Friday, November 25, 2005

The Waiter writes, aged 21. February 1985

Dear Alice,

Sunday afternoon Camp C*, Country Victoria. The day dwindles along into evening. It is my turn to cook tonight but until then, I'll just continue blasting my ears off absorbing the only part of "my" world that I have here, my music.

Getting back to C* and getting back into the trees among leaves, hot and grubby, it is as though I have awoken, felt stiff, pulled on the old tattered boots, the dusty dirty clothes, stepped out into the crisp sunrising C* morning and been trooped off into the trees, trooped off into the trees, and somewhere between the trees of yesterday and today, a years worth of dreaming has finally come true. When first I grabbed a pair on Wednesday morning, while your head lay quietly asleep on a pillow in a darkened room in a suburb of Melbourne, the realisation that this place has become the only constant in the last five years of my life came with the amazement that that space of time since the last pear plucked was indeed so many dreams evolving into reality, and with that new pear evoking back the images inside my head. Things that happened. Me, Me. Dreams of things that are going to happen and visions of things that have.

Good grief, and amongst all the the cowboy next door and the two ex-herion addicts across the yard. Just us in camp until today when heaps of others started to arrive. It has been pretty hard because they haven't had food on here, and the first day I worked without it. We've had to get and cook our own, without a fridge or cooking facilities...., that is, until yesterday when i got onto the management and got a fridge and wood stove organised. And so tonight, I'm the Sunday evening cook, and we're having pasta. Yahoo. And so I'll go over and make it now, and see you shortly.


Good grief, the boys here, about five of them from anywhere and everywhere, are broke, so today they went out and killed a sheep! And now it's in pieces all over the place, various bits already cooked and eaten. Good tucker they reckon too!! But that's how tea went. I cooked pasta and they cooked chunks of sheep, and the experience was completed by a dutch couple who arrived this arvo. They don't understand much "strine" and were invted to both meals at once. They're just sitting there, staring.

I escaped, with music, because while staring into the fire I was thinking about sitting in the shade of a hut having a salad roll and a cool milk. And of a truck driver beeping his horn, and of standing on the step of a truck in a big truck stop north of Dubbo watching the light fade from the sky, very much the same as it is now.

And as the light fades from the sky this Sunday evening, are you happy? Are you in a bus homeward bound? Home to where Gertrude waits mouth a flapping. Or are you already at home wondering what would have happened if you had said no in the taxi. If? Wherever you are, Alice, when you read this you'll be in your flat, probably in your room, a brick wall view, passively accepting Gertrude and the kooks at work tonight, Louise. And does this summer of life seem like a dream that you've woken up from, sadly realising with awakening that it's joy has gone? If you're thinking that then let this letter remind you that is shit. You, Alice and I had a bloody good life together. So many good moments. That hitch down the back road, though I was being stupid playing the "Iv'e done this heaps of times" bullshit bit a bit too much; was every moment a beautiful time. Beers at Moree [I'll ave those photos soon and I'll get reprints for you] And the second lift with the young guy. Big Les, the beginning in the bar, adventure. Those things were all real and I am very happy that we lived them all, and together. And even considering their stifled personalities, your sister and her husband, I enjoyed being there. Everything....except one. Goodbye.

Well, what would have happened if I hadn't asked in the taxi? I think it was the best possible. I know I tried to explain it to you but I was drunk and stoned, and so were you [A song by The Dead Kennedies comes to mind] and perhaps I didn't explain it very well. I am sorry for not telling you earlier, but really, what difference would that have made. You knew there was something, I don't think you are silly, there was just no point to saying anything about it. I think to be honest, this is how it went.

Before I met you I wrote an offer to a girl in Germany. The offer was that if she wanted to get married so she could live in Australia I would do that. She is a very good friend. It went four weeks without a reply, then, sure enough, a week after I met you, she wrote back saying she was going to come out. Right. Where do I go? I go to Alice and say "Sorry Alice, we aren't going to know each other anymore because of this and this.." The reason why I didn't is because that would have killed all the good times we have had together. My life would have been a lot duller, and I think yours also.

Now. What now? That's history and we know it. Now? Now I'm in Cobram. Now I'm a fruit picker. It's almost poetic justice really. In exile..., again.

I don't know how you're going to read all that Alice, but regardless of what happens in the next three months you are always a welcome friend in my home. I hope you go and visit Richard and Bruce. Don't be afraid of Richard, he's very cynical. "Under it all" he's a good person to be friends with. And you know Bruce about as well as I do. Shanti...Pharque!! Who knows?

Who knows Miss Down?? Who knows?

The crunch of feet on the gravel outside. I am in my cubicle in Cobram listening to the tape my mother gave me for Christmas. My brain is drained, it has a tendency to go into neutral down here. Everything sort of flows on around me, as I become more and more withdrawn from Brisbane with time. From Brisbane and my life or I should say "my home". The routine of the days makes them merge together as one whole time.

And Alice Down, How is your life? To work on the train, watching the houses flip past outside the tinted windows; and the streamlined people of the city not interrupting each others lives, getting on to work or home. And then the Hotel Royal all night, spent with customers and their wants. Please tell me Alice, I don't want to talk anymore, please tell me what you're thinking Alice?

Waiter x

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thank you Waiter

Looking back I still cannot understand what it was that you saw in me. Just the same, I will be forever grateful that you did see something, whatever it was.

I utterly adored you. You came to me when I was at the lowest point in my life and you made me feel worthwhile again. It is true it did not last and you broke my heart but what you took away was nothing in comparison to what you gave me. I wonder if you know this? I suppose reading the letters that you wrote me afterwards it is obvious that you did.

We had so much fun that summer didn't we? At least I did and I am pretty sure that you did too. I have a few highlights that I keep in my favourite memory bank, I wonder if you ever revisit those times? I know you used to because you did mention the pool once....ha!

I remember catching a cab over to West End after work one night, getting the cabbie to drop me in Sexton street and then walking up the back path and hearing your harmonica as I drew nearer. You were sitting up on the windowsill of that sliding window above the kitchen table, your long legs folded up, your knees a support for your harmonica holding hands. You were silhouetted against the light walls of that room and framed by the green and purple panes of glass in those windows that later I spent so many hours beneath. I loved those windows and that night as I walked up to the house I loved you. I don't know if you deserved my love or not but the reality was that I just loved you for being there. At that point in time, that was enough.

You introduced me to intelligent people. It might sound strange if I were to say that I had never met any before and perhaps that would be a lie anyway but I suppose I had never noticed any before and suddenly here you were talking to me about everything and anything and being idealistic and passionate and most of all, making me listen.

You forced me out of the mould I thought I belonged in and proved to me that my life could be whatever I wanted it to be not whatever I thought was expected of me. For that I thank you more than you will ever know.