Building excuses. So I’ve killed it. With fear. Brutal. I cut it all off before it got too hard. So?
Does anyone remember when they were 5? (To Audience)
Put your hand up? C’mon don’t be shy
What about you? (Pick someone in first row)
What’s your name?
Do you remember when you were 5?
I don’t remember much. Bits and pieces. The details get lost. All the mundane stuff, don’t remember my favourite colour, food, best friend. But I remember the feeling of being 5. Like even when I was scared I still somehow knew everything there was to know and everything would be alright in the end.
I used to collect rocks when I was a kid. When I was like 6 mum took me camping with her new boyfriend. We went to the beach. It was one of those sandy cliff type beaches. Full of rocks. Big massive rocks. With bits of that stuff that makes them glitter. We took a camper van. One of those hippie vans. Jason’s parents hippie van. Jason being mums boyfriend. Right yeah obviously. It was a cool van. With a stove and a fridge. Mum liked it, she said it made her feel free. But the rocks right…Some of these rocks were huge. Especially to a little 6 year old kid. Collectors heaven. So I started packing the back of the hippie van with these massive rocks over the weekend. Hiding them in every available space. You know how cars and vans always have those spots that open but don’t seem to be for anything? They’re for collecting rocks. Some car maker in Germany was a rock mad kid and knew somewhere in the world there were other rock mad kids that needed hidey holes. It was the best.
When we got home from camping, the rocks were gone.
Jason unpacked them all and left them on the beach while I was asleep. He didn’t know I collected rocks. Hadn’t bothered to find out.
I’m from a little country town. You know the kind. Conservative. Everyone knows everyone and there just aren’t enough girls to go around. Lucky for me- the girls have always liked me. I’m easy to talk to. And no point in false modesty – I’m not so bad to look at either!
The first girl I ever kissed, kissed me first. Grabbed me in between a class. Pulled me into a corner and had her tongue in my mouth before I had the chance to even think “BAM, I’m about to get lucky, shit yeah’. I was 14. She was 16. That’s the way it is. I said there was a shortage of girls didn’t I? According to the girls I know, there’s a shortage of blokes too.
Not numerically. But you know, standard wise. They’re all jerks. Everyone just tries everyone hoping to find a match. That’s how half the girls end up married to losers by the end of high school. Reaching so damn hard for the fairytale.
I didn’t want that for you.
Have you ever been in love? (To Audience)
Stand up anyone who’s ever been in love.
Everyone in this room should be standing. The only people who should still be sitting down are those whose legs don’t work. Everyone’s been in love. Some kind of love. Even if it was just loving your family! Stand up!
Yeah ok, I’m done with that now. You can sit down.
Sometimes it’s a nasty little demon. Love. Loving others. Creeps up on you. And then sinks its claws into your back. No chance of escape.
I rented us a room in the shiny stinking city.
How many of you are from the city? Put your hand up. Yeah right, okay? To tell you the truth the city scares me a little. All that sound. No one knowing anyone’s name or regular order. How do you manage when things go wrong if you don’t even know you’re neighbour. I guess that’s why it’s such a good place to get lost in. To hide in. From the world and from yourself a bit too.
I held your hand in the back of the taxi. You were trying not to cry and I felt like the biggest bastard in the world.
Everyone stand up. Okay, now when I say something that isn’t true for you, you can sit down. You’ve eaten cheese.
Remember sit down if it isn’t true for you.
You’ve turned a map upside down to see it better.
You’ve had a fight with your parents.
You’ve pee’d in the shower.
(continue on until everyone’s sitting down)
We’re all so different huh? Yet a bit kinda the same somehow.
The waiting room was full of people. More people than you’d expect. And all different ages. Shapes, Sizes. So many trying to escape their choices. The lady at the counter looked at me. Hard. Like she was trying to see right through me and wish both of us somewhere else. She knew what I’d done. The things I’d said.
Afterwards they let me in to hold your hand again. They made us toast with vegemite and butter and a lukewarm milo. Take as much time as you need. But the taxi was waiting for us. The rented room. Every time I have a lukewarm milo now I think of you.
I wanted a better life. A bigger brighter deeper kind of life. For both of us. I’m not a poet for fuck’s sake but some things matter enough. I didn’t want to be stuck there getting angrier and angrier and further and further from each other. That’s what happened to my mum and dad. They had babies too young. Got married, never had enough money or time to spare. And one day they just woke up and realised love had melted into hate. I didn’t want that. To be trapped. To trap you.
I was right.
And you got out. You left. I made you.
And your mum says you’re doing real good down in Melbourne..
I try not to think about it. Our child. Yours and mine. I try not to think about your face when I told you I didn’t want it. You’d have to have an abortion or I’d leave.
Do you know what causes the rocks down the beach to glitter? Anyone?
It’s bits of shells. That’s all it is.
Impurities. It’s Impurities that make them look so pretty.
© alysha herrmann 2009