Someone I was close to in my former life used to say that it is most important to engage in ‘networking’ – gathering around oneself a collection of useful people with talents and abilities that can render practical support, as well as appear ‘socially appropriate.’ Well, despite her having spoken with such disdain about my little motley collection of friends, comparing them most unfavorably next to her own ‘network’ of wealthy so-and-so types, she has now resorted to ingratiating herself with my eclectic, ‘socially inappropriate’ lot, after I walked away from the entire scene. I guess one such as her can never have too many willing hands to hold, ready ears to listen, and practical services to offer. That’s fine by me, really, if she is in such dire need for attention and affirmation, and if my (former) friends are unable to see the wood from the trees, she deserves them and they her.

I wish them all well. I have moved on.

Today, I am surrounded by wonderful people once again. Just as my former friends helped me through the tumultuous teenage years of uncertainty, and were a source of assurance, acceptance and camaraderie when I was in need, I have once more found clemency – and through no effort of my own, no networking, no well laid plans or strategies.

I do not deserve such goodness. Yet, I am partaking of it.

The entire journey has been one paved with grace. But this post is about the last few days of brokenness. Overwhelmed by a tsunami of elements all converging upon me at one go, I succumbed to despair and physical-mental-emotional meltdown.

On Friday, Shane, a former neighbour (from the first apartment block that I stayed in when I arrived in Sydney) came over to vacuum and mop my home. However, as soon as he left, the butcher arrived with that giant box of meat I’d ordered for Lucy, and the sheer volume of the stuff sent me crashing into the abyss. I sat in the kitchen, staring blankly, unable to compute – I knew I had to put everything away, but for those few minutes, I was completely immobilized. My Angel, Lucy, came and broke the evil spell with a little wet nosed gentle kiss, elegant Greyhound style. Activity resumed and I managed to organize the lot, as well as cook some!

The next day, exhaustion returned by noon. I was about to crash in a heap again, when I received a text message from Shane. What prompted him to do so, I have no idea. Within an hour, he was at my door. He came and helped walk Lucy, and the little doggy that I am minding for a friend who is away on holiday. Just having his cheerful, smiling presence in my sphere stilled the screaming inside my head. I could breathe deeply again.

I spent all of Sunday pottering around, and resting with Lucy at home. A young couple took over the care of the little doggy – something I am most grateful for, as I was hardly functioning at all.

Today was a public holiday. My friend Rick, also a former neighbour from that magical apartment block, came by for bruncheon. He brought with him the weekly stash of yummies – this time, it comprised of tiramisu, a punnet of kumato, lettuce, fancy bacon, a juicy lime, and a block of Lindt lime chocolate! I cooked chicken wings in the convection oven that another lovely friend, Lucy’s Godma, had given to me, when I moved into the old dilapidated terrace house.

An hour later, yet more goodies came my way! Another friend, Rodrigo, dropped by bearing gorgeous macaroons, chocolate pralines, and a box of miniature Molton Brown toiletries. I was supposed to help him with a presentation, but to be honest, he was so expert that I had little to suggest. I met Rodrigo years ago, way back in 2008, in Hong Kong. When I moved to Sydney, I heard that he, too, was moving here with his partner! A lovely coincidence indeed.

I am exhausted. I still have not got over the crash, and I have a long list of work waiting for me to attend to, with deadlines drawing ever nearer. The music playing in my headspace sounds like a cross between a Dies Irae and an out-of-tune military march! But I am also inundated with gentle, genteel, goodness: the amazing kindness and generosity of the people around me who I now call friends. Undeserved. Most definitely so. I am not a great friend. I have not done anything extraordinary for any of these people. I have nothing to offer them, especially now, since entering this new phase of my life, as a PhD scholar living on a meagre stipend. I am not even sociable. No deliberate networking here.

Just simple, awesome, amazing Grace. Thank you, my friends.


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