One Day I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter to all the friends I have known – Neil Young, Harvest Moon
When I met you, I was doing night shifts that ran into days shifts and back into night shifts. I would get home at 4 am and get up again at 7am to get the kids off to school and then start the next shift at 9am. None of us complained about these running into each other shifts. We were scared of being sacked. There were always other hopefuls, straight out of uni waiting to take our place. We felt lucky to have a job as a journo, it was the price you paid.
I met you on a morning when I arrived at work at 9, my face wet with exhaustion tears. You had arrived from W.A ready to take up a senior position. I was still being trained to be a ‘journalist’ instead of a ‘writer’. Everything I wrote the Editor in Chief would sneer, ‘you write like a writer.’ As though that was the worst thing. You were talking to Craig when I arrived. He’d been charged with training me, he spent most of his time watching cricket. I didn’t introduce myself. I just announced I was quitting.
I never asked what you must have thought about this crying mess standing in front of you but you said, ‘Let’s have lunch.’
There came many lunches and dinners after that, glorious meals of tapas and sushi, mostly paid for by you because I’ve spent my whole life broke and you are generous. We gossiped, I don’t know what about – politics, religion, life. All I remember is your kindness and how you laughed a lot, at almost everything. Anything. I hardly laugh at all (the cancer knocked it out of me) and your laughter would swim into me and I’d submerse my soul in it.
As I stood there crying that first morning we met, Craig said, ‘don’t leave – you show promise,’ I would never have known from all the times he’d yelled at me.
But encouraged, I complained to the Editor in Chief (who desperately wanted to write) about the shifts that ran into each other and I was summarily sacked.
I suppose I could sue now but how do you sue a poor dying creature and our newspapers are certainly this. I still doggedly buy the Saturday’s paper. I refuse to give up on hard print. It’s the only way I found out that our glorious council is selling off our parks. They have deemed them to be “surplus to needs.”
You left the paper and I thought I might not see you after that, workplace friendships often only last in the workplace but you kept on inviting me to meals and I kept on accepting. Our meals moved to Melbourne where I scurried after you down the dank winding tunnels under parliament house, where you now worked and I imagined it was the 1930’s because there was nothing in those narrow faded hallways to say it wasn’t. You introduced me to your boss but not your love. I’m sorry you couldn’t do that or perhaps back then your love was too new and precious to be shared yet.
I love that you have a child now, it is as if all the softness, all the warmth and all the determination that is you is even more when your child is with you.
Sometimes when I am really down, I long for those slow, tender dinners where we sit in each other’s words, jump at each other’s excitement and sigh for each other’s pain. But I am content that occasionally we catch up, your child plays at our feet and she and I compete to be in the warmest spot of your sunshine.
I miss you all the time.