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
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
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
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
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
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....