Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights...Chapter Six

Christmas was fast approaching. I wasn’t feeling in a celebratory mood, but decided that I would bury my pain and face the world head on with a smile on my face. Life was still going on around me. To hell with it all, I wanted to be part of life, not stay hidden away in some dark corner pining for something that couldn’t be altered. “R” and I hadn’t broken up. He had just gone away for a while, for how long at that stage, neither of us knew. I wasn’t naïve enough to think that he wouldn’t be out having fun. It was my intention to do similar.

I put most of my energy into my job becoming very involved in every aspect of it. My boss introduced me to a young hosiery buyer from one of the Myer department stores. Fay had moved down to Brisbane from north Queensland not long before my own relocation from Gympie. Mr. Trimmer believed she and I, being in a similar boat, would get on well. Feeling a little uncomfortable by being the subjects of “friendship-making”, we were a bit wary of each other when we were first “pushed together”, not particularly enjoying a friendship being forced upon us. To appease my boss, Fay and I agreed to meet. She came to my flat one Saturday afternoon. Mr. Trimmer had a better insight that we had it turned out, because Fay and I hit it off, once we recovered our discomfort of the first few minutes of our meeting. She was keen on having fun and causing a bit of mayhem. I was not at all opposed to that way of thinking, either. We were both as “crazy” as each other. Together we posed a dangerous threat to society! Fay was a very attractive lass, full of life, good humour and wit. Over the next few months we had some great times together, hitting the “high spots” of Brisbane and terrorizing the locals. The following year, Fay decided to “test the waters” up in Papua New Guinea, gaining a job with the Australian government at Boroka, outside of Port Moresby. We communicated for a while after she settled into Boroka, sending inane, insane letters back and forth, but after a time we lost contact, unfortunately. I’ve often wondered what happened to her and the directions in life she chose or followed.

Laurie, a friend of “R’s” from their high school days, whom I’d met and befriended, decided he, too, would try being a radio announcer. Following in “R’s” footsteps, Laurie decided to join the Colour Radio network, but because he was inexperienced, he was being sent to Mount Isa, a mining town way out the back of “Whoop-Whoop”, in far north-western Queensland. He was leaving shortly after Christmas to follow his chosen career path. (After a short stint, he discovered Radio and/or Mount Isa didn’t suit him. Soon after his entrance into the world of radio, he made his exit and returned to Brisbane). After “R’s” departure it was good to have a friendly face on the scene. I was glad to have Laurie as a friend. Regularly he telephoned me and often we met for coffee or drinks after work. Laurie had an empathetic ear. I hated the fact that he, too, would soon be leaving Brisbane. However, slowly I was meeting new people. My network of friends was steadily increasing.

That year my Christmas plans were made for me. I spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day with “R’s” parents who lived in Geebung, a Brisbane suburb. New Year had been booked out since a few months earlier. My girlfriend, Marj, planned her wedding to be held on New Year’s Day. I felt like throttling her for doing so. It meant I had to spend part of my New Year’s Eve on a train to Gympie, a thought that didn’t thrill me in the least. I’d not spent a New Year’s Eve in Gympie since before I commenced working. New Year’s Eve meant “coast” and “parties” to me, not sitting on a train and then being stuck in Gympie. I was not amused!

The eve of the new year arrived. I’d booked a seat on the Gympie train for around 6.30pm. As I was leaving my office, I ran into a guy I knew, Don Baker, who invited me to go for a quick drink with him for New Year. I had a bit of time up my sleeve so I agreed. On the way we crossed paths with Laurie, who decided to join us. Like the Three Musketeers we settled comfortably into a cocktail bar at a hotel in Queen Street. Too comfortably it soon came to my attention. Laughing, we scurried up to Central Station, only to see the end carriage of my train disappearing out of sight! Full of high spirits the three of us, like robbers after a heist, ran to Laurie’s car, a VW beetle. We finally caught up with the train at “Sunshine” station on the northern side of Brisbane. I jumped aboard the train, sad to be leaving my mad friends behind. It was a depressing trip to Gympie. In rhythm with the wheels on the rail lines, I cursed Marj under my breath the duration of the journey, a journey that seemed to take forever. What timing she had! Such a silly day to plan a wedding! Finally, the train pulled into Gympie station. I caught a cab home. Both Mum and Nana greeted me with open arms. Understanding my displeasure, although I hid it in their presence, Mum offered me a rum and Coco Cola, saying, “I’m sure you feel like one of these!” Readily agreeing, I took a long sip.

Sitting on our verandah chatting quietly with my mother and grandmother, a car pulled up outside. It was Marj and her soon-to-be husband, Quentin. (It was Marj’s older brother, some of you might recall, whom I had been seeing off and on before I met “R”, the one who sent me the “Dear John/Marsha” letter). She and Quentin, failed in their plan to meet me at the train station so decided to catch me at home. We all sat around talking and sipping on rum and cokes before Quentin was duly and dutifully chased away at midnight. Marj and I spent her last night of “singledom” discussing our past and what our futures may have in store for us, before finally drifting off to sleep in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Another older brother of Marj’s was my escort to the wedding. Poor Des, he had no idea what was in store for him. He’d not long arrived back in Australia from Canada where he’d been studying for his Phd., in engineering, so he was unaware of the broken “romance” between Ron and me. Marj’s wedding was the first time I’d seen Ron since the fateful day of his letter, and it was to be the last time I ever saw him again. He barely acknowledged me, turning his back when he saw me only a few feet away from where he stood. It was a thoughtless, unfeeling gesture I believed I didn’t warrant. It mattered not to me that he was there with his wife. We had both moved on with our lives, or at least I had.

Everything was going along smoothly at the wedding until it came time for the speeches during the reception. Without warning I began to cry. Not just cry, I became uncontrollable, inconsolable! I was losing everyone, all my dear and much-loved friends. “R” was in New Zealand with plans to go onto the States. Marj was married. During their honeymoon, she and Quentin were moving to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, thousands of miles away. Within days I was going to be losing my good friend, Laurie. He was off to try to make his mark in radio in the copper city of Mount Isa, again thousands of miles away. Everyone I cared about was not just moving from one suburb to another. They were going to or had gone to far distant places. And there in the same room as I, was Ron pretending I didn’t exist and had never existed. It was all too much to digest or deal with. Marj’s wedding was the catalyst that caused the floodgates of my broken heart to open. I left the reception room, not wanting to make a total fool of myself or embarrass my very confused escort. After a while, a concerned Des came out to find me, a flood of tears still streaming down my face and my body racked with sobs. Feeling totally helpless, Des offered to take me home. I jumped at his offer. Mum greeted us at the front stairs, surprised that I was home so early. Poor Des, not knowing what to say or what to do with the crazy young woman he’d met for the first time that day, handed me over to my mother, making a hasty exit after doing so. I bet I was the last “blind date” he ever had!

Mum tucked me into bed that night, listening empathetically to my outpourings of grief. I cried until I could cry no more, finally descending into an exhausted sleep. I had depleted the dam, at least for a while. I awoke next morning feeling wrung-out. I caught the early afternoon train back to Brisbane. Mum and Nana were concerned about me, naturally, but I told them I would be fine. I knew I would be. It was entirely up to me to be so.

Once back in Brisbane, it was the New Year and I was going to treat and face it accordingly. I had many rivers yet to cross, successfully, hurdles to overcome, new people to be met and fun to be had.

Early in the New Year, Kolotex launched a new panti hose product called “Top Secret”. I was to become part of my first foray into the promotion of a new line to the retail trade en măsse. A local modeling agency, June Dally-Watkins, was contacted. Models were sent to us for our assessment. Lennons Hotel was the chosen venue to herald in “Top Secret”. A fashion parade already in the planning stages, based on a James Bond theme, we were moving at a rate of knots. Three top Brisbane models of the day were chosen. Louisa Van Duerzen, Kay Roberts and one of the Tamblyn twins, Tammy, from memory. Leading up to the evening, the office was a-buzz with energy and excitement. Invitations were sent out to the “trade”. Various outfits were chosen for the models, which included trench coats, scarves, mysterious hats and dark glasses, to display our new range of colourful panti-hose. The catering staff at Lennons Hotel had been instructed on the fare for the evening. We were ready to take on the retail fashion trade of Brisbane. But were they were ready for us? They thought they were, but we had a lot more in store for them in the ensuing years. This was to be the beginning of some wild and wonderful times, but before they came into being I was soon to go in a completely different, unexpected direction.

To be continued....

26 comments:

  1. Lee, very nice. You have a nack for story telling.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Steve...I posted this latest chapter before I thought I would...I jumped into the deep end without "floaties"

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's like the old Saturday arvo serial... will Lee find a new love?... Will 'R' come back into her life?... Has her broken heart mended?... come back next episode for the answer to these questions and more!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You don't have to unless you wish and want to, Peter! ;)

    This is real life...and not a Saturday afternoon serial!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Lee ~~Just read your last episodes of this intriguing story and am
    enjoying reading it. Not about your heartbreak but how you lived your life. Thanks for your comments, glad
    you enjoyed the jokes. Rosewood struck a memory - my Dad and his wife
    had a small farm there near the golf course, where he bred race-horses and
    I spent many happy days there visiting them. Take care, Lee,Love,
    Merle.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You do tell such wonderful stories so very well, Lee.

    What a life you have had.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Merle and Liz...good to see you both and you're enjoying my mini-"Gone With the Wind". :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well all that heartache had to come out sooner or later and nothing like a wedding to bring out the tears. Well that's my experience anyway.

    Poor Des, but he was a good guy and did the right thing.
    Looking forward to more.
    regards
    jmb

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's amazing how much life you can go through in such short a time when you're young. Ah, the roller coaster of youth.

    My sister-in-law plans parties like the ones you cater. She figures every guest to eat their weight in food.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I did feel so sorry for Des, jmb...he was completely perplexed about my whole performance! lol I never did meet up with him again...I wonder why! lol

    Yes, Dave...I always cater for an army! I just can't help myself, even though I tell myself it will never happen again! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oops. I got caught by the cliff hanger. Drat. I think something happens at the fashion show. I can only speculate until tomorrow's segment.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, Gympie must be one auwful place. Peter doesn't give me that impression on his blog.
    I hope this tail spin come to a stop soon.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry, Corn Dog! ;)

    No, Gympie isn't an awful place, Cliff...but at that time all I wanted to do was put it and my childhood behind me...I preferred living in Brisbane...I chose to live in the city. I'm sorry if my tale is a little dragged out for you...that's life! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  14. You may have jumped in without "floaties" but you're doing a wonderful job. This is all such a great story.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This sure beats watching the latest episode of "Neighbours." From all I have read, you sure have had a surprising and interesting life so far.... Now I am interested to read about the next twist in the road...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey there Serena and Rebecca...glad to see you're still aboard. The road has been winding with a few detours, dead ends and crossroads. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh no Lee. It's not dragged out for me...I just Hate it when women cry. :}
    I anxiously await the next installment. Not like I'm going to sit here by the computer all day refreshing every two minutes until it's up. But I DO want to read it. Have a good (I suppose it's) evening there now.

    ReplyDelete
  18. lee
    WOW a stroll down memory lane. Your writings bring flashbacks of times gone by. You always leave us with the wish it was a book so I would not have to wait for the next chapter. I had to read 3 chapters at once since Puppy defragmented my computor and now it looks like Humpty Dumpty. He has lent me his laptop with the squooshed keypad.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting story, it must have been fascinating helping R with his radio broadcast and selecting music. It’s easy to see how exciting and stimulating a world that would be for you at the time. Going overseas was such a huge fascination for many, but not for yourself.?

    You haven’t mentioned much about how long R was going to be away, but presumably reading between the lines it’s going to be somewhat unreasonably long, for one already engaged.

    Best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  20. What man doesn't like women crying, Cliff? You lot a bigger softies than we are...as you don't know how to handle us when we do cry! lol Yep, it's evening here now.. Hopefully, I will have another chapter up sometime tomorrow, my time...go and plant some more corn in the meantime! ;)

    Smart puppy you've got there Lady Di! Tell to go and make himself useful somewhere else, like clean out the fridge or something and leave your computer alone! :)

    Hi Lindsay...it was a lot of fun being involved in radio, particularly having access to all that music! No, Lindsay...the travel bug never bit me like it did some others, not then anyhow.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Cliff...I meant to write "what man likes to see a woman cry?"

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh, Lee, I read this and my heart was just aching for you! "I could have throttled her" - yes, such a silly day to get married!! I empathise with the fact that we can bottle things up for just so long - then something triggers it and it all comes tumbling out. Glad you had your Mum and Grandma there when it happened. But I can sense how your job had begun to help you and like your upbeat mood with regard to it. That's how a girl gets over a broken heart, all right! I know I keep saying this but I can't wait for the next part! Love from Sicily

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Lee, it's good to catch up and read the latest in your saga.

    Can't wait for the rest of it.

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Lee, Nic here... just popping in to say hi.

    ReplyDelete
  25. you leave cliffhangers on purpose! argh! That's not nice! lol

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yes, Welsh...I certainly broke the drought and it was good I had Mum and Nana around me.

    Hey Robyn, Nicole and Deslily...of course...I have to keep you hanging on the precipice! ;)

    ReplyDelete