Travelogue: Sweat, dead tree, brother

My brother Philip walked to Bunnings this afternoon and came back with a saw. Together, we cut down a dead tree at the back of Mum’s garden then ripped and chopped at it until it was packed neatly into three boxes of variously-thick kindling and a stack of tidy, round logs. Two hours of immensely satisfying work, and now I’m sitting back with a cold beer, thinking about how my day went from very bad to a little better than okay.

Due to more than a year of recurrent nightmares, I’m taking an anti-psychotic in the evenings to help me sleep through the night. Last night, I forgot to take my pill. The night was a long tunnel that got so narrow I could feel the sides, shaped like faces, pressing me at times. At 4:30am I read a chapter of a novel, fell asleep around 6 and slept until 11:30.

I got up and skulked around, resting my head on my mum’s shoulder, like some puppy that’s taller than her, while she answered emails on her iPad. I remembered to take my other meds, made a coffee, went back to bed, wrote an angry letter in the notes app on my phone then deleted it.

Dry trunks and tangled boughs at Lorna Pass. Not the tree we felled…

It was 2:17pm when I thought, ‘Enough’s enough.’ I pulled on my giraffe socks and my mum’s runners, which have become my runners because mine are in a box somewhere in my mum’s shed. I ran past Aldi and the spice shops, along the street with the massive council cleanup piles on the nature strip (monuments to boredom and reluctant productivity), across the oval and into the bush.

Sometimes when I’m running on a blue day like today, it helps to pretend I’m Jason Bourne or Wonder Woman or something, so I leap from rock to log to stump with as much dramatic flair as I can manage without rolling one of my puny ankles. I passed one other runner – Beware! Friend or foe? – before hitting the Comenarra Parkway, the road that would take me back home. Mission almost accomplished. Spotify served up an Anberlin track right when I needed it, and I was flying.

Philip ambled in from his Bunnings reccy wearing Birks and sweeping handfuls of luscious hair off his face just as I was chugging water at the kitchen sink. My patient, competent brother and I spent the next couple of hours quietly dismembering the sorry tree, listening to Mum’s clarinet lessons drop in and out over FaceTime and making sure Ollie the sausage dog didn’t munch too much ash from the fire pit.

My brother, Philip, last summer.

I’ve been back in Australia for a month. Today I thank sweat, dead tree and brother for lifting me. These days are lonely and low, and sometimes, on my own, I can’t remember which way’s up.

I’ll be posting different stuff for the next little while – coming soon!

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