I’m on the road to nowhere.
I seem to be waiting.
I always wait.
It doesn’t seem to serve me well but it’s a terrible, terrible stillness I’ve taught myself thoroughly, yet unconsciously.
It started when I was very young as things mostly do.
Mum and Dad liked to drink…alot…and often. I don’t really know whether Mum started off enjoying it, but her main purpose in life was Dad so my assumption is that she had to learn quickly to keep up with him, or lose him. Or another perspective could be that as he spent so much time in Concord Hospital getting his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder seen to and assessed while she was at home, poor, raising 4 kids and with me in her belly…. that infact she was driven to drink. Lord knows she deserved a tipple. I simply don’t know how she did it. Both perspectives seem relevant and plausible given the times.
I suppose they didn’t want to leave me at home alone as a little tyke so they took me with them. I also assume this happened to a lot of children from my generation and above.
My memory only recalls The Parkview Hotel and Islington Bowling Club both leveled in the earthquake. Hah! I’m powerful but not that powerful.
So, for hours on end I’d wait in an unlocked car in the dark, outside the above mentioned….waiting. And so began my enforced Zen.
I recall the lights and how they glowed a yellow under the eaves shine in the dark, there’s someone hiding in the shadowy blue/black way of a pub late at night shine.
I remember having endless conversations with myself. Creating worlds and words and pictures in my mind. I’d climb into the steering wheel and sit and swing it to the right and to the left. Skinny little runt.
At the bowling club it was scary, always scary. The carpark was a cave of darkness underneath massive Hills Figs. No lights except for the ones I could see through the trees and in the distance from the Parkview Hotel.
I would dream less in this space. I’d sit still and still and still. Everything black, only darkness and the occasional crunch of gravel as someone walked towards their car.
Occasionally they’d manage to bring me a glass of lemonade and a packet of chips, then the crunching silhouette would turn and leave. All of my girl years to my teens until I could stay home.
Then we moved out of town.
I thought my waiting days were over.
We’d move nearly 50k’s out of town so now I had to catch a bus to school everyday and back or…..sit in the carpark of the Waratahs Rugby Club. I could get a ride home with my brother in law, rather than catch the bus, as home was 7k’s from the bus stop. All in all easier to get a lift , even if it meant waiting. That was ok. I could do homework. I was older. 16 and 17 and 18yrs old.
I suppose my most chilling experience of my Zen playground came one evening when I decided to catch the bus home. I’d arranged for Dad to pick me up because a lift wasn’t possible from town.
I alight at the corner of Nelson Bay Road and Lemon Tree Passage Road. So do a lot of other people. They get into the few cars there and drive off. The others are picked up by family members and they too drive off.
I stand for a while. By myself. I watch with anticipation as cars pass me and none are my Dad so far. It’s not daylight saving, so from 4 the light fades and the night sneaks in. I remember the colours of the evening, beautiful colours. Blue and orange sunset. Cold air coming in, cold air rushing by, headlights turned on shinning in my face as I sat on my school case and quietly felt the dark embrace me. I hoped for my brother in law to drive past but I knew he wouldn’t. There was no public phone except for a few miles back along the highway.
I realise no ones coming but all I can do is wait because walking is a dangerous option and 7k’s is a long way. Perhaps if I walk to the first property along this swampy, bushy, stinky road to fucking nowhere but man… that was also a few miles down the road and fuck me if there wasn’t 20 dead cars and a few bodies amidst the Flannel Flowers in that yard. No way!!
Panic and tears stuck in my throat. I really didn’t know what to do and was too scared to hitch. Surely someone must know me, surely. I hold everything tight in my chest. Silent. Quiet. He’s not coming.
After almost 2 hours a car shines its lights in my face as it turns off Nelson Bay Road and onto the road home. It slows and pulls up in front of me. I’m frozen still and choking on wrong potential. A woman gets out of the car and asks me if I’m alright. Even now I’m polite as if Dad might come any second, as surely he will have realised by now. She’s a school teacher from the bay and she offers me a lift, asks me how long I’ve been here. I don’t want to be rude so I assure her that Dad will come eventually but I know he won’t. She insists and I jump in to her safe, warm car. I can barely speak from tears and I want to move in with her and live with her now. She’s so warm and nice.
As we drive another fear arises. What if Dad did remember and was on his way? He’ll be so pissed off. I watch every car we pass. She assures me, comforts me and drives me to my door. I thank her with all of my heart, close the door and she drives off. I never saw her again but I still love her.
The lights are on. I walk towards the front door. The sound of the tele. I walk in past my father in the lounge room and my mother in the kitchen. Not a word is uttered, not from them and not from me. Silence. I walk to my bedroom, lie on my bed, look at the ceiling and breathe.
I’m waiting still but I know he’s not coming.
TS. 2014. Last day of summer.