The weakness in me
I sweet talk myself into the car after sweeping the kitchen floor for the fifteenth time. Maybe a piece of dirt strolled in and plonked itself there to make a fool out of me. All the way to the airport I reason with my ego and cross examine myself. The young self of many years past. What kind of person were you all those years ago? What if you have morphed into some fringe dweller with a culture deficit and no one’s told you? When was the last time you did an all-nighter in the room of mirrors?
And what of her? What if she’s acquired attitude or she wears ghastly shoes? What if she’s accustomed to the good life and expects to drink Moet? What if she doesn’t laugh at my jokes or I make her cry? What if she likes Television? What if she doesn’t care that people are not free, the environment is in peril and Australia’s human rights record is an abomination? What if, heaven forbid, she is reading ‘Fifty shades of Grey’?
It’s been twenty five years.
In that time Mother Teresa and Princess Di are dead, mobile phones have been invented, Chernobyl saddened us, Tiananmen Square angered us and Aung San Suu Kyi mobilized us with her beauty and sacrifice. Mandela prevailed but the Birmingham 6 lost sixteen precious years of their lives for naught. The Soviet Union and Monica Lewinsky met the same fate, one we can all read uncensored, unedited and unreferereed in Wikipedia, or if we Google it on the World Wide Web. We have a special hell now for bad guys at the International Criminal Court where punishment is meted out to the victims and the accused, taking suffering and trauma to a whole new level. And I have mourned the demise of the Drive-In movies and eternal love.
On the way to the airport I stop at a car wash. Double foam, double rinse, double sparkly shiny stuff, double vacuum. I suck up a whole box of KFC someone left on the back seat. $30 of spare change later and my matchbox sized car is so clean, so neutralized, so sterilised of me. Great. Now I’ll be driving her home in a sanitation unit on wheels. Yum. A dab of air freshener anyone?
Arriving at the airport I take a deep breath. Floral bouquet fills my lungs. I’m at low and glassy eyed ebb. Does she still like Joan Armatrading? Do I still like Joan Armatrading? We were drawn together through a shared love of music and our telling recognition of a kindred social outcast. With teenage elasticity we pulled each other from the perilous purgatory of our Janis Ian suffering. Right now though it pales in comparison. Teenage angst has nothing on mid life torment. She waits. Composed. I’d forgotten that about her. Stillness. We embrace. I let myself glance quickly in her eyes. They shine. Excellent. We are both still alive.
The days together become seamless, new narratives blending with old, remapping past memories with the verdigris of time. In the evenings she invites me into the new world of contemporary music and explains popular culture to me with her refined sense of quirkiness. I’d forgotten that about her too.
On the way somewhere an observation is made about my love of the word fabulous. ‘You would love my local Mayor, he also thinks everything is fabulous’ she says, and smiles. ‘Yeah’ I say, ‘I use Fabulous and Fuck in equal measure’. She laughs. The sound comes bursting forth from her teenage self. Bold. Rich. Musical guffaws of joy breaking around us. Ah yes. I had forgotten that also.
And so the two versions of us merge. I still see the kid when I look at her, but her words are from an ancient place. Chiseled from the Jurassic period. I take them and I put them in my museum of beautiful things. So I will never forget. It’s the weakness in me.