It’s a sunny winter Saturday morning, so glorious that it feels like autumn. The little town of Murwillumbah is a bit quieter than it would be on a weekday, though there are still people out and about. It’s not too hard to find a parking space.
Walking up towards the Post Office, I peep into Crystal Treasures next to the Regent Cinema, and wave at Priya, who’s behind the counter today. She waves and smiles back. We’ve known each other a long time, as fellow Reiki channels with mutual friends. If we’d met out in the street, we’d have stopped for a hug; and often do.
Then I come to the tiny vacant block past the NRMA, and there’s a young girl with mysterious cloth bundles of stuff on the ground around her. She’s wearing skin-tight, black three-quarter pants, and a purple singlet top with a black overlay. Her hair is in braids with black and purple ribbons. Around her slender hips she’s twirling a hoop with a big, glittery bow tied on. Practising, I think.
‘I love your hair,’ she exclaims.
It’s very deep purple today. I did the colour yesterday and it was the last of the bottle so I put a bit more on than usual, using it all up.
‘I love your whole outfit,” I say.
We draw closer to each other. She admires my amethyst drop earrings, touching them gently. I tell her a friend made them for me.
‘I have a big thing for purple,’ she says.
‘Oh, me too!’
I ask what she’s up to, and she tells me she’s a performer. She indicates her fire sticks amongst the bundles. We wish each other a good day, beaming, and I move on. There’s a big feather lying right in my path, which I take as a sign from the Universe that this was no accidental meeting. I think that on my way back I’ll give her one of my cards, expecting that by then she’ll be set up and doing her thing in the little vacant block.
In the IGA store, I’m standing at the counter with my purchases and a voice says, ‘Hello, beautiful Scorpio woman!’ There’s Tanya next in the queue, smiling into my eyes. I met her years ago when I was doing psychic readings in the Sunday markets. She consulted me a number of times thereafter, at my market stall and sometimes also for private readings at my home. Over the years I’ve seen her grow from an uncertain, self-doubting girl into a vibrant, self-actualising woman who has solved her dilemmas and no longer feels a need for guidance. We walk out of the shop together, chatting a little, before going our separate ways. She lives close enough now, she says, to walk into town and back. I say that I’m just a bit far for that; it’d be quite a hike.
‘Ah,’ she says, ‘You get to come in and see people and then go back to your lovely quiet.’ She’s got a point.
I walk back past the vacant block, and it’s empty. The performer and all her bundles have disappeared. Now that I come to think of it, it wouldn’t have been a great spot for busking; not many passers-by in that location, on a Saturday morning in Murwillumbah. A lesson: I should have acted on the impulse to give her my card as soon as I thought of it, instead of waiting. Never mind; what is, is — and it’s still a warming memory. If we are meant to connect further, the Universe will arrange another opportunity.
Instead, Del comes walking towards me. I’ve known her since we were in a singing workshop together, oh years and years ago; I can’t remember how many. The workshop didn’t cure my tin ear, but it was lots of fun because Trish, the leader, created all sorts of innovative exercises for us including dressing up, dancing, swimming nude in the local creek, and doing some Goddessy rituals. I made friendships that have lasted ever since.
Del is what you’d call an ‘older woman’ but I have no idea how old. Probably younger than me (almost everyone is, lol). She has looked just the same in all the years I’ve known her: not young, but getting no older in any respect as far as I can see. One thing is different nowadays, though — her hair has a vivid pink streak across the top and front. Del is in a band that plays around town and visits local events such as the Sunday markets. They all dress in glamorous, outrageous costumes of basic black with lots and lots of knock-your-eyes-out red. Each person’s outfit is different, and together they are a joyous, exciting spectacle. Many times in my market days they would parade past my stall, half marching half dancing, playing their instruments, then stop somewhere where there was space to collect a crowd and give a brief performance.
I often wear vibrant colours myself, with lots of red and purple, and these days I have this purple hair which fades to auburn and then cherry between dyeings. Del likes to tell me I should be in the band too, the way I dress. Our affection goes back further than our bright hair days. We too tend to greet in the street with delighted hugs, as we do now.
‘How are you, darling?’ we ask each other. She tells me she’s having a walk in the sun. Like Tanya, she lives close enough to walk into town — and like Patsy, my Chinese-Australian friend whom I bumped into last Sunday when I ducked in quickly (by car) for a few items. I wrote a lune (a form of Western haiku) about that encounter:
Went to town.
There was Patsy walking around
in the sun.
These are people with whom I have seldom socialised. Not that we wouldn’t if occasion arose, but it doesn’t seem to matter. We’re just always thrilled to see each other, and go on our ways warmed by the encounters. It’s one of the great pleasures of Murwillumbah, to have these chance meetings with both close friends and, as today, fond acquaintances. There’s always the moment of pleased surprise, the kiss or hug, the exchange of news great or small, whether we saw each other only yesterday or three years ago. It will be the same with the young performer, if I bump into her again. The link is made.
People frequently ask us how we are liking our new home.
‘We love it!’ we say. ‘And it’s so good to be back in town.’