A moving room of my own by Cindy Ruch

Features, On the Road January 5, 2016

It was quiet out here, too. Dead kangaroos on the side of the street. The woman at the only roadhouse between Mildura and Broken Hill only said “Yay” and nothing else. It was getting hotter and hotter, red dirt roads branched off from the main street. I got used to driving straight, taking photos out of the car, changing CDs and started to like them now, tried to practise the Spanish rolling R. There was nothing else to do than driving and waiting for something.

It always takes some time to get used to yourself again. I had spent the last two months surrounded by other travellers, started similar small talks every day with different people, and found out new things about faraway countries every other day. Now I was on my own, driving out of Melbourne, and I had forgotten how quiet and lonely it can be behind the rental car’s doors. I had forgotten what I looked like on my own. The outside rushed past without a noise like a movie on a screen with a volume turned down to silence: the trees, the houses, the heat. I had a moving room of my own, my Canon A-1 and a notebook on the passenger seat.

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There were less cars on the street the further I drove north, away from the city. Single trees were standing on the fields like freckles, once in a while there was a rundown tin shack. When you travel on your own, you are responsible for everything: where to stop, what to do when it gets dark or kangaroos hop onto the street, how much water you need and which music fits to the street and the mood. I felt overwhelmed but I kept on driving. Through towns like Horsham and Warracknabeal until I reached Mildura, another gate to the outback.

I have always had a longing for the wide open space. Whether it is sitting by the sea and dreaming myself across the many waves to the other side, or driving a straight road surrounded by a flat and dusty red landscape to the ever-changing horizon. Open space makes me think, rethink, dream, plan, organise, wonder. It helps me to create new possibilities without getting distracted by set ways, other people’s voices, opening hours. Out here in the outback, there was only one street to follow: B79 to Broken Hill.

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It was quiet out here, too. Dead kangaroos on the side of the street. The woman at the only roadhouse between Mildura and Broken Hill only said “Yay” and nothing else. It was getting hotter and hotter, red dirt roads branched off from the main street. I got used to driving straight, taking photos out of the car, changing CDs and started to like them now, tried to practise the Spanish rolling R. There was nothing else to do than driving and waiting for something.

And so I arrived in Silverton, a former mining town 900 kilometres north of Melbourne. I had a look at a pub and a gallery in the so called ghost town. No one and nothing was rushing out here. I had not talked for the whole day and did not bother to talk now. Only the camp ground owner told me about the weather, hot, yes, really hot, no water for a month, but there is still some in the reserve. The tennis courts and swings at the camp ground, a former recreation centre, stood still and seemed to be waiting as well. The sun was setting and coloured everything in deep orange. There were only three other white cars and I tried not to think of scary movies when I fell asleep on the backseat of my car. Only the birds never seemed to stop their singing.

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On the way back, I finally reached the point I was hoping for. It was as if I had watched the laundromat spin-drying many of my thoughts, expectations and past experiences for the last few days while I had kept on moving, watching the surface through the windscreen while it all fell back into place. I knew where I wanted to go next – Sydney first, then Berlin – I knew, I wanted to spend more time writing and photographing. And whenever the noises are getting too loud and the ways too set, I will find myself another moving room of my own again.

Words and pictures by Cindy Ruch
w. www.cindyruch.de b. www.cakeandcamera.wordpress.com
fb. cakeandcamera

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