Sunday, 8 October 2017

Waiting For Rain

There it was. That sound. I knew what it meant. That ominous wail slicing through the stillness. It always filled me with dread. It meant that bad things had happened and the villains responsible were out there lurking.

I would edge my way through the shadows and end up at the side of my mum's bed. She always let me snuggle in next to her. The siren in the distance was still a sinister reminder. It signified that the world wasn't safe outside my cocoon. My home. My dog. My parents. Books and Barbie dolls. 

Sirens were not the only thing I was scared of. There was a list, including elevators, escalators, talking in public, cockroaches and blood. I never liked watching horror movies. 

I sit by the window tapping and remembering. It's a grey, dreary day and I feel nostalgic. I wish it would rain. 

 





I remember scrunching my toes up in tan sandals. The teacher called me cutie pie Vanessa. She had gigantic glasses and her hair in a bun. I had a red suitcase. 

I remember being forced to play volley ball. I hated volley ball. And all sport. 

I remember being thrown in the pool when I was five. My screams were long and loud. I still can't swim.

In kindergarten another girl also named Vanessa was mean to me. A boy had his dangly bits out under the desk. I went and told the teacher. 

I remember skipping around the edges of the playground. I think I had an imaginary friend, but I don't remember her name. 

In year five I went away for a school camp. All the other girls hated me on sight, mistaking my shyness for being stuck-up. 

I remember going overseas in 1981. I was ten. I had long red hair. Weirdly I don't remember being scared when the plane took off. I was terrified of everything else. I remember the vivid colours of the tulips. Playing records and eating gigantic bowls of custard. It was awesome. I remember my brother and I staring at the punks with their jagged Mohawks on the train. We rode bikes everywhere. 

I remember our next door neighbour teaching me to ride a bike in our cul-de-sac. 

I remember games of 'redlight' and sausage dogs. 

I remember barbecues and cracker night. The elated feeling of leaving school on the last day of term when the long summer holidays stretched before you. Before long the elation evaporated into boredom.

"I'm borrrred," I would wail.

"Hello, bored. I'm Mum," my mother would reply. 

But I always had books and music. And sleepovers with friends and cousins.
 
I remember when my Dad used to wear bright orange flairs and it seemed completely acceptable. 

I remember when my brother had a birthday party and no one turned up. Mum had gone to so much effort making cakes and chocolate crackles and various treats. There were no more parties after that. I didn't care. My birthday was in January. Everybody went away to the beach in January.

"They can have that," my parents declared and put the air-conditioning on. Summer was something to be endured in our family. 

I remember sitting in the sun all day at a school sport carnival. I went home bright red with severe sunburn. My mother was furious. I had asked to be allowed to sit in the shade and the teachers said no. 

I remember my auntie Evelyne taking me and my cousin to Luna Park. It was 1983 or 84. Again I suffered atrocious sunburn. Back at my aunt's flat she rubbed tomatoes all over my singed and painful skin.

I remember being called a red-headed match, and - my personal favourite - a red headed rat rooter. Nice.

I remember other kids saying things to me like: "Gee, your hair's nice. Pity it's not blonde." 

I remember old dears stopping my brother and I on the street or at the shops to ooh and ah over our red tresses and slip us each a twenty cent coin. A veritable fortune back then. You could get a whole bag of mixed lollies from the milk bar! Yes, I am showing my age. Sigh. 

I remember catching the old red rattlers to Central station and attending Ultimo TAFE.

I remember  walking through the dusty dungeons in the bowels of the State Library when I worked there. I remember feeling like a fraud. I was supposed to be a grown-up now. But I still couldn't look anyone in the eye or speak above a whisper.

I remember humiliating job interviews when I burst into tears.

I remember beautiful dresses my mother made. I loved dressing up.

I remember getting married on a warm November day in 1995. I was completely calm and contented in my lovely lace gown with a long train. I carried roses and raised my voice for the vows. 

I remember being told I would never have babies without IVF. 

I remember having an ultra-sound and being told I was already 26 weeks pregnant! It felt like being told I could fly. I had magical powers. Maybe I could twitch my nose like Samantha and magic up anything. 

I remember giving birth to my sons. 

Son number one:  "Here's your baby!" Mick held him and he streeeetched his little arms.  

Son number two:  "He has such expressive eyes," the  midwife commented. Mick passed out! 

Son number three:  The 19 week scan. "There is no heartbeat." Goodbye, little man. 

Son number four:  I was sliced open. He was so TINY. Perfect and tiny. Our family was complete. 

I remember the day Mick had surgery for bowel cancer. I sat with him while he had chemo-therapy. 

I remember going to Sea World with my family. I accidentally dropped my mobile phone in the shark tank. 

I remember giggling about all the silly things with my boys. 

I remember watching diggers and excavators with my then obsessed toddler son.

I remember my second son's collection of soft toys. His favourite was a dog, imaginatively named "Doggy". If we went anywhere without Doggy, we were in serious trouble! 

Being told I that I'm autistic at age 40 is something I'll never forget. I finally understood a few things about myself. 

There was the glorious cake my mother made me for my 40th birthday. Who could forget that?! 




Memories of all the amazing meals around the kitchen table in my parents house. My mother's cooking is THE BEST. 

I remember Mick shaving my head when I had chemo for breast cancer. I remember the beautiful hats my aunt made for me. 

I remember that I need to stop remembering and live in the present. Mostly I do. Except when it rains. 

I remember the wistful, wonderful, comforting feel of a rainy day. I've always been a pluviophile. That's what I've discovered. 






Rainy days still evoke a sense of nostalgia. When a siren sounds in the rain I am reminded of all the feelings. Feeling unsettled, then safe. Uncertain, then comforted. 

Sirens signify danger. Rain is healing. Soothing. 

When the rains falls, the sirens fade. 

I remember it will rain again. Soon.  


Do you feel nostalgic when it rains?

What do you remember? 
Reactions:

1 comment:

  1. Rain does have that effect on us, doesn't it? Thank you for sharing your memories. I felt I got to know you so much better through reading them, Ness.

    ReplyDelete