Roughly a month and a half ago when I was still in New York, my good friend Natalie, and so much a good friend of my family that she´s practically included in it, asked me about my travel adventures. I didn´t really have anything juicy for her. I´d been laying low, eating out at vegan restaurants (the highlight of my days - LOLZ) and just recently looking around for rental properties, as I was planning to live and work there for 6 months. Something didn´t feel right though, there was no passion. The whole thing felt like a luke warm rehash of 6 years ago when I was doing the same househunt game in London, only I was a lot more scared and wet behind the ears back then (I hadn´t even rented a house in Australia, my home country, let alone big ol´London, and by myself to boot, I had one friend, Matthew, who gave me a rough estimate of the ballpark rent I should be paying per month) I was so scared during that time that I would burst out in tears whilst scrolling through gumtree, but I was also a lot more EXCITED and motivated, and I was planning to stay for 2 years. Why was I not feeling this way about New York? The answers came to me as soon as Natalie asked me from South America, where she was at the time "Dude, tell me some funny stories" that I realised I kinda wanted to jump ship and meet up with her. I blurted this out, I wasn´t even consciously aware that I felt this way, and I was testing her because some months earlier she´d said she wanted to travel alone, and face the loneliness, but ultimately the sense of achievement of loving being by yourself and realising that there are no strangers, just friends you haven´t met yet. "Katie you should blow all your cash and come and meet up with me in South America!" After 2 days of contemplation and consulting with my family, "I´d go where the fun is Kate" said Dad. (lol) You know what, Dad´s can be SO RIGHT. I felt a slight twang of ¨Katie are you sure you wanna be doing this, I mean you´ve been planning the states for a whole year now, quit your job and moved out of your home" But the thing was, it wasn´t actually about the states, it was just to take a hiatus from my life, and fulfill a soul journey that I´d started just over 2 years ago when I turned 29. I´d gotten my first national commercial and things on that front were going really well, but I fell into a depression that set off a series of self finding efforts. I know this is sounding very eat pray love, but we all need to do this I think. My heart and mind needed some massaging, some good ol fashioned pleasure, and after working soul sucking day jobs just to support my ambition for acting and stand up comedy, switching off my emotions and behaving like a robot just to get by, enduring hellish houseshare situations, I needed an out, I needed to change something. But I didn´t really know what was wrong. Some of it is far too personal to get into here, but looking back I think a lot of the numbness and despondency was loneliness. I mean I had a lot of friends, but I was living alone in this delapidated and creepy St Kilda east house that I could only access from the back door HAH, and working only 2 days a week (I missed being part of a team) I was doing this one year government programme thing to start my own ¨acting & stand up business¨(lolz, only in Australia) and that gave me money.
So I quit stand up for a while, and took a much needed break, to take a step back from my life and look at it from afar and try and work out why I was feeling sad, and with a panic disorder to boot, which manifested after exhaustion of doing 22 or 24 or something shows, 6 nights a week, at the 2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival
Soon after my first panic attack on a tram, 2 days after my last festival show (lol) which at the time, I was convinced I was having a heart attack, and it came on whilst listening to an ENYA song no less, ah mi, the irony, I targeted my two problem areas, love life, or severe lack of it, and career. A psychologist really helped with the former. The career thing I´m still working out. But this time I´m not trying to force the answer out of myself, I´m just putting the question out there to the universe, and seeing what comes out at me. Do I still wanna do this whole acting and comedy thing? Watch this space I guess.
SO, back to Natalie, how would you explain her? She´s just turned 26 and works as a special needs teacher in Australia, with her first years spent teaching in London (she´s attempting to get back there as she fell in love with the school, and ´her boys´) My parents tell the story of the first time they met her, when she visited our house during a high school play date with my younger sister Grace, which is how we met her. It was bed time, Mum and Dad were laying in their bed reading, Natalie jumped in between them, all of 13 years old, declaring "Let´s share our deepest darkest secrets!" Dad retells this story with his inner monologue "Who IS this girl?" I call her the golden child, because he absolutely loves her.
I think most people still think this to themselves when they meet Natalie, and this was one of the reasons of the appeal of dropping NY for South America. Natalie is just such a ball of silliness, cheekiness and fun. She´s one of my favourite people to hang out with. Life´s never boring with her. Sometimes it´s, well, always embarrassing (that is if I were to actually give a shit) and full of mischief. Every day is April fools day for Natty, you have to constantly be on your guard. And whatever you do, do NOT leave your facebook logged in around her. She has a real skill for drafting realistic profile status updates on your behalf. Her method is to make it not too outlandish, so it´s realistic, but with just enough lameness to be peculiarly humiliating. Something along the lines of "I´m so happy I´m travelling South America, I´m finding myself in each of the shining and smiling children´s faces on every street corner. The sky´s the limit!" Something lame like that.
One night is a particular highlight in Peru, we were on a tour of Machu Picchu with approximately 20 other gringos. (What we all call whities over here) both of us had a Spanish 'insult off' ie learning vile sentences from the Spanish speakers on our tour and then interrupting peoples meals at the dinner table. We did it wedding speech/toast style, clinking our glasses 'Excuse me everyone - but I'd just like to say (in Spanish) ´mi amiga tiene un coño enorme!´ which roughly translates to ´my friend has a baggy pussy!" (That one was proudly mine) Straight away, Natalie would bounce back with: ´My friend is a prostitute!´ Cue horrified looks and giggles. This went back and forth for approximately half an hour by the way, each insult a different one. I know this sounds incredibly immature, I´m 31 years old, but then again, who cares? It was fun. Natalie would have kept this going for the rest of the time we had together, so I had to ask her the next day to stop it, as it was exhausting me being on my guard. She reluctantly agreed, but seemed very disappointed.
We were hanging out with these two lovely early twenties London girls, Thea and Fran, they had these sexy posh british queens english accents, yet were still down to earth and with a sense of fun. Natalie had met them on a salt flats tour in Bolivia a few weeks earlier and they continued to travel with her for a while. Well, on our last night, just before we were to get up in a few hours to climb Machu Picchu we were at another restaurant (always at restaurants, it´s the best chance of public humiliation) we had this particularly cheeky and kind of skeazy Peruvian waiter, but not in too much of a creepy way, he was teddy bear like. Well, at the end, when we were sorting our bill, Natalie grabbed his hand, LIMP hand mind you, he didn´t really put up a fight, the girls noticed, and rubbed it all over Thea´s er......vulnerable? parts. Thea went all weak and unable to breathe, kind of like when you´re being tickled, finding it hysterically funny but also painful.
This is Natalie. She´s also the owner of one of the biggest hearts in the world, is beyond generous, and lives for her friends and family. It´s been interesting watching her grow from a turdy teen to the affectionate and, well, erm mature? person she is now.
Another highlight is when she accused me of masturbating in front of the entire tour group, to explain my absence of the medicinal plant lesson that very afternoon, but I couldn´t help but laugh! (I was actually sound asleep I´d like to add, THAT´S why I missed it)
LOVEEEEEE YOUUUU NATTTTYYYY EM ILY ILY ILY !!!