I met Shani during one of our many road trips. She was beautiful, fun and very out going. We became friends right away. I didn’t even have much of a choice, she had such a dynamic personality that you were drawn to her. Shani and Laurie quickly became friends as well, so Laurie and I were “work friends” but not close at all.
One day, while on duty selling electricity, Shani, Laurie and I all had turf right beside each other. It was Saturday and I really didn’t feel like working. There was a contest that day, and whoever had the most sales would take home an iPod. I was not even close to making a grab for it. Neither was Laurie. Shani was neck and neck with another sales rep, so she was working away while Laurie and I decided we had had enough for the day.
Sitting around with someone is always better than sitting alone, so Laurie and I headed to a little café to kill some time. Over a diet coke and a brownie, she opened up. We talked about what we left at home, relationships and life philosophies. The more we talked, the more I wondered how I could have possibly not liked Laurie. She was another version of me!! We were both older than most of our Australian friends, had university degrees, had recently left long term relationships, were being out grown by our friends at home, and had no idea what we were doing with our lives. The more we talked, the more I realized just how much we had in common. I also figured out that Laurie wasn’t snobby or bitchy…she was just shy!!!
One day after being kicked out of my apartment, I asked Shani if I could stay with her for a little while. She welcomed me with open arms. She shared everything she had with me. If I was out of shampoo I knew I could use hers. I could take anything from her closet when my backpacking wardrobe did not fit the occasion. She bought me dinner when I was broke. I could not imagine how my time in Australia would have been with out Shani in my life.
I also became close with Laurie during this time. We went out on the weekends, and would often be some of the last standing at the club. Laurie was always up for more dancing, more boys and more fun.
One day, when I was just weeks away from leaving, Shani said to me, “You can’t leave!! What will I do without you?” Without even thinking, I replied, “Come to Canada! I can get you a job!”. And just like that, a couple of weeks later, Shani had a visa to work in Canada and plane ticket overseas. I was going home to work at a fishing resort that I had worked at the previous summer. It was easy to get her a job there as well, and I thought it would be a great “Canadian” experience for her to be in the beautiful woods of Northern Ontario.
Laurie was sad that we were leaving, and a few others in our group were planning on moving on from Surfers Paradise as well. Laurie was ready to move on too, but was not ready to come back to Canada. Laurie made plans to move to Brisbane shortly after Shani and I left.
Shani needed to go home to Phillip Island, just south of Melbourne before we left for Canada. She invited me to drive with her and stay with her family for a week before I flew out of Sydney. I was excited as I hadn’t been there yet, and the more places I could visit before I left, the happier I was. We had been in Phillip Island for just a few days, when Laurie called and said that Brisbane just wasn’t doing it for her and she missed us. Then she asked if I could still get her a job at the fishing resort.
That was how the three of us became travel buddies.
When the fishing season wound down, Laurie and I were on a mission to show Shani some of our home country. We spent a month and travelled to Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal. From there, I returned home while Shani and Laurie road tripped to the West Coast. The whole time the three of us were in Canada, we were trying to plan our next step. We knew that we wanted to keep travelling together, but didn’t have much money and didn’t know where. We looked into jobs on cruise ships, in the Cayman islands, at ski resorts and in northern Alberta. It all fell through, and I decided to keep working in Winnipeg, while Laurie and Shani got jobs in Calgary.
Soon we booked tickets back to Australia… life there was just too good. We spent two months laying on the beach all day and clubbing at night. Unemployed life in Australia was amazing, but expensive. It was time to get back to work. We spent another summer at the fishing resort, and planned our next escape this time to Africa, with a new friend Amiee.
Alas, Shani is young and hadn’t had the same life experiences that Laurie and I had before we began travelling. Shani felt it was time to get an education and give real life a shot. She is currently living with her boyfriend in Phillip Island and I wish nothing but the best for her…although I do wish she would hurry up and get bored and come join us on the road again! My Australian experience was more authentic, more fun and longer because Shani was a part of it. Without Shani, Laurie and I may not have become friends. Without Shani, we may not have gone to Africa. Without Shani, I would be different. I miss you Disco Balls…hurry up and come back!!!
Laurie and I spent 4 months in Europe after Shani left and have grown even closer. We have shared everything from clothes, to hangovers, to our dreams of avoiding “real” life forever. We have been on all kinds of roller coasters from nearly being scammed out of 1000 euros, to the debacle of Orhan, to being broker than broke and we made it out just fine every single time. Although she stayed in Amsterdam while I came home, we are still close as we plan our trip to South America and Antarctica.
I would like to think that I would have travelled alone if I hadn’t met Shani and Laurie, but I don’t know if that is true. I hope to never have to find that out. A good travel partner is invaluable. Everything looks more beautiful, the tough times aren’t as tough and accomplishments are sweeter when you have someone to share them with.
Laurie fuels my passion to travel and I am grateful that we have done so many amazing things together and have so many more planned. Larry, I know you hate the mushy stuff, so I’ll just say this: thanks for being such a ball face…you know what I mean! From girls who didn’t really like each other, to travel buddies, to life long friends…we have come a long way, in every sense.
Lets stay in Never Never Land FORVER!!!
Join me (and Laurie) as I TRAVEL MY LIFE AWAY!!!