To read the handwritten letter click here.
Saturday 21st April, 2012
I finally have a chance to respond. Your last letter has been sitting in my head as I try to work out how to respond. Revelations of indiscretions, memories of the past.
Reading between the lines I can see something of want you want, but I am not sure I can be the person you want me to be. I know you’re working through twenty years of tumultuous history, and I thank you for your forgiveness.
Twenty years have passed and the Ella-Louise I knew, remembered, fantasised about, has grown up, changed, been through trials and tribulations I cannot fathom. My memories are of the Ella-Louise of the past, not the Ella-Louise of the present. It’s like watching a highlights reel of the past two decades as I read your letters.
Anyway, who am I now? It’s been running the cogs in my head since you wrote. I have changed and yet I can see where I haven’t. But I’m ok with that. Those things you remember about me are still present. What I’ve done in my life is within the realm of suburban domesticity. Mundane, regular, unattractive, safe living.
And yet this is the place where I am home, at rest, at peace. But reliving the past has brought up a lot of feelings and we have been as intimate in our letters are as we were in real life. If I keep being this introspective, I’ll have given myself a colonoscopy.
Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. Dad’s doing ok and should be off to rehab very soon. I only have this chance to write today as the field trip I was booked on was cancelled due to the weather. It’s been teeming for 3 days straight. Rebecca has taken Jordan (our eldest daughter who’s 9) out for the day as school goes back next week. A bit of mother and daughter time. The twins, Flynn and Harley, are ensconced in bean bags watching ‘Cars 2’ on DVD.
I’m really sorry for missing your birthday last Sunday. It was there in the back of my head but the chaos of the last few weeks have dominated. I do remember buying you the Nirvana satchel for your birthday in our last year of school. I put away all the spare cash I could muster and your face was priceless. I was torn as to what to buy you there were so many options. I could have bought CD or vinyl, t-shirts, huge decisions.
Which leads me to the origins of the Pearl Jam and Nirvana CDs. The revelation of your indiscretion with Damien was somewhat of a shock but that was the past. It explains why you were a bit cool after the June holidays. I didn’t know what to make of it at the time and there were rumours of your activities doing the rounds at school. They were never said directly, only in coded conversations.
I cannot blame you, or hold you responsible, for my inaction and inability to take things further between us. I was afraid. A young teenager unsure of himself, uncertain of who he was and what he wanted. I preferred the safety of your friendship and the safety of physical intimacy while fully clothed.
And to be honest, afraid of your past. I hold no pretensions of being your saviour, rather, simply a friend. Somewhere in my heart I know you had to find your own way. That’s why I didn’t respond when you went to Sydney.
It was a young man’s foolishness that kept me from going to get you. I should have but didn’t. I feel guilty for it but I don’t think I could have done anything else.
I wanted you to succeed, to step out from the shadow of your mother’s past and I thought by sleeping with you it might make it harder for you. I wanted to be your strength when you needed it, and maybe now I can be that strength as you sort through things.
And that failed experiment with Grace. After the June holidays I came back and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Worst. Mistake. Ever.
She was the one who suggested going together to see the school musical. After that, she was all over me. I didn’t protest as such. We didn’t go that far but I can tell you that what she has up front now, was not what she had up front back then. I cannot vouch if her breasts feel like jellyfish but there’s been construction there no doubt.
It was a hook up that had nothing going for it. She was needy, overbearing and I got caught up in it. I knew it upset you, but with rumours going around of your actions, it felt justified. But I wised up early and got out of that relationship. I thought about you throughout, ashamed of what I’d done and how I made you feel. That’s why I came back the second night to see you.
We were always equal to one another. We understood and knew each other as best as two teens could. I regret not following through on how I felt about you; feel guilty for the life you’ve been through, but I know I gave you the best I could twenty years ago.
Tell me what happened to you to have those scars over your back. I cannot imagine the physical pain you’ve endured on top of the mental and emotional pain you’ve been through with your mother’s and your Nan’s death. The only scars I have are from that skateboarding incident. And when I tried surfing.
I went out with Dad one day to the surf club. It was the summer after you left. I was down in the dumps and Dad tried to cheer me up by taking me out and teaching me to surf.
I kinda got the standing up part ok and caught a few small waves. I was going for a bigger wave but I wiped out and somehow tumbled under the surfboard only to have one of the fins gash my back open. Seven stitches later and I vowed not to surf again.
I can’t imagine the smooth form of your back (when I saw you in your swimmers) torn apart. I assume you told Ellie a lie that you didn’t really fall through glass although it’s not so illogical an event.
In the mail yesterday was an invite to our school 20 year reunion. And don’t worry, Grace is not organising it; Beth and Adrian are putting it together. Rebecca and I are off to their place for dinner this evening.
Anyway, it’s not until the end of June. I think that would be a great time to see you again. Certainly by then Dad will be taken care of and things will have settled down. Would love to see you then.
Always and ever, Jude.