I’m lucky enough to wake up in the Marriot in Melbourne CBD. The place is fancy but I’m not really here for long so I fill up my water bottle at the tap before heading out the door.
I’m on foot to the MCG for breakfast with Sarah and Penny who I have met through work before. They both work for Cricket Australia and I work for Cricket NSW so we have had a little to do with each other over the years.
I forget that the Melbourne road rules are different to Sydney’s and I’m almost hit by a car doing a hook turn. I’m glad the driver didn’t collect me; It hurts when you’re hit by a car. I know from experience.
We sit down to some eggs on toast and coffee on Sarah. I’m a little gutted that I have my back to the window that overlooks the MCG. I quickly forget when we start chatting about a whole range of things. Them, Me and everything in between. I run in to Chris and Carissa on my way out. I’ve worked with them before too.
I walk back to the CBD as I have a spare few hours to kill. I quickly buy some toothpaste with the small amount of cash that I have on me. I walk in to a familiar shopping centre and find a public bathroom to brush my teeth in. I find it quite funny and I get a few funny looks from strangers. One recognises me from the news story a few weeks ago and asks for a selfie. I have toothpaste all over my face but I say yes anyway. This is living.
I’ve been flown here by a man named John. That’s all I know about him before we meet up. He made contact with me after hearing about my journey and offered to buy me a coffee. I declined when I realised he was based in Melbourne; logistically I thought I wouldn’t get that far without cash.
He said he really wanted to have a coffee with me; just for an hour and that he would pay for my flight to Melbourne if I accepted. I was blown away with his offer but in the spirit of this trip and deciding to go with my gut instinct at every chance, I accepted his offer. I had a heap of offers to help from Melbourne and Victoria so I made contact with a few other people prior to flying to make sure I could be housed, fed and looked after while I’m in town.
I meet John in a really tiny coffee shop in the heart of Melbourne. It’s the most nervous I have felt on this entire journey so far.
I’ve met over 25 different people who started out as strangers at the start. Every time I meet someone new, I’m always greeted with a huge hug that puts me at ease. John isn’t interested in a hug. He’s serious; I can tell from the frown on his face. He shakes my hand instead and asks me what I’d like to drink. I ask for a strong skim cap. He helps himself to the free water. I’m embarrassed.
I ask ‘what’s up’? He shakes his head at me. The conversation isn’t really flowing and I can feel a dose of verbal diarrhoea coming up. It happens to me sometimes when there’s silence in a room. I can’t help it; words just keep coming out of my mouth.
He tells me to stop; slow down.
I’m relieved. I can’t even remember what I was saying at the time.
He now has the opportunity to speak. He pauses and then starts to tell me a story. Everyone has one it seems. It doesn’t matter how little or big you think the significance of each story is to others; it’s always relevant to what’s going on in your life and those around you.
John tells me that he flew me here to give me some advice. He has a lot of money that he doesn’t need and buying me a plane ticket here was like small change. It makes me feel really small but I’m here in Melbourne and I’m meeting some incredible people so I’m OK with that.
He doesn’t want me to make the same mistake that he did over 23 years ago. I’m confused so John carries on. I learn that John lost his wife to cancer and turned his back on the world.
I can tell that he is in a lot of emotional pain as he tells me more about his wife. It reminds me of myself when I try to talk about the last four years of my life. Talking about my own loss is something that I still find incredibly difficult.
I’ve been seeing a professional every other week for the past 6 months. I hate going and could think of nothing worse but I know it’s good for me so I always show up. My psychologist is listed in my contacts under ‘Voldemort’- she who must not be named. It’s probably not that funny to most of you but I try to make light of my life when I can. It helps me. Voldemort is great to me and I’m really grateful for the perspective and patience that she provides me with.
John is crying after a while and I put my arm on his shoulder to try and ease his pain. He shakes me off so I immediately move my arm. Our time is limited because he leaves not long after that. Before he walks out of the shop he tells me to learn from his mistake, to not turn my back on the world and to live a life that I’m proud of. I ask if I can share some of his story and for a photo. He tells me to share the story but refuses a photo. I can appreciate that.
I’m frozen in the coffee shop with nothing but my backpack and thoughts after he exits. It’s the first time I’ve had a moment to really think about where I’m at in life so far on this trip and I’m emotional again.
I question what drove this man to want to fly me to Melbourne for a 20 minute conversation? John is still grieving the loss of his wife who he described to me as the most beautiful person he will ever know; but he wants me to learn from the mistake that he made when going through a similar process to what I am now.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet this man but I’m sad too. I hope John decides to do whatever it is that makes him happy.
I felt an urgent need to help John so I sent him a text message later on in the day to see if he was OK. I asked if I could help him. His reply was short and sweet. He said I already had helped him.
I was a little lost after that experience but I packed up my bags and starting the walk towards South Melbourne to meet up with Monique, a lady I’ve met a few times through work.
She takes me for a coffee and we get chatting about all sorts of things. Coffee turns to beer and I’m reminded of pub life in Melbourne. Pints and pots. Monique orders me a pint and after a few, we’re on our way to meet up with Tori and Bea from Crate Specialty Coffee. The café is donating all proceeds made from their tips this month to Kindnessfactory. I knew this so I made contact with them when I knew I was coming to Melbourne. I wanted to drop in and say thanks.
Tori offered me a free breakfast, coffee and place to stay if I needed it so I accepted all three.
Tori and Bea are awesome. I find out about their passion; their business Crate Specialty Coffee. They have been in the business for just on 6 weeks now and they are loving it. I’m excited to head there tomorrow where Bea said she will teach me how to make proper coffee. I’ve always wanted to be a barista so this is like a dream come true for me.
I’m sleeping on the lounge in the down stairs bedroom. I haven’t wanted for anything on this trip; people are good and these guys are no exception to that.
We’re on top.