Photography and Words by Megan Martin
Kathleen Malay overlooking North Bondi in Sydney, Australia.
When I think about free, I think of no boundaries; the ability to take life in whatever direction you please without restrictions or limitations. Last January I set out on a month-long journey that further expanded my ideas of freedom. Spending a month in a foreign country – one as beautiful as Australia – can certainly do things to the psyche. I left winter for summer, the northern hemisphere for the southern, the fast-paced stress of New York for the laid back chill of Australia. Instead of commuting on a train or hailing a cab, we drove our way down the east coast in an old Mazda with nothing but a giant suitcase full of clothes and swimmers, a bunch of smokes, mixed CDs and the ambition to make the most of our time there. We lived on the cheap and crashed with friends, spending every day with an early rise time and a swim in the ocean. Life was good.
I won’t bore you with all the details of my vacation, and as the cliché goes, a picture is worth a million words. I will say this though: leaving New York for an extended period of time changed me in a powerful way. My travel buddy, Melati Malay and I returned to the chaos eventually – we had to – but as she put it, “doesn’t it feel like you have this secret now, knowing that life is whatever you want to make of it?” It does feel that way, though I still get stressed at times and reality greeted me with a refreshingly brutal slap in the face and burst of winter breeze (not to mention multiple blizzards), I feel free from the burden of “forever,” life no longer comes with absolute terms. One day you can be tripping on snow banks just to get to work and the next you’re lying on the edge of the world, soaking up sun with no real sense of what time or day or year it is back in New York. If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.
Kathleen Malay overlooking North Bondi in Sydney.
Riding the ferry from North Bondi to downtown Sydney on our way to see Al Green perform on the first night of Sydney Festival.
Sydney Opera House.
Marco and Melati chilling out on the rocks at one of our favorite swim spots.
Melati Malay living the dream on the edge of the world.
Our morning jaunt to the rocks.
Photo of Van Grenquist by Melati Malay.
New Year’s Day in Mullumbimby.
Another beautiful day. We all got fried, but it was totally worth it. Shelley Beach in Port Macquorie.
Beach bums, Melati hangs laundry with Evita in Port Macquorie.
Isaac Emannuel plays a little guitar in the foyer of a friend’s house on Gold Coast.
Sisters, Port Macquorie.
UPDATE!! May 13, 2010
So we have all been back in New York (or at least floating somewhere around the United States) for a couple of months now, and in that floating time we’ve been sitting on rolls of film left over from this journey. It’s expensive to take a six-week trip and it’s also expensive to develop 20 rolls of film. I guess you have to pick and choose your battles, rent and bills took precedent over artistic ambition in this case. But now that it’s been a couple of months and we’ve mostly settled back into our routines, we hit up the film processor and found that the journey in pictures continues. Take a look at these amazing shots taken by Melati Malay and myself. Video coming soon!