To read the handwritten letter click here.
Thursday, 10 May, 2012
It sounds like you’ve begun to take root in Coranderk Bend, washing away the salt of Piper’s Reach and creating your own place. I’m useless with tools so I’ll be no help renovating. Like you said, I was good at splitting wood, even with my chicken wing arms and all.
Remember when we came around the back one Sunday afternoon and Dad was splitting wood. We went inside for a drink then went back out to help Dad stack. With a hefty swing, Dad struck at a new block, burying the axe head deep. He wedged his foot on the block and went to remove it. The handle came free suddenly, throwing him backwards. He took off for the house, covering his head with his arms like a chicken. We pissed ourselves laughing while Dad screamed, “Run you berks!”
We kept laughing as Dad scanned the sky. “Where’s that bloody splitter head?” he asked. I pointed to the block, wiping tears from my face. There it was, still embedded in the block. Dad was a bit sheepish as he picked up the handle where he dropped it, drove it back into the head and wriggled it out.
I miss splitting wood; I don’t miss the blisters and the sore back. I must be getting soft in my old age.
When you come to visit, you’ll have to make a moussaka. I’m glad you’re finding somewhere you can heal. I understand about not coming to the reunion. Maybe you could come for the weekend anyway. At the very least I’ll meet you at The Point sometime in the wee small hours if the old school gang have anything to say about it.
We have a spare room at my house if it makes it easier. It’s a fold out bed in the kid’s playroom but it’s comfy and it’ll save you money. I’m sure Rebecca won’t mind.
I’m sorry about your back and that you spent years in the wilderness, looking and searching. I think I’d be afraid of touching your back now, not in revulsion, but in touching such sorrow and pain. I wish I could bring healing to you, rubbing in moisturiser onto your scars the way I used to apply sunscreen to your back.
I still take walks down the beach along the high tide mark like we used to do occasionally. We’d walk either side of the water line, one higher on the lighter, drier sand and the other on the darker, wetter sand. We pick our way through the weed avoiding blue bottles and turning over shells.
You would pick up shells, resting them in your palm, wiping the sand away. Sometimes you dropped them into the sand or threw them towards the ocean. You said you identified with the flotsam and jetsam, pushed and pulled by the ocean that is life. I preferred to think of you as the sea eagles we watched coasting on the updrafts. The naivety of youth. But now it sounds like you’ve found a place to call home to navigate from and steer a course. I’ll be the paddle to you canoe. I’m pretty good at going around in circles.
Sea sickness and marine biology. I’ve learnt to live with the feeling of downright awful. And not to eat breakfast. Right now we’re trying to bring fish stocks back to commercial levels, even looking at creating fish farms but we’re a way off just yet. The town is looking forward to new things to liven it up, but you can still feel the vestiges of the past hanging on like discarded fishing line.
I wonder if unravelling the layers put upon you – your mother, Nan, school, work, the past – is like trying to unravel one of those knots of discarded fishing line? Or is the tangled knot the best we can do to identify ourselves?
I prefer things straight forward, simple, uncomplicated – a lovely shade of beige as Adrian would say. I am unadventurous, timid and hesitant. You have lived a thousand lives in comparison to my single, solitary one.
Ok, too maudlin.
Ryan Gosling? Never heard of him. Although if we’re talking celebrity crushes I get a Free Pass with Elle McPherson and Rebecca gets a Free Pass for George Clooney.
Do you still have the piggy bank in the shape of a ballet slipper Helena gave you the same birthday Mum and Dad gave you the guitar?
I still have the guitar. I’ve changed the old nylon strings from time to time. Even though it’s a low end model, the tone has warmed up over the years. I play it from time to time although my main acoustic is a lovely Cole Clark in honey amber. Sounds so rich and warm. You’ll have to play it when you come.
Your old guitar still has the Triple J and 2PR stickers, peeling up at the edges. Each time I play it, it takes me back to when we were learning to play, rough and ready as it was.
One Saturday afternoon, must have been late Autumn because I remember it being cold, we went busking, hoping to make enough for some hot chips. We busted out “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Summer of 69” and “American Pie.” The cold weather kept throwing the tuning out. Jamming on simple blues progressions was fun and drew a few passers-by who took pity on us, throwing enough loose change to buy hot chips.
Sitting inside the chip shop, guitars at our feet as we scoffed down our profits felt fantastic. Simple, honest fun.
If I had to pick the Top 5 open mic’ night songs, I’d go for “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes (although I’ve heard it butchered enough times), “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters and Collectors and “To Her Door” by Paul Kelly.
Your guitar is here waiting for you. I could never have thrown it away. I even named it after you, when you’d left. When I played it I imagined the curves of the guitar’s body were your curves.
When you come down we can jam together, and you were always the better singer. I could carry a tune but you had the voice of spun honey, tinged with the edge of sadness.
Hope your renovations are going well and it brings healing to you bones.
Always and ever
P.S. The reunion is June 30th at the surf club if you change your mind.