Meeting Bridget

Mandie and Nick dropped me near the motorway in Brisbane where I could start hitchhiking north to meet Bridget for the first time. Mandie had mentioned me to her friend, Bridget, and she was apparently keen to meet me if I was in the area. I would have met her a week earlier when I passed through Rockhampton on my way down from Cairns, but I'd lost her number and missed the connection. This time around as well she'd sent me a message saying she was busy, but Mandie sent a message out to her the night before and her mind had changed, so now she became my destination, a person to meet before making the long haul to Darwin.

I walked towards the motorway waiving goodbye with some smooth stepping dance moves, munching on the last bites of a meat pie Mandie had gotten me at a bakery on route, "I have to keep you boys fed!", she told Nick and I, we heard this (happily) several times in the past few days with her.

I was full of good vibes, buzzing off the past few days, the meat pie in my stomach and the thought of Bridget. I'd never seen her face or heard her voice, but somehow I was longing to see her.

With good vibes come quick rides when it comes to hitchhiking, I was scooped up by the first car to come towards me there in the thick of Brisbane, always a treat to get a quick ride when trying to escape sprawling cityscape. The guy took me up a little ways towards the northern suburbs, dropping me off in a huge wide shoulder along the motorway. I waited there until a big truck pulled in and ran up to it, but he said he hadn't stopped for me, instead suggesting I walk up a kilometer or two towards a petrol station where I could have better luck.

I walked less than that and got another ride a little further up, then another ride after that from a delivery van. The driver was friendly and had traveled all over Europe and parts of the states. His good mood increased mine, so once he dropped me off it was only a matter of minutes until the next car stopped.

This fourth ride was from a guy named Mike who worked for Fuji film and spent most of his time adventuring around, surfing, biking and feeling alive. It was a good long ride all the way up to the town of Gympie, I remembered passing it a week earlier on the way down with a few guys transporting a motorcycle down to Brisbane.

I walked through town a little ways, getting a lift from an older man eventually who was into WOOFing (work on organic farms). "I'm the only one on the planet with a farm on a boat", he joked. Although the name suggests organic farms, it's really for anyone who needs work - people can come help out in exchange for food and accommodation while traveling. He said it was mostly, perhaps exclusively, young girls that came and helped on his boat, mostly German as he said. He said there'd been a couple marriage proposals made to him over the years, I quickly got the idea of the types of work going on in his boat.

We stopped at the petrol station, he asked a few other people if they were going to Rockhampton, more or less my destination, he was only going another 15 minutes up the road. No one bit, he kept trying to convince me to make a sign using some cardboard, I thought about humoring him, but didn't, I wouldn't need a sign for this hitch.

We got stopped waiting in a line of cars for roadwork, he hopped out, "sometimes you have to be cheeky about these sort of things, I'll ask some other cars if they're heading to Rocky", he hopped out and asked a few people, no one there either.

Past the road block he dropped me off, I waited for the next run of cars to come. Meanwhile I was getting butterflies in my stomach thinking of Bridget, I'd been getting hits of that throughout the day. It would have seemed odd, being that we'd never met, instead I was excited to find out why.

A utility truck passed me then did a loop around and I hopped in. The guy was a miner quitting his job and going back to his old one after having been jerked around, promised pay and driving opportunities that never came to fruition. He said he was heading towards Bundaberg, I told him I was heading to Rockhampton and more specifically, Yeppoon. After that he said he was heading for Mackay ultimately, further north, and Bundaberg was just an arbitrary place he'd thought earlier would be good to stop for a night on the way. He instead said, "I may as well just head a little further up to Yeppoon, it'll be less driving tomorrow morning". I was good to go.

We arrived in Yeppoon at dark, my belly full from a burger stop we'd made earlier. I was dropped off right in front of the beach where I needed to be. Bridget had told me her days schedule and by now she was coming up on the full moon meditation on this beach. I wandered around a bit waiting for the start of it, talking to some guys at an outdoor table from Melbourne who were traveling around, sipping some beers at the moment. Next I was down by the beach itself scanning up and down to see if I could notice anyone gathering in anything that looked like a meditation, I had no idea what Bridget looked like anyhow. A couple people came up to me saying they'd seen me wandering and asked if I wanted a meal from the restaurant or was in need of a place to stay. In many a time this would be welcomed road magic that I would jump on, but now I was fairly full and minutes way from meeting Bridget for the first time.

At last I saw some women grouping together and I approached them, they were indeed there for the meditation. Soon after others came and then Bridget, I was sure it was her and introduced myself. She was shorter than me with short blonde hair and a quirky smile, a sort of poncho draped over her shoulders. We sat next to each other and the lot of us made a circle.

The main woman began talking through the meditation, the moon full and bright up in the sky, all of us holding hands and the like, there was a buzz of sensation between mine and Bridget's as we kept our eyes closed and listened.

At the end we drank some water, blessed our otherwise said to be special or different, then things wrapped up. Bridget and I took a walk down the beach, then to a Thai place to get a spicy meal to enjoy on a grassy spot familiar to her looking out to the ocean. A ride in her family truck and we were back at her folks place where she was staying. We talked for a bit and she gave me a giant crystal, heavy with a yellow tint, she said it was meant for me. I took it on appreciating it and also contemplating the added weight to my backpack, it was the size and weight of a brick.

I slept well in the guest room of the nice house her dad had put together on a big property out in the country. The next day I got to see more of the backyard and garden and hear stories of the various animals that had once roamed back there, as well as the snakes and whatnot that would pray on them, particularly the chickens.

We drove out to a place where we could hike down just a little trail and paddle down a stream, forest all around and branches to float under, a beautiful secluded spot. There was a restaurant or lodge of some kind there, we stopped for tea where there was some live music playing to a crowd that out aged us by 20+ years and up, emus wandering around the outside as we sipped and listened.

We drove to a water hole she liked a lot for a picnic afterwards, pausing on the road to coax a turtle to make his way off of it to avoid an otherwise certain death.

Later we made our way to her mom's gymnastic studio/warehouse/playground. Before the class started I got to play and jump around, doing froward flips into a pit full of foam blocks and with a trampoline floor,  a guaranteed soft landing. I waited up in the rafters once the young girls came in for a class, Bridget was an instructor there.

Back at the house Bridget's mom made a great meal and we feasted while enjoying some beers with her dad and relaxing into an easy night.

I woke up the next day to tea with Bridget's mom and looking at maps from all over the place, she was into maps and I always like them too, I was happy to chat and have some eggs, tomato and toast until Bridget was ready to ride out and show me some more of the area.

We checked out a big white statue that would whistle with the wind, then up around some cliffs by the water back into a spot where she said a friend got married, a clearing back in there. We hiked up a bit overlooking the ocean to an apparent turtle lookout point.

We made our way to an animal sanctuary after where I got my first good look at some kangaroos, which I'm still convinced is the only place they can be seen despite what all these Australians say about them being everywhere, lies, all lies.

Dancing with kangaroos was fun, also getting a look at koalas, snakes, dingos, casowary, peacock and whatnot, Bridget and I just laughing it up. We went to the gymnastics spot again where I was happy to flip around a few minutes again, then back to the house for stew and apple pie.

A cab picked us up and took us into town, a trip to the Irish pub was in order, for Kilkenny especially. We danced down the street and into the pub for a pint or two swapping nostalgia and memories enjoying the fine beer in the mostly empty pub. We switched to a billiards spot briefly, then to a place by the beach that barely served us, the town seemed to close down early.

We made our way on to the beach, walking alongside it. A stairway lead straight down into the waves with the water as high up as it was, a stairway to the ocean. I held her there for a second as we admired the waves crashing and the night sky with clouds looming. Those clouds finally broke giving way to rain, we ran for cover under one of the picnic spots, an inexplicable lone coconut resting on the table staring at us, staying dry all the same.

The rain pounded down, wisping onto us despite our cover, we soon made a mad dash for the toilets along the beach, "your fast!", Bridget shouted behind me, each of us going to our respective toilets. I ripped off part of a garbage bag to wrap around my passport to stay dry. Regrouping, we made another mad dash through the rain to another pavilion closer to the waves. I had a feeling like I was on acid, buzzing all around, probably channeling the last time I was on acid which was also the last time I was running ridiculously through the rain in a fever of love for everything.

At a break in the rain we walked right up on the rocks overlooking to crashing waves. A light drizzle fluttered in and out, I held Bridget as we looked out on the feeling of it all. The kiss was inevitable, followed by a long embrace that felt like we were two people in love and had been apart for far too long, lifetimes, finally realized and reunited, a recognition of the sadness of separation drowned out by the overwhelming togetherness of the moment.

It may has well have been an hour that we held each other there, finally releasing and breathing again, fresher air, the unspoken knowingness we had was now apparent on every level and we found ourselves still in the acid rain bliss we'd been romping in throughout the night.

We danced and laughed our way alongside the ocean, pausing to watch the waves from time to time. I challenged to man up and splash to a higher point, it accepted and gave one good surge. We cruised some more along the rocky side of the ocean, I still teased to ocean and the storm all the same, it responded with a subtle spray that barely made it to the walkway, "That's all you got?", I challenged again, it responded immediately with a great wave that came up and over to splash up, Bridget taking the brunt of it.

Down the path we got to a little covered area to wait out a new surge of rain, drumming and dancing on tables, a kiss here, a hug there, smiles throughout. The night continued in the fashion, darting from place to place with rain coming and going with different strengths. Finally a cab was called and we rode home soaked in bliss.

We woke up the next day holding each other, welcoming the sunlight coming through slightly. Bridget pulled some of her drawings out and we looked at those a little while before prying ourselves completely out of bed, out of her room and into the day.

Her mom was in the kitchen, "Good morning", I said as I walked in.

"Is it still morning?", she smiled a knowing smile, I was glazed over dumb love, cheerfully obvious peacefulness with a new smile for her daughter. She didn't seem to mind, coffee was in order and apple pie by it's side.

We hit the road, blasting down dirt roads towards some sand dunes that we never found or got to, the drive was the fun. We went on a short hike with views of the ocean, then walked around a marina for a bit. As we were walking towards the truck Bridget's whole being seemed to flicker to my left in the corner of my eye, she was unidentifiable, present but without describable features, someone else's energy. I didn't mention this inexplicable feeling, we just walked until we were driving again as I tried to understand it.

I sat in the bleachers during another gymnastics session, then we headed back to the house where the neighbors were having a roast. We sat around the fire with the lively bunch eating tasty food and swapping stories, one guy had memories of his trip to New York decades ago getting chased by gangs and that sort, it was entertaining to relax and listen.

In the morning there was relaxing music and cherry pancakes that Bridget whipped up. Following that she performed a reiki session on me. I laid still on a bed with eyes closed as she moved her hands all around me, not on me, but just above my body. I fell asleep for spurts, I'm not sure if I was supposed to or not.

As it turned out, this was my birthday, so the session was a good start to the day. We goofed around for the day, with ping pong trick shots, apple pie and a Mayan DVD predicting change to come, change is always afoot.

We went into town where Bridget got us Thai food and a cake, we sat in the grass at her favorite spot and enjoyed, she even worked out a candle for the cake. We walked along that same ocean front, playing with shadows and talking, then heading to the pub for a Guinness to share some stories before heading back home. We colored and listened to music a while, then just laid in bed wandering and whispering the night away.

I awoke to a pretty smile and half open eyes, then out of bed to coffee and brekky as the Australians say. After one last shower, I hopped in the truck with Bridget for one last time. It had been an amazing time with her, but the road needed me back, Darwin was my next destination and there was some 3,000 kilometers of road to get there. Bridget gave me a ride out a little ways past Rockhampton to a town called Gracemere where I could get a head start on the hitchhike. She gave me one last hug, a little package of food she'd made up by my side, apple pie included. She left me with the words, "later alligator", and drove off and away.

I smiled at the good times and stuck out my thumb, on to the next adventure.