The one about the girl on the rock

Yesterday, Knows-a-thing-or-two-Wendy suggested a walk in the bush. As often Sign Nine Milehappens when Knows-a-thing-or-two-Wendy makes a suggestion, there was resistance. To-Do-Wendy pointed out all the other things that were more pressing. Couldn’t-be-bothered Wendy…couldn’t be bothered. Earthquake-survivor-Wendy (she’s a new one) had concerns about the possibility of the earth moving out there without anyone knowing where she was. But Knows-a-thing-or-two Wendy played her trump card.  There is something out there just for you she said.

At that, Needing-Found-Objects-for-the-latest-creation Wendy laced up everyone’sNine Mile 1 runners and said Let’s go.

It’s been a month since I was in Nepal running out of buildings. I ran from the Samunnat building at least 6 times over 3 days and lost count of how many times we ran from Kopila’s house. We slept on the ground. I slept in hearing aids!

The overwhelming sense for me was there is absolutely NOTHING I can do. Yes, I Nine Mile Rockcould run from the building (and I do know there’s some debate about the wisdom of this but I wasn’t going to risk being crushed) but even that didn’t guarantee I would not be knocked out by debris or swallowed up by cracks that we feared would appear in our safe haven paddy. We could do nothing except try to balance, hold one another and wait for the earth to stop pitching. And we did this several times.

The first earthquake was unexpected. With all the aftershocks there was fear plus the effects of lack of sleep and sustained hyper vigilance.  We had a cup of water on the table, watching for any signs that we needed to down tools and run. Some watched the endlessly repeated images of collapsing buildings or grieving families. Others circulated the rumours, the horrible, horrible rumours of the next massive quake…it will be at 7.00, or be centred at Ilam or will measure over 9 on the Richter scale.

There’s nothing like a good rumour to add to the tension.

I became the sour faced Yes, there may well be another one but we don’t know when girl. Like that helped.

I feel fragile. Arriving home before the second spate of earthquakes I felt guilty.Roos Events are BE* or AE*. I note the time elapsed since the earthquake. Friends report that I startle easily and I flinch at rumbling trucks or certain musical beats. I don’t sleep well and it still occurs to me that an earthquake might happen while I’m in the shower.  I reflected on all this as I walked in the ancient, scrubby country I’ve grown to love. Every now and then I’d wander up a rough roo track searching for the something I knew I’d find. Eventually, the sun broke through glowering clouds and I sat on a rock and thought I’m going to cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, I did find something…a sense of peace about how I am now. I know it is not normal normal. But two well-timed emails from others who’d had a similar experience (one far worse!) helped me to see that it is normal considering what’s happened.   I know things will improve. They already are. I slept better last night. Maybe soon I’ll get back to emails…..

*Before the Earthquake/ After the Earthquake


8 thoughts on “The one about the girl on the rock

    1. wendy Post author

      Lovely Alice, I was so unsure about including this post which was really processing stuff for me but I guess also a way of explaining or describing. Thank you for reading and commenting. At least now I have the perfect excuse for grey hair! Much love, Wendy

  1. Lisa

    Such a scary experience Wendy and such mixed emotions I guess- happy to be safe but knowing your Nepalise family and friends don’t have that option. How lovely though to have the peace and beauty of the outback to process some of those thoughts.
    Sending you hugs,

  2. Kate Gilson

    Wendy…Ah the beautiful reds of the ancient landscape you call home. I miss such exploring, the homeward bound wantings for Australian Bush, in all its forms are creating a unsettled reality.

    Solid rock eh.

    It is strange when the unsettling shaking (practically and emotionally) follows you in the onwards journey. We are now in Malaysia and Singapore. everytime a train shudders by we feel the earth shake and eyes widen. I peer at cracks in sidewalks with a doubtful eye. We are currently staying on the 12th floor in Singapore- you know the challenge to the mind that this presents! And emotionally a flat blah state of being that escapes easy definition.nBut as you lovingly found, peace for how you are right now. That’s the gentle gift one can give oneself.

    Best wishes on finding the solid rock within and embracing that which has shifted and sways with the earthquake experience. Interesting to note, the kids have minimal of these affects… ah the joyous state of trust.

    Regards, Kate.

    1. wendy Post author

      12th floor! Ah Kate….and you guys had it so much worse than us!! I loved your phrase about grinding the solid rock within and embracing that which shifted and swayed. I have been thinking of you all knowing that you left and wondering what was the next Gilson Adventure. Ramrosanga januhos.

  3. Deb Hunt

    What a very honest and moving post Wendy (and that’s not meant as some kind of dreadful pun). I’m sure all of your friends are very relieved that you are safely back in Australia, while part of your heart must surely remain with all your friends and loved ones in Nepal. I’m glad that magical bushland around Broken Hill brought you some comfort. Much love to you x

  4. genevieve

    Oh my – the rockfall was a “once and done” thing not days and days of repeated stress of course but I SO understand BE and AE!
    From my experience that way of measuring life does not go away but, and I know this sounds strange, it becomes more normal. You’ll be learning from the experience for some time to come, and that learning will integrate into who you are and I don’t mean this in a bad way really because the post traumatic stress will fade in time.


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