Showing posts with label Childhood Memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Childhood Memories. Show all posts

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? 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Nerdiest Girl In The School


"LONG AGO AND OH SO FAR AWAY..."

TIME: 1983

PLACE: Boganville High School, the main quadrangle.

 

 Picture it.  A time when raging cases of TES were everywhere, (Tragic Eighties Syndrome). Bad perms, bubble skirts and Duran Duran....


  Noise and activity flurried all around me.  Shouts and laughter that didn't include me, pierced their way into my consciousness, as I sat all alone at the edge of the quad. I wasn't part of any of it, but a spectator, silently sitting there, alone, reflecting on my tragic life as a nerd-girl.

A group of girls appeared in front of me, all of them laughing, sharing jokes with the kind of effortless rapport that was alien to me.  I felt them looking my way.  I tried not to notice, tried not to care.  Just then, one of them broke away from the group, approaching me.

Squirming uncomfortably on my seat, I looked towards her hopefully.  "Hi, how are you?" she edged nearer, smiling. I mumbled something incoherent.  Staring at me quite innocently she asked: "I was just wondering...do you shave your legs?"

It must be noted that, I did not, in fact, shave my legs.  A situation that, at a mere 12 years of age, did not bother me in the slightest. (Come to think of it, doesn't bother me in the slightest at age 42 either.  In fact, I might have to get Mick to run the lawn mower over them presently, as they are so hairy.) But I digress.

However, since it seemed to bother the other girls at school, I figured I'd ask my mum if I could begin.
 
Me, with all my friends, aged 12

"No," she replied "you're too young.  Once you start doing all that, you never stop.  You've still got plenty of time."  At this point, I imagine any other girl would have decided to completely ignore their mum, sneak into the bathroom, pinch a razor and do the deed anyway.  Not this tragic nerd-girl and Miss Goody Two Shoes.

I trudged back to school, legs still hairy, book in bag.  Books were my major companion at recess and lunch.  Another example of my tragic nerdiness.  I'd chosen books over flesh and blood friends. Here's how it happened.

I used to have something resembling a friendship with another girl in primary school.  I use the term friendship loosely.  It consisted mainly of her bossing and patronising me, like the time she convinced me to go to Jazz Ballet with her just so that she could then condescendingly tell this uncoordinated klutz that if I tried really hard I might be as good as her next year.  In all fairness to her, no amount of trying or practising would have ever made me good at any form of dancing!

I put up with Miss Patronising, or Pat as I shall call her, the type of person who might patronise God himself, because I simply didn't have any other friends - other than imaginary ones, and I figured being patronised and condescended to was preferable to spending every minute of school life achingly lonely and friendless.

Anyway, during 6th grade, she unceremoniously dumped me as a friend, steadfastly ignoring me and leaving me in the dust for a cooler group.  Consequently, when she rang me during the Christmas holidays, shortly before starting high school, I possibly should have been on guard.  Instead I scurried over like a timid mouse after any crumbs.

I suspect we might have had the Barbies out at one stage.  As we were about to start high school, you might expect Barbies dolls to have been a bit lame at this point, but I continued playing with them unperturbed.  Pat, on the other hand, was clearly worried, as she began to give me disdainful looks as her lecture began. 

 

"You know, you have to act tough in high school," she began, importantly "otherwise you'll have no friends."

 I carried on dressing Barbie, oblivious to the seriousness of her tone. "But don't worry," she added "I'll still hang around with you, as long as you stop reading books."

 

I gaped. Stop reading books? Wouldn't it be easier to just stop breathing?  Did she mean all books, or just Enid Blyton books? I mean, I kind of knew that I was getting to old for my frequent trips up the magic faraway tree.  A place where I seem to have permanently remained.  Off with the pixies. 


There was NO WAY I could stop reading books.  The thing was impossible.  Consequently the 'friendship' was over.  Gloomily, I trudged home, wondering where all the 'kindred spirits' from my beloved 'Anne' books were.

It wasn't long before Pat was surrounded by friends at High School, while I sat there. Alone. Reading a book.  So I guess she was right. Sigh.  Books will always be my best friend.

To make matters worse, just as I was about to start high school, Karen Carpenter died. Right when I was in the throes of becoming a major fan. I was heartbroken. Of course nobody, least of all the other girls at school, understood my sorrow. Liking the Carpenters went hand in had with reading books and not having a boyfriend. At barely 12 years old. Imagine. Spinsterhood here I come.

 I had been dreading starting high school. Boganville High School was considered to be the roughest school for "under privileged" kids in Sydney's western suburbs. For months I had been hearing horror stories about how the older kids grabbed the year seven kids and flushed their heads in the toilet by way of "initiating" them. Naturally, if you happened to be shy, quiet, liked reading and listening to the Carpenters it could make you a prime candidate for such treatment. I crept around the school playground with my head down, terrified that some sinister bunch of hoodlums would attack me at any moment and drag me into the toilets. Nobody even noticed me. After a week had passed I finally relaxed, realising that maybe some of these horror stories had been exaggerated somewhat.

One morning at recess, I proceeded to read my latest book in my usual position, not far from where the canteen was situated, when I happened to hear a conversation taking place only a few yards away.  Pat was leading it, my ex so-called 'best friend' from primary school. They were discussing Karen Carpenters death which was news at the time.  Pat was saying "Yes, its really sad because they were husband and wife (??!!) and they'd only just gotten married (??!!) and they'd just started out in their musical career.

Normally I was the quietest person on earth, but I couldn''t let that pass.

"That's wrong," I said, surprising them. They hadn't even realised I was there. I went on to inform them that Karen and Richard were NOT husband and wife, but brother and sister and not only that, they had been around for some time and had a lot of hits. Of course, I expected them to be interested and grateful that I had volunteered the information but instead Pat just gave me a withering look along with the rest of them and said "Oh really?" just as if she might have said "Big deal".    

Year 10 formal, circa 1986. I was
already stunningly gorgeous and
talented. So ner.

However, it was while at High School that I began the transformation from a mega nerd from Hell to the person I am today:  a mega nerd bogan from Hell a talented writer and gorgeous, smokin' hawt fox. Observe. I became a published author. Sort of. Kind of. Not really. Oh okay, it was only in the school magazine, but that counts, right? This is the blinding piece of sheer brilliance I wrote at only age 15. A fictional story that I wrote. Read it and weep:

FACE TO FACE

Out here in the country, where everything is fresh and beautiful, it's difficult to believe that all the violence and crime you read about in the newspapers everyday really happens. The air is crisp and clean and the trees stand tall and majestic against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Kookaburras laugh loudly from their perches and the smell of eucalyptus is heavy in the air.

We had chosen the perfect spot for our holiday, a quiet little cottage in the midst of the country. The mysterious guy my sister was heartbroken over was sure to be forgotten here. Mum was already looking cheerful - and me? Well, I was just trying to rid myself of this strange eerie feeling. A premonition of something awful about to happen. What could possibly  happen out here where the people are greener than the grass?

I walked slowly, admiring the scenery. My mind was racing. What was this feeling? I tried to ignore it, but something told me I was living each day, waiting. For what, I didn't know. But I was soon to find out.

Jessica flew past me on horseback. Horse riding was  her passion, but I stuck to bikes. Even though we were sisters and looked alike, our personalities were entirely different. Jessica was adventurous, daring and very naive. She had just been hurt recently by some guy my mother and I had never even met. I watched her slowly gallop into the distance and settled down under a tree to enjoy the sunshine.

Glancing around, I searched for someone, but there was nobody. I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me. It had been happening on and off all day and it was beginning to give me the creeps. There's no one here, I told myself, determined to shake off this feeling of gloom. But it was there.

And it was still there moments later when I looked up and saw Jessica's horse galloping towards me, but no sign of Jessica. Panic gripped me, my mind full of horrifying visions of Jessica lying wounded from where she had fallen off the horse. Not thinking of the stupidity of my actions, I hurried in the direction from where the horse had come.

It was only when I was lost in a maze of trees that I berated myself fiercely. "Jessica! Where are you?" I called loudly. No answer. And no wonder. I stopped short in utter disbelief. For there she lay at my feet. Not wounded, but dead! There were no words to describe my emotions at that moment. My common sense told me that she couldn't have been killed just by falling from a horse.

"Jessica! Oh my God!" Tears were streaming down my face as I dropped to my knees beside my sister's still body. There was the unmistakable sign that a knife had been used to slit her throat. Somebody had killed her and that somebody was still lurking around waiting to kill me too.

I heard  the foot steps at that moment and turned rising to my feet. There he was. I was face to face with my sister's killer. He wasn't menacing at all. Just an ordinary looking guy. But he held a knife in his right hand.

"Hello, Anne." He knew my name. "Yes, I know you, your sister's told me all about you." He answered my unasked question.

"But she's dead now and I'm going to kill you, too." He stated it calmly, as if it were something he did everyday.

"No!" I fled past him before he could move. Just a moment ago I had found my sister dead. It was all a dream, it had to be a dream, I thought as I ran and ran. I knew he was right behind me.

It's amazing how fast you can run when you're afraid. I raced into the cottage, yelling to my mother, I rushed to slam the door, but he was stronger than me and pushed his way in, grabbing me.

My mother screamed, spotting the knife. He held me in a vice like grip, moving the knife towards my throat. He was bereft of reason, only wanting to kill, destruct.  He didn't seem to realise that my mother was there, quickly phoning the police. But we had to do something fast before I was dead.

Using all my strength, I kicked him hard in the shins and ran from his arms. He dropped the knife in my escape and I grabbed it quickly. He looked around the room as if he didn't know where he was. Then suddenly he fell to his knees, crying.

He was still there crying when the police arrived. A crazy man, familiar with drugs and the guy my sister had been heartbroken over. He was taken away in the back of a police car. We never saw him again. Never wanted to either.

My mother coped well with the funeral, but we both went to pieces afterwards. My sister was only eighteen and she was dead. Dead through the insanity of a very sick man. I realised that I would never forget what happened, but life had to go on and somehow I would face it.

 

Needless to say, I'm still painfully woeful highly skillful writer, as this boring as batshit bogan blog proves. It's also comforting to know, that thirty years later, I haven't matured beyond the age of twelve. After all, being a grown up is totally over rated. 

Linking up with Rachel at The Very Inappropriate Blog for The Lounge.

 

                                 What do you remember about your teenage years?

 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sundays With Laurie

Linking up this oldie but goodie with Denyse for Life This Week. 





Almost every weekend of my childhood, we all piled into the old Datsun 1200 and drove to the Inner West suburb of Leichhardt, and Leichhardt Oval, to watch the then Balmain Tigers play rugby league. We were 'Westies' from the outer western suburbs of Sydney. Logically my parents should have followed the Parramatta Eels or Penrith Panthers. But for some inexplicable reason they loved the Tigers and supported them passionately. 

Mum always packed our food, often including the classy old hot dogs. The frankfurts were kept in a thermos flask to keep them hot, and placed onto the accompanying rolls once we got there.This saved spending a small fortune at the kiosk.We sat in one of the old grandstands. Once the game started my parents were on the edge of their seats. I tuned out. As I've mentioned before, sport bores me. 

Luckily, I could bring a book. I was even able to read amongst all the shouting and commotion. But my brother and I never really sat still long. We were off playing. Climbing trees or sliding down the hill, behind the bigger grandstand on sheets of cardboard. We loved it and would return to the grandstand, happily exhausted and putrid. Once I ruined a whole new outfit that Mum had sewn for me. I can't remember the finer details as I was quite young, but Mum still remembers it.



Me with my brother in his full Tigers get up.  I'm
pretty sure I did have a jersey, but couldn't find a
photo of me wearing it. But my pink number
with the skivvy is quite cute anyway. This was
September 1979 according to the writing on the back.
 I was 8 and my brother had just turned 11. We were
SO CUTE! Awwwww!



Another time, I remember being at a game of the Tigers against The Rabbitohs. An obnoxious bunnies supporter was sitting behind us. Every second she'd screech "COME ON BUNNIES!!" her shrill voice piercing our eardrums. She'd barely pause to take a breath before she was screeching again. 

After annoying us with the come on bunnies chant for the duration of the game, she then commented: "Some people even dye their hair the same colour as their team." A snide reference to my brother and I's red hair. See above. 

In those days there were always people smoking in the stands too, which I loathed. There was no choice but to breath in the vile stench of clouds upon clouds of thick cigarette smoke. The smell clung to you and your clothes and hair, even after you'd left the premises.

Dad took the Tigers performance on the field rather seriously. If they weren't playing very well and it looked as if they might lose, he'd start glowering. Then pacing. Then he would decide to leave abruptly before the end of the second half, interrupting our tree climbing, hill sliding fun. We'd be whisked off, sulking, back to the car.

The long drive home would be made in tense silence. Nobody dared to speak or turn the radio on in case he heard the dreaded results. Of course, it often turned out that the Tigers managed to come back during the second half and even win the game after we'd left. If they did actually lose, Dad's grumpy mood continued for several days.

"I'm not buying the paper anymore," he'd announce, not wishing to read the sport reports.

This would then escalate to saying he wasn't going to anymore games or, in fact, supporting them at all anymore. However, the weekend would roll around and we'd inevitably pile into the car and head back down to Leichhardt.

It seems like if footy is in your blood, it's in your blood and can't be helped. Footy fever never really caught on for me. I've tried over the years to go with the old 'if you can't beat em, join em' mentality. This seemed to work out well for my Mum. But I couldn't seem to drum up any interest.



I briefly had a crush on Tigers player Wayne Pearce, but even this devotion couldn't hold my attention for a full game. I did meet him, however, at a function for Dad's work. He shook my hand and I blushed as red as my hair. I was only twelve at the time.

One of the most vivid memories of those weekends, is seeing the Tigers most legendary fan Laurie Nichols in the crowd. He'd be wearing his infamous singlets, his passion and intense love for the team emanating from every pore.

Nobody would dare to say a bad word against the Tigers to this dude. If you did, you would fear for your life. He once allegedly wanted to fight an individual who criticised the team, according to this article. Despite being advised that he should not fight him as the person had a plate in their head, Nichols apparently shot back: "I don't care if he has a full dinner set."


Laurie Nichols: The Tigers most intense fan.


Even though his intensity bewildered me, even scared me a little, I certainly remember him all these later. His presence was all a part of the experience of following the Tigers in those times. By the time the Tigers reached the Grand Final in 1988, I was a teenager, so I stayed home.

My parents sadly witnessed their two consecutive Grand Final losses, that year and the following year in 1989. They reported back to me that there were grown men sobbing, something I've never really understood. Proving I'll never be a real footy fan. Supposedly my father wasn't one of them. If he was, he's not admitting it, anyway.

Today, my parents still follow the now Wests Tigers, but don't attend games. Mick and the boys follow the St. George Dragons. I don't follow footy at all. But I do remember those days at Leichhardt Oval.

When the game was over, all the kids were allowed to run onto the field. That part was fun and exhilarating. Of course it's a shame that the enthusiasm I had for such a thing is completely non-existent today. I could certainly benefit from a spot of running!

Whether I like it or loathe it, there is no doubt that all things footy and soccer have certainly been a presence in my life. And so it continues, as I now have three sons. I can never get away from balls.

That last line was so juvenile mature. You're welcome.

Linking up with Cathy from The Camera Chronicles for Flashback Friday.



Also linking up with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess.




Do you get footy fever? What are your sporting memories?