This morning, in the intimate proximity of the metal box we call home, I asked Jakkie if she was okay.
“I was until you started annoying me,” she said.
“When was that,” I responded with loving concern, “1993?”
And we laughed, as we do every day, because forever is a long time without laughter. And just like our relationship, sometimes it feels like we’ve been stuck in this van together, forever.
We’ve been on the road for half a year now and we’ve forgotten what life was like before we set off around the world from England to Sydney and enjoyed a six month pause before setting off around Australia. To be honest, we often struggle to recollect where we were last week or last night, such is the intensity with which the act of travelling has us living in the present moment.
Today we’re in the wilds of Western Australia, in a national park, trying to identify a bird with a distinctive song that descends in a repetitive scale that reminds me of the penultimate, whistling bars of Ronnie Hazlehurst’s classic, TV theme tune for ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’.
One thing that the inordinate amount of time we’re spending in each other’s company has brought to light, is that as sure as birds love worms, my brain loves ‘ear worms’, which are those catchy little melodies that go round and round in your mind.
I have a whole library of annoying tunes that are on constant shuffle in my head and every now and then, a little piece of ear worm will slip our of my mouth and lodge itself in Jakkie’s head, where it wriggles about making a nuisance of itself for days.
The fact that Jakkie currently has the Frank Spencer theme tune going round in her head may be one of the reasons she’s finding me annoying today. I offered to sing one of The Proclaimers’ greatest hits to help dislodge the offending song, but apparently that wasn’t very helpful.
Living in such close quarters with your partner, I have discovered, can either bring you closer to killing each other than ever before or closer together than ever before—or possibly both.
In terms of our growing closeness, there is something magical about discovering the world together. Any half decent guidebook of Australia will offer dozens of magical places to discover and yet, it is the unexpected discoveries we make together that stick in the mind (even longer).
Earlier his week, it was the night we spent at a free camping spot, up on the edge of a red gorge, where we lit a fire and evoked our shared desires under a fattening moon, with a rough, quartz wand Jakkie had found on a wild bush walk.
Today it was sitting together under a bath-warm waterfall, at what was probably the most beautiful waterhole we’ve swam in yet, down in the bottom of another gorge, surrounded by red walls, blue empty sky and emerald green waters.
Here, exploring the vast nothingness of Western Australia in the tiny confines of our metal box on wheels, we experience everything together. Today climbed 500 steps or so, down into a spectacular gorge that was created when the ground opening up to reveal a fascinating cross-section of the layers of ancient rock, that lie beneath the surface.
Aboriginal people have been connecting to the sacred magic of the gorge since the Dreamtime, long before some ‘white fella’ came along and named the spot “Fortescue Falls”
Back in our mobile home, our “Dreamtime”, we still don’t know the name given to the musical creature we now call “The Frank Spencer” bird. But travelling together continues to open us up, bringing our hidden layers to the surface, bringing us closer to our true selves and leaving me in no doubt that the greatest place I’ve discovered on this planet is in the love I have for a woman for whom I would walk 500 steps into a gorge……..and then I’d walk 500 more, just to be the man who’d walked a 1,000 steps with her into the gorge……..
Now if that clever reference to The Proclaimers’ greatest hit doesn’t shift the theme tune to “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” from my beloved’s brain, I don’t know what will. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and find out when exactly I started annoying her……..