To read Ella-Louise’s handwritten letter click here.
Monday, 9th April, 2012
I had every intention of sitting down to tell you about my weekend and let the impact of your letter stay there. Then I put my iPod on random and Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” filled my ears and I’m flung straight back into the chaos of my feelings…so much for three nights of grounding Ellie therapy….
“To give you up that easy
to the doubts which complicate your mind”
“Whatever we deny or embrace
for worse or better
we belong, we belong together.”
If we’d slept together would I have stayed? Yes, I would have. You were always enough for me…the only thing I wanted heart and soul, more than acting, more than singing, or music. I waited and waited for you Jude. I tried everything in my limited repertoire to provoke you into action…to force you to say or do something to prove you had feelings for me.
I decided on Sydney and NIDA after our Easter away, seeing if you had any reaction and you went and borrowed Mandy’s folks camcorder – the huge, hulking expensive thing and when you busted your knee, set about learning to use it to tape my audition…recording the birds in your backyard. When you became single minded about perfecting your skills, I knew I’d started something I couldn’t stop. It was an innocent lie tat got out of control. The fervour you applied to that bloody video camera…shit I was jealous, the way you held it, touched it…almost sacred reverence.
Then Mandy told me the boys suspected you were gay, that’s why you wouldn’t do anything with me or any other girl. And I thought you wanted to shoot the perfect audition tape to get rid of me.
June holidays, your parents took you all to Queensland and for the first time ever I was glad you were gone – I loved and hated you with equal force, lust and revulsion, anger and forgiveness all laid down on a bed of frustration. So I took up with a group of uni students who’d come to surf the winter break. His name was Damien and I closed my eyes and imagined it was your hands undressing me and your mouth kissing my breasts, and stomach, and the inside of my thighs. Three days later his girlfriend came down from Sydney and I disappeared with his Pearl Jam and Nirvana CDs… that’s where they came. Mike was clueless about music and by that stage he and Mum were on the rocks. He didn’t give me the CDs.
I sat on my bed, listening to “Alive” over and over again, staring in the mirror at myself trying to work out if I looked different, if you’d know I wasn’t a virgin…that I’d given up waiting for you. It wasn’t that it was bad or he was cruel or uncaring…it was just Damien wasn’t you. When you came back from holidays and started going out with Grace I cried myself to sleep…convinced you were punishing me.
You brought Grace to the opening night of the musical and I peered out the curtains of the Civic Centre and wanted to scratch her eyes out…sitting all smug next to you, her hands all over you. She’d auditioned for Maria and I got the role so she dropped out. “I’ll show you bitch” I though and sung and danced myself into oblivion. You showed up the next night without Grace and left a bunch of white carnations with “Break a knee!” on the card.
I don’t regret the life I’ve had Jude…it’s fucked me up and spat me out… but it’s made me who I am… for better or worse. The only thing I regret is I did it without you.
My mother would have eventually died – if not from drugs, then the breast cancer which comes to claim all the women in my family. Nan would’ve died too.
Maybe I would’ve gone stir-crazy in Piper’s. Maybe Mum’s legacy would have made me leave, maybe it wouldn’t. If I had stayed at least I’d know now we’d given it a shot.
I didn’t want to leave Jude…I spun and caught myself in my own stupid lies and was too proud to admit it.
The first week in Sydney was a living death. I wrote and said I’d made a mistake, I wanted to come back but I had no money. I asked you come get me and waited…and waited. Jude…why did you leave me there? If you wanted me so bad why didn’t you come for me?
When Paul said you’d moved on, that November, I didn’t even try to find my way back after Mum’s funeral. All I could see was me arriving on your parents’ doorstep, with a single bag, no money, no job… no Jude.
Life’s been good the last fortnight…and that’s what I wanted to write about. Three nights with Ellie is a panacea for a lonely person’s penchant for incessant introspection. Sitting down on my back porch with my hoodie and a glass of sav blanc I felt more alive and more exhausted than I have in years.
We walked home Friday and got your letter and digested it slowly across the weekend. Ava and Matt went to Byron Bay Blues Festival, and Ava’s Mum was meant to come down to mind Bryce and Ellie and fell and broke her ankle the week before, then Ellie’s friends came down with the mumps.
The first night there was this insane calm and I read and reread your letters and wished I was there to listen and hold you. As I said before, you Dad is a good man… and he’s not going Jude. You’re not going to lose him yet. He spent all his lie ensuring you grew up to be the man you are now. He not passing the mantle…you two are just trading places for a bit. He’s young and he’ll get the best rehab because of his age. I know you two don’t always see eye to eye but he loved you for who you were…not what you were.
Saturday, Ellie and I swam and drove to Coffs in the arvo to see ‘Mirror, Mirror.’ On the drive there it was like the Grand Inquisition. Why do I live alone (and without a tv or a computer or a mobile)? Where is my husband and children? Why don’t I eat sugar? Why don’t I have a job? Where did I live before Coranderk? Why do I swim with a t-short on when her Mum’s far fatter and wears bikinis? Hell…you can’t lie because she sees straight through the bullshit. Can’t sidestep because she calls you on it. I told her I wear a t-shirt because I have scars which upset people. And she made me take off my shirt in the toilets at the movies. She looked at my back and eventually asked what happened. I said I fell through a window. As I pulled my top back on she asked if I had other scars and I said yes. ‘From falling through the window?’ ‘Not all of them.’ ‘It hurts to be an adult, doesn’t it?’ I nodded and hid in the toilet until I’d stopped crying.
When she’d gone to bed I lay on the lounge room floor losing myself in music, though Matt’s wine collection was tempting. I found both of ‘Soul Monkey Momentos’ albums and a limited edition released after Jake de Brito’s death. I stopped listening to grunge when I moved to Cairns so I never knew there was another CD. These songs are his material, unrecorded at the time of his death. There’s a song called “Charlotte Covered Dawn” written for his girlfriend.
Golden pinstripes move
Slow and sensual
Caressing skin and curve
And I fight the dawn
From reaching out to claim you
Because I waited so long
I met Jake years ago in Melbourne at an after gig party and he was luminous. You just wanted to bathe in him. They say Charlotte MacKay’s body was never found. With Jake gone I imagine she didn’t want to exist any longer.
I don’t know how long it took to find myself without you Jude…you brought out the best and worst in me and I relied too much in the belief you had in me, to believe in myself, so I spent years living outside of myself only to discover I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I forgive you Jude. We were young and clinging as best we could to each other. I’m not angry. I’m just working through the maelstrom of emotions and confessions, grateful for a change to make sense of it all.
Just so you know, I always showered at your place with the door unlocked, hoping one day you’d walk in, strip off your clothes and join me. You should have…washed off the layer of salt to stop it petrifying you.
I will wait. It’s what I’m good at. Wait until it’s the right time to see you again.