Saturday, December 23, 2006

A life in 65 words (or thereabouts)

On Wednesday we helped Barbara to decorate her Christmas tree. It was pretty vast, and she has more Chrismas decorations than anyone I've ever met. A great time was had by all, and Barbara and her family outdid themselves with the hospitality. Gracious hosts indeed.

Afterwards we took turns in reading each other's "Life in 65 words", and guessing whom they each belonged to. I thought they were so good, I asked permission to reproduce them here. It's a very interesting exercise - a bit like the ultimate short story really. Every word must count, every phrase must evoke a picture, a sound, a scent or a feeling. Each story must draw you in, while leaving you wanting more. Here they are:

We always thought we were poor because we got oranges in our Christmas stockings. It was the 1950s, everyone was poor, but none of us kids liked the orange reminding us. When I was 30 I found out it was an old English custom, but by then the damage was done. No one should inflict old English customs on kids. Especially not on poor kids.

I was born into what may be considered a pretty privileged position in the sibling pecking order in a close-knit family and one of my earliest memories is witnessing the entrance of the Apollo moon landing craft into the atmosphere from where we lived in the tropics. Also I know what "TARDIS" stands for.

My mother made all our dresses by hand. This was a good thing, labour of love and all that. But she would inevitably leave in a pin. Since she made us pants to match this was not a good thing. I hate to get all allegorical here, it's only a story after all, but from this I learnt the lesson of life. Sit on that.

Pink skirt, pigtails, tight black top. That was Simon ready. Remember my lines, "if you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says 15 miles to the L-o-v-e Shack". Got it. Remember my moves, step, step, twirl, clap together, kick. Fits of laughter, tape gets stuck. Time for the performance, clear the dining room, lights out. Oh, fuck off David.

Our father's garden was truly enormous. It stretched right down to the back fence. He had gooseberries and pumpkins, tomatoes and leeks. He had rows of corn we could get lost in. He grew potatoes and blackcurrants, carrots and peas. We visited recently after decades had passed. "Have you subdivided?" we asked the new owners, dumbfounded. "No" they said. The back fence was really close.

Jamie answers the door on crutches, blushes. Gaye's on the window sill, fag in hand. Little Leadbitters with their heads over the fence, all curls and glasses. Making éclairs, I'm only allowed to do the cream. Dinner tastes funny. Should have goe to Anna's. Playing tag in the street, hiding in the big tree. He's seen me, run like the wind.

The little girl stood on the wooden groyne, mesmerised by the steely water pushing and pulling itself over the pebbles. She knew what she had to do. It was like a string was coming straight out of her tummy, tugging at her, pulling her in. So in she went. The shock of the water woke her. Deep, but not over her head. Cold, but she knew she was alive.

My grandpop was a matinee idol. He smoked a pipe and looked exactly like Dean Martin, except less Italian and much better looking. He had thick silver hair and skin so brown that in the summer it would look purple in the folds, like an Indian. He smelt like tobacco and the olive oil that he baked himself in. Nobody else's grandfather came close.

There was a young lass from down south
Who occasionally enjoyed ill health
She popped many pills
To mask all her ills
And never was down at the mouth.

The absolutely best things about my childhood were Alexis Smith's clothes. Alexis Smith's family didn't go to church or tithe their money so she had patent leather shoes and dresses with collars and big wide sashes. Alexis Smith wore her party clothes then gave them to me. I got her T bar shoes that fastened with little leather buttons. They even came with the box.

Favourite brown car seat, in the back with Hamie. On the motorway, past the kissing poles, over the bridge, past the fort with the flag, not far now. Turn into the drive with the acorns. Up the orange path and past the plastic curtains. Up on the bench, lollie jar out. Crayons in a margarine container. Roast for lunch.

I miss my Nana.

One of the more interesting aspects about my life so far is that I used to be moderately psychic.
This was usually intriguing but on occasion scary. At times I found it difficult to decide whether I was knowing/observing things, or actually causing them to happen.
I grew out of this trait and missed it when it was gone.
It is possible I was sailing somewhat close to the wind.

There were two reasons why I didn't want to invite anyone back to my house. One was because we had no tv and had to go over the fence to Mr Walls house to watch the news. And the second was because my parents were in love and kissed when my dad came home from work and even if he drove off in the car.

This was the law of presents in our house. Each year, it was the same. Mum got a long box filled with tissue and a silky nightie. Ninon over none on Dad called them. Dad got a tie, sometimes socks. We got shortie pyjamas, bath salts from the aunties and one big present from Dad in a box. We always had to keep the paper.

3:30pm, come home, pack my bag. Clean undies, favourite pants, sun screen, tooth brush. Dad will be here at 5:30pm. Vegemite sandwiches and Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles then in the shower then get ready. Hair brushed, shoes on, bag by the door. 5:30pm. I'll wait by the window. Red car, here he comes, no, false alarm. 6:15pm, Dad's on the phone. He's in Hamilton and will see me tomorrow. Howl.

We met at University, became friends then lovers, and travelled the world together. I loved him with all my heart, and the night we parted he confessed his love for me. The day he got together with my ex-best friend was the last day of our friendship. They're married now. He was the love of my life, and losing him is my deepest regret.

There were eleven of us, growing up. It meant sharing everything, especially my parents. And even more especially, roasts. I has two sisters but there were all the others as well. My parents fostered kids and took in lodgers. I longed to have enough gravy for a second helping. Extravagance was a mortal sin. Going without gravy is far wose than not knowing about gravy.

Early memories... straight hair... didn't need a hair brush... wanted to smoke and wear lipstick like my Aunty Rita... very glam... then...

Listening now to Paul Kelly Glory to be God - remember as a child 'God is everywhere'... now... nowhere... miss some aspects of religion... such a part of the first 20 years... then I married and it didn't fit with my new life... I had grown away...

Defining moments... birth of my first child... anaesthesia... epidural... nursing... meeting my partner in life... now 30 years... things like pain dominate my life... my work... my career... my personal development...

Wine... music... children still... though growing up... sensual pleasure... self hypnosis... books... being still... refection... breadmaking... losses... colour... dreaming... young forever.

We had pet lambs as kids. My sister had a dog, a budgie, a rabbit and goldfish too till David Bolstead poured in the windowlene. But the lambs were the best. We fed them with baby bottles and laughed at how fast their little tails wagged. My friends Jossy Watson had her own big fat sheep called Bunty. She didn't even live on a farm.

Every year I waited for the Sally Army truck to come round and sing carols outside our house. Christmas carols were the best. At Sunday School I loved looking at people on either side of me so they knew I didn't need to look at the carol sheet. Glooooooooooooria. Hosanna in Exchelsius. Then I would look to see if they noticed how I pronounced it.

I didn't become to QOFE till I was 40 years old. Right up till then I was the QOFNothing. I was the QOFNothing all through school. Flat chested, nerdy and the girlfriend of my best friend's boyfriend, if I was lucky. I was crowned QODoubleFNothing on my wedding day. The I reached my glory days. I thought, hey, hey, ermine, niiiiice. Hand me my orb.

Hang on, call waiting. It's Miranda, can I call you back? I know, such a bitch. Whatever, he doesn't even think she's hot. Nah, you? But, like, don't tell her I said so. As if. Umm, yeah, the blue one with the white knee highs. OK, I'll wear mine. I've got beeps, wait there. I'm on the other line to Miranda, I'll call you back, k?

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Ivan J Heard said...

Hi Nicky,
Loved your "My life" tinged with humour, loneliness and love. Loved Xmas day with you all especially catching up with you again. There is a spiritual link there Nicky we must explore sometime. Hope you take my advice and rest the burnt out body mind and soul. Would love to have offered you a regenerative massage but felt it might not have been opportune.
Aroha mai, Aroha atu,
Ivan 2.

webweaver said...

Hi Ivan,
Thanks heaps for your lovely comments about this post but... I'm not Nicky! Which is a shame because it sounds as though the two of you really made a connection. I do hope you find her again soon.