Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Fish

The warmth came back yesterday, clear sun on the sandy beach and Ardi frollicked with a new puppy friend and I didn't have to walk home but just clean the sand out of the car when I got back. I wanted to take him down again later, but he is so spoilt he hates the back of the ute and there's no way we were taking him in the front and also last time we fished with him he ate the other fishermen's bait. So we stood in the perfect afternoon air and cast our lines into the little waves and watched the fish darting in the surf. I lost count of how many we caught, we just kept the big ones and let the others flip out of our fingers and back into the water with the energy of terror.After dark when the cold air started streaming in, I carried my big pot of fish soup over next door. The table was loaded, the good plates and wine glasses and happy faces and huge platters of food, grilled fish and baked fish and steamed fish...fish.I drank a whole bottle of red wine without enough help and then listened to myself as my mouth ran away talking too much, words spilling out as freely as the wine spilt in. I should have a hangover this morning but I don't, so I figure it must have been a pretty good bottle of wine. It is a shame I can't remember the label or I would go out and buy some more.This morning it is another gorgeous day, S and the Traveller are back working on the fence, after they put an upright in the wrong place last week when I was out. So after some re-designing this morning, we are back on track and I should stay here and help them but am going to take my son the the shops and meet my daughter there as she stayed at a friends last night and she is going to choose some clothes for the boy because she says if I choose them they will be sans style and she can't have a brother who doesn't look cool.And I wonder if you read all that hardly taking a breath because that is how I typed it. Have a nice day everybody :)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Waiter

The first time I saw him he was tanned and blonde and strangely exotic, not my type at all. He strode through the kitchen, his steps slow, stretched out and claiming ownership of the space around him. Heads turned as he moved, his energy seemed to glow around him as everyone paused and stared.

He turned the corner and the titter next to me from the other girls proved he had been noticed. "Who was that?" they asked, I grabbed my tray and turned away, I didn't care who that was.

It went on for weeks, like a competition. Every time he turned up for a function, dressed in his black and whites like an arian god wearing the wrong uniform, the waitresses laughed and giggled and smiled coquettishly. He was so far out of my league, I didn't even turn my head.

On Christmas day it was bedlam in the kitchen, I was tipsy from a champagne breakfast with my friends so perhaps my confidence was a little higher than normal. I felt the prickle of his stubble on my cheek as he snuck up behind me and leant in to whisper "Merry Christmas" over my shoulder. I felt his hot body, the day was humid, the kitchen like a sauna, when I turned in total surprise, he smiled and said; "Come to a party with me tonight?", I had a date already. I could see Louise staring daggers at me over his shoulder. He was not my type. I was too tired. I wasn't finishing work until so late. I did not need any more men in my life....

"Yes", I smiled, I'd love to.

He changed my life.

It is 13 years* since I saw him last, I am not sure where he is living now and I don't know if he is still the person he always said he was going to be. Sometimes I get frightenend that something may have happened to him and I will never see him again, but then I think that it doesn't matter,the impact he had on my life I will take with me forever regardless of whether we keep in touch or not.

He was the christmas present that I needed that year. I think he saw me like a project, something broken that he could fix, something small and lost and useless that he could metamorphisise into a new and better thing.

Louise was the one who had propped me up until that day. She had given me refuge when I found the strength to leave my ugly past and I repaid her by winning her crush. I never intended that.

So we went to the party, I fought past my feelings of inadequacy amongst his university friends and I let him drum me up and make me feel that I was someone too. We sat up until daylight talking, he opened a door for me that I never knew existed. It was as if he opened the door to my mind. He made me think. He didn't tell me I was too young, or too stupid or too ugly. He didn't leave me out of the conversation, speak over the top of me or speak down to me. He asked me what I thought and he listened and he took me into a world of new ideas and passion for life and appreciation of little things I had never noticed before.

"Come with me?" he asked and I followed him like a disciple. I met people who had thoughts and minds and rooms to rent and I dug myself out of my suburban pit and moved to a vibrant inner city alternative. At night after work I would go around to his house and hear his harmonica drift out across the lush West End backyards. Calling me like the pied piper called the children to their doom.

"Come with me?" he asked and we hitched the Australian east, drinking beer in western pubs and talking to truck drivers until our throats were sore from helping to keep them awake. One night in a church hall in Tamworth he taught me to dance and to love the people watching. In the Goondiwindi truckstop as we sat at a laminex table he showed me how to fold a map properly, so that every trip I have taken since a little of him has been there with me, being pedantic.

In Melbourne aged 19 I played scrabble for the first time while we sampled Coopers Ale, I had never drunk beer before I met him either, and I looked at him across the room and thought that I was truly happy. The next day he was going fruit picking for a few months and I was going back to Brisbane. It felt okay.

Then he told me.

Two weeks before in Brisbane I had heard him talking to his housemate. He had got a letter he had said..." but I can't tell her, I just can't!"
"But you have to" argued his friend.
"What?" I asked walking in.
His friend changed the subject and somehow I forgot about it.

So after sedating me with a bottle of Coopers that night, he told me it was over.
"I want to say goodbye now", he said, "because in the morning I am leaving at 4am, there won't be time."
I didn't understand, how could I? We were getting on so well.
I withdrew into myself and my shell hardened so much that the next day back at my sisters house in Oakleigh I pretended he didn't exist. I lay in that darkened room, nursing my Cooper's headache, that room I will remember as a room of grief, where the pain of that morning and the pain of the day when my father died all being melded into a hard dark lump. Inside that room.

Weeks later, back in Brisbane, I collected the letter from my letterbox as I walked to the train to go to work. I waited until I was in my seat then opened the pages and the person who I had tried to forget spoke to me in long eloquent sentences of explanations and excuses and reasons. He begged me not forget what we had. He told me that it wasn't all for nothing and that had he known he was going to meet me he would never have asked the german girl to come out here and marry him. "If she had written to say she was coming sooner", he said. "If I hadn't thought that she had changed her mind. If If If..."
I didn't believe a word of it but the tears still slowly dripped down my cheeks, blurring the makeup he always told me that I didn't need. I went to work and quit my job.

I got a job travelling north Queensland and revelled in my new found independence. I didn't think about him, I instead learned to work harder than I had ever worked before and found a new passion for travel and life that I knew I had him to thank for.

Back in Brisbane I became friends with his friends and decided that he was right. It didn't all have to be for nothing. I had learned to think and forge my own path, thanks to him. His friend apologised for him, but I said it was okay, it didn't matter. His friend shook his head at me and would not believe I did not care.

I went back to the football ground one last time then I became a new person, if that is possible.

I met my husband a year later. The first night he was coming to dinner, I had 'evicted' my housemates, lit the candles and put on the music. The knock at the door was a little early and I am not sure what my expression was when I saw that it wasn't whom I expected.

I don't know why he had come around, I never asked him but it was the first time he had ever come around without her. They had had me over to their place to dinner a few times. She had carefully shown me their seperate rooms. It had been strange and I wasn't sure why thay wanted me there, just me and them. So I asked him to make himself scarce that night, while I waited for my boyfriend, he ducked next door for a while, then reappeared and gave my new man the ten questions. I pretended it didn't matter but his approval meant everything to me and his acceptance of my choice sent me down the life path that I am on now.

He surfed with my boyfriend and made friends with his friends. He came and stayed and brought his girlfriends. He entertained and educated me on every turn. His beliefs agreed with my beliefs and when he traveled hundreds of miles to the property for my 21st carrying an expensive gift, I was truly touched. He took the photos at our wedding and wrote long letters from wherever he was.

Then he turned up one summer thirteen years ago without his partner and looked at me in my little life and his eyes told me I had sold out. I haven't seen him since.

It is true I have never surfed the wave of a nuke ship, I have never been arrested for trespassing at Pine Gap, but I don't think I have sold out. I want to know what happened to him after the last time I heard his voice on the radio as he vowed to go to jail for his cause. I want to know why he suddenly put me behind him and why he doesn't write anymore.

I don't seem to have the gift that others have, of leaving the past where it belongs. When I love I love forever. It is not (always) a sexual love, but my soul does not stop loving just because we didn't fit. I don't think my love for him was ever sexual anyway. It was his soul, his mind, that made me feel the way I did.

I accept that it is his choice to take a life path that does not cross mine.
I accept that what he did for me was great and it was awful but I am so very glad I met him. I could so easily have said no that Christmas day, in the hot sweaty kitchen with Louise's green eyes burning hatred into my face.

*This was first posted mid 2003.... I heard last year that he had a going away party about five years ago before he moved overseas to get married. My source is pretty shaky though, a mushroom trip gone wrong whom I really should post about one day too. Other than that no-one I know who knew him seems to know where he has gone. I still hope to see him again one day and sometimes I look for him in crowds. A flash of blue eyes, long brown limbs and a knowing smile. ____ Update Nov 2007..I just 'found' him. He is well, happy and still passionate about his causes and I am thrilled!