has a plan for you, and while you’re busy making your own mind up about what you want to achieve and do,
it sometimes chooses to throw you a curve ball. It would seem it was my turn to receive a pitch from the planets, the turn of events it created was completely unexpected, and to be honest the last
thing on my list of priorities.
I met a man, and as he turned up in my life he brought a whole new world of experiences and fun. For the first time since I became single, I truly allowed myself to let my barriers down with another person. I wasn’t ready for it, but it came to me anyway.
* It’s OK mum, I promise I’m coming back when I said I would.