Trouble in my town

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As I drove towards the place I’d fled, with a busted-up heart, some 12 years before, I wondered what I’d find there, and what I’d feel. And, even after all these years, I wondered whether I’d see him again.

I returned to the place that was the start of everything career-wise for me, but also the scene of my greatest heartbreak last weekend. I’d passed through once or twice for work in the past decade or so but generally kept my head down and scurried away before I even knew I was there.

This time, however, it was time to catch up with old friends to spin some yarns about the days when we were fresh-faced, uber-left journalists, who thought we’d change the world – one regional town at a time.

Times sure have changed since then, but mostly in our profession. We joked that night about having to resort to making dozens of phone calls “back in the day” just to find sources for our stories because, you know, we had no internet. Indeed, the old-school electoral roll was our best friend.

We grumbled about how “easy” journalism has become (if you’re lucky enough to have a job, that is) when the world, and story leads, are literally at your fingertips. In “the old days” we said in unison, we had to hunt down our news because stories weren’t handed to us on a digital plate via press releases and Twitter, which for some unbelievable reason has become a bona fide media resource.

And so we went on. It was cathartic to reminisce and remember the days when life wasn’t so heavy and we believed, body and soul, in what we were doing. How the years unfortunately wash away such earnestness. I wish it wasn’t so.

Not only are we older – and let’s admit it, a little fatter – but even the two-hour drive there was much altered in my perception. It wasn’t as if the roads had been improved – in fact, as I drove, I passed each landmark with a familiarity that genuinely surprised me. But unlike in the early 2000s, today I have a nice car, so the drive was more comfortable, you know with air-con, and not once did I worry about conking out on the side of the road with no mobile coverage.

I also had access to thousands of songs on my iPhone versus the three cassettes I had back then – tapes which I played on high rotation during my thousands of kilometres on those lonely country roads. They were P!nk’s 2003 Try This, John Butler Trio’s 2001 Three and, oddly, The Greatest Hits of Neil Diamond – I still know every word to every one of those songs, especially his duet with Barbra Streisand, the etheral You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore. 

Yet, last weekend, as I drove towards my destination, the memories that came flooding back were of the dozens of times I’d completed that journey during an era when I’d regularly escape back to the city searching for my sanity.

I remembered fleeing from that place when my relationship with a man – who sang to me (he was a musician) and told me he loved me but then pushed me away, and then repeated the process many times… and I let him – became too much for this huckleberry to bear. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood why he did that – and, unbeknownst to him, forgave him.

Back in those days, mum was a hands-on woman, so one particularly dark day when I arrived back on her door-step with tears in my eyes and fractures in my heart, she put on the CD of Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman and sang and danced with me around the kitchen. She then, randomly, took me to a mosaic class where I smashed up bits of glass (perhaps with a little too much gusto), which ultimately became a very ugly  “decorative” plate that thankfully has been lost to this world forever. She also told me that sometimes when we fall in love it makes us a little crazy. These things, I now know, saved me.

And yet there I was, all these years later, all grown up, successful and independent, hoping to see him – if the truth be told (and it is) – which freaked me out since I have as much interest in dating as I do in quantum mechanics. After the breakdown of our relationship, I limped on in that town for about six months, tried to love someone else and failed, all the while he was regularly (and anonymously to everyone but him) the fodder for my newspaper column. My “Mr Big” I suppose you could say. Then I split and tried not to look back.

We never did bump into him that night but a few days later I found myself for the first time (guiltily) looking him up on Facebook. There he was, still looking the same. Still taking my breath away, which was an epiphany I must admit. He’s a single dad with two kids these days, still sings and nobly works in disability. And it like looks life has thrown him a few curve balls, too – such is the way of things if we live long enough to bear witness to it.

And so I spent about five minutes “spying” on him, contemplated sending him a message (for what purpose I wondered?) but thankfully thought better of it. He looks happy and healthy and I know I am too. I realised I have no desire to fuck up my hard-fought serenity, even though my heart still soared like a trebuchet at the sight of him. To partly quote P!nk I’ve had enough bloody trouble in my town, even if people can and do change. So I closed his profile and, possibly, finally relegated that particular story to my past.

The A to Z of cohabitation

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After nearly five years of mostly happy singledom, it’s been one whole day since B and I started “officially” living together. It’s been quite good so far. He hasn’t farted in front of me once. It’s a pity I can’t say the same. We even managed to shift into our new abode without an argument – although I did say “I have no opinion on that” quite a few times during the course of our very long moving day. But as we head, eyes wide open, into the next phase of our relationship, there are many things I need to keep in mind to help me stay relatively sane.

A – Alcohol or lack of it. Unbeknownst to almost everyone bar a few, after 28 years on the piss I gave up the grog nine months ago. I feel awesome and this is the first relationship that I’ve ever had that didn’t start with one of us wearing beer googles. Winning!

– Blow-jobs. One must remember to give these from time-to-time when one is cohabitating.

C – Commitment. As a 42-year-old who has never married, I am perhaps a commitment-phobe. It might be time to change this. C also stands for clitoris, naturally.

D – Dementia. When your mum has dementia. It sucks. Every single day.

– Ego. One must keep this in check even when one gets to be on the telly.

F – Friends. Through the good times and the bad and especially during the heady days and months of new relationships when one may tend to go AWOL these are the peeps whove stuck by me, even when they didnt like me that much.

G – Grace Land. My screenplay which I had written the first 10 minutes of before some wanker broke into my (now former) apartment and nicked my laptop. That said, G is also for Grateful. This year I have learned to be this. Finally.

H – Handjobs – see entry above at B.

I – IVF…

J – John Butler Trio. Some 15 years after I first saw him play in Fremantle, I still love him. Not in a stalkery kind of way though. I just admire talent.

K – Kale. I really really like kale, raw or cooked, which makes me a knob I know but I just don’t care.

L – Loony. This year, I have stopped focusing on the things I can’t change and concentrated instead on the things that I can. It’s been rather good for my mental health so I’m slightly less loony than I was. Only slightly, mind you.

M – McJones. Potentially the name of our new cat, although Montague McPussyCat is also a frontrunner for this soon-to-be adopted moggy.

N – Never say never. At the start of this year if someone had told me I’d be shacked up with a smart and very sexy man by year’s end, I would’ve laughed heartily, called them a fantasist and then popped off to the pub to drown my sorrows.

O – OMV. This blog, which I must give more attention to. Oh and it stands for Oh My Vagina in case you were wondering.

P – Property porn. One must not indulge in so much property porn on for sale listing websites that one finds oneself talking about it constantly and boring almost everyone one knows apart from work colleagues who are paid to listen.

Q – Qi. Seemingly a word one can use in Scrabble to beat your girlfriend on her birthday while holidaying on a Pacific island.

R – Rabbit fur. Random.

S – Scrabble. My boyfriend beats me in Scrabble with questionable words and a sexy smile (see entry at Q). I love him for it.

T – Truth. It’s a pretty good way to start a relationship I have learned. Who knew?

U – Uranus. I once told B that I thought it was a cliché to say “I love you to the moon and back”, plus it didn’t seem quite far enough if you really did love someone. So I often tell him “I love you to Uranus and back”. I think he likes it.

V – Vulva, naturally.

W – The Wend. The only place to live. Full of hippies, hipsters, homeless and then there’s us.

X – X-Factor. If I was to write a list of all the attributes I was seeking in a man, B would have every single one, plus a few I didn’t even know I was looking for. He’s also cool that I wrote a blog that appeared to insinuate (completely incorrectly) that he had erection problems. What a chilled dude.

Y – YOLO. Just fucken do it I reckon.
 
Z – Zouk. A very sexy Latin dance that makes your whole body tingle. B learned this just for me. Z also stands for zzz’s. He’s an early riser. I am not. Since we met, I’ve begun to wake earlier and he’s started to sleep in a little later so nowadays we wake at the same time somewhere in the middle of these two former extremes. I think that’s kinda neat.

 

The problem erection

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No matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t get it erect. B was becoming increasingly frustrated while I, well, I thought it was quite funny. “Sometimes it just happens,” I said to him while trying to keep the mood light. Like so many men in history, my perspective was not what he wanted to hear.

There is no doubt that we had a severe case of a problem erection a few weeks ago and the timing couldn’t have been worse. We’d planned a romantic weekend for a number of months and had both been looking forward to some time away from civilisation to just be with each other – you know, romantically.

But alas the erection problem happened almost as soon as we arrived at our destination. We hadn’t been out of the car long at all when we decided that we might as well get the party under way. We both knew what we were doing so within a few minutes we’d unsheathed the necessary equipment and started going for it.

Everything seemed to be going quite well until it became apparent that while the desire was certainly there, the actual mechanics were somewhat, ah, lacking.

We tried different positions, and pulling and pushing in a variety of ways, but we just couldn’t get the damn thing up. We managed to get it to half-mast a few times but then it would just deflate on itself and we’d have to start all over again.

By this stage, B was very red in the face from a combination of anger, effort and frustration. I myself was also sweating profusely and was quite out of breath. Erections were never usually this much trouble.

B wanted to give up but I was too invested to let him cave so easily. “No” I said to his crest-fallen face. “Maybe we just need some assistance to get it up? I could pop down the shops and buy something perhaps?”

Well it’s no surprise that he didn’t like the sound of that. I think his masculinity was offended and his pride was hurt that it wasn’t working out the way it was supposed too – even though his erections in very similar circumstances had been successfully happening since he was a teenager.

It was at about that moment that I realised that only something serious could fix the problem – and quite possibly our relationship. B clearly was beyond caring about whether it was erect or not and the prospect of sleeping alone out in the wilderness didn’t excite me one little bit.

So I took the situation into my own hands and came up with a solution. “There’s still time to get to the shops before they close,” I said. “Let’s jump in the car and get what we need.”

So my friends that is how B and I found ourselves at a camping store a few minutes before it closed on the Sunshine Coast recently. We went there to buy some pegs and ropes so we could erect that pesky bloody borrowed tent that was being particularly bothersome. When we got there though, we came across a miraculous new invention – a self-erecting tent – and bought that instead. Now we need never worry about problem erections ever again.