You’ve Got Junk

If you are a catalogue distributor – one of those people who leave perky little “sorry I missed you” cards in the doors of people who dare throw away your catalogues – then step away now.

You may not like what I have to say.

78ce456189e695ab08298e6f9246552eYou know the ones? Homewares. Kitchenwares. Underwares.Nifty little carrot ring curlers for 99c, see inside for details.  Despite the ‘no junk mail’ sign by my front door – you still leave them on my porch. I have news for you.

I DO NOT WANT THEM.

I do not want them in my door.
I do not want them on my floor.
I do not want them on my porch,
they are merely fodder for my flaming torch.

I do not want them on the lawn.
I do not want that visual porn.
I do not want them- get the message?
I’d like to shove them up your back passage.

Take your books, take them, now
I do not want them which, what how.
I do not like those books in bags
and when you leave them, I get mad.

I do not want them tucked in screen
I’ll only put them in the bin.
They cost you money? I don’t care
I do not want them anywhere!

Yes, I know, somewhat grouchy, yes? But in all honesty, whist junk mail stuffed in an overflowing mail box is one thing, people who leave magazines by the front door with an expectation that I will buy something from them is just wrong. My porch – put your rubbish on it and I have the right to throw it away. Period.

Let’s reverse the concept for a minute.

I’ll swing by your home. I’ll deposit my manky already read magazines on your tidy front porch. I’ll be back in a week to collect them. I expect you to leave them out on that front porch for me, along with money – cash money – you have to pay me for the privilege of reading my rubbish – and I will reward you with a plastic pineapple plucker or a genuine imitation Tupperware lookalike complete with ill-fitting lid in exchange.

Sound fair? Deal.

Then I’ll take my manky thrice read rubbish to the neighbour and do it all again. I can collect my Centrelink benefits along the way – bonus.

And if you dare throw away my manky rubbish, I will leave a perky little “Sorry I missed You” card in your letterbox. Read it carefully – it says ‘please do not throw me away’ highlighted in fluro yellow  right beside the crossed out dates  that applied to the previous readers.

Cos you’re special.

Letter to a Friend

My dearest A;

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you like this. I have so many words, so many emotions, and so many things I want to say to you, yet when I speak my words sound trite and meaningless.  I wish it were not so. I wish I could say what I mean without clouds of emotion which make me cry and cause you to turn away.

I have no words, yet I have so many. 

I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s appropriate to say out loud. So I will say it here, on paper, and then it is said.

My heart broke when you shared your news today. To hear of H’s passing tore from me  from heart to womb.

To be the mother and best friend of a vibrant, wonderful, beautiful person is a blessing. To watch her be taken at just 25, a torture no mother should have to endure. I wonder at the feelings and emotions you are living through. They defy definition or description. To give them words is to deny their true depth. Yet they exist in bold raw nerve jangling form. I wish I could ease your pain.

I recall the day your first shared with me the news of H’s illness. 

As the words penetrated, pain stabbed through my core, and I wondered at you. You were so calm, so controlled. Your voice belied what was running through your veins, your heart. You blinked shiny eyes and shrugged. “Oh, well”, you said. “We’ll take it as it  comes”, you said. ‘We’ll get through it and do what we have to do – what choice to we have?” and you gave that wonderful little A laugh and tossed your head and we knew, all of us, it was time for the subject to move on. But your eyes, A, your eyes, they spoke the truth.  Nothing can deny the soul it’s true expression.

My grieving began that day.  I grieved for you, and for H, and for W and for J.  I felt selfish, A,  in my grief.  I watched my dear friend stand tall and strong and I knew, as did she, that today was inevitable.  At some point, some time, some level, the day that should never come, would.  As I watched you stand and walk away, I could see that from that moment forward, everything you did – everything-  was all for H. 

Yes, it was that day. It was that day, in the sun, with the wind blowing softly as we spoke, that I saw your world fall away and I knew there was nothing I could do for you but be there. No one can reach out and take what’s yours to experience, no matter how hard,  for it is yours and yours alone.  All I could do was watch and wait and weep.  I wish I could have done more. I wanted to – but it was not for me to do so.  It was your time, you and your family. 

A, your strength, your courage and your determination kept more than just you together, I know. You were the rock for H, the rock for J, the rock and soil and earth for W.   Who was your rock, A?    I know who your rock was. H. The courage and strength and determination she inherited from you was what kept you standing. Your world rocked, your axis tilted and your solid ground crumbled, but it was her that kept you standing. And moving. One foot in front of the other, day by day.   And that, she got from you. Your gut and your drive and your determination to  push through, all from you. And even in closing, it was her that held you together. Your gift to her, her gift to you.

How selfish life is, to claim that gift.

No mother should have to outlive her child.

No.

Mother.

 No mother should have to endure the torture of watching her child’s body, the shell that carries her true self, wither. It sucks. It’s unfair. It blows great big hairy chunks out of it’s fat hairy arse.

And in its continum, we watch the world keep busy. How can it be so?  How can people walk on, birds fly by, traffic roll. How can the  waves roll in and babies be birthed and  people cook a meal for dinner and give thanks for the world they live in?  It all seems so unjust.

There is so much I wish for you right now. I wish you healing, but to do that would be to deny your pain. I wish you peace, but to do that would be to deny your suffering.  I wish I could give you back your feeling of ‘completeness’, but to do that would be to deny the part of you that is missing.  And to deny those things would be to deny H.  And that would be out of the question.

For someone who had no words, I seem to have had much to say. So I will stop.

I am thinking of you, A, and send you and yours my deepest, warmest, strongest and most heartfelt thoughts at this time.

Much love, R. xxxx

 

 

P.S. I wonder if I will be brave enough to send this to you,  or just keep it here.

PPS – in the shadow of my friends pain, life once again proves it’s duress. Another special person had news yesterday, happy – wonderful – heartlifting news. The wonderful Jeanie welcomes new life and new joy in paradise, as she birthed her baby girl.  Congratulations Jeanie, to you and your new wonderful baby.  May the universe shower you both with blessings.

Not Funny

So, I’m standing in a line with around 40 or so others. Looking around, I notice many of them have the same physical appearance as the couple immediately behind me. The men are all short haired and clean shaven, with immaculate dress, shoes shone to polished shine. Women, very long haired, heads covered with a scarf or head adornment. Make up, heels, and again immaculate clothing.

Brethren.

I don’t look – or feel – anywhere near as polished as any of them. Wearily I rest my head against the side of the corridor and lean against geek boy. He hugs me tighter.
Its early morning and we are waiting to board a 747 bound for Perth, and for some reason we are all standing in the corridor in no man’s land. The place between the boarding gate – goodbye Queensland – and the silver bird, waiting to wing me ‘home’. I am emotional and tired and on my way to bury my father. It’s March 2008. It’s an endless day.

A group of the immaculate young men stand a few meters away. They are discussing the flight. I hear them joke and laugh and one particular red headed young man is quite vocal. And just as I am about to turn back and answer GB’s question about the way they are garbed, I catch the words of a sentence he shares. “.… don’t tell anyone else about the bomb on the plane“. His fellow immaculates quickly shush him.

I raise my eyes – the women behind me has heard it too. She raises her eyebrows and cocks her head – I frown and shake my head a little. Surely they are joking, right? Surely it’s the young man’s idea of a joke? I look at others around me but no one seems to have heard. The line starts to move forward and I turn, step, step again and join the herd.

But it bugs me. That sentence caught in time – it really bugs me. It sits heavy and I hear the man again, the words… bomb… bomb…

The stewardess shepherds us on. “Sorry for the delay” she chirps. “These things… oh – row 17? Just along there please… hello sir…

Leaving her behind, GB and I find our seat amidst the usual organised chaos of pre-take off chatter. I look around. At least two thirds of the plane are occupied by members of the Brethren. All ages, all hierarchy levels. I catch the eye of a woman in the middle row – the same woman who was behind us in the cattle queue. We hold gaze for a moment, it’s clear she is still unsettled. She travels alone. She wears trousers.

A voice comes over the intercom. “Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for flying whatsit airlines – we apologise, but we will be delayed a little longer. Nothing to be alarmed about, please bear with us we will have you on your way as soon as possible. Thank you for choosing to fly whatsit. ”

A stewardess approaches looking flustered. As she passes by I can feel my tummy lurch and I make a snap decision. I explain to GB that I have to tell the staff something important and that he should not be worried. He squeezes my hand and tells me he knows how important it is to do the right thing. I push the little button, and the light above my seat shines. I take a deep breath and hope I don’t look like an idiot with what I am about to do.

The stewardess approaches with a smile I ask her to lean closer. I apologise profusely for taking up her time. I start to waffle, telling her I am sure it was not meant as I heard it and I am sure it was nothing but…. this is what I heard. And I repeat the words.

The change in her is immediate. She snaps up straight like she had been held by a spring release. She asks to tell her where I was when I heard this? When? Exactly what did I hear? I tell her straight and carefully and she looks deep into my eyes. Probably checking in case I am pathological. She tells me she will be right back – and true to her word, she returns with another stewardess. I am again asked to tell of the where- what- when. The second stewardess obviously had more clout than the first. She tells me to speak to no-one until she returns. She races off like she has to be somewhere in a hurry.

Less than a 3 minutes pass before a male returns along with the 2 females of earlier. He introduces himself as the head Steward and asks me to accompany him. I stand; take GBs hand and we follow the steward along the corridor. As I head out of my seat, my cohort nods her head.

We arrive at the little alcove near the amenities. The Stewards asks me and GB to wait ‘right here’ (where else can you go on a plane?) and he will return. By now, many passengers are becoming antsy and by the curious stares we are getting from people it is apparent they think we are the problem. Or part of it. It occurs to me then that we probably are.

I look up and now there are four people heading my way, all looking very official. I have a security guard (are they going to arrest me? Throw me off the plane?) and another guard with gun and a radio (holy crap) and the Steward and another man who looks very official. The steward introduces me to the PILOT. (That’d be why he looked official then?). Once again, could I please tell them exactly, word for word, the who-where-what story. The man behind the pilot writes everything down. He writes quickly, using squiggly scribbles of shorthand.

I take a deep breath, ready to relate the info….. and promptly burst into tears. Stewardesses race over with tissues. Water. A cloth. They escort me to a seat. The entire back section of the plane is now watching me and possibly most of the front section, seeing many of them are standing or leaning over their seats, heads craning to look at the action. Even the curtain across first class is open.

I take a deep breath and gather the thoughts, suppress the emotions. Slowly, enunciating each word, I repeat once again the story. This time I explain about the woman behind me, and our eye contact. The Pilot is lovely, he tells me to take my time. He tells me to describe the man. Describe the other men. Describe the tone of voice. I apologise for the millionth time and assure them that it was probably me misreading something – just a joke made by someone. I explain I am sleep deprived and emotional and on my way home to deal with my father’s death – which immediately brings more tissues. I have an overwhelming desire to curl up into the foetal position and rock.

But the Pilot takes my hand and assures me that even if it is a joke, its way out of the bounds of good taste. He tells me how people like me can save lives – and that no matter how small, the reporting of such a statement is warranted. He tells me that no one will worry if I am mistaken. Then he asks me to walk with him, down both aisles from the front of the plane to the back, and identify the speaker. He cautions me not to speak to the person or make eye contact, but to take note of the seat number. I am so nervous by now and ask that someone take GB back to our seat and give him something age appropriate to do. (They came up with a DS from somewhere, along with soft drink, chocolates and a basket of something pre-teenish). I am terrified and it takes me two trips around the plane to finally find the red headed male who was behind us earlier. I see him; he is oblivious to me and is joking with his mates about something. I see my eye gazer cohort also touring the plane.

Right – so no one is looking at me like I am a problem are they? People are pointing and muttering and harrumphing – but the lovely Pilot is right behind me and murmurs encouragement. I discover I am holding his hand like a child.

We return to the amenities and I recite the seat and row number. The pilot nods over my head to a guard – and when I look I see not one guard any more, but 6. Six guards in airport security clothing and 4 more in deep navy garb. I swear they have brought in the SWAT team. The Pilot thanks me, the Steward returns me to my seat, all eyes upon me. I sit and wish I could crawl under my seat. My heart is hammering so loudly.

However, within seconds, no one is looking at me anymore. No – they are all looking up ahead – for along come the guards and look-alike SWAT team and they physically LIFT the young man out of his seat and carry him off the plane.

Seriously.

The young man was just plucked from his seat and ejected. His shouts of objection echo in the sudden stillness that takes over inside the 747.

For a moment, the silence continued.

Then the Brethren started. Voices raised, shouts are heard, commotion unleashes. People are standing and calling and pointing and in all this, I sit very still and concentrate on looking at the floor.

The SWAT team are back in a few moments, and politely ask the group of well dressed men he was seated with to stand and move off the plane with them. And as the group of men stand and leave the plane, my eye gazing cohort looks at me and I look at her and she gives me a smile.

And I breathe again for the first time in what feels like an eternity.

And that, dear Brethren children, is why you should never make a bomb joke while standing in a queue waiting to be seated on an aircraft.

Where I am from

I am from dressmaker’s thimbles, from Metters’ gas stoves and days of endless sunshine listening to ‘tick tocks’ drone in hot, dry heat. I am from the old red brick house built by my grandfather, yellow sand and bore water, the mulberry tree that stained our fingers blue.

I am from the warm eggs fresh from the chook pen, the lupins in the park, the cat who had kittens under my bed when I was 10. I am from Nanna Duff’s Christmas lunches and GG’s plastic cockroaches, from Joan and Ray and Min and Bert.

I am from the bossy, the stubborn and the scared. The unpredictable, predictably.

From “don’t iron your hair” and “eat what is on your plate, or I will send it to the starving children of Biafra.”

I am from late night parties, guitar playing songsters, adult games through children’s eyes.

I am from Friday night Baptist Church groups, Congregational Sunday services, Catholic grandparents, and trying to find my own beliefs through mixed teachings.

I’m from Perth, from Fremantle, from the Round House Gaol, from pavlova, lemon butter, from fresh apricot jam on white bread delivered by the baker to my grandmother. I am from the West, long white beaches, moonlight swims, Quokkas.

From the Mother who wept for her lost boys, the brother who knew not of the lost boys, and the boys who never knew they had a sister. I am an only child that isn’t. From secrets, whispers, photos locked away in dark cupboards in yellowing albums with pages grown sticky with age.

George Ella Lyons poem Where I’m From writing exercise