To read the hand written letter, click here: EL Letter 3
Wednesday, 22nd Feb, 2012
Walked down to the local café to write and arrived without my notepad. As you can probably guess I’m just as scattered as I used to be. Luckily I’ve struck up a bit of a friendship with the lady who runs the café – Ava Hudson. She too moved from Melbourne to here looking for a change of lifestyle. Gave up being an ambo to froth milk and serve all day breakfast. Unlike me, she did it for her family. Cute kids, 8 and 11 and a hubby who works at the local solicitor’s firm. Always makes me laugh – no matter how small the place there’s always the law mongers. Makes me think of Dire Straits’ ‘Telegraph Road.’
Then came the churches
Then came the schools
Then came the lawyers
Then came the rules
Matt’s an ok bloke though – as far as his kind goes!
Long story short – Ava found a half-used exercise book for me to tear some pages out of. You get classy and I get scruff!
Grace Wyatt is still around? I can’t imagine the girl who cut and (badly) coloured her own hair and spent lunchtime smoking pot behind the gardener’s shed would grow up to be president of the netball and cricket club. God, I hated Grace! She was always vile to me – always saw me as being between you and her, then the reason why you guys broke up. As the publican’s daughter I know it was her who told everyone at school about Mum – after Mike had his meltdown about her at The Whalers.
In part I blame her for what ended up happening. Why Mum eventually chose to leave Piper’s and go back to Sydney, even though the happiest, most stable years of her life (and mine) were in Piper’s. Wish we’d both had the guts to just let go and make Piper’s a proper home. But I was always resentful of her for taking me away from Sydney and Nan and all my friends. The only stability I’d known through all of her shit. Sydney was always going to be better, the siren call. Where I could aspire to be a proper actress – not someone bitching because they didn’t get to play Stella in the local drama society’s production of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ because the director still remembered her as ‘that junkie’s daughter.’ Or to die a slow death singing Cold Chisel and Australian Crawl covers three nights a week to pissheads at The Whalers.
Piper’s Reach could never be home – not once everyone knew about Mum. The thing which pissed me off, and still does, no one looks down their nose at a recovering alcoholic. Is that because they find God through AA meetings? A recovering heroin addict is a totally different matter.
Even through the lows of her relationship with Mike – she never used. She didn’t even drink coffee or black tea. Mike was the shit head who got drunk when he couldn’t cope with his demons.
And through the shit storm you were there. Remember your Mum banned you from having anything to do with me. And for the first time (and probably last) you stood up to her, told her she was wrong and reminded her of the Christian spirit she was always banging on about. You waited for me at the corner of my street, on the worst day of my school life and when I got to you, you just held out your hand and said, “Let’s get hot chips.” And you never let go of my hand, the whole way down the main street –staring everyone down. All those averted eyes. I was caught up in my own battle – wanting to run and hide – to let go of your hand – afraid I’d suck you into the fucked up void of my life and destroy you… like everyone in my life.
Without the whispers, without the truth of Mum, without Grace Wyatt’s fucking great mouth I might have stayed – content to play second fiddle in amateur theatre or learned all of Cold Chisel’s lyrics, to stay with the only guy I loved with all my heart. But I couldn’t do it to us.
Did you ever wonder why you only dated Grace, and me Bart – and why they were short and disastrous? And why, other than the odd snog of some city kids on holiday, we never had another relationship?
I’d have kissed you at the formal… I’d have done a whole heap more too. Finally cure my curiosity about all that… but well, Bart hurls and the universe divides. Roads never taken. Southern Comfort always remembered. It wasn’t fire you felt in me – you felt fear – you felt the darkness – waiting to swallow you whole. You did the right thing waving me off from out of sight. I cried for two hours on the bus. And then life went on.
Sydney didn’t work out how I thought it would. It was fun for the first few months – bands, auditions, shitty bar jobs. I sang for a while, played drums too – which is so funny given how bad I was of the three of us – I had the best rhythm!! I drummed in a blonde wig, a vintage 40s dress and a long pair of gloves. We called it quits after eight bar tab hangovers. I took acting classes, did a photography course and subbed the acting bills waitressing, pulling beers and taking photos.
The week before my audition with NIDA I ran into Paul Halligan. He was on route to the Middle East on some kind of Arabian Nights adventure, having decided accounting wasn’t the life for him. I got him a bar tab and woke next to him the next morning with a shitty hangover. He said you’d left Piper’s but didn’t know where you’d gone. Then I got the worst case of the guilts and hustled him out of my bed, made him promise to write me from overseas. Don’t know if he did. Mum died the day after my audition – OD – and after the funeral I went to Melbourne, got an education and what I thought for years, was a proper job.
When I think back now – it was only the end of ’93 – our first year out of high school. You must have still been in Piper’s. How is it possible that less than a year can feel like an entire lifetime?
Second guessing the rights and wrongs of a situation? Twenty years on we can delude ourselves as to what we would’ve done different because we have the wisdom of hindsight. We did what was right for each of us at the time. I guess at some point I’ll be able to look forward but right now I’m in a shit storm of regrets, pain and anger. I never grieved properly my Mum’s death. My solution to finally losing her was to change my name (sorry to disappoint on the potential of me falling from Grace into the porn industry) and run. A man I loved in Melbourne died and I did the same – ran. Spent six hazy months in the bowels of the Cairns nightlife. If you were in Port Douglas wonder how many near misses we had – moments between leaving and arriving at Johnno’s Blue’s Bar or The Court Jester in Cairns or The Courthouse in Port?
Makes me think it wasn’t our time. I was more a mess than I am now. Even if I look back and think why did I bother? I am my mother’s daughter… a lost cause. I gave 15 years of my life to a job, which did nothing but slowly kill me. Nothing to show from it but a handful of scars. When I left no one even bought my one of those kitsch going away cards. Fuck’em. Not even ‘see ya’ beers.
I didn’t have a life. I was on assignment when Nan died six years ago and I found out six months after she died. No one knew where I was, let alone how to get hold of me. All Nan had was a P.O. Box address. I found out she’d died from her solicitor’s correspondence.
Did you know I thought she was my Mum until I was nine? Carol came home on one of her benders and told me I was her daughter and took me away. And Nan, wracked with guilt, let her. Nan blamed Mum’s addiction on the fact she’s stolen me from Mum. Hell, Mum was 16 when she had me. Nan and Papa moved so no one knew them after I was born. I still don’t know who my father is. Not that it really matters.
And here was me intending to tell you how my neighbours now think I’m a hippy because I tore out my electric stove and am trying to find someone to repair my AGA and how I have to cook on the BBQ and because I have no stove I’m craving moussaka and Ava says she’ll make it as a special in the café for me and how the lady who used to own my cottage died there and I got it for a song because no one wants to live where someone died and how a 90 year old dying peacefully in their sleep is unlikely to leave behind a wandering spirit, not like someone shot dead three times in the chest, and how there’s so much backyard I’ll never have to join the gym for want of exercise and how the lawn is overgrown because it’s full of mint and I can’t mow it until I work out what to do with all that mint and how I can’t even try to make mint jelly because I have no stove…and no matter how hard, or fast or far I run…inside I’m always a junkie’s daughter.
How could you ever bear to be near me? I wished you’d kissed me but I would’ve tasted of death, not West Coast Cooler.
I don’t know how to grieve… grieve Mum, Nan, me, the people I loved who I lost. I just want to smash things. I want a second chance to make things right. I never avenged Mum’s death…not like I thought I would. And now there’s 15 years of a life lost to grieve as well.
How angry can one person be?
How angry can one person be and still deserve to be loved?
I never deserved you Jude. And I don’t deserve you now. You don’t talk about a wife or kids but I know, know deep down you must have them. Putting down roots for you would have meant marry a beautiful, uncomplicated woman who you worship with your heart and soul. And a boy who plays cricket and a daughter who you cheer on from the sidelines of a netball court on Saturday mornings. That’s how you know Grace Wyatt is president. You probably bought your four bedroom brick veneer on the new sub-division from her.
Why I’d have thought a second chance was possible…I have no idea? When you’ve faced down death and won – you assume you’re hear for something. I thought it might have been you.
I’m sorry. I’m beyond saving, beyond a lost cause. You always deserved better than a junkie’s daughter.
I’m sorry. I should have just bought a diary and remembered from afar.
Move on citizens…nothing to see here.