“The sun, it rises slowly as you walk away from all the fears,
and all the faults you’ve left behind.”
– Mumford & Sons
Date 31st August
It didn’t take long to get here, but I’m pretty tired. On the way, Bruce stopped and asked what I was doing. I told him and he gave me a donation. He was an ex-army dude and was interested in my pack. He said he’d had to carry a 37kg pack in the army. He told me he had to carry the pack for over 20 or more kilometres in under 2 hours for training.
An ambulance drove past and slowed down. I was worried they were going to get up me for walking on the highway, but the lady driving hung her head right out of the window and yelled, “you go girl!” while pumping her fist. It was really awesome and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. I didn’t really notice anyone else because I had my head down the whole way, but a car did beep once and also a truck as I was coming into Nanango. The truck looked like a bunch of builders and they kept beeping right down the road. It made me smile. I thought it could have been some of the tradies I’ve met in pubs or maybe they’d heard me on the radio.
I was a bit early to go to the pub, so I decided to go to the bakery to have a coffee and read a bit. I felt like a bit of spectacle with my pack. I’ve noticed that people generally react to me one of three ways: they think I’m dangerous and should be avoided, which means they avert their eyes and get away from me as quickly as possible; they think I’m crazy and will either avoid me or laugh at me; or they are really intrigued and want to ask what I’m doing. The second one is the most hurtful, especially when I smile at people and they just laugh at me like I belong in the circus.
I leant my bum up against one of the booth tables in the bakery so I could easily take the pack off. I rested it against the edge of the booth, trying to contain the poles and the sleeping mats so they weren’t a public hazard. I was worried the whole thing would come crashing down at any moment and I would look like the biggest idiot of all time. I knew everyone in the whole place was looking at me.
I was wearing my tshirt that says GBM Survivor on the front and details about the hike on the back. When I went up to order, the lovely young girl at the counter was really interested in what I was doing. “Oh my god! Have you walked here from Toowoomba?” she asked.
“No, from Mt Perry. I’m on my way to Toowoomba. I’m raising money for brain cancer.”
“Oh, that’s great. It’s a long way.”
“Yeah, it is a long way!” I replied.
I went and sat down and in not much time at all a couple of ladies (customers) arrived at the table. Roz gave me a donation and told me what a good thing I was doing. While she was there, the bakery owner, Theresa, came over and gave me a donation too. I saw a breast cancer tattoo on her arm. “Have you had cancer too?” I asked.
“My mum is battling breast cancer.” she replied.
Both Roz and Theresa hugged me. It made me feel like I was an important person 🙂
One of the lovely ladies from the bakery came over and offered me a sandwhich and another cup of coffee for free. It was really awesome and everyone at the bakery made me feel just great, especially considering I only just showed up there without any pre-arranged deal with them like I’d arranged with the pubs I’d stayed at. I didn’t come across another business like this on my whole trip 🙂
Another customer, Rob, came up and asked about my pack. He gave me all the coins he had. He was reading an ebook. “What are you reading?” I asked.
“Rubbish,” he responded.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, it’s not really rubbish. It’s just teen fantasy. It’s what my daughters read and I read it too as a way to stay close to them. See, I’m an older dad and this means we can have something in common.”
“What a good idea,” I said.
He was a nice guy. I wanted to talk to him a bit more, but I didn’t want to freak him out. I’m pretty terrible for knowing I should shut up, but not being able to make myself shut up! I can see people literally trying to edge away from me sometimes and the voice in my head is telling me to stop talking, but it’s like I’m out of control and can’t make myself do it. I read How to Make Friends and Influence People a while back and that kind of helped. I mean, at least I’m aware of what I’m doing now, but still, it’s hard to let someone go when I want to keep chewing their ear! I just find other people so darn interesting.
After Rob left (yeah, I think I talked him away), Fred came over and asked me about my pack. He gave me a donation and said he’d heard me on the radio. I didn’t get to “talk him away” because he was in a hurry and left without me scaring him off. I wondered which radio station he’d heard me on. I didn’t think to ask him.
As I went to thank the ladies at the bakery for their kindness, Theresa came over said she’d love to donate a painting for an artisan auction I’d told her about earlier. She was an artist and had many of her striking works of art hanging on the walls around the bakery. I told her that I’d love it if she could do that!
At the pub the room wasn’t at all what I was expecting. After I put my bag in there I went to the IGA and bought milk, Doritos and 3 bottles of water. I couldn’t drink the water out of the tap in the room; it was brown. I was planning on cooking some of my own food for dinner, but decided against it for various reasons, the brown water being one of them, so I went to the RSL instead. It was packed. I wasn’t expecting that considering there wasn’t a single patron in the bar of the pub as I passed through on the way out. There weren’t any in there when I came back in later either.
There was a decent bookcase in the pub and I read a book of short stories from it called Scission by Tim Winton. I really liked it. I love writing short stories and hope that my writing is at least kind of like Tim Winton’s . I love his book Dirt Music, but some of his stuff does get on my nerves, like Eyrie, but I guess that goes with the territory. Literary fiction often makes me feel like it never comes to a satisfactory ending.
Even though the bakery was such a good experience, I started to feel like I’d had enough of the whole thing and just wanted to go home. I knew I’d never quit, but knowing that didn’t stop me from feeling like I wanted to. Ash rang after I’d come back from the RSL and that made me want to go home even more.
I thought about going home and it made me realise that it’s going to be hard to go back to a normal life where people aren’t congratulating me on my excellence all the time.
I got such a good laugh at this. There were about 4 of these signs in the window of the takeaway shop next to the pub. It just seemed ironic to have a sign like this in the window of a shop that sells food guaranteed to make you weigh more than you already do. It also made me think that they must’ve had several incidents of people busting through the chairs to have to put up signs warning people not to weigh too much. I wonder how they police it?