Notes from a stranger

Yell at me
Cry with me
Hit me
Punch me
Kick me
Blame me
Let it out all out

I will take you in my arms and hold you
Squeeze you so tight I think you will burst
Burst right open just for you
I love you just the way you are
Whatever you do
And wherever you are
I will be here for you

©Copyright Helen Stevens 2011

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Growing up

I remember lying on a fluro green plastic banana lounge chair in the family house backyard at Atkinson’s Dam when I was 13 years of age. Equipped with books, a pen and paper I would settle into the humid Queensland heat on a Saturday afternoon, feeling beads of sweat build on my arms and chest.

I would watch my Mum busy herself around the house doing everything from washing, lifting heavy furniture and planting trees – her favourite pastime – wondering if I should help her. But like a lazy teenager, I didn’t.

I loved that house and yard and to this day miss it. I was upset when my parents left it. Even though I was living in the city, I wanted to visit it when I was an adult. To me, it was my primary family home.

I wanted to be a writer. I’m not entirely sure where this desire came from. I loved reading and in primary school competed with classmates to read the most books. Embarrasingly, I sometimes just sped read them so I could keep up with the nerds.

My writing was a trying as my sun-tanning – patchy and inconsistent.  I ended up falling asleep and woke up red with sunburn and only a few lines of text with not a lot of direction or substance. My interest in suntanning was more about wanting to be like my bestie who had dark olive skin.

It was never going to happen – she was part Indian – my ancestry is Dutch. I did not get a glorious exotic tan – I got freckles – lots of them.

I loved growing up in the country! My brother, sister and me spent our free time, riding bmx’s and motorbikes around our property and others. We swam in dams, creeks and lakes.

We ate fresh peas from the pod on a farm, had slumber parties, slide down grass dam walls on cardboard – it was about as much fun as a kid can have.

I wonder if there is another place on earth where I will arrive and think – ‘This is it, this is the PERFECT place, I will stay and live here forever’

Does a perfect place exist? Am I being romantically naive? I am curious to keep travelling and exploring to see if I find a place which gives me an overwhelming sense of home.

Buaraba Creek

Lindsay and Sarah met each other in primary school in south-east Queensland in the 1980’s during a time when it was ok to be poor because everyone else around the area was in the same situation. Lindsay always knew she was different to other girls but would spend years trying to work out why and running away from it. Sarah liked boys but like most pre-pubescent girls, she was close to her girlfriends.

Sarah was a feminine, outdoorsy and gentle type. She loved animals and had to feed horses, chickens and pigs on the family farm each afternoon after school. She had dead straight ash blonde hair that touched the tip of her bottom and strangely dark black eyebrows. Sarah was generally quiet but when she did talk her confidence and slight British accent made everyone listen. She had a regal charm about her, even though she was working class.

Sarah’s family lived in a tin shed. The first time Lindsay visited Sarah’s house she was quite surprised about how different Sarah’s family environment was to her own. Lindsay wasn’t judgemental, just curious. Sarah’s parents had one shed and their female adult ‘friend’, Bronwyn and her daughter, Tasha lived beside them in a second shed. They grew their own vegetables, eggs and milk. As an adult, Lindsay realised it was her first exposure to a polygamous relationship.

Lindsay on the other hand was a girl next door tomboy. Tall, with long arms and legs, bright blue eyes,freckles and no fuss short hair she preferred her quad-runner motorbike and BMX to Sarah’s horses and chooks. Although, at one time, Lindsay did complain to own a horse. She wanted to be part of gymkhana with all the pretty girls. Lindsay’s parents wouldn’t allow it. Maybe they knew Lindsay was more interested in the girls and not learning horse riding skills.

Sometimes on weekend afternoons, feeling restless and bored, Lindsay would ride her BMX 10 kilometres to help Sarah with her farm chores. Lindsay always had a lot of energy – most of it was nervousness. Lindsay just liked being around Sarah. Sometimes Lindsay didn’t say very much and while she was self-conscious about it, she was content watching Sarah’s pony tail swinging back and forth across her back as she walked behind her along the dusty track to her house.

The girls made fun with the resources they had around them in the bush. There were no movies or shopping trips. Instead, they spent weekends and holidays bush-walking, riding horses or motorbikes, and swimming up and down the length of Buaraba Creek.

One weekend when Lindsay was at Sarah’s house, making fun out of anything like kids do, Sarah suggested they make sculptures out of dirt. Sarah was better at art than Lindsay – which made Lindsay nervous. Sarah made a beautifully proportionate figure of a woman with well-defined breasts and an undisguised vagina.

Lindsay was surprised about Sarah’s choice of subject and felt slightly embarrassed. Did Sarah know how Lindsay felt about her? Sarah suggested Lindsay start making a figure of a man to be the husband of the woman. Lindsay was hurt and confused about Sarah’s request.

‘Why does the woman have to be with a man,‘ her eyes pleaded with Sarah.

‘Because they are together, in love’, Sarah snapped at Lindsay.

Not one for conflict, Lindsay didn’t respond and hid her disappointment and anger. It was important to Lindsay what Sarah though of her.

Lindsay did her best to sculpt a male figure out of clods of sticky black dirt. She gave the man a small penis.

Lindsay and Sarah continued to hang out after school and during school holidays. It was mostly Lindsay chasing after Sarah. Sarah loved bossing Lindsay around sometimes and Lindsay tolerated it to hear her sweet articulate voice and the shimmer of curiosity in Sarah’s eyes every time she saw her – even though Sarah had no idea she looked at her like that.

Sarah left Buaraba Creek before they finished primary school. Lindsay was secretly devastated and cried when she said goodbye to Sarah. Being 10 years of age, no-one knew the depth of Lindsay’s crush on Sarah, after all they were just young girls. Lindsay would never see that white porcelain skin again. She would never get the chance to pluck Lindsay’s thick black eyebrows. And she would never get the chance to run her fingers through her perfectly straight hair.

They wrote letters to each other during high school years. As they grew older and Sarah wrote of her growing interest in men, the number of letters between the two decreased. Lindsay lost hope and not really understanding the depth of love she felt for Sarah, gave up and turned her attention to getting into university so she could move to the city.

Lindsay had a curious mind and dreamt of living in a place with more activity. She experimented with parties and men at high school and moved to the city in a share house with friends as soon as possible. She fooled herself into thinking she would be happy with men and while she did fall in love with a few of them, there was always something missing in her heart and she continued to manager her restlessness bingeing with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. Sarah and Lindsay never saw each other again until 10 years later at a school reunion at Wivenhoe Dam.

Even after all the time that had passed, Lindsay was overwhelmed with excitement to see Sarah. Sarah had changed and not just by age. She looked sophisticated, more experienced. She had plucked her eyebrows, had an urban rock chick haircut and small wrinkle lines of laughter surrounded her mouth.

to be continued……….

copyright 2009 Helen L Stevens