Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights...Chapter Five

November was around the corner and so was my twenty-first birthday. No huge “coming-of-age” celebration was planned for the “event”. I still didn’t know a lot of people in Brisbane, having been in the city for only a little over three months. Most of the people I’d met up to that point had been through “R”, his work associates and subsequent others involved in the advertising and music fields.

I’d become fairly heavily involved in “R’s” radio career in Gympie. Nightly, unfailingly, I taped his evening programmes to be played back and critiqued after his shift finished. Every evening following his four hour on-air shift, he came back to my home, where I always had a snack and coffee waiting for him. Together we would sit for hours, playing and re-playing his broadcast, picking holes in it, commending parts that deserved commendation, generally treating the sessions like a “broadcasting tutorial”. “R’s” deep, distinctive, resonant voice was a special gift, confounding many when they first met the slim young man with a voice from the Heavens. Although it wasn’t allowed by the radio station in Gympie, or elsewhere for that matter, I would sneak into the studios during his Saturday night shift and sit across from him at the turntables, having had carte blanche choice at the record library. Most of the music played those nights was of my choosing. It was fun! The hierarchy of the 4GY was unaware of our escapades, thankfully. We were pushing the boundaries, but the thrill of the game made it worth breaking the rules.

“R” had a brash, confident air about him that fooled many, but not me. He was handsome, independent, highly intelligent, drove a sports car, gifted with vocal chords that females swooned over and males envied, however, all of those curtained a certain lack of inner credence in his own abilities. He had turned twenty-one in the January before my November date with the milestone. As I’ve written earlier we became engaged on his birthday, with a long engagement in the wind. Neither of us was in a hurry to be married. We were young. A persistent desire to travel nagged at “R”. He frequently talked of his wish to travel overseas…"to spread his wings...to see the world"

A couple of weeks before my birthday, he came to the flat to see me. Dawn was out somewhere, so we had the place to ourselves. Sitting on the sofa, “R” told me he had handed in his notice to 4IP. The next bombshell to crash down upon me followed soon thereafter. He was going overseas at the end of November, firstly to New Zealand and then onto the United States.

My heart felt like it had been gripped by an ever-tightening iron vice. My stomach flipped. All that remained, it seemed, was a giant, endless, empty pit. I went cold all over as I sat, somberly listening to him excitedly detail his plans. He’d never kept it a secret from me his dream to travel, to go on his “odyssey” in search of the Holy Grail. Although I didn’t harbour a similar desire to his, I understood his want to see the world. My understanding didn’t make it any easier for me, however, as I sat there stoically bracing and steeling myself. I believed then as I still do now, one cannot live for the sake of another nor can one choose the path another decides is best for him or her. To travel overseas was “R’s” decision and desire, not mine. It was not for me to try to change his mind or alter his decision, no matter how much I was hurting inside. There was nothing I could do to stop him, whether I wanted to do so or not. Of course, I didn’t want him to go, but it was his individual right to walk the path he wanted to walk. From the moment we’d met “R” shared his dreams of travel with me. I didn’t share his dreams to travel, but I understood his wanderlust. Tears I shed, I shed alone in the darkness.

My birthday grew closer and so did the date for “R’s” departure. His flight to New Zealand was booked for November 30th. My birthday was November 11th. I intended to make the most of the little time we had left together and not allow myself to be bogged down in self-pity and sorrow. Time enough for all of that later when I was alone. I was going to make sure I had a damn good time and to hell with heartache and feeling sorry for myself.

We were still engaged, nothing had altered on that front. True to our word at the time of our engagement, marriage for the both of us was a long way off. I soon wearied of fielding questions from others who didn’t understand “R’s” change in direction. I told every curious by-stander he was fulfilling a dream. It was not for me to stand in his way. And I meant it. Privately, my heart was torn into many pieces, but I wasn’t going to allow others witness my pain. It was mine and mine alone to deal with. It was my life and it had nothing to do with anyone else.

Fate looked kindly upon me in a couple of instances, though. My birthday fell on a Friday, so I planned a party, inviting everyone I’d met since my arrival in Brisbane. My landlady who lived on the ground level below the two flats above, one of which Dawn and I shared, was absent for a few days, including the weekend of my pending celebration. That was a blessing in itself as I knew our landlady wouldn’t appreciate the pounding of many feet to the beat of music upon her ceiling! Dutifully, I did forewarn her of my planned party, subtly asking her permission, which she gave willingly. In the other upstairs’ flat adjoining ours, dwelt a very tall, quite large-boned Canadian young woman of around twenty-five or six years of age, Jan Plewman. Jan had moved in, with her little lady Chihuahua shortly after Dawn and I had set up our abode. We’d passed pleasantries while collecting our respective mail or while hanging out our laundry. I’ve never been one to “pop-in” on people and have never encouraged others to just “pop-in” on me. That’s one of my many quirks, I guess. Even so, Jan and I formed an “acquaintance”. I invited her to my party. It wouldn’t have seemed fair or polite not to have done so.

What became a habit formed back then in those early days, I handled the catering for my small gathering of around twenty guests. Leaving the office an hour or so earlier on the day in question, I raced home, eager to start my preparation for the night ahead. I’d bought a new “outfit” for the party at David Jones, a major department store in the CBD. I felt on top of the world. My new outfit was called a “skidoo”…and no, it wasn’t a snowmobile! It was actually Jamaican shorts, with a slit tunic of similar length to the shorts worn over the top. My “skidoo” was in a beautiful aqua-coloured woven-cotton plain fabric with the reverse side of the tunic, matching soft, multi-coloured floral voile or similar material. I’m not a wearer or lover of floral so I never did reverse the tunic, but when I walked or danced the contrast was very effective, or so I believed!

Of course, again, a habit formed all those years ago, I over-catered. At least I had food enough to cover Dawn and me for the rest of the weekend, if not the following week as well!

I enjoyed my twenty-first birthday party, spent with “R” and my new acquaintances, which included John Knox, known as “Gentleman John” even back in those days when he was one of the Colour Radio Good Guys. He and his wife attended. David Greenwood, who went on to make his name in Brisbane radio was in attendance with his girlfriend at the time, Rhonda Griffiths, who I was to meet up with again a few years later. Jimmy White, Gary Raines and his sister “Muff”, together with wee Donny Lloyd who brought along his advertising girlfriend, Carol. Carol and Donny married sometime later, then to later divorce. Carol Lloyd, with her wild, flaming red hair became known amongst many circles as “Australia’s First Lady of Rock”. She was lead singer/songwriter in the rock band, “Railroad Gin”, which rose to fame in the seventies and established quite a cult following. Carol has continued on with her genius in the advertising world and has been the recipient of many awards in that field. Amongst my party-goers was Brian King, a jazz pianist. I’d met Brian only once before that night. I couldn’t help but notice he and Jan, our Canadian neighbour had struck up a friendly conversation in one corner.

My birthday had been a happy one. The party was a roaring success. I managed to push aside, for a little while at least, what lay ahead of me. I tried not to let “R's” rapidly approaching departure put a damper upon my special evening. I succeeded, if only for a short time.

Putting on brave front, inside I was being torn apart, bit by bit. I didn't want anyone else to know of my torment or heartache. My steely facade and determination not to show to others what I was really feeling helped get me through the following couple of weeks between my party and "R" and my parting. Deep within, I knew our separation by sea and air wasn't going to be brief. However, I kept my thoughts to myself.

"Good-byes" have never been one of my fortes! I can manage to keep a "stiff upper lip" for only a short while when in the presence of a loved one's departure, then I'm ready to mercelessly crumble in a melting mess. It is best I make such farewells, brief, disappearing out of view of the "departer" before I, and he, become drenched in my tears. I prefer to perform this amazing feat in privacy.

Fortunately, I accompanied "R's" parents to Brisbane airport to farewell their son, my fiancee, on his flight into his future, into the unknown. Being in their company forced me to control my emotions, if only until I was once more on my own at my flat. Alone, I crawled into my bed, pulled up the covers and shut the rest of the world out. I didn't even have a cat to comfort me! I wanted nothing to do with the world or those who inhabited it. What was the point? No one could possibly understand what I was feeling. I was in no mood to try to explain. My feelings, my emotions were my own. I had to deal with them in my own way, in my own time and space.

To be continued....


  1. I'm really enjoying this continuing story, Lee. Kudos on both your excellent adventures and your exquisite ability to write about them.

  2. Hi Serena...you snuck in while I was doing some editing! :) Glad you're enjoying the saga! lol

  3. Hi Lee,

    Your too right about how you feel, but you poor dear that must have broken your heart.


  4. Yes...it did, Janice...even though I hid my innermost feelings from others.

  5. Anonymous1:09 AM

    Life is a joy and at times it kicks you in the teeth. I know you will recover and am looking forward to reading about it.

  6. Hi Steve...Yes, the sun keeps rising and setting each day, as does the moon. The stars come out at night even though sometimes are hidden from sight by the clouds. Life goes on.

  7. Oh Lee, if that isn't a typical Scorpio I don't know what is. I have a beloved granddaughter who is exactly the same. People who don't know her think she's coping really. She is...on the outside...but I know her well enough to know that she's dying inside.

    Wonderful story. I really felt for the young Lee.

    BTW, you've been tagged...see my blog and read about my deep dark secrets...lol.

  8. If there is such a thing as a "typical Scorpio", Robyn, then I am definitely it!

    I know you won't mind if I don't join in with the tag...I think I'm giving enough away about myself in here! ;)

  9. Hi Lee, young hearts break easily, fortunately they mend quickly too.

  10. All I can say is oh my heart aches after reading this story. I am glad that you did come out from that spot on your bed. My belief is things happen to us in life and the challenge is how do we deal with it. I am waiting eagerly for the next installment. Great work Lee.

  11. Oh, Lee, my heart bleeds for you at that time. You describe your heartache so well - that "empty" feeling - yes, I've been there! Like you, I've always been , and am still, attracted to men with nice speaking voices. [Smoothies!] Like you, too, I value my private space so don't encourage "pop-ins" and I don't do them. Any friend is welcome, of course, if they are in trouble in some way and I imagine it's the same with you. I'd never heard of a "Skidoo" outfit before; I 'm sure you looked very stylish in yours! Oh, I feel for you at the end of the post - you definitely needed a cat! Hurry up and write the next part or I won't sleep for thinking about your poor, sad heart!

  12. I'm not too sure about that, Peter...not quite as easily as you seem to think.

    Sandra and Welsh...see us women understand and have empathy for a broken heart. ;)

  13. Well thank goodness I'm back before the end of the story although this is a rather emotionally wrenching one to come back in on. Great like all your stories but a bit more personal than usual. I'm sure we've all got a broken heart story behind us, although I'm not convinced that this one is totally dead but I do feel for you, the you of the time.

  14. Welcome back, jmb...great to see you...I've been enjoying your cruise with you, as you have no doubt seen. :)

  15. Well, I'd like to kick "R" in the rump, silly boy. Anyone that breaks you heart needs a good boot. Excellent story. I think Skidoo could be in style again.

  16. Hey there Corn Dog! Where were you when I needed you? ;)