Just Around the Corner
by Mary Willetts
Copyright © Mary Willetts 2010
I had the most fantastic night out last night.
As I got up my head was thumping, the floor was looming closer than it should be, but my goodness I felt hungry. I put two Weet-Bix in a bowl and stood there for such a long time before I thought milk, yes milk. I went to the fridge; yes, there was milk in there. Hmmm. I asked myself, ‘Now do I remember what day I put this milk in the fridge? No. Ok, need new milk. Pour this milk down the drain.
That is my rule – if I could not remember when it went in the fridge, it never goes into my stomach. Just a few weeks before something in my fridge caused me to be off work for a day when my stomach rejected my consumption of the appliance’s contents. It was not volume it was… past anyone’s use-by date.
Not much in the fridge now. Better to be on the safe side, so I tossed it all; I hate vomiting.
I am not a China doll; I will not smash into pieces when I am knocked off the shelf, but this morning my head feels like someone has taken a hammer to it.
What a good night out, I pondered, as my stomach digested something other than Champagne.
Last week at this man’s house (I will define this man much later) I thought he said to me, “I’d like to make you breakfast”. Such is my hearing problem; what he said was, “I’d like to fix your deafness”. Damn, I was looking forward to breakfast…
It makes me laugh out loud, alone in my flat, when I think of that moment when I asked him, “What’s for breakfast then?” The look on his face told me he had no idea what I was talking about.
Isn’t it great to feel happy? I know for some people doing the lol (laugh out loud) thing when they are on their own causes a deep concern about their mental wellbeing. For me, I just love it. I love to laugh.
Thinking on being alone, I realise now that being on my own is not as lonely as being in the last few years of my marriage. It is often much later, when we wake up one morning and ‘see’ stuff we never noticed at the time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I knew I was lonely; I was pretty much on my own then anyway – it was just the logistics of where I was living. It was also nobody’s fault.
I met this man five months ago. Every time we talk about having been somewhere, like both being in Hobart last Christmas for the same two weeks, we realise we were just around the corner from each other. We had not met each other then. He was staying in North Hobart, as was I – we were one street away from each other, but we did not know each other. We could have passed in the street dozens of times and not even realised. In September 1975 he was in Tasmania on holidays, so was I – for the same two weeks. It seems that this man has always been just around the corner from me, yet I never knew him. I did not know of him, nor did I know what future impact he would have on my life.
Isn’t it wonderful how life works it out for us without any effort at all? Hmmm, I hear you. Life does toss us some wobbly moments, for certain. Any effort I put in to reducing the wobbly moments has no effect at all, so I am looking at it from another angle. I see my future as just around the corner.
This man asked me the other night, “Where were you 30 years ago?” I told him I was running as fast as I could away from men just like him. He looked astounded. I explained that 30 years ago I would not even have wanted to know his name – and he would not have been looking for someone like me either. Yet, for us both now, life’s experiences have led each of us to be who we are today. Right now, I really like this man. He is confident, self-assured and not needy. Yes, the first boxes were ticked. And fun; the man is serious fun. He has a zest for living and laughing like I have not seen for a long time. I love that about him.
Maybe I had missed out by avoiding the bad boys. Maybe.
I had been a posh girl, private schools and all that stuff. Not super posh. My parents were not wealthy; they were middle class if we have to label, and society does.
I decided not to stay in my comfortable place, but to move forward, learning as much as I could. This man pushed my thinking outside what I knew, outside what I thought and outside what was comfortable to me, with such ease that it felt natural and easy. I’ll be getting a tattoo soon!
Before I knew it, I had become a monster, wanting more and more fun.
I prayed for this man and God had delivered. Well done, I say.
It is amazing. I will be washing his dishes, or looking out over his yard from the veranda, and he will come up behind me and his strong arms will go around my waist. I had imagined how someone doing that would make me feel, including the spontaneity of the moment, and here it was happening to me. I was now feeling what I had imagined I would feel. It is like I’d designed him. OH MY GOD, have I become delusional?
It must be a dream, it just does not happen this way. We love the same music, the same food, the same everything. We say the same words at the same time and end sentences the same way. When I pick up the phone to call him, it rings and he’s on the other line. I ask, “How did you do that?” He laughs. We appear to be synchronised; it’s weird and scary. I feel a little bit frightened.
I have pondered what is it about him, and why he makes me feel the way I wanted to feel. One night home alone, I felt a slap in the face as I suddenly realised this is not about me, it is all about him. He is the person with the energy that I feel and tap into. It is his enthusiasm for life and living that gives his strong arms ‘the feel’ that I then tap into. Thank God I am not delusional. In fact, I think I have tapped into something much greater here – the happy tap. Could I be that lucky? Yeah, I could.
He has the happy tap – he is, as I said, self assured, confident, comfortable in his own skin. He has worked it out. He may not know that himself (he will when this goes to print), but he is a happy man. He has what everyone wants.
When any of us feels happy we generate energy from somewhere and, somehow, that energy does radiate to others. Generally I would call myself a happy person. As such, I reckon I can tap into this man’s happiness. That is what I like the most, and that is where I gain that feeling from. It is his feeling, not mine. That makes complete sense to me. Other men have put their arms around me, in the same way and of equal capacity in strength – I am 54 remember – yet they have not been happy men, not like this one is.
So… logically, if I am happy as my own person I should be able to give him – or others – that same sense of energy. Nobody ever told me this. What’s going on here?
Something left to ponder in the mind’s wardrobe for now.
Reality hits me all the time, and wobbly moments are just part of the way I live. Last week I was told that my job was finished – done and over. I had no job anymore. Hey, it was a temp position and the contract date was up. The fact that it was consistently stated there was work for many months to come had been sucked up into “did I say that?” land – where nobody says anything anymore.
Hey, what is another wobbly moment in my life? I can do wobbly with ease nowadays. Less of me wobbles as I have lost the physical and emotional excess baggage I was carrying.
Now I will have the time to do what I want. Of course, the first thing I want to do is pay the rent each week.
So I have time on my hands and no money to burn. Well, I do have a second bedroom which is pretty much packed floor to ceiling with my stuff. That ‘stuff’ I was asked to take with me when I left my 30 year marriage. Gosh, has it been a year? Getting close. Do I still have that stuff… what was in there?
I ventured in to look, and found one or two things that could go. I shifted, sorted and packed the boot of the car so I could off-load some of my ‘stuff’. I like to do a few crafty things, so before I get rid of some of this stuff I will just do some crafty things, ’cause I can. Nobody is going to ask me to cook dinner for them – or ask where the dining table is. I can do whatever I want.
Yeah, this is good. I made some jewellery – and I liked what I made; it’s very nice. This man I talk about, well it is his daughter’s birthday on Friday and I told him I would make her a bracelet. She is a lovely girl and I like her a lot. He has every right to be as proud of her as he is. So I made her a bracelet for her birthday. The bracelet looked great so I’ve decided to make her another one, but with a different look. Now, this man has a son as well – also very nice – and of whom he is equally proud. His son has a girlfriend – I like her as well. I wonder when her birthday is, so I make another bracelet for her. Now where is that dining table again?
This week I had had a few job interviews. At one I was asked, “What would you do if you disagreed with a management rule?” My thought: ‘I don’t get to set the speed limit either!’
Just as well I am creative. Some of the questions I have been asked have taken some thought to answer. I have not been offered a job yet, so I am thinking I will become a professional blogger. Here we go!
I would love it if all things would go my way; life does not perform that trick. It would be so much easier wouldn’t it? This week I feel like I have been given that rare and uncomfortable experience of being put is someone else’s shoes when I did not want to be put there. It becomes a very personal moment when you see your own past behaviour in another, and realise how that is now affecting you. Is it some kind of pay back for all the wrongs we do? That the same hurt we can give out to others will come back to us from someone else? It’s that karma that we all know about, but do not want – bad karma.
Enough of that, because it is my personal moment to reflect upon. Not everything is meant to be put out into the blogosphere; some things need to remain private and personal. Those moments that touch us deeply can burn into our being, yet somehow we have to manage the reality of our own hurt feelings.
The more apparent problem I have, which I did not choose and did not want to be put into, is the world of the unemployed. Money – whoever said it was a curse was close to correct. I am sure over the next few weeks I will think of my own term to describe that lack of it. Maybe a curse word or two will work.
It was two months ago that I moved for the second time this year. I had been sharing a house and now I am on my own. The day of the move everything went wrong. I had hired a moving company, which meant I was supposed to have the assistance of one truck and two men. At 8am I saw the truck and when the driver parked outside I suggested he had better have a second man in the back. He didn’t. As I had to help him, all the final packing was done on the run. I had to phone a friend as well who, thank God, bought along another friend. Between all of us I was moved from one street to the next street over within about five hours. It took me 10 days to find my toothbrush. Now I am not working – two months later – I can afford the time to look for a few other missing items.
It has always been apparent to me that I have too much ‘stuff’. My phone-a-friend was this man in my life. He had come over to disassemble my bed and sort the washing machine out the night before the move. He had suggested a few weeks before that he could move me with a few friends and a ute; he did not think I had that much stuff. I told him there was a sunroom out the front of the house I was sharing that had some more of my ‘stuff’ in it. He did not want to look. He said, ”Still, you don’t have much, I can move you”. I replied, “I think I do have too much stuff and I’d prefer to get the moving men to just do it”. When I phoned him after helping the one moving man load the truck from 8am to about 10:30am, he foolishly believed I couldn’t have that much more stuff and it would be no big deal to help for a while. When he arrived, with his friend in tow, and saw the truck – a big truck – was choc-a-block full he said, “Oh my God, girlie, where did you get all this stuff from?” He may have added a swear word as well.
Now I am not working, I am sorting out all those things that I have. I am also trying to conserve costs while I don’t have a job so this morning, for the first time since being in this flat, I decided to hang the washing on the clothes line. Normally it goes directly into the dryer. So I put it all in the washing basket and walked out to the clothes line. My flat/unit is one in a block of three, and mine is set at the back in one corner. I liked the privacy that offered. I have a carport, which is in front of Unit 2. I cannot see it from my front door – there is a nice half-circle path with a small garden area to one side. The clothes line is in front of the carports. So, washing basket in arms, I wandered down the path to the clothes line and bumped into a man (yes, just what every single woman wants to happen on the way to the clothes line). I almost knocked him over, and thought he must have been visiting the occupant of Unit 2. I stopped my washing basket from smashing into his face and it was then I saw the 60 or more people in the carport. They all turned to look at me as I arrived, with my washing. Unit 1 was being auctioned today, right then in fact. I just turned around and went inside. I was on my way out as well, so now I would have to wait out the auction.
By the time I get back, after getting out, I see that unit 1 had been sold. New neighbours – something to look forward to.
I have not got the best fashion sense. I am not sure why I didn’t get my share of that sense, but I accept I didn’t. I need the people in my life to tell me, ‘No don’t wear that’. I hate it when people in retail stores lie to you and say, “Oh yes that looks lovely,” when it does not. My daughter reckons they must have lied to me with some of the stuff I have gone home with. “Just awful” is usually her verdict. I endeavour to take her with me, which is difficult at the moment as she lives in another state. I ask people for their honest opinions; close friends anyway. One cold winter Sunday afternoon I arrived at this man’s house in a long, green (probably not the best shade of green) jumper, which I liked. He took one look at it, lifted the kitchen bin and said, “Get it off now, girlie.”.
I was cold all day. That will teach me… something which I am sure I should have already learnt. I don’t jump to his every command – I do not jump to any command, ever – however I concede I have no dress sense and would rather someone be insistent and demand compliance than not tell me, or accept what I wear, when it is not a good look. Maybe it is in the delivery; I know others have told me and I have chosen to ignore them. I am sorry now, and I am sorry for not dressing better when I see a photo and say to myself, ’Damn, why did I dress like that?” The answer is usually because I didn’t want to wash and iron something so I just wore rubbish, tacky stuff, thinking it did not matter. Tacky track stuff which did not need any ironing and can wash itself by just being included in with everything else. It did matter, lots – and that has ended.
I do have some compulsion about washing, everything, all the time. If I put something on and take it off I have to talk myself out of not washing that item. Once it leaves the coat hanger I see it destined for the washing machine. Weird, I know.
Growing up, I did nothing. I was happy to do nothing. I am still happy to do nothing. My Mum was the home duties person; oh, she did very little as well. Dad pulled it all together. When I was about 12, for reasons only known to Mum, she decided that I was going to learn how to use the washing machine. I saw it as light entertainment for a few hours. It was an old wringer washing machine. The machine would shake the washing around and then a person had to lift the washing out of the machine and push it through wringers (two cylinders) that would squeeze the water out of the clothes. It was a shocking ordeal. Mum was diligently showing me the complexities of this and I was diligently pushing as many clothes through these two cylinders as I could to get this task done and dusted, when somehow my hand got caught in the clothes and started going through the wringers. I screamed, which meant that Mum also screamed. We both stood there screaming. I was looking at Mum, but she was still only screaming with me. Thank God Dad was home that day and came running down to the laundry and pressed a button on the side of the wringers, which released their grip on my arm. When things like that happened – and I can list a few things – Dad would yell at Mum. These were the only times I ever saw him yell at Mum. He was standing there saying, “You only had to press the button”. I was taking careful note of where this button was. My first option was to never go near this crazy machine again – and that option won for me. Mum felt so bad that she never asked me to do any washing. By the time I left home such machines were extinct and all I had to do was push a button to wash clothes.
Maybe that contributed to my washing fetish. I doubt I can blame Mum. I grew up in a great house. The front was almost street level with three front steps and the back slopped away, or someone dug it out. Knowing my Dad he probably dug it out. So we had an area under the house where Dad had made a big “rumpus room” as we called it then, and Dad even made a pool table. Mini Pool, it was called, which was a game from Sydney NSW that he liked. It was similar to snooker, but different. I noticed our family was always similar, but different…
Behind the rumpus room was the laundry, and behind that another bedroom, which was dark and gloomy. I remember one of my three brothers lived in that room. I do not know how he did it; I found the room really uncomfortable.
Upstairs were four more bedrooms and, over the years, Dad added an extension with a guest room. Mum and Dad had the main bedroom and I had the next best room, to my mind. Being the only girl -and a Daddy’s girl – I got most things I wanted. Mum and Dad were not wealthy people; Mum never worked (in or out of the house), we only ever had Dad’s income, yet somehow I always felt we were rich. Money was never discussed and as a child I never gave any thought to how we got the things we had. I know now that Mum was thrifty; thrifty in an amazing way, which I am not. I do so wish I had paid some attention to the detail of how she did that. Many times over the years my father told me that if my mother had not been as good as she was with managing the finances we would have nothing.
Getting back on track, I was thinking of the time that my father built a laundry chute from the bathroom upstairs to the rumpus room downstairs so that Mum could walk in there, get the dirty washing out and take it to the laundry. Dad was amazingly clever; if he wanted to do something it got done. He built this laundry chute and it was great. My younger brother and I could both fit down the laundry chute (at the time it was built) and we had great fun treating it like a ride. One day I had a group of girlfriends from primary school around, and for entertainment I thought, ‘Oh we can go down the laundry chute’. It may have been a little while since I had tried this; I may have grown a bit, so when I sat at the top of the laundry chute to show them what we could do I never considered for a moment that I would not fit. Someone got Mum when I got stuck, and due to Mum’s inability to act in a crisis, she phoned Dad at work to come home. Dad finally got me out. Later, again with the same group of girlfriends, I got myself stuck in a large cane washing basket. Dad had to cut the basket up to get me out. He was happy enough with that; it was much easier than the laundry chute problem.
Let’s leave laundry and washing topics for now.
Copyright © Mary Willetts 2010