...as the title implies, this will be my last write up for Pup and Girl. I don't plan to complete any more epic runs across the Country, as there are other ways that I intend to serve my community from now... but here are some words about this last run, from Perth to Adelaide, and some heartfelt thanks.
The LONG, long, LONG run...
There is something in the experience of this last run that is separating; it is taking me far longer to acclimate to 'normal' life than I expected, and it seems impossible to explain the sensation of being a continuous observer, rather than direct participant, and I worry that I will never be able to articulate the impact of the 2690 kilometres.
This might be the best I can muster...
There are three versions I could share of the run; the general overview that people expect and want to be told, the detailed version which includes the unexpected preoccupation with the most base and banal aspects of human survival likely to offend the sensibilities of many, and the interior element of the adventure perhaps too abstract to thread together with words just yet ...and all three versions, true.
The first couple of weeks were not without hiccups or troubleshooting but they were fun, on re-reading my journal I can see that it stopped being ‘fun’ on day 14, but I didn’t cry until day 17. I was already running on an injury; I had seriously hurt my left ankle very, very early on, it turns out my ability to be unreasonably stubborn can pay off from time to time – and suddenly, I was sobbing as I was running ...no-one was more surprised than I. From then on it became a battle of will – but not without moments of delight.
Really quite simple things like caterpillars, wildflowers, rainbows, the changing of the landscape, friendly waves from truckdrivers, a gap in the relentless traffic became soul saving, and just about enough to make the overall effort manageable, however…
…the parallels between my experience and rough sleepers are impossible to ignore, though I absolutely had the luxury of choice and a bed to sleep in at the very end of the day. The constant feeling of exposure, from the weather obviously, but also the unnerving gaze of strangers was enough to make me not only want to hide, but actually do so from time to time… the lack of privacy when needed, the difficulty in staying clean or dry, the worry about being hydrated, hungry, safe… so much so that the next time a person tells me that people are homeless by choice I will challenge them to leave everything they own and spend not one night, but at least a week without reprieve, out there…maybe not the wild, wild west but somewhere far enough from home so as to feel a true disconnect and then I will be willing to discuss.
I had my crew to keep me connected and grounded, and there is a bond with these fabulous people that is unlike any other, a comradery hard earned… there were also lovely supportive messages, accessible only when there was service, and then a magical thing happened… just when I was at a real low point, an incredible person reached out and offered to match donations up to the value of $10,000, the timing of this, when I was in the most pain, and in my most doubt, cemented my will to finish.
I am not sure how long it is going to take to recover financially, emotionally, or physically this time – I had already decided, I think even before I started this run, that Pup and Girl needs to move in a different direction, not only so that I can slink back into a life that does not require my photo to be taken so often, but to enable me to work within my community offering direct acts of service… how, I’m not sure yet.
Last words ..
With all that time out on the road (and on bush tracks wherever and whenever possible), there was time to think, ponder, wonder and muse (also flies, and spiders, dead animals, rubbish, trees, and more salt bush than a person can imagine but mostly time to think) and I feel that I have learned a thing or two about myself, how to run a long freaking way, what it is to be without a toilet for hours on end...about loneliness and isolation, about friendship and kindness and love.
The list of things learned is long, and mostly boring - for example, I feel confident that the most popular brand of caravan is Jayco (based on observation alone), and how to squat in the bush without getting prickles in my pants... and some learnings might be humorous in a dark way; it is possible to have an unfortunately placed hole in one's trousers and not know, it is also possible to know and not care.
But while lost in the bush for a few hours I learned with fierce clarity that the number of things that matter to me, as in really matter, can be counted out on one hand - and that love informs each of these.
So in parting all I will say is this; apart from my usual war cry for the advocacy and agitation required to end homelessness, and my heartfelt plea to always treat others with the kindness you hope for yourself and those you know and care about, please also liberate the love in your heart; let it out, show it, share it, honour it, represent it, and communicate it - the love for your family; biological or handpicked, the love for your community, the love for humanity, friends, lovers, the earth... say it out loud and often, respectfully and with humility, be guided by the needs of others as well as your own, be authentic - and just f@#king feel it.
Signing off with love and gratitude - and a great big, long list of thank yous...
All of these people and businesses were outrageously generous!!
Support Crew - Frankie, Thomas, Katrina and Veronica
Ground Control - Stew, Allison, David, Joseph and Lucy
Sponsors - Deaf Connect, The Dock Studios, Walls that Talk
Promoting/ Marketing - Jesse, Lee and her whole crew
JB Caravans Perth
Jim the Hairdresser
MVP Business Cards
Daryl Poole - Videography
James for media access
Peter for shoes and words of encouragement
Rhonda the nicest person in all of Perth !
Georgie for Medical Supplies
Sally for asking, asking, asking
Aftercare- Allison, Sarah, Fiona, Craig
...and everyone that donated, wrote to me, waved, a spruked us xxx