Monday, October 4, 2010

Sophie's Night Vision

I'm getting that feeling like it's time to start writing again - if I can only remember how...

Sophie wandered around the house, afraid to return to bed, and her dreams. The house remained in the dark. She paced from room to room, willing the very walls to speak to her, to give her the clues that eluded her. In each room she went to the window and peered out, looking for - she knew not what. The figure from her dreams? Her mother? A sinister clue, a glowing hope? The moon was hidden by clouds, but she could see the surrounding yards and there was no figure, sinister or otherwise lurking to worry her.
Finally she went up the stairs to her mother's room. But rather than entering she put her hands gently against the door as though it could perhaps tell her something. She leaned against it, facing first away from the room and then turning towards it, and finally sliding against the door to the floor and placing her ear to the door, listening, always listening. Afraid to enter, and yet afraid to leave it alone.
Sophie tried to clear her head and think only of her breathing in an attempt not to miss any clue, any message, any suggestion that might come to her. As usual, her attempt to clear her head failed and instead she became overwhelmed with all the thoughts from which she tried to escape. Her mothers absence, her own growing powers and her constant, nagging fear that the two were connected.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and tried again to be empty. Six days had elapsed since her mother's disapperance. Six days and nothing to show for it but a few unsettling mind skills. And then, like a flash, a memory hit her, only it was more like a reality that she was surrounded by but unable to influence. Her mother sat on her bed, the same bed, but a different room, a different house, and a much younger mother. Her eyes looked light as though she had not yet encountered trouble. As Sophie looked at her mother, she saw her put one hand on her stomach and hum gently to herself. It was then that Sophie noticed the slight bulge and realised her mother must be pregnant. Her mother suddenly gasped, grabbing her stomach with both hands. She stood quickly up and then just as quickly sat down again as a look of joy lit her face. "You are going to be a wonderful child," she said softly. "My darling Sophie."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Before moving to London, it was impossible for me to know what sort of challenges I would face here. I assumed, of course, that living in London would not be the same as the Tourist Experience. I knew I would have to find work, pay bills, live the repetitive day to day dullness that life often becomes. I hoped that my life in London would not, of course, demonstrate even a distant knowledge of that kind of dullness. I pictured myself dressed eclectically, trawling markets for vintage items, discovering perfect coffees in tiny cafes, and even, I admit, making foreign men fall in love with me.
In all of my imaginings I discounted one significant factor. Me. The person that I pictured in the markets, the cafes, in the perfect London that has constant sunshine and no rain, is a person bearing no resemblance to me. She is bold, ingenious, even outrageous. Unfortunately intercontinental living has not transformed me into that unconventional diva who I pictured myself being.
Naturally, London is neither as perfect in reality as in my dreams. But reality, although often disappointing, cannot be exchanged for dreams. And maybe I don't really even want to. London, the REAL London is infinitely more interesting than my dreams make it out to be. Crowded, yes. Dirty, sometimes. Wet, often. But also vibrant, diverse and astonishing. I may be dull but London never is. Could I really exchange any of these experiences that have made London so much my own? The Thames, as large as life, flowing under me as I peer at it from atop London Bridge. The Globe Theatre, though merely a replica of the original, still a significant symbol of London's glorious and artistic history, and Anthony Howell standing a few feet from me on it's stage. The daily walk down Uxbridge Road that is bursting with people from Argentina, Egypt, Korea, Germany, and just about every other country I can name.
Rodin said that "the realities of nature surpass our most ambitious dreams". If London were only as limited as my dreams it would perhaps be rather dull. London is altogether more exquisite, frustrating, enormous, overwhelming, thrilling, confusing and marvellous than can possibly be dreamed.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Burrough Market

Places to visit in London: The Burrough Market is a must. Situated underneath London Bridge it is entirely a food market that contains stalls dedicated exclusively to cheese, olives, poultry, pork, olive oil, pesto. There is fresh fruit and vegetable for sale as well as pastries, turkish delight, home-made jams. Almost all of the stalls have samplings available and the vendors are friendly and amusing.
Step over the road for a coffee at Montmouth cafe - the line up is long for a reason. A latte, cappucino or flat white will satisfy all coffee lovers.
Have a random chat with another market-attendor about the preserved pig's head on the barrel by a meat stall. Ask the jam vendor what exactly the difference is between jam and jelly. Walk repeatedly past the same stalls for more samples - the burrough market is a joy for all!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Trust is something I've been musing over for the last few months, particularly with respect to money.
A few weeks ago I had some money go missing from my purse. After my inital reaction (panic) I started to think about how much money affects me, about how closely I guard my finances, how I worry about every penny I possess, spend, save, use. God has commanded us to look well after the things we have, but I found myself wondering if it's possible to look too carefully after them, whether by holding too tightly on to them we lose something greater.
Lay not up for yourselves storehouses of grain, that's what Jesus said. Instead, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I worry quite a bit about the practicalities of going to London. I worry that I will have trouble finding work and accommodation and occasionaly picture myself after a few short weeks, on the streets, in the cold, begging for coins from passers by. Even though I have never been in lack, even though I have lived in constant luxury, the richness of my life has not led me to develop a sense of security in God.
Perhaps this is because I have always had a backup - my parents. And now, for the first time in my life, God will be my only backup. God for who the entire world is his resource.
If I believe that God is going with me to London, maybe I need to step away from my attitude of careful, calculating wariness. In Christian circles we have come to use the word 'faith' so often that it can sometimes seem a little meaningless, but what it means to me, what I see it representing, is a life lived with an attitude of reckless abandon.
Because maybe it is possible to be both realistic AND optimistic. Maybe that's even the best way to be - to recognise the difficulties, but to have such utter confidence in God that those difficulties are not barriers.
Was it merely coincidental that Esther became the king's wife? Or that the Samaritan woman came to the well as Jesus was seated there? Was it by chance that the man placed on the cross next to Jesus was a thief searching for a treasure greater than all he had stolen? When Paul traveled to the churches through Asia Minor, he did not wait for confirmation that he would always have a place to stay and food to eat. He went. He trusted. And God provided.
Abraham drew a line in the sand. He decided to obey God no matter what command he was given - 'becauses he considered him faithful who had promised' (Hebrews 11.11).
This is both the most basic requirement and the ultimate challenge. Do I consider God faithful?
Well. Do I?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Next Month

It's the first day in June. Next month I move to London. Next month! And who knows what life changes that will bring with it?
London seems like the summation of possibility. It's exciting and a little bit scary not knowing where I'll be, who I'll be with, what sort of person it may all change me into.
It's a strange kind of funny that in the past when I'm panicking and struggling and unhappy I've dreamt of running away, of escaping my life and all of it's pressures. I've dreamt of leaving behind the things, the people even, who make me feel I'm living in a pressure cooker, who suffocate me.
Even though it's me, it's all me, suffocating myself.
And now I'm really running away - but it's not how I always envisaged. Because I'm not panicking, struggling or unhappy. I'm making this very deliberate life change with hope in my heart as well as the fear. And I'm not escaping, not from my life, not from the people I'm leaving behind me. They are the ones who I hold close. I've written about this already I know. But how could I ever imagine that the action of leaving them behind would be to free myself? They are the ones who make me free.
And it's them that make me free to go not the other way around.

Monday, May 3, 2010


The night before last I had a dream that my house burned down as I frantically attempted to gather the items I wanted, needed, not to lose in the flames.
Last night I dreamt I was in London. I dreamt that I wandered about past buildings and through art galleries and tube stations, marvelling, remembering it with excitement akin to that of a small child. Everything was wonderful.
These two dreams, both immensely vivid and full of emotion seem to summarise to me what moving to London means, like two bookends. The first one demonstrates the difficulty of taking with me only a few things, and none of the most important things: the people I love. I have pondered on this over the past few weeks, realising with an intensity that increases as the time gap decreases between now and then, how much it will hurt me to be away from my family, from my friends, from the five extraordinary and magic children that are my niece and nephews. These people, all of them, with who I have relationships that are full of history and love, these are the onesarhat make me want to stay in Adelaide. They are the ones that make me question my decision. Leaving behind friends who are better than any another person could have does seem to perhaps signify some kind of insanity.
But then, when I think about my second dream, the one full of excitement, I know I cannot go back. London will be full of things I remember and things I don't, of new experiences, new people, new life.
What I hope, what I believe, is that these friends so dear to me will not be as distant to me as Adelaide is to London. I hope my llove for them will keep them always close. For how can I do without Pen's sense of humour, Bethany's understanding, Jack's eloquence, Reuben's hugs and the rest? I can't.
I can only find a way to take them with me.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wednesday morning, 21st April, 10.33 am

I'm in the foyer, 90 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Melbourne reminds me a bit of London. Eclectic, cloudy. There are similar trees.
I'm shaking. Maybe because I was up before 6 am and haven't eaten propery since then. But I think it's more than that.
Being here, now, is a significant step in the process that will change my life. It's strange that, as the indecisive person I am, I have not once doubted my decision to go to London. I'm calm. Confident. Even when people tell me that I'm being brave - words that seem calculated to send me into a panic - I easily brush the remark off.
I don't know why this feels so right, but I hope it's a good thing. A God thing. I hope that still, always, he stands next to me, with me, in me.
I'm not a brave person. I fear heights, exams, reality. I make decisions quickly or not at all. I fear the consequences of a poor decision, fear my inability to deal with those consequences.
Yet in some bizarre twist, this, the most life-changing decision I've ever made, the one that could potentially have the most difficult consequences, this decision sits well with me. It may be a mistake. But I don't mind that thought. It doesn't torment me as it usually would.
Perhaps my confidence is foolhardy, or perhaps I'm finally, finally growing up. Or perhaps God is as near to me as I always want him to be. Despite my everything, because of my everything. Because he knows I need him there always, even when I think I don't, especially when I shout at him to go away. Always, interminably, perpetually, by my side.
My watch ticks over to 10.42 am. It's time to go to the elevator. It's time to go to London, time to change my life, to stand as near to God as he is standing to me. Time to change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amanda in London

I've changed my blog site. I guess that means it's official. I am going back to London. And I'm not sure if that makes me crazy or masochistic or if maybe I'm finally learning to take risks, to trust my own judgement, to be willing to make a catastrophic (and expensive) mistake.
Visiting a place for a holiday is different to living there. That's what people have told me. I hope they're right in some ways and mistaken in others. I hope to always be excited just that it exists! London! I think I'll always love English accents, from North, South, East, West London. Diverse, delectable accents. I hope I'll always love Wagamama. I'm pretty sure I won't love the cold, the coffee or the loneliness. I'm still me, after all: complete crap at making new friends.
Maybe the loneliness will be so overwhelming I'll wish I hadn't gone. I'm sure I'll have those moments. But I'm equally sure I'll have moments of wonder and utter ecstasy at the sight of dear old Harrods, Trafalgar Square, Notting Hill. I am bursting even at this moment to see them all again and the moment I step off the tube into central London cannot come too soon for me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Little Blue Pig

There's a little blue pig that stares at me from my desk. Eyes, beady. Ears, pointy. Body, spotty. It may seem a childish way to aid in my money saving efforts, but I respond well to stimuli aimed at less complex psychology. Which isn't meant to indicate my level of intellingence, but perhaps shows that I'm easily pleased.
My little blue pig is the physical presence that represents my dreams of going back to my favourite place in the world - London. London with it's grey cobblestones, black cabs, red phone boxes, terrible coffee. London that owns Trafalgar Square, Soho, Oxford Street, Globe Theatre. London that has plays showing in the West End night after night, that holds a thousand delights and more yet to be discovered, others to be revisited.
London, my love, my dream, my hope. I will see you again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's a perfect moment

that comes once in a while. The sun peeps out from behind a cloud onto an earth recently rained on. That's the first sign.
The second sign is the sound of crickets making music to which the whole of nature listens.
The third sign is the child in my lap, leaning casually against my chest, so unconscious of the delight he gives me by this simple action. Not knowing how I want to clutch him there, hold him by me in the sunlight so that he will never know darkness.
And then he turns slightly towards me and speaks words, so quietly it's almost as if he's talking to himself instead of to me. Words that seep into me the same way that sunwarmth does when I bask in it. The words are these:
'I love you, Auntie Manda.'