‘Talking about the weather is such a safe topic.’
We were sitting in the train on facing seats, the sun blurring my vision. I don’t know why she spoke, or why she used that flirty tone. I had not slept the night before, was unwashed, my clothes wrinkled, grumpy as all heck; I gave no indication of wanting company.
‘Lady, you got the wrong person; I’ve nothing to say.’
She laughed in a polite society way, but behind it there was some manoeuvre, a strategy, a sense that she was after something.
‘Dimples don’t do it for me,’ I responded.
History has embedded within it resonating chimes of every racist and bigoted opinion ever expressed. It hoards the epiphanies of the powerful and privileged: those who speak for us all, who have the ear of the public, the power to broadcast. The words of this elite, without measuring merit or worth, without validation or critiquing, sculpt our morality. Our histories bury us as they write of those who died to save our culture; history traps us in events that built our society and way of life. Every privilege we don’t question, we’ll find, hasn’t been earned.
Can this be all there is? Is life just a matter of turning up?
I am standing here remembering instances of conversations recalled and debates days and weeks prior with combatants unknown and unremembered, hearing again the verbatim course of the to-and-fro, the call and response, the regret and denial, contrition and affirmations. What I am taking credit for is the action of memory, selective and self-serving as always, outside context and giving no sense of equity or fairness to any, my world view is intact and impenetrable. But, I turned up and this is what I have to give.
My mind is hyper-sensitive: it is not always like this, just now it is difficult for me to read past certain phrases or paragraphs. Certain words hook my attention, and I re-read and think, stop and re-read until I find I’ve spent all my reading time, all morning, on the same page, sometimes reading the same paragraph, occasionally even re-reading one phrase. My thoughts and all entanglements are important and need to be stored in a logical place in my memory, yet there is no such place: the memory will not flatten, remembering will alter this sensation, lose the connectedness.
The reliable friend: I'm finding this concept hard to grasp. The idea of a protector having my back, seems to shift and flay when looked at directly, yet there might be something concrete here, a slice of life I hadn’t noticed before. I’m certainly not that sort of friend, having watched many companions hit the curb, I just moved on. I’m sure I’ve never needed one either: the need reeks of alibies-on-demand, of being hauled drunk out of gutters, or from a brawl. I’ve not needed help yet, choosing to crawl away on my own, to mend my wounded pride.
CEW Bean is credited with crafting the persona of the Australian soldier; using second world war events, actions and documents: Bean built this myth. He edited and adjusted historical events, selected views that supported his history, focussed attention on what he wanted remembered. He eliminated alternate views, sometimes changing documents and photographs. Bean’s narrative resonated with survivors and made heroes of the man who went to war and didn’t return. The persona entertained while pandering to the nations’ pride; it made us into a fighting nation. Bean told us: “An Australian will not pocket an insult.” He excused the war.
Send in the dogs and let us howl at the moon and run rampant through the streets, calling out our kind to gather. The savage splendour of the night needs drama, wild and dangerous actions, events to mark this time in history as epic. We show the flame within, the eternal forces carried that makes us who we are, this is true evidence of our humanity cannot be veiled; it shines, mercurial and radiant, a transient mark of our mortality. Energy glows as if branded on us: we emit light that flares new colours, release hues unlike those seen before.
Even though I know this is the only time this can happen I feels that this all had happened before. I sense here a primal pattern; I feel a residual sense of deja-vu lapping around me like waves. There is nothing left to do, but I wait: I cannot move on. It doesn’t feel complete, it doesn’t feel over. The bell has run but the echo is missing. If this is a watershed moment separating then from now, something must happen, and until it does, I’ll stand here and wait in this breathless moment in time, before everything changes forever.
And then there was one: looking backwards, this was not such
a problem but, from this point onwards, everything could be different.
Don’t know why I use the conditional, everything in the
future will be different. Our lives are like fingerprints in that we don’t
repeat. At best, we are given a do-over and then, only through the generosity of
others. Even in a do‑over, we see the artifice, the falsity, the lack of
authenticity: it is like a winner’s a lap around the circuit after a race; there
is no tension, the end foregone, the audience is already leaving.