Day 87

Written 15 June,2020

 

Returning to the river, GG and I, with our hearts singing but also in our mouths. Singing because my heart is in our bay. Worried, because K has become very dependent on us, and we on her, I suppose. It happens so quickly, when a grow-up child returns home, it’s so comfy to slip into becoming a child again, having your meals cooked, your washing done, that nest of warmth and love. And GG and I are addicted nest-builders.  A dangerous combination. We’re come away for just two nights, to measure and photograph trees, to fix the flying fox that broke down as we left, to begin the job of moving the solar system out to the pontoon, to check on my veggie garden and fill the grey water tank. We’re leaving K with old Marg, to look after each other. Marg is happy with this but K isn’t, though they like each other very much. I cook chicken casseroles and make salads so they can eat while we’re away as if they’re feasting on take-aways. I organise Eseta, K’s wonderful carer from the NDIS, to drive her to the doctor tomorrow. Public transport is still a worry. They say don’t use if if you can avoid it.

 

Two nights if everything doesn’t go wrong. As it so often does, at the river.

 

At the boatyard where we berth, DB good-heartedly helps us with our boxes and shopping – commenting that without K, we travel lightly- and thank goodness for him because we’re travelling not traveling lightly but with a brand new generator to replace the one that caught fire. 21 kilos, but he’s the sort of man who slings it on his shoulder. Almost.

It’s a mauve and pink dusk when we pull in to our jetty and the flying fox just needs a kick and it’s going again! And in the veggie garden, some lettuces, though strangely not all, are half-way up my shins! Thyme strands waggle in the breeze,  recovered from K’s constant ravaging- she uses it as medicine – the sorrel has grown back green and perkylike rabbits’ ears but the spinach seedlings still look like under nourished seedlings. Ad’s chimney puffs smoke, as does my old lost friend’s, and Dy’s. I gather kindling and logs for the fire in the last of the light, and then throw together a quick meal of gf noodles and parmesan and fresh leaves from the garden and pan-fried barramundi (not fresh, but so well frozen from Aldi you wouldn’t guess) while GG lights the fire. And that’s when trouble strikes. The kindling won’t light. Not even crumpled newspaper will light. Something’s stuck up the chimney.

Might be a dead possum, says GG.

Too dark to find out. We’ll get through the night in the cabin, where there’s a little pot-belly stove. I remember that great boon, the electric blanket and, asking GG to light my way, haul it down the 40 steps, strip the bed and re-make it with the blanket in place while the dinner waits.  I turn the blanket on. Gg’s brought what’s left of the kindling down, and sets the fire.

We go back to the frigid main house for our rapidly cooling dinner and have barely finished when Dy appears on the deck with his torch and his cute dog in his arms.  Too many gin and tonics while he catches us up with the news of the bay, and the usual matters here- solar power – whose has worked and the speculation of why – generators- whose has worked and why- fishing, crabbing- who’s caught both and how many, and mud, always mud. Dy accepts what’s left over of our noodles as an entree, though he must be as cold as ice. He and his little dog leave. Then a quick scramble through a black black night down the steps, light the fire, and the snuggling into a warmed bed. Heaven. So far.

3 Responses to Day 87

  1. The countdown begins for me. A slightly older and more ruffled little bird must spread her wings and leave the nest, again!

    I wonder how mum and dad will go without me. I’ve realised since finishing high school seven years ago, that my parents haven’t spent that much time alone together. Mathematically, having four children betters your chance of having one little ratbag hang around just long enough for a different ratbag to appear and freeload for a while.

    I’ll be back in Sydney in a bit over two weeks; I’m excited to return, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not devastated to leave. Three months by the beach. Three months by the beach and my hair has grown; three months by the beach and I’m a little more freckly. Three months on zoom and about three years worth of damage done to my eyes.

    It’s been a time of revitalisation, a time of writing, of longing, a lot of swimming – but mostly, I’ll look back on this time and see how much it has healed me; how it healed my soul.

    Lennox Head has represented the good, the bad and the ugly in my life. Relocating here against my will when I was ten from inner-city Melbourne; shoved into a costal town where my dark hair, pale skin and inability to surf made integration very difficult. I grew resentful, and with time I grew a sense of superiority; stubborn to make a point that I wouldn’t succumb to the collective apathy of this white, privileged town.

    Over the past three months I’ve realised that Lennox has always represented a lot of pain to me. I could never fit in, I didn’t belong. I couldn’t walk down the street without feeling like an outsider who was just moments away from being harassed for not having beautiful blonde hair and riding a skateboard.

    It’s taken me almost 15 years, but I’m realising that it wasn’t Lennox who was hurting me… it was never Lennox.

    I ran up the beach a few days ago, barefoot, I didn’t plan where I’d turn around, I just kept going. I wasn’t in a hurry. I chose to not be in a hurry. It’s a long beach, it was a beautiful day and the tide was out. I probably went up about 6km and then stopped, not because I was out of breath or bored, but because I was alone. I could see no one. Not a single human. No dogs, no four wheel drives, no aeroplanes, nothing. Just me. Just Sophie, sand, water, trees to my left and endless ocean to my right. That was it. I said under my breath, “It’s just you, Soph. It’s just you.” I was alone. I was alone in the most brilliant way, in the most liberating way – of course I was alone, I’ve always been alone. It has always been just been me. Me hurting myself, me telling myself that I didn’t fit in, that I didn’t belong in Lennox, that I was an outsider. Me feeding me lies. Me hurting me.

    I read up about a month on Jesper Hoffemeyer’s Signs of Meaning in the Universe. One particular idea I was fascinated by was the philosophy of the “not”. For instance, if you can imagine a snail on a footpath, then you can also imagine “not” a snail on a footpath. This logic creates dual worlds, compound, multiple; compressed, infinite worlds. How cool, right? I’m trying to apply the “not” to everything (and therefore “not” everything).

    My relationship with Lennox has changed. We’re not falling in love again because we never fell in love. However, if I can imagine a Lennox where I don’t belong, a Lennox where I don’t fit in, then by that logic, I can imagine a Lennox where I do. I’m choosing the option where this town doesn’t cause me pain; the option where I turn my face up from the footpath on walks and runs and notice all the little smiles, all the little waves from locals and old familiar faces. The option where it’s always been just Sophie, and that just Sophie chooses belonging.

    So…I am devastated to leave Lennox Head – but I know it’s not going anywhere. It’ll be right here waiting for me to visit, waiting for us to reconnect, waiting to fall deeper in love.

    • How wise you are, Sophie. The lockdown has had unexpected results, hasn’t it? For me, I’ve learned to value this community so deeply. When i was younger, I longed to be totally alone i the bush. I hated it if i could see a house, a single rooftop in the distance. Now, I love it when there’s no one in the bay, but I love it in another way when people are here, because in the Lockdown, they’ve become precious to me. I’ve realised that we’re all here for such a tiny space of time.

  2. Sophie, that was a painfully inadequate response of mine. Overnight I was thinking about Hoffemeyer’s philosophy of the “not”. It’s been putting its tentacles into me. So we make up the world? With everything so ambiguous, particularly now it seems, it rings true to me.

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