To read the handwritten letter click here.
Sunday 23 Sept. 2012
I was very surprised to receive a letter out of the blue and so soon after I wrote to you. But I noticed it was dated September 1 so I don’t know if you received my last letter or not.
You spoke about a dream of me standing on the beach using the vastness of the ocean as a messenger carrier. In the early years after I returned to Piper’s from university I would walk along the high tide mark like we used to and I wondered where in the world you were. I wondered what you were doing, what had happened to you.
And now I know.
I have driven out to the beach and am sitting in the car to write this. From the safety of the car I can see the tumult on the beach as the wind whips up white caps and can see the tide running high against The Point, spraying plume against the cliff face.
And I imagine this is how you feel at the moment, the safety of Coranderk Bend is about to be lost for the chaos of the trial. I do not envy the place you are in, having to open the chapters on your life you thought were closed.
And on top of that you have the complication of our situation. And I am sorry for the place it has put you in. I know what I should have been for you from the first time you wrote. Yet for my selfish fantasy I have destroyed all hope of being what you needed me to be. I cannot be what you wanted, but I should have been what you needed, just like we were in high school.
I wanted to be like the lighthouse at The Point, the beacon to show you the way home. Remember how we scratched our initials into the base of the lighthouse just before graduation? We felt so rebellious as we carved ourselves into the concrete with a rusty old fishing knife we had found down by the rocks that afternoon. Our initials are still there; I went up and checked late yesterday.
I know that sleeping with you has destroyed any chance of our friendship providing the stability you remember and the stability you need now as you face the horrors of your past. I should have been there for you, we should have been there for you. I should have told Rebecca about you from the start as I know she would have been more than willing to help you.
Instead, like the 17 year old idiot I feel like I’ve become, I remembered the fantasy and ideas from the past and hid them away like the idiot my father said I was.
Why didn’t you trust me with the truth of your past? Why didn’t you trust me that I could cope with the knowledge of who you had become? Despite all the masks you have worn and the names you have taken to hide your identity, I know you. I knew the real you in high school. The tenacity and ferocity of your spirit was something I admired but I know it fuelled your crusade.
Why did you hide your past from me? Each time I think of you, I see the scars on your back. I smell the salt on your skin. I know you in the most intimate way possible, yet I know nothing about you, just as you know nothing about me.
I can tell you the mundane and the everyday, the daily detritus of my life and you’ll notice I won’t have changed much in twenty years: I eat hot chips at every opportunity, in fact it’s a Sunday afternoon tradition in the family. I take Rebecca and the kids to the same fish’n’chip shop we always went, to buy a family box of hot chips and sit in the park feeding the seagulls as much as we feed ourselves.
I’ve always used Colgate toothpaste, eaten four Weet-Bix with banana and honey for breakfast; my tea white and my coffee black but sweet. I’m fond of CSI and Law and Order, have developed a liking for Doctor Who and still read the occasional Superman comic. I prefer underpants to boxer shorts and bare feet whenever possible. I’m still a listener to the Seattle grunge we grew up with and the blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
My boys are more like Rebecca while Jordan is more like me, while still being a girly girl when she is with Rebecca. She wants to learn guitar and mucks around on the boys’ skateboards. I see the blending of myself and Rebecca in everything they do as they flow between imitating me or Rebecca. I see aspects and facets of myself reflected back.
And how much of my father is reflected in me? He could be taciturn and sharp-tongued, yet quite loving. There was a time when I didn’t understand why my parents seemed to simultaneously want to embrace you, almost protectively, yet want to shun you at the same time.
It was in Year 12, when all that stuff with your Mum and Mike was going down. Me, like the idiot I was, couldn’t grasp the enormity of what was happening. I could hear them arguing quietly over the dining room table while I was in the lounge room watching telly. I could only hear snippets and at one stage I heard Mum say they should forbid you from coming over. I swore to myself that if it was presented I would defy it no matter the cost. Dad said, “Don’t be ridiculous, Marion. This family’s pretty much all she’s got.” Mum replied, “Sorry, it was foolish of me. I just don’t think Jude’s mature enough to cope with this mess.”
“His innocent devotion is all she needs at the moment and it gives her security,” Dad said.
I felt awkward and left the lounge room silently, not wanting to disturb Mum and Dad or to hear anymore.
I knew I loved you back then, but had no way of finding an expression of it that I could make sense of or hope to understand.
And now it has collapsed in on itself like a disintegrating bonfire, watching the embers and sparks shoot into the darkened sky; the oranges and reds a contrast to the white of the stars.
You say you forgive me, and I thank you for that, but I don’t know if I can forgive myself. I have betrayed you and your trust and that of Rebecca and my family. I find myself alternatively withdrawing from Rebecca emotionally and physically, that I am not worthy of her touch and embrace. Like each touch is a purity I do not want stained by my darkness. Or I find myself over compensating, lavishing her with kisses and physical affection as if her body was an indulgence that could absolve me if my supplications and prayers were sufficient.
Yet you are about to enter into the darkness of your past. I still want to be the lighthouse to guide you safely to your home, the life you have made in Coranderk Bend with Ava and Matt, maybe even Zeke.
Always and ever,