Friday, February 14, 2014

Another father

There was a time when to catch sight of my therapist outside his consulting room sent my heart quivering and turned my legs to jelly.   I saw him one day at the check out of a supermarket in Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn and hid behind the shelves to get a better look.

I wanted to take my place in the queue behind him.  I wanted him to see me and my two small children.  I wanted him to recognize me outside of his consulting room, but it felt wrong.  I might trip over in my awkwardness, drop the shopping, stutter out words of greeting, flush red before the man in whom I had confided for several years, twice a week, in the dark safety of his consulting room. 

Now here he stood in the glare of the supermarket lights, fumbling with his wallet to pay for the milk he had bought.  I watched as the teller loaded his milk, two cartons into a plastic bag and handed him the receipt. 

Did my daughters notice any change in me?  The sudden spike in my sensibilities.  The sudden urge to stop, to stand back to wait, when normally I rushed my way though the supermarket intent on the next task. 

I had no one to tell, only to wait until the next session when I could tell my therapist that I had seen him in the supermarket, that I had spied on him from afar, that I would have wanted to talk to him but all courage had left me high and dry. 

And he could then tell me how much he had become like my father, but a different father, too, one I wanted to avoid as much as ever but also one I wanted to meet.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Misfortunes run in threes.

My computer mouse disappeared last night somewhere between six pm when I left home for a party and returned at 11 pm.  Its disappearance has left me with an odd sense of dislocation.  

I could not begin to use my computer until I had access to its insides.  

And then this morning when I woke to make my first cup of tea, I found the pantry had been invaded overnight by ants.

I put these two events together as though they are linked, as though I have been jinxed; and I start to look for a third mishap to make the picture complete.  So far I cannot find one. 

I had feared this party last night, as one arranged by good friends but filled with people who belong to a particular group of old friends from the advertising world.  They tend to gang together and exclude outsiders.  

Last night, I was determined not to be left out.  I was determined to gate crash my way into any conversation that looked inviting.  

As it turned out, this became unnecessary.  We wound up at a small table on the periphery with a couple of friends outside the advertising group who go back many years and a new couple with fascinating stories to tell.
It became a night of nostalgia about the day each of the three couples met the other half of the couple for the first time.
One couple had been together for over forty years. My husband and I for thirty six, and the third couple have been together – unmarried, the woman hastened to add – for seventeen years.  

The third couple’s story seemed by far the more glamorous in that they had met in Pakistan and lived an extraordinary life before the roof blew off the halcyon structures of the nineties and no one could live like that any more, even those in advertising.
At one point, there was a generalised complaint around the table about the new world order:  It was so much better in days gone by - education better, recourses better, thoughtfulness better.

I don’t buy this line.  There are things that might be ‘better’ today and other things far worse.  It depends on your perspective. 

Maybe the third miserable event for me for the day can be the weather.  

We are expecting temperatures to rise again to the near forties, Celsius that is, another scorcher.
All the leaves are brown, but the sky is blue.  Bright blue with a blazing sun and the leaves have lost their green through sun burn, so the words of the song, which I presume were written to apply to autumn, do not apply so well here.  

Brown leaves and with a northern orientation you'd expect to hear of the space before winter, but here it can signify a hot summer.  

The burned leaves tend to be on the exotics, those plants that are not indigenous.  The cherry tree in our backyard is stone dead.  The one in our front garden survives, but with no green leaves left to cheer us over the summer.

The leaves on the star magnolia have dropped in distress but there are still flower buds waiting to burst, so it might survive.  

We cannot use too much water and we cannot wrap the entire garden in shade cloth.  One scorching day is enough to burn leaves to a crisp.  They will not revive till next season. 

You, who live on the other side of the world, have other struggles in the cold.  I do not wish to be you.  I’m happy enough in my heat, only sometimes, like most others here, I wish it were not quite so intense.