Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Lost Weekend

Sartre once said the very true words, “Hell is other people.” Okay, he actually said, “L’enfer, c’est les autres”, but as much of my readership doesn’t speak French, I’ll use the translation.

Other people can be hell. Even more so when you are an introvert who tends to find having too many people akin to being stuck in a vat full of cat poo with a broken ladder with Andre Rieu playing over the tannoy.

Nothing scares a true introvert more than the thought of being around people for long periods of time without escape. Being a very defined introvert, who has lived alone for the best part of the last ten years, the thought of spending three days with eight other women was up there with contemplating root canal surgery without anaesthetic. However, because I'm now an adult I know that I can take time out when needed. It was going to be fine.

So somehow, six months ago, I was talked into taking a long weekend in Surfer's Paradise with a group of friends that I know from the internet. This may sound like a strange thing, a dangerous thing even, but of the nine of us who went along, I've known these women for around five years and I've met five in person (and see on a semi-regular basis in Melbourne), of the other three, others who I know have met them in person and we're in all regular contact. I knew I was going to be safe - end up sane, maybe not, but I had not problem in January committing to spending three days with them in a share rental house on the Gold Coast.

I refer to these women as my "Fat Club" girls.  This is a bit of a misnomer - as we're all freaking amazing, driven and inspiring women. Between the group of us we've lost something in the vicinity of 250 kilos between us.

We rock.

We truly rock.

But it didn't help the nerves I felt as I boarded the plane up to Queensland. Three days with eight other people - not something I normally do willingly - though I'd been assured that there would be plenty of space available to me - well, to everybody, if they needed it. See, I live alone. Sometimes a friend's cat comes and stays for a week or so - but that is the extent of my cohabiting for the last ten years. Spending longer periods of time with people is something that takes some psyching up.

The other thing that was rather irking me - what would I talk about with these women. Let me introduce you to the group - I've changed the names to protect the crew - some need protecting more than others - and I say this with love and affection (Squish, squish):

Tammy, from the NSW South Coast, works in a large hardware chain, loves her Staffy and V8s
Kitt, from Melbourne, is a landscape architect who's just bought a house with her partner
Kez, also from Melbourne, works in a youth care facility and is a mum of three
Tina, now living in Queensland, has lived all over the world and works in health and safety
Leah, a native Canberran, also a mother of three, works in IT at an Australian Landmark
Rae, who lives in Brisbane, is an oncology nurse who races triathlons most weekends
Suki, mother of two lives in regional Australia and works in a part time admin role
Melia, from regional NSW, also lives in regional Australia and works in Marketing and Design

Okay, so I don't have that much in common, other that the weight loss and exercise that brought us all together some five years ago - but at the time when the trip was booked, it felt like a good idea. I knew my contract was coming to an end, I booked the flights and footed for my part of the accommodation - and arrived late afternoon at the Gold Coast.

By chance, Suki and Kitt's plane had been delayed so they were waiting for me near the baggage carousels and Rae collected us from the airport.

And the fun began.

So did the healing and the recuperation.

The other thing I have failed to tell you is that I started a new contract on the Wednesday. It's a challenging role in may ways - and after two and a half days of back to back meetings and unknown acronyms, my brain was fried. I was happy to spend some time on the plane reading my book.

Arriving at the house in which we were staying, we found the rest of the crew had already settled in. A four bedroom house, we worked out where we were sleeping. Suki and I were put in the "snorer's room" - two sets of bunk beds - I took one of the top bunks - which was something of a novelty, as I don't think I've slept in the top bunk since I was back packing around Europe fifteen years ago. I knew I'd suck up the snorning. I'm told I have a "cute snore". I also know that I can normally sleep through snoring. Normally. There were moments that I thought I was sharing a room with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friend - and the bunk needed  shaking on the last night, such was the noise coming from Tammy who was sleeping below me.

The weekend, despite my initial reservations, turned out to be a godsend. There was enough room in the house to get away if you needed to - or if you wanted to be with people, you could do that too.

Somehow I was charged with being the barbeque chef for the trip - cooking my first, second and third barbeques of my life. Seriously, I've never cooked a barby - I've watched a barby plenty of times, but never cooked one. Seems I'm not too bad at it.

The other thing that surprised me is how well you can get on with people you've never met in person before.

In all, it was three days of relaxing, sleeping, eating good food, swimming in the pool, looking out over the canals on the Gold Coast and talking. Lots and lots of healing talking.

It made me realise how little I talk to other people - really talk to other people. Somebody else mentioned this to me as well. We spend our days responding, ordering, getting on with things, surviving. It's not often you get the opportunity to talk - with truth and honesty - which is what I love about these women.

I just have to be myself. That is all that was required of any of us on the weekend. It doesn't happen that often you meet a group like this. How good it is to be among a group of like minded, but very different people who take me on face value.

I came back rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to be thrown back in the deep end at work the following day.

But that is another story for another blog. For this blog, I'm just grateful that these women are a part of my life in a small way.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Sounds like a good weekend. Sadly, guys don't "talk" to each other in the same way - shame really.




Jackie K said...

It takes an event like this to really "talk" and really push your own boundaries - and realise you can go beyond them much more easily than you thought.
I'm an introvert too (as you well know - you're an extrovert compared to me!!) and I too would be a bit nervous about something like this.
Not because I'm shy or can't mix with people - I'm not and I can - but as you say the thought of being "stuck" in company for hours!
But I've had similar experiences and they've always ended up great.
Good on you for going.