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Moving at a Slower Pace


Volumes have been written on the need to rest and still more will be written because we don’t listen well the first time. I’m sitting on this little patio with the sound of magpies and cicadas as my only distractions. In the three days I’ve been in Byron Bay I’ve logged six hours of surfing, a half hour of hang gliding, two hours of Pilates, three solid meals a day, and more beer than I’d consumed in all of 2012.

I have slowed down and relaxed.

The residents of Byron Bay are unflappable. Half the downtown shops are closed with “back in 20 minutes” signs on their doors. They are seldom back in 20 minutes and if they are it’s only to leave again. That this disrupts no one’s bottom line is remarkable.

At yesterday’s surf expedition a Canadian got fake hurt. Yes, a Canadian was a boorish lout and all us Americans were both startled and a bit giddy. I wanted to make an announcement to the international group that the US didn’t have a monopoly on too-loud-asshats, Toronto had sent one of their very own.

You see he fell off his surfboard close to shore and legitimately bonked his knee. After that he he started howling for help and only after two surf instructors helped him hobble to shore did he tell anyone that moved that its an old knee injury and that his kneecap was “dislocated” but he’d popped it back into place. He also wanted a refund for day two of surfing because of his injury, oh he also couldn’t understand why he hadn’t been made to sign a waiver.

I need to reiterate. NOT AN AMERICAN.

Oh, and the release forms weren’t available because the xerox machine was broken. Clearly Australia operates differently than Los Angeles. Were we in my hometown the beach would’ve stayed closed until someone had a guarantee that they wouldn’t be sued. Had it been LA the fake injured Canadian weasel would’ve retained an attorney on his way home from the beach.

I don’t love the litigiousness of the states but I do love the fact that our businesses stay open during all of their business hours. I’m definitely feeling wistful for a city where everyone over the age of four wears their shoes.

There are no signs here that read: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service. I think I’m ready for those signs. Even in Sydney there’s a relaxed vibe that allows for shoelessness and a general lack of grooming.

I look like a homeless woman. I’m weak and susceptible and should not spend too much time in a relaxed environment like this.

I have two cars that need to be reviewed and I can’t bring myself to make sentences from the bulletpoints. I’ve got a stack of books that I traveled with and I’m finding myself reading a children’s book, a book written for 10-12 year old boys actually. I’m sitting in restaurants laughing at fart jokes, which isn’t necessarily out of character for me.

I’ve been to Woolworth’s to buy Vegemite for friends and after I pack I’ll have my last dinner in Australia. The service will be spectacularly slow, because here in Byron Bay no one is in a rush. The food will be good because I’m breaking my only rule which is to eat at each restaurant only once. I’ve found one that’s so delicious I must return.

Tonight instead of reading Chicken Stu and giggling over a beer I’ll dig into The Cider House Rules and sip a local Sangiovese ever so slowly because tomorrow the pace quickens and the day after that it returns to the frenzy I’ve come to enjoy.

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