Sunset, Back Beach, Bunbury, Western Australia
Letter to Steve
Grief torched my life in the years before I met you. You helped me refocus. You helped me find my voice, my creativity and a sense of purpose. Five years later, I lost it all in one fell scoop. The light you brought into my world was too bright. The memory of your vibrancy made me flinch for years. I averted my gaze whenever I drove alongside Back Beach. I buried myself whole into work. Last night I walked along where you once jogged. It was magnificent at sunset as it often is. As I walked I realised you were meant to come into my life for a reason. I am where I am, because of you. Today, this is my reality.
I looked for a relationship unsuccessfully with another academic in the years that followed. It was a natural thing to do, after all, I had been married to one and then met you. Life is either crazy or just plain contrary. What followed was so not what I thought it would be.
It was 17 years after your death when I found photography. It helped me see the world around me in new ways. What was familiar was unfamiliar, and then familiar again. I found shapes, patterns, colours and movements. A rhythm. I started to write again. I looked for clouds and rain, because, together, they meant rainbows and not a banal weather report that dictated my work schedule.
My work life is nothing you and I could ever have envisaged. I don’t present papers around the world like you did but I do spend more time at an airport. It has become an office. I find a quiet spot in the lounge and get work done. This is where life started to get strange.
Had it not been for my camera I would not have noticed the imperceptible glint in the gaze. The casual look that is exchanged between strangers, and maintained for a fraction longer. You did not know the logistically challenging rostered world of FIFO workers, if you did, you would have grinned and said, what followed was meant to be. The gaze turned into a conversation and my dormant heart found a beat again.
He is no academic. He barely finished high school and so proud of his TAFE achievement because he makes a good living from it. His nails are not manicured. His hands are rough and stained from hard work. He barely reads the news headlines, let alone a book. His views on politics are succinct, and expressed in the vernacular of the region, “Effing wankers, the lot of them!” End of story. There is no malice in his reference, “Miss Fancy Pants!” as he curls his finger around pearls. He is sensitive and sensual for a man who works with earth on his hands. Nor do I feel what I do is diminished by his inability to understand it when he says, “what is it that you actually do?”. What you see is what you get with him. He travels light. His values can be endearingly old fashioned, at times. We admit to nothing. The unsaid, saying it all. Things are just what they were, at first ignite. Alive. Unfinished. Unended. It makes pick up where we left off, easier. I like what this gives me. There are no tomorrows or happily ever afters. I searched for those for far too long. For me, they were an unfortunate myth. I live in the moment now. It’s a happy place to be.
He is no blinding light in my life, like you were. He lights up my world for a moment, much like seeing a shooting star, and when we leave, the eternal hope, it will happen again.
Where ever you are, here’s to another morning … shine bright. What was, and what is, is meant to be.
a dawn bird
In response to Word of the Day Challenge: Virtual