All the pieces left behind – Conclusion

Some endings are explosive and ragged. The pieces left behind reflect the trauma and tearing apart.

This jagged rhyolite is from an explosive phase of the Toombullup volcanics and the Wabonga Caldera.

Sometimes endings are really beginnings, laying down the foundation of the future.

And some endings are not endings – they are just the flow of time, breaking down some things while building up others. Time may be linear and constant, but it is not always experienced that way.

The creek erodes away the valley slowly over time and deposits the sediments as rich soils downstream during flood events. The guys will tell you time moves blessedly slow while floating.

The last 3.5 years of my life have ebbed and flowed in the weirdest of ways. Everyone has gotten a taste of this with COVID, but my body has enforced restrictions on activities and kept me at home a lot for a long time before the virus emerged.

Who knows how long time will flow in such an odd way? I don’t know the future and I don’t yet know if this illness will ever end. I hope it does – not in a tumultuous way, but in a slow melting of symptoms such that one day I wake up and realise it’s gone.

But in the meantime, in this flow of days and months and years, I will continue to ride as much as I can and find ways to experience nights in my tent. I just have to push through one more year of work, hopefully at a slower pace, and then a bike tour of indeterminate length is in the plans. (Back in 2014, I was thinking the next multi-month bike tour would be 2020, but illness got in the way of that… thankfully, since touring was most definitely not a good thing to be trying to do this year!).

For now, it’s back to work and weekend rides. I am grateful to have a job. I am grateful to be feeling a little bit better. I am grateful to not currently be living paycheck to paycheck. I am grateful to be in a country that’s had an outstanding public health response to the virus. I am grateful to live in a beautiful part of the world with so many roads yet unridden that beckon me forth on the weekends even when my body says sleep is the preferred option.

And I am grateful that I still have a loving and caring relationship with my ex-partner – that the pieces left behind from our marriage mean that we still have a deep friendship and still care about one another as much as we did back in those heady, lustful, early days. So much of his life now is full of struggle and turmoil. The pieces left behind from past traumas still haunt him. It is sad and hard to watch.

And so I shed some tears of joy for that skinny little petrolhead when he got to live out a life-long dream of driving a race car at Mount Panorama. My heart swelled with pride and happiness to see him so happy and so in his element. He took to that race car as if he’d been doing that daily for all of his life.

My beloved petrolhead after his drive at Mount Panorama. He obviously had the greatest power-to-weight ratio of anyone out there. He was so enthused he has already booked a place next year (even though it costs about $300 per lap). Good thing we didn’t have kids so we have a bit more disposable income than most people our age!

He did an outstanding job and was easily in the top three drivers out there. His in-car video shows him staying incredibly calm and focused, something he is not normally known to be, through the whole circuit – even at high speeds and in the trickiest of turns. He was awesome and I am so grateful I got to witness it.

Sometimes, on rare occasions, little glimpses of the man I married can be seen through all the years of angst, rage and trauma that have transformed that human. I got to see that sweet, humble guy with extraordinary driving skills that I married 20 years ago for a little bit on 1 December. I will treasure that as I know there are years and years, and maybe a lifetime, of difficulty ahead for him.

That’s my petrolhead there in the back. Now normally being in the back is not something to brag about. But it is when you are so speedy that you have caught all the cars that started a lap ahead of you. Of the 15-20 guys I watched, only two other drivers were as fast and smooth and on the best lines as my petrolhead. He was sensational and said he felt comfortable in the car right from the start.

I will keep that image of him coming back up from pit lane in my head – his huge grin and enthusiasm as he floated on Cloud 9, all ready to spend big dollars to go back and do the drive again next year (the event is only held once a year).

Even though this week and a half did not quite occur as I had originally envisioned, you could not have put together all the pieces left behind in a better way for a week and a half of riding, resting and racing.

4 thoughts on “All the pieces left behind – Conclusion

    • Yes, Nigel definitely has some innate talent for driving. He thinks and reacts in some way most of the rest of us don’t. And I am certainly grateful to still have a very good relationship with him even though he is hard, hard work most of the time.

  • Hi Emily,
    I have finally been able to catch up on this journal. What a wonderful trip. As always, your writing and the photos take me out there with you! I wanted so badly to be sitting in that creek 😉
    It will be brilliant if you are able to sort the fewer work hours – part time work is a game changer when you need to heal, but still pay the bills.
    I can’t remember if I previously told you, but the thesis was finally marked (no changes!) and I ‘graduated’ about five weeks ago, by mail. Another weird covid anti-climax. But as for you in your previous post, I have a huge amount to be thankful for, even with the challenges of 2020. I hope that your family in the US remain safe and well.
    Do you have a vision for the extended trip when it comes? We are still hoping that the postponed Balkans, Greece, Turkey trip can be possible in 2022… But shall wait and see how things pan out next year.
    Take care, Catherine

    • Thanks, Catherine. Yes, that is absolutely fantastic news about graduating! No changes, that’s so awesome! Well done and congratulations. I hope at some point they can have a ceremony in-person so you can wear the floppy hat.

      I hope that 2022 will allow your Balkans/Turkey/Greece trip. I guess it is a little early to know – maybe by mid-2021 we’ll know how well the vaccines are working and how quickly/easily they can be distributed. My plan is loose at the moment, but roughly I’d like to do a ride in NSW and VIC between March and May 2022, then go to visit my parents June-Aug/Sept 2022 (it will end up being 3 years between visits, so I want to spend longer with them), then come back and ride back to Albury from Queensland through the end of the year. Very loose plans, but something like that. I’m not keen to do too much touring outside of Oz until I’m confident my body won’t rebel and require health care.

      My boss has already approved the reduction in hours to a three-day week. I have my next doc appt on 14 December and I’ll get him to write the med cert then. I’ll work 4 days thru Jan to cover all my co-workers who want time off for school holidays with kids, but drop back to 3 days in Feb. I’m hoping that gives my body the extra rest it needs to progress forward instead of backward.

      I hope you and your partner are well and any maintenance treatments and check-ups are going well. After all the stress of illness and a PhD, you did not deserve the 2020 that has been! All the best to you both up there.

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