My first Easter in Timor

As an aetheist out-of-nest-er, I’ve had the last two Easters away from my family, and both times I’ve leveraged the long weekend for something slightly departed from reflection and penance (my sincerest apologies to my Catholic grandparents for that).

I spent this weekend at Atauro Island – heading right to the dock from our house to avoid the traffic at the church to our left – and last year, from Melbourne, I took a similar weekend break. Where this year I enthusiastically accepted the generous invitation of a new friend in Timor, last year, I said a too-quick yes to a girl I’d met the week before at the pub, and headed to the Victorian town of Tallarook, for the music festival called Boogie.

I wrote about that weekend on my Melbourne blog here.

In that earnest, barely restrained reflection, I tallied a list of ten things that weekend had made me think about. While I’m a little embarrassed to share them (in all their teen-mag worldliness), I found it quite eerie how well they transplanted to my salt-sprayed weekend one Easter on, despite the time and distance. So, here they are:

  1. Read more
  2. Download the PTV app
  3. Be kinder to myself
  4. Worry less
  5. Spend more time outside
  6. Buy a winter jacket
  7. Continue saying yes to new people
  8. Remember people’s names
  9. People are good
  10. Takeaway coffee cups aren’t recyclable

While several of those are obviously exclusively Melbourne-specific “realisations” (now, I can’t get rid of my winter clothes quickly enough), the more vague ones hold true, a year on – and so do the quite-specific reasons I wrote them for.

I was nervous to go on that Tallarook trip – as I was with the Atauro trip I rhapsodised about just last night. It’s hard to see, with all my noise and fluster, that I’m quite a shy person – a skinny bookworm teen not quite grown-up; nervous with strangers, washing dishes at a party to decompress from dance and chatter – and both weekends, the thought of being trapped in a tent city with ten strangers was as nerve-wracking as anything I could imagine.

My reflections from Tallarook were that I had an incredible time, and that I was proud of myself for going – but that also, I needed to remember how it felt; how good people were; the sunbeam joy of saying yes to something new and having it deliver ten times over. About that I wrote:

I just looked over the whole festival, and marvelled quietly at the fact that a month ago I didn’t even know it existed, and here I was with dirt under my fingernails at the top of the Tallarook hill.

Now, back in Dili – a city I never even thought I’d visit again, let alone live in – I’m once more tapping out thoughts in a WordPress blog about an Easter long weekend trip I probably shouldn’t have been invited to, thinking of new friends and people being kind, feeling warm and grateful, reciting newly learned names in my head (and remembering them easier this time), sitting 600 pages deep into The Goldfinch (and, past Sophie, now the owner of a Kindle and an at-large founding member of a book club) – and silently sending my thanks to my 2016 self for saying the yes to that Easter trip that gave me the confidence to agree to this one.

I never downloaded the PTV app, though. Sorry about that.

Next Easter, I wonder if I’ll get another tenuous invitation to seize on – maybe, to church?


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