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Doing hard time déjà vu: Week 17: Blogging for survival.

I can’t predict the future. When it arrives, I know I’ve seen it before. Lately, this road trip, with long stretches without a petrol station, has got me looking at the empty gauge. Unable to tear my eyes away lest the little wavering dial finally drops below the red E. And I’m stranded, in this lifetime, like a Cyclops. With no vision of the future, except the moment of its ending.

Hindsight is awesome. I have used it to make myself feel superior on many occasions. Like when my friend invited me to join her on a holiday and I said I would rather drive a stake through my foot. In hindsight I decided that I would phrase that differently next time. Although I suspect she may have her own brand of hindsight on that. And then there was the wedding video, and my Mother in law and my voice carried and the video had sound and I didn’t realise. Yeppers. In hindsight. No more Mothers in law. And the Sambuca. A whole bottle. On an empty stomach. Hmm. Yeah. In hindsight. Lots of cheese sandwiches next time. Then there was the time share, the yellow hot pants and those liquid blue eyes….

So. Hindsight. Thanks a million. You didn’t save me from myself at the time, but you enabled me to reauthor the events so adeptly that I came out smelling like roses. In my mind at least. Except for the hot pants.

Prescience, precognition and déjà vu need another alphabet of analogies to begin to describe. How there is no chance to return and rewrite. How there is no second and third person narrative. How the experience pushes the override button on ego, logic, reason and natural inhibition. How it demands that you be so fully present in the moment of living something twice that you wonder how you survived it the first time. And just how much life is distraction.

Sometimes it’s the small things. The sentence you can finish for someone else. The person who is knocking at the door. The clothes you knew they would be wearing. Why someone is sad. The name they will call their baby. The lover they are yet to meet. The secret they haven’t told you. The wish they haven’t made. The hope they dare not give voice to. Moments. Insights. Slicing into the space between hearts.

I take these in my stride. An added bonus on the perception spectrum. Generally a handy enough talent.

Recently, however, the safety switch malfunctioned. After a trip to Nepal. Becoming one big prescient present. Memory, feeling and foreknowledge coagulating on each half spoken word. Dulling any sense of curiosity and deadening the lightness of being. For a lover of divination, and clairvoyant junkie, this is a bad trip..

The one who knows me well suggested I attempt a simple logic puzzle. You know. To try and activate the non functioning side of my brain. After two days I asked her to send me the solution. ‘No’, she said, ‘there is still plenty more for you to try in the book’.

And that’s the problem. I have the solutions. A lifetimes worth. No idea what to though. How do you work back from the end?

Heavy with my own importance I’m half watching the man on the beach with lanterns. It’s a blue-black sky. He approaches and holds a lantern aloft. ‘Do you want to make a wish?’ Pfftt. I’ve seen this before. Pay the money. Light a candle. Let the lantern go. Go back to self satisfaction. He looks again with smiling eyes. ‘Not you. Your daughter’. So I turn to her. Do you want to make a wish? And she is running onto the beach. The woman child I knew before she was born. The moon girl. And she holds the lantern as it warms. Then releases it to the night, craning her neck to watch it take her wish heavenward. She is tingling and talking singing.

And I take a long, deep gulp of that wishful night air. I’ve never seen this moment before. And I’ll never see it again.


Finding Ida: Week 7: Blogging for survival.

She is looking for an answer.

Picking up her teacup she artfully swirls the last of the leaves. And waits. When they settle she will know. If it will be blue skies or grey. If fate is drawing near. If tomorrow is something to fear. Either way, she will know.

Today I’m ignited. On a genetic trajectory. Born in the tea leaves and burned in the unforgiving Australian outback. Like the trains that once ran regularly to the outposts, to the folks who were determined to imprint an alternative story on the Australian landscape, the route is no longer serviced. No one in my family has tread this path for 60 years.

I’m a wary explorer.

Armchair anthropologist at best. Taking the richness of the mythology and stuffing into my cushions. So I can sit more comfortably while I ingest. While I make it mine. While I read a chapter and dog ear a page. You know. To come back to later. When I’m up to it. Maybe skipping the end completely. Absolutely.

Skipping the ending, it never happened.  Another book I didn’t finish. A historical re authoring maybe. An alternative version of her life. The version where the future me is a thought that keeps her from the darkness. The version she didn’t read in the tea leaves.

They said she was a dancer. I didn’t inherit that skill. They said she was born for the stage. Or that one either. They said she loved to wear costumes. That would be a negative on all counts.

Today I have my trusty guide. My Muse. Three generations on and I’m staring into the face of another myth maker. Long legged and theatrical, drawing out the story with her probing curiosity. Unafraid of the unchartered territory ahead. And purposefully guiding the way with her handy GPS oracle.

We make good time. Only 6 or 7 hours until we have arrived. At the middle of nowhere, at the heart of everywhere and near the end of the unfinished book. We have handwritten instructions. In archaic Victorian cursive. They are specific. Buried between the Catholics and the Anglicans but not with the paupers or the Aborigines. No head stone. Just a number.

Ida is a number.

Is that the number of the days she has lain alone between the Catholics and the Anglicans? Or the number of drops of rain that have fallen on the red gravel that covers her? Or is it the number of steps that led her to her dusty death? Or the number of times her name has passed between the lips of those who remember her? Partially, sadly, incompletely.  It’s just a number.

We wonder aloud. We ask questions of the earth that holds her. We find her number incomprehensible. And we ask her to answer. To claw back the time between us and add body to the bones. To finish what was started. To make the mythology corporeal.

Here lies Ida Lavinia Craig. Not lost. Still looking for an answer.

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.

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