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doing what comes naturally
by jack bradley

In the last three days I have done the following things (in no particular order):

I attended the funeral of an elderly woman who was the Grandmother of someone close to me. You can learn a lot of things about someone and their family when a crisis brings them all suddenly together.

I played with a puppy in a pet store. I fell in love with the puppy, and decided to leave the store before I bought it and tried to take it home with me on the plane. I thought about that puppy pretty constantly for the next two days. I left the puppy behind.

I unexpectedly heard the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, the pilot has asked me to inform you…” and then spent the next fifteen minutes in a cold sweat. My seatbelt was put to the test more than once as I defied gravity upon a DC-9 airplane. I have never been afraid of flying, but I have learned a new respect for the laws of physics which keep that many tons of metal, that many pounds of rubber, and 200 precious lives up in mid-air.

I held the hand of the man I’m falling in love with.

I patiently sat through many long minutes of biblical quotations in which I had no interest. Discussion is my interest, not mindless quotations.

I laughed hysterically at my friend Will, as he had an entire conversation with himself. He then forgot which side of the discussion he was supporting, and gave up in confusion.

I made Mary Fortuna’s “It Will Make A Grown Man Cry” Potato Salad. Incidentally, two grown men cried…one when he tasted this wondrous stuff, and the other one from laughing at him.

I read over three hundred pieces of email. That’s not counting SPAM.

I ate something gross at an airport.

I saw the movie “East is East.” It’s about racial divide, prejudice, religion, and family relationships. It made me think more carefully about the assumptions I’ve made about those people I know that are different from myself. Best of all, it was a comedy. I highly recommend it.

I tried on funny hats in a second-hand shop.

I listened to a Catholic priest tell the story of how his grandmother had cut open a chicken’s throat, removed a stone that was choking it, sewn it back up and nursed it back to health. The chicken lived, and continued to lay eggs. He told this story as an allegory for faith. I’ve thought about his example for two days, and I still don’t get it.

I looked at a photo of a sunset to calm myself.

I drank too much red wine with dinner. I became silly, then sick. Surprisingly, I suffered no hangover.

I fell down a flight of stairs, in an incident unrelated to the drinking of the wine. I’m okay, bruised but not broken.

In the middle of a crowded dance floor, 9,000 miles from where I met this person, I ran into an old friend unexpectedly. I just have to say there is nothing quite like suddenly seeing someone you think fondly of when you least expect it. The moment of celebration is so intense, and so very real.

I’ve bitten my tongue. Literally.

I’ve bitten my tongue. Figuratively.

I called the pet store where I met the puppy, and asked if I could fly back to Melbourne and buy it. They told me that the puppy had already been adopted by a young couple. The same couple who had watched me playing with it earlier that weekend. The shop owner told me that he had been very surprised that I had not called earlier. I told him that I had been traveling, and that leaving the puppy behind would be one of the very, very few regrets I would carry with me to my grave. I hung up.

I went to Melbourne, Australia for the first time ever. I had an incredible breakfast in a small café wedged between two old antique shops. Scrambled eggs, whole grain toast, roast tomatoes, lean, crisp slices of smoked ham, hot coffee, and an Extra Spicy Bloody Mary. I was full all day, and the smell of the ham lingered in my sweater for hours afterwards. It reminded me of growing up in the country.

I read the paper in bed and shared the funnies.

I fed a wild kookaburra a piece of sausage from my fingers. They eat meat, as I was surprised to learn.

I decided to make a list of all the strange/neat/touching/disturbing things that have happened to me this past weekend. I suddenly realize how futile that is, and that this only scratches the surface.

I called my stepfather and wished him “Happy Father’s Day.”

I climbed up onto the red tile roof of my terrace house and contemplated the full moon. Nothing makes you “feel the world” quite like sitting on the roof and raising your eyes to the enormous city spread out at your feet. Raise your eyes just a bit more and you see the Pacific Ocean roaring away at its edges, vast and strong. Raise your eyes once again, and you see the dome of the Universe above that. Look straight up, and there is the full moon, anchoring it all together, bathing the earth with her silver light. For a split second, you get to feel your place in the scheme of things, then the moment passes, and you rub the goose bumps back down on your arms. I get them again just typing that.

I acknowledged how much I love my life.

I recognize that I’m just doing what comes naturally.

Jack Bradley
Sydney, Australia
June 19, 2000


Born the son of a circus monkey, Jack had to overcome the stigma of having an address south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Struggling against all odds, he finally got his HS diploma from some guy on the corner, and proceeded to attend NC State University, where his records are now the "running joke" in the admissions office. In February of 2000, he moved to Sydney, Australia, to pursue a writing career full-time. Jack currently has a husband but no wife, no children, and a dog with great fashion sense.

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