To read the hand written letter click here.
Tuesday 5 June
I’m sorry that it has taken a while to get back to you. I put your letter down to write a reply, was distracted by something else and it became forgotten in the chaos of the everyday. For I am the Ambassador of Beige.
Suddenly it’s the beginning of June and Winter is bearing down with tremendous force. We had our first real “proper” storm about a week ago, the ones where the seagulls fly backwards and the trawlers stay in the harbour. We had a tree come down in the neighbour’s yard and crush the fence and the kids’ swing set. Jack (our neighbour) spent the next day with chainsaws cutting up the old red gum. Flynn and Harley wanted to be “big boys” and help out Daddy. I gave them each a turn with the chainsaw, but the noise and vibrations was too much. They were content with making a huge pile out of all the branches and jumping into it.
Boys are pretty simple emotionally at this age (they’re only 6) and what you see is what you get. They are pretty forgiving. Jordan, however, is 9 going 15. She can change with the tides. Like Ellie, I reckon she’s a Daddy’s girl at heart. She likes going out to The Point or walking the high tide mark with me.
But I see a whole lot more of Rebecca in Jordan; more outgoing and focused, but she has moments of quieter introspection when she’ll cuddle up against me on the lounge while I’m watching the footy of an afternoon.
Dad’s been quite crook lately. He’s picked up an infection or something and it’s really knocked him about. If you do get a chance to come and visit, I’m sure Dad wouldn’t mind seeing you.
So how did open mic night go? It must have been week or so back. And yes, I can’t count. I haven’t played a gig in years, probably not since my uni days, playing the odd bar here and there in Queensland. I still enjoy playing at home and Jordan wants to learn guitar now, too. Might have to buy her a three-quarter size for her small hands.
I’m tempted to get my chops up a little more and play at The Whaler’s of a Sunday arvo, but my voice is fairly rubbish. I know it’s ok, not as strong as yours, but passable. I certainly wouldn’t win any singing contest.
So, how did I become the ambassador of beige? Remember the old canvas annexes attached to the caravans in the caravan park? They were starched by the salt and bleached by the sun. That is me. I feel a part of the place, the location, but it’s what I’ve wanted. That little spark you saw is still there but kept behind a glass panel which reads “Do Not Feed The Flame.” The darkness you mentioned, the little spot of black of yin/yang has been for me a line not to cross. I felt it fun to dabble there occasionally but not to inhabit it.
You were not the complete opposite of all darkness with a centre of light. We did complement each other but I think your spirit needed to go further afield than mine was willing to go.
It was the birth of Jordan that really settled me. The domesticity of family is such an adventure. I lie awake at night thinking of where Jordan might go, or if she stays here in Piper’s. I would like to think I have the strength to let her go when the time comes, but I’m not so sure.
The boys are an adventure in themselves. You’ll find them exploring any tree, creek, rock pool or bush track if you let them. I’m trying to convince Rebecca we should get trail bikes for the boys on their 7th birthday (and one for me of course). She’s not keen but I thin she’s warming to the idea.
I feel the pull of the tides and the cycles of the seasons, but I prefer to move with them. Even more now I am a parent. Keep an eye on Ellie and watch how fast she changes. Think on how much she’s changed since you known Matt and Ava. You have to keep on your toes.
In a way I kind of embrace the beige, but I’m fine with that. I know there are small pieces of me that would love to embrace the fire and the darkness. Too scared of it, maybe?
I remember just before the Trial HSC exams where you were teetering on the edge of the darkness in a bad way. The July holidays had been bad for you and your Mum. I don’t recall what happened with your Mum and her boyfriend but I remember seeing you sink into yourself. All the self confidence was sucked into the black hole of the conflict between your Mum and her boyfriend. You kept showing up at my place at meal times. Mum started setting an extra place just in case you turned up. After dinner we’d sit on the couch and watch telly or do a bit of homework at the dining room table.
I could see you were losing yourself but you never wanted to talk about it. I had nothing to say; didn’t know what to say. One day you had suddenly snapped out of it. I guessed you had stared into the darkness, kicked it well and truly in the balls and come back with a fighting spirit.
I understand about not wanting to come back to the reunion. There are others who would like to see you again, like Adrian and Beth. I know Grace would be the biggest reason not to come in terms of people.
Maybe you could visit after the reunion when the nostalgia has gone out of our year group. Come for a weekend or something and we could have a low key get together. And you still owe me a jam. I’ll even put new strings on your guitar. And I’ll put the beige to one side for a while.
All in your own time.
Came across another song we liked back in the day – remember Sophie B. Hawkins “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover?” We’d particularly emphasise the “damn” and not without a fair degree of irony.
Always and ever,
Fair wind and fair weather