Go Gently…


Some time ago, my friend and I went in search of groceries for the community pantry, and we finally decided to drive over the Razorback, and into Picton.

We called into the divine Hippy Luxe shop, and amongst Frida Kahlo cushions, crystals and art, we shared our individual experiences of 2020. Some things we’ll be glad to shed, whilst other things we’re keen to keep. Stopping and asking (really asking), how someone is, well, that is a trait we want to hold onto. Looking after people by simply asking if they need anything whilst we are at the shops… It’s all important. We are all a part of the ocean, and never has that point been driven home more, than now. By doing everything in our power to keep ourselves and our families well, we protect our community.

We ventured a bit further, and met a young lady. She was a former paramedic, who’d been injured and had to have spinal surgery. As a result, she couldn’t perform the job anymore. The job she’d based her identity on was gone, and she had to learn who she was without the title. I have determined to never ask anyone about their job… I would rather hear about their dreams, and what they want to happen once this period is over and done.

When we stopped for coffee, we came upon a lady in her 70’s, with fuchsia hair, a crown of fake flowers that cascaded down her back. Her eyelids were painted emerald; her look finished with blood-red lips. When I asked the staff about this extraordinary vision, I was told that a she was a beloved local, who dressed as an actual  Christmas tree each December. She also decorated her car with tinsel and ornaments, to the delight of everyone. Much better to be a Christmas Tree than a Grinch, I say! I want to be like her when I grow up, dressed in a cacophony of colours, with a walk that is borderline swagger.

We stocked the community pantry, leaving boxes of tea, meal kits and little treats for kids inside the locker. As soon as it’s filled, it rapidly empties. Times are tough for so many people. The day finished with my taking my little pooch to the dog park. I met a woman who was sad about having to leave her cocoon, now that restrictions in NSW had lifted. She’d believed herself to be an extrovert, but now found that constantly interacting with people left her exhausted. People are grieving what has been lost in the pandemic. Social events, concerts, financial security and so much more. Sometimes, people can be bereft at the thought of leaving their home after a period of reprieve. It may be their safe place, a sanctuary where they are left in peace. It may be a reprieve from feeling socially awkward. Some may find they are more productive, working from home, than they were in their office.

We have a long way to go, but if we treat each other as though we’re all facing battles nobody knows of, we can’t go far wrong. Everybody is under pressure, no matter how they present in person or on social media. Go gently with yourselves, too.

 

One Day…


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I met a complicated lady at the bus stop when my daughter was a baby. She was beautifully dressed, her hair coiffed. She had a cigarette dangling from her mouth and a haunted expression on her face. Our friendship grew over the years, and she delighted me with the wondrous and unexpected things that came out of her mouth. She excitedly told me one day that she had been to a sale at the local chemist shop. “What did you buy?” I asked. She retrieved the bag, and pulled out a tube of Vagisol, “for this old vag of mine!” she roared with laughter. The poor man sitting next to her at the bus stop went beet-red. I gave her some money for her fare, and a few day’s later I found a chemist bag in my letterbox. In it contained a thankyou note, the money I had leant her, and as I tremulously pulled out a box from the bag (thinking it was leftover Vagisol), I found a small bottle of perfume.

She came to my door a few weeks ago, and asked me to put on the kettle. We sat in silence for a bit, before she said “it’s the anniversary of when my mum died. I didn’t want to be alone.” I gave her a big cuddle, and she left with a tin of bikkies. We saw her on Monday. She called out to me in the street. Her arms and legs shook so severely, it appeared as though she were having a seizure. She said she had been in hospital. My little girl was concerned, and I explained that sometimes when people drink too much over a long time, they get the DT’s. “I wish we could make it go away,” she said. I do too. I have a sense that this lady’s mind holds many traumatic memories. She has been trying to drown them in alcohol and the mesmerizing light and sound spectacle poker machines  offer. A well-dressed lady with a colourful array of hats, missing teeth, a cheeky grin and a complicated back story. We love you. I pray you are with us for some time yet.

The Dawn’s.


 

Dawn and I. Didn’t know the camera was on video!

I have the privilege of having two Dawn’s in my life. Both are in their sixties, with artistic leanings and a feisty spirit. They haven’t had it easy. The first Dawn is featured above. We didn’t know that my phone was turned to video! I love her smile, and the spectacular way she dresses. I first met Dawn at the local bus stop when my daughter was a baby. Every time I go down the street, I bump into this magnificent lady. I sometimes loan her money, and a few days later, find it in my letterbox, along with a little gift. My little girl is often the recipient of chocolate or some other sweet treat, and wraps her arms tight around her Aunty Dawn. We gave her a lift home from the supermarket the other night, and she asked us to hold on for a moment when we reached her house.

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She came out with this dear little notepad, on which she had written an invitation to her birthday celebrations. Lizzie was thrilled, as was I.
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Our other friend is Dawn De Ramirez. She ran away and joined the circus as an adolescent, becoming their trapeze artist, travelling through Europe. Her future husband, Raffael, was the cook, and they married during this time. I met her when she judged the first poetry competition I entered. She rang me and we talked from the heart, something we continue to this day. She is a born entertainer, and an advocate for Aboriginal youth at risk of suicide. Dawn travelled to England a few years back, and was able to fund her adventures by passing around a hat at every pub she stopped at. It is such a blessing for my daughter to have the two Dawn’s in her life, providing colour, whimsy, poetry, art and kindness. The characters of this world shake us up with their authenticity. It is brave to be yourself in all your glory, to like who are and how you go about life.

‘I’m Bored.’

 

‘Say Cheese.’