Friday, 27 August 2010

The Jolly Swagman

"Imagine having to carry everything you own." - Unknown

Today was the best day in the history of Rocco.

He ordered, marched, divebombed and did messy poopies. He sent Max off to school with a kiss; Didda and Tim off to work with a cuddle; and turned to me with the bluest eyes and shaggiest blonde hair, expectantly.

I love him so, this teeny Boy of Big Things.

We schlepped around the house. I played with him - not stopping after five minutes, but really played. It was pretty saccharine sweet. I even took him out to lunch - without a stroller. And he behaved. He let me cuddle him and smoosh his cheeks. He keeps saying: "Mummy was in BARLEEE." And I promise him that one day, he can come to Bali too.

I wonder if the Swagman went to Bali. If the Swagman's mum smooshed his cheeks and held his hand and taught him how to skip.

On our last evening in New York, Dave was annoying the bejebus out of me by worrrying about our luggage, luggage, too much luggage. It was all his fault - the man is a shopping MACHINE. We bought extra suitcases to stuff our heavy loads. He fretted - something had to give. Obviously that something wasn't going to be his new suit .... I realised my BlogHer swag had to go. (You get a heap of free stuff at the expo halls at the conference, from eager sponsors, savvy marketers, etc. HEAPS.)

I left with a moderate amount of stuff ... but it seemed crazy lugging it all halfway across the world just because it was free. I couldn't even tell you what was in my big heavy swag bag - magazines, cookies, containers, drink bottles. An alarm clock, a cool faux egg filled with dirt that, when you cracked it open, would grow a real basil plant. (I was going to risk Australian customs with that one.)

We discussed where to put the bag. I suggested leaving it for the maid the next day. Leaving it in the Shake Shack at dinner. (Thank GOD Australia is not wise to your burger ways, America. I'd have to be forklifted from my house for Max's wedding.)

I told Dave that I'd just dump it somewhere.

So I walked around the city with that heavy bloody bag, for over an hour, realising I couldn't dump it because New York probably has cameras everywhere and will think the jiggly redhead is planting a bomb somewhere in their fine city GREAT.

I almost gave up and put it in the trash, but Dave wouldn't let me. So he carried the bag.

He carried that bag for three hours, all over town. At dinner, walking up to Fifth Avenue, at coffee .... he carried the bag. It annoyed me. It had become a cumbersome object, weighing us down. "Seriously hon, just go put it in the dunny or something."

He refused, and soldiered on. I told him to look for a homeless person to give it too - he thought that was a great idea.

But we couldn't find any homeless people. Suddenly we stood outside the Rockefeller Centre. "YES! Look where we are - hon let's go up and take a look!"

We did. We took it in turns holding the bag while the other went to the toilet ... this stupid, annoying bag. Felt like a bag of bricks. Free, forgettable swag is heavy.

Then we had to go through a security checkpoint .... the swag bag had to be X-rayed. I kind of distanced myself from Dave a bit, in case he got stopped and asked exactly what was he planning on doing with this 6-pack of playdough when he reached the Top of the Rock?

Thankfully we got through.

Here is Dave ploughing through the streets - carrying the bag!

Dave carried the bag through all the crowded people, in the hot lift, checking out the sights of the city. Sunset came - we needed more coffee. And surely the homeless came out at night?

They did. I was carrying the bag at this stage. Every homeless person I saw - they just didn't feel right.

Until I saw him.

He pushed a trolley of all his wordly possessions. He was scruffy and dirty and didn't look anyone in the eye. I boldly walked over and startled him, forcing him to look me in the eye.

He was about 40 years old, a dark beard, scared little raccoon eyes.

I held out the infamous bag to him. "Oh, excuse me ..... I went to a conference recently and got all this free stuff. Do you want it?"

His gratitude was embarrassing. "Well sure! Wow! Thanks! Thanks a lot!" He looked incredulous that somebody was actually even talking to him. (Recently I saw an Australian documentary on the homeless .... one person living on the streets said, "Just a smile. One smile - can make all the difference. Makes you feel like a person.")

The swagman took his swag, graciously, thankfully. We kind of bowed down to each other, and that was that.

Dave and I walked down the street, silently. Overflowing with money and stuff and life. I'm sure that swag bag would have made him happy, that one night. I've thought about him often .... he would have appreciated the waterbottles and soda and food ... but probably not the set of speakers for his non-existent iPod.


I wondered about the swagman today, as I was playing. Did his mum laugh with him when he was a little boy? Push his curls back, and teach him how to skip? Probably. Maybe. I hope so. We are so lucky.


  1. What a truly wonderful thing to do and I'm sure he appreciated it more than you could ever imagine!

    And that homeless person on the doco is right, a smile is free and yet it says SO much and some it pretty simple - like by smiling a homeless person you're acknowledging that they may not have all you or others have but they're still people and everyone deserves a smile - daily if possible!


  2. Eden you are so beautiful!!!!! This was a wonderful post! It takes my breath away thinking of what you did for Swagman. I'm sure he will always remember the beautiful Red Headed Aussie lass Who gave him her swag! In making his day you made mine!! Thank you darling!!

  3. I bet he really appreciated that. I always wonder what kind of life homeless people had before they landed on the streets. One of the few times I was in NYC we drove down a street at nighttime and there was homeless everywhere!! One guy was in a suit and looked like an everyday business man and he ran up to our car and was asking for money.

  4. I love this post.

    Now that I have sons - I look at homeless men and other men suffering in their adult lives - in a whole new light. They were/are somebody's son. It breaks my heart. And I hug my boys and pray for good things for them.

    I loved reading about your voyage to New York. You are a brave, brave girl and I am always inspired by your strength.

    And you make me laugh.


  5. Yes indeed! You are one lucky lady, beautiful Eden.xx

  6. Thank you for these comments, all of them. I really need to migrate my entire blog somewhere I can reply to each individual one.

    And Carrie - thank you. I'm getting caned in all directions lately, from "real life" people ... about how dare I blog, etc. So it was really nice to read what you wrote.

  7. my basil plant is growing as we speak!!!
    fyi- you are a swag hoar


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...