I checked out of my motel, drove across the street, and parked near the marina. There were dark clouds from an approaching storm, and I hoped to avoid driving in it. Thankfully it was reasonably clear when I stopped at various lookout points later during my drive.
I checked the oil in my rental car, just to be sure, and it was fine. I didn’t want to have another dead vehicle. I dug through my paperwork to find how many kilometers I was allowed and then compared it to how many I had driven so far. Crap. I was already over by around 30 kilometers, and I still had to drive over 300 kilometers to Melbourne. After doing the math, I realized I would pay an extra $100 in fees for going over the kilometers.
I drove away, feeling angry with myself. Sometimes I do some brilliant things, and I feel so proud of myself – maybe I found a way to save money or make a smart investment. Then I go and make stupid mistakes like running out of oil and destroying my car.
I was beating myself up for paying an extra $100, but then I realized something. I chose to go over the limit. I knew it was highly likely that I would go over if I took the ocean road instead of cutting inland from Sydney to Melbourne. It was worth it.
I don’t want my self-esteem to fluctuate like it sometimes does. I talked myself into being ok with it, and I stopped beating myself up. I’m imperfect, but each little mistake doesn’t define my entire existence.
I continued driving to Melbourne and listened to “rule 11” from Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Rule 11 is, “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.” In this chapter, Peterson talks about humans needing to risk, to push boundaries, and then discusses the differences between men and women. He pointed to studies showing that women are not willing to date a man below them on intelligence and income earning potential. They want a man who is equal or better than them. Men will date below them.
This has caused a lot of smart, successful women to be single. Peterson said strong, intelligent women need a strong, intelligent man. The man needs to bring something to the table. The woman needs to be challenged. He cautioned that it is hard to find. Tell me about it.
This part spoke to me because I had that exact conversation with my therapist two years before. She pointed out that my ex-husband was not at my level, and I tended to be interested in men who were not. She told me that I am an intelligent, successful woman, and I should be with an intelligent, successful man. I couldn’t help it, but when I envisioned that sort of man, I told her, “Then why would he want to be with me?” My therapist explained, “You bring companionship. He shouldn’t need you.”
She was right. I felt safer with a man who was not at my level because he wouldn’t leave me. My often low self-esteem made me think that an intelligent, successful man would choose someone younger than me, prettier than me, thinner than me. Why would he choose me over those women? If he was so smart and successful, he could choose anybody.
I don’t intend this to come across as vain, but I have a lot to offer someone! I am intelligent, fun, kind, adventurous, and I’m active. My therapist helped me work through this two years ago, and I decided that I’d like to date someone at or above my level. Like Peterson pointed out, women don’t want to take care of a husband like he’s a child. I certainly don’t want to again. We should all date our equal.
I continued driving past farms on rolling green hills. It started raining, and as I got closer to Melbourne, traffic increased. The highway widened to accommodate the cars.
I made a quick stop at the brightly colored bathhouses on the beach near St. Kilda. I didn’t get a chance to see them the first time I was in Melbourne because I didn’t have a car then. There were probably 40 wooden bathhouses lined up on the beach.
I was pushed for time, so getting stuck in traffic was stressing me out. As I made my way into Melbourne’s downtown area towards my hotel, I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of familiarity. I started my Australia journey in Melbourne almost six months prior. After house-sitting in Ballarat for three weeks, I spent ten days in Melbourne.
Driving into the city meant I had gone around the entire country! I even made it to the red center. I couldn’t believe it. I had driven well over 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) and gone an additional several thousand kilometers on an adventure tour through the Kimberley Region.
When I had first picked up my rental car in Melbourne six months earlier, it was also a Camry, the same type of car that I was driving back into Melbourne. I remembered that feeling of complete fear. I had never driven a car with the steering wheel on the vehicle’s right side, driven on the left side of the road, or in Australia.
I remember timidly driving out of Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road in the rain, through the traffic, and trying to understand all of the traffic signals. I was terrified!
This time, I was confident. I had driven so much in Australia that driving on the left side of the road felt natural. The traffic and road signs didn’t worry me one bit. Going through the city, I recognized so much of it. It felt like I was coming home. It was the familiar place that started my epic journey. I was overjoyed and thrilled to be back. I felt accomplished in having seen the entire mainland of Australia. The loop around the country was closed.
I drove through the city like a boss. The entrance to my hotel was down a narrow one-way alley. Reviews online complained about how hard it was to find. But I knew better. I knew Melbourne had laneways that looked so narrow that it didn’t appear it was meant for cars. I confidently pulled down the laneway, parked my car in the small loading zone, and walked into the lobby.
I explained that I was in a hurry because I needed to take my car back to the rental shop. I got my room key and was instructed to go to the next building where my apartment was located. I took the evaluator up to the 10th floor and was amazed! It was a huge, modern, clean, two-bedroom apartment with a balcony looking out to the city high-rises.
I made two trips to empty my car and then frantically tried to find a gas station. After two failed attempts by Google Maps and Apple Maps, I finally found a station and filled the car up. It was cold outside and extremely windy. I chased after a bottle when it blew out of my hand (before going into the trash can). I laughed, “Welcome back to Melbourne.”
When I arrived at the Budget garage, the gates were closed. It was 4:30 pm, and their hours were listed on their website and Google, “open until 5:00 pm.” I parked in the spaces designated for Aldi customers and walked up to the street level. Their building’s front door said “open,” but the hours listed on their door were until 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday (it was Saturday). I sighed, “Oh Australia and your ridiculously early closing times.”
I called their airport location, who confirmed that my rental paperwork said I had the car until 4:00 pm, even though they closed at 2:00 pm. They told me to leave the car parked there and give the key to an Aldi employee. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, so I left with the key.
I walked through the city, trying not to get blown away. I found a massive mall and walked around. I had been there when I first visited Melbourne, and it was surreal to feel like I knew my way around the city now. The mall is beautiful, with outdoor walkways and bridges connecting many different floors.
I bought a $24 ticket to see the new movie, Ad Astra, with Brad Pitt. The film was a huge disappointment. Brad Pitt’s character was serious with zero emotion. It was depressing with no point to it. At least it got me out of the cold wind for a little bit.
On my walk back to my hotel, I got a pastry from a little shop that I loved from before. I soaked up the city nightlife vibes. I walked past a beautiful, old church that had live music playing. I wandered inside, and there were some indy, hipster, amateur musicians playing a free concert.
Different people and groups went up one after another, and I really enjoyed listening to their music. I looked around the church and admired the architecture. I love going on random adventures – wherever life leads me.
When I got back to my hotel apartment, I relaxed and curled up in the plush bed. I wanted that apartment to be mine. I wanted to see those beautiful city views every day.
The next morning at 8:00 am, I called Budget to explain what happened with the car and where I left it. They told me to drop off the key before 11:00 am, and I would be fine. I went back to sleep for a bit and then walked to their shop. I asked if I needed to sign anything, and they said no. It was strange. They didn’t even notice or care about my extra kilometers! All that worry was for nothing.
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