Well, well, dear readers-- it has been quite some time. I'm sitting at my new neighbourhood cafe, enjoying a long black on a ridiculously warm winter day: it's currently a sunny 19C, or about 66F for you non-metrics. The new cafe is promising despite the rather boring name--Sydney Fine Food Company--for two reasons. The first: free internets! The awesome: free picnic rug so you can enjoy coffee and lunch in lovely Alexandria Park.
It's been a long time since I've done anything remotely like what I'm doing today, because my family has been visiting. My mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece all came to Australia for a month; it was crazy and weird and mostly beautiful. The preparation alone was bizarre; because we only moved here about a year ago and still don't own many useful and important things like, say, a stapler or a...bed, it's needless to mention that we didn't happen to have 6 extra pillows, 3 extra beds, or any extra blankets at all. We certainly didn't have enough pots and pans to cook a meal for eight.
Somehow, right before they got here, our friends, co-workers, and total strangers lent or gave us just about everything we needed. I couldn't believe how many people came together to make my family comfortable here. Ruby and Vix were strangers at the cafe. They probably would have stayed that way, if they hadn't overheard me worrying about setting my family up. They decided to lend us a rug, some chairs and a camp bed. We talked more, and I am very glad they aren't strangers anymore. They even gave us some dinner because we'd been moving all day. We still don't know how to thank them for everything; I'm just happy to know such generosity exists in the hearts of strangers... it makes living in a still new, still bewildering city gentler.
Monika lent and gave with all her heart. Julia--my Australian momma--has given me more rides and stuff and help than I can remember. She is a wonderful, sometimes quirky, slightly forgetful and not often punctual, woman I am proud to work with. Sara volunteers at the co-op; she heard about my dilemma and dropped off two boxes of warm, thick woolen blankets. Aidan and Robby lent us a bed, and their poor guests have suffered their couch.
I sat up the night before my family's arrival, sewing tags onto all the blankets, towels and pillowcases I had borrowed, so I would know where to return them. A tag for a blanket loaned to make my nephew warm, a tag for a towel to keep the dishes dry; one for the sheet my sister used, one for the pillow that protected my niece from rolling into the wall.
It took an hour to sew all the tags; by the end, we could see our community. A cartography of the compassion we've found in our first year in Sydney, drawn on bedding and kitchenware. I am still overwhelmed. If the people who care for you could pile all their caring into your living room, what would it look like?