Helping you to better navigate life's changes. #LoveChange

It took a baby kangaroo to make me say “yes” to the Aussie in the yak hat

It took a baby kangaroo to make me say “yes” to the Aussie in the yak hat

Sometimes, love is a leap and bound of faith.

There was a wriggle, the leg disappeared, and the little face of a joey popped out. I felt the beginning of an answer forming.

I’ve always been in awe of those who can stride up to the edge of a pool and leap in unhesitatingly. I’m more of a gradual immerser.

Toes first, then a slow walk towards the deeper end of the tidal pool, letting the water inch up my torso as my skin acclimates to the icy freshness of the seawater.

I have a similar style in making life decisions. I don’t leap, I edge forward.
I left the turbulent waters of a long-term relationship in increments. And, a few years later, I acquiesced to the pull of a new love, not with a loud “Yes!” followed by a leap into my lover’s arms, but in slow, cautious steps.

This is partly a character trait, but also a reaction to the violence of the waves that had tossed me around in the previous relationship. I had no desire to get caught up in similar stormy seas.

In the early days of this new relationship, we went camping. One evening I was standing at the tap, filling the kettle.

I looked back at our campsite, where this Aussie man I was dating stood in his yak hat and Peruvian cotton pants, preparing a fish recipe he’d photocopied from a cookbook.

The question I’d been holding in my heart found its answer. A quiet feeling of “yes” came from deep inside me, as though my cells and nerves and bones were in agreement.

Two years later, we had moved to Cape Town together. In my usual cautious fashion, I’d agreed to try it out for six months. I’d ended up loving life in this new city.

One evening, we were sitting on the lawn at a wine farm, waiting for a Bright Blue concert to start, when Joel looked over at me and casually asked, “What do you think about trying for kids?”

Inside me, there was no clear answer. Just a blankness with an undertone of pure terror. For weeks after, I sat with the question. There was no clear response. 

We went to Australia to meet his family and see his country on a road trip from Darwin up north to Adelaide in the south.

One afternoon we went to visit the first telegraph station in Alice Springs. I sat with my question on a bench in the shade and watched a mob of kangaroos grazing.

One came close, thoughtfully munching as she made her way across the grass. As I watched, a long gangly leg stretched out from her pouch.

There was a wriggle, the leg disappeared, and the little face of a joey popped out. I felt the beginning of an answer forming. 

A year later, our “Yes” was born. He was the best answer we could have wished for.

As our son grew older and our togetherness continued to grow, we talked about marriage. It was something we both felt ready for.

And so, one Mother’s Day, as our toddler played on the bed, the Aussie guy in the yak hat brought in his guitar and sang me a song he’d written.

I tried not to notice the ring-shaped box in his pocket as the song reached its strummed climax and he ended with, “Will you be my wife?”

And once again, every cell in my body nodded its head: “Yes.”

I have never flung myself off the edge with a wild whoop. My leaps of faith haven’t looked like they do in the movies, with dramatic gestures and nail-biting suspense.

Mine have been slower and more considered, an accumulation of thoughtful Yesses.

A bit like how I get into the water at Glencairn tidal pool. Cautiously, one step at a time. But I get in, and I’m always glad I did.

Cathy Park Kelly

Cathy Park Kelly is the author of “Boiling A Frog Slowly, a Memoir of Love Gone Wrong”, published by Karavan Press.

Related stories

The Change Programme

Are you thinking about making a change? Or trying to make a change? Or dealing with some change that’s happened? Whether you’re getting married or having a baby, moving house or jobs, starting a diet or stopping smoking… the Change Programme is for you.

Start the programme now!

black and white pattern