Experiences of Epiphany – in the ‘Big Smoke’ part 1.

Brisbane March 2011 192
Looking through the microscope – by June Perkins

Tiny moments strung together in journeys are markers on the way to experiences of epiphany. Like multi-coloured pearls strung on a string my last weekend in Brisbane can now be crafted together and worn in the memory.

Thursday 8th March 2012

It begins when like Goldilocks entering the house of bears I enter the seemingly empty house of the friend in Cairns I have organised to stay with before going to the airport next day. Not a sign is stirring, yet the lights are on, and she has left the door ajar, knowing I am arriving.

I go in, make myself comfortable on a chair, and ring her on her phone so she’ll come out and answer it and not be scared that I have suddenly appeared in her house. Like a pixi I turn off the light in her car, we later discover it was switched on by one of her sons.

Our sleepy looking host appears and apologises for she hasn’t sleep for several nights due to her youngest son waking up, and she did kind of know we were there. She is warm and welcoming offering us food and beverages and conversation.

We have a chat and leave the world of goldilocks behind to speak of upcoming university reunions and being at the cross roads of life making all sorts of decisions for the future.

Friday 9th March 2012

Next morning we have yoghurt and fruit for breakfast and my son plays trains with one of her boys. He has the magical name of a book character Tashi and I am transported back to when my children were smaller and lived in the land of make believe. Even not that long ago my daughter said she would one day like to grow up to meet a dragon.

We head off to the airport – and her children love the airport- it’s like a treasure trove full of bright lights, mechanical aeroplanes just for kids (if you slot the money in they fly) and lolly shops with too much just in reach of small hands. I marvel at the strength of single Mums as she gently steers them past temptations again and again as they enter the bear cave of the airport sales shops. Open Sesame and we are away with boarding passes pre-printed from the internet and a small amount of carryon baggage for what will be our quest.

Right now I wish dragons were real and they had chased away a nasty cyclone called Yasi, which is part of the reason I make this journey now. My youngest son is happy to have the window seat, but there are so many clouds he doesn’t get to see too much of the world below. Pity, but he loves the plane trip. He has reached his first decade and his birthday present is this trip, to come away to Brisbane where I am about to be on a panel with ABC Open producers.
The journey in the air is full of tiny moments, like playing Mr Squiggle and noughts and crosses with my son, and eating the fruit my friend has given us for the journey. Every now and then we see the snaking rivers winding below. My son keeps an eye on the statistics of what we are flying over, our altitude and so on. He informs me, entertains me and I can see already he is soaking every moment of this trip up like a sponge.

When we arrive we catch a taxi across the city to my friends, Karen and Daryl both of them into arts, Daryl is a storyteller and  Karen sometimes works with him.  She is also an esl teacher. I know them from working with Karen as a volunteer for QCAN when it still existed.  We’ve stayed in touch via facebook ever since I left Brisbane.

Karen is still at work when we arrive, but Daryl is home and fixes us a sandwich. We then head off to South Bank, me with camera in hand, my son chirping by my side. Although very quiet from the airport into Brisbane, now he begins to speak and continues to chatter for our whole trip from this point on.

We follow Daryl’s instructions, and I do have my phone as back up, but it is good to have verbal instructions as well. We head down to South Bank and I am happy we navigate ourselves there without too much trouble, although my son is initially not so sure on his Mum’s finding away around skills in the big smoke.

We’ve been living country for 6 years now and this is my first trip since to Brisbane. Still I am determined to show him Mum does know what she is doing. So we wander South Bank, in search of the museum and science centre, and other wonders.

We walk under the trellis’s covered in purple flowers and stop at statues for photographs as well as me photographing ibises scattered around.

We decide to go up in a Ferris Wheel, considering neither of us is a big fan of heights this is a courage step. I just want to break out of such fears and it’s not like its bungee jumping. So we book our tickets and up we go.

In front of us is a Monk in saffron robes, it seems like he is on a tour with a trusted translator. We are to run into him a few more times as he is exploring South Bank. He goes up in the wheel alone, his translator, tour guide watching as he goes around and around.

We see a green bicycle taxi man, who is happy for us to take a photograph of him, and he even offers for my son to sit on the bike if he wishes for no charge, but my youngest son is not having any of it.

Sophie Formica’s voice can be heard telling us what we can see from the wheel, and every now and then it stops – we look out to the Gabba and several other buildings below. I am busy taking photographs, of me, my son, and all below us. Later I will photograph the ferris wheel from the ferry on our last day in Brisbane.

My son has only a tiny glimmer of slight anxiety when the wheel stops but for the most part he loves the trip. His anxious frowns turn to wonder and he has faced them off and come out victorious.

We head off still in search of the museum – and on the way through the labyrinth of South Bank we find the enormous state library and the art gallery. At the Queensland Arts Gallery my son and I spot the monk again.

His translator/guide talks to us at a sculpture made out of old typewriters and other recycled goods and asks my son if he knows what it has been made of. It is as if in seeing him twice we know have become part of his journey.

My son is impatient with the art gallery and still hankering for the museum, so our view of it is rushed and punctuated by a ten year old boy’s frustration with walls and walls of painting. He’d much rather be somewhere interactive and less static. He points out a few photographs he’d like me to take and then is begging for us to continue onward in our journey. At this point perhaps we should have followed the monk’s translator but instead I patiently take him where he wishes, after all he is the birthday boy.

We make it to the museum. We walk past a dinosaur display for small kids mostly, and my son has some photographs with the dinosaurs. We go up to the second floor and discover a display of animals, sharks and microscopes. My son enjoys the displays and takes off with my camera to photograph what he wishes. At one point he plays with the microscope to check out the patterns of his hand and even trying to have it look at his hair follicles. We don’t make it to the science centre in the bottom floor of the museum and have to leave that for another day.

I wonder what the monk in saffron robes would have made of this museum.

Brisbane March 2011 057
South Bank – By June Perkins

To be continued…..

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