Chapter Four ~~ Alpine: My First Love
‘In partnership with a horse, one is seldom lacking for thought, emotion, and inspiration. One is always attended by a great companion.’ Charles de Kunffy
Dad agreed on a horse! I hadn’t even hinted on owning one. Now, all of a sudden my Dad was saying it would be good for a young girl to have such a responsibility, as well as a genuine interest. So, at nearly 12 years of age, I was about to go on the best sort of shopping of my life. Dad always tried to give me the best in life. And by that, I mean especially love-wise. My earliest memories are of basking in his love, in his warmth and rosy sunshine feeling safe within his space, complete. All was well with my world!
I grew up with my Dad being a happy chappie, which he expressed through great vocal cords, or at least he thought; singing opera-style songs in the shower, on the loo, always ending with self-complimentary statements, as if from nearby appraisers: ‘What a wonderful voice!’ His habits were like clockwork, we could anticipate his next vocalisation, even bodily functions such as a yawn sung at the top of his lungs, ending with operatic vibrato and/or apelike noises! Sneezes, coughs, and blow-offs, all came with the same absurd reverberations! Life was fun when Dad was around! Helped along by his golden temperament, I developed an increasing love for the world because of Dad’s simple joy of life. I also felt a natural joy and was a happy child despite the sibling rivalry. I knew that if my Dad was in the world, then there must be more like him. As the saying goes, ‘You get what you expect’. My expectations had a live-in model to go on.
And, my living model helped me in the mornings as I was somewhat backward in learning some rather simple things when I was in primary school. Tasks such as tying my shoelaces, school ties, reading the time, and the sounding out and spelling of unfamiliar words were really quite a challenge. I would often berate myself for these foibles and especially before school in the mornings. A great distraction was my morning routine when I enjoyed a yummy, warm breakfast cooked by Dad because it was, ‘The most important meal of the day’. On winter mornings he would pour hot milk over Cornflakes or Weetbix and cover them with sugar. Following, I would be up on the table while Dad tied my shoelaces and tie. All ready for school, Dad would then either drive me or wave me off as I road my bike. I always felt grown up when I rode to school. So independent, especially the first times when Dad showed his trust in me! I was eight-years-old and allowed to cross quite a busy road!
Actually the ride to and from school often held some type of confrontation for me. When I was nine, our school moved to a larger location also ten minutes from my home in the opposite direction. I had an option of two routes to get there and each possessed groups of boys from other schools lurking the streets and tracks in the afternoons. Many afternoons but not every, they would taunt me with shouts of ‘Catho’—Catholic school and I’d sometimes retort ‘pubbo’—Public school. At times they’d only jeer at me, but on one of the routes one of the boys would also stop my bike by holding the front wheel between his legs and leave me sitting there until he grew bored I guess. Before reaching the areas where they lived on my journeys home, I’d feel sick from anticipatory jitters! Obviously it couldn’t have been too bad as I continued to ride my cool, black and gold BMX bike I named, ‘Flash Gordon’ to school each day, and left these unsavoury meetings at twelve to go to high school!
On some level I attracted such bullying incidents, appearing to be a bit of a toughie, despite my small stature. I recall hanging in the ‘toughie’ girl group when I was nine and ten before meeting gentle Mouse—(soon to be introduced). There were three tough girls that used to be nice to me and I felt the reasons were mainly because Dad would arrive some morning recesses with a lunch packed with cakes, biscuits, lollies, and ice-blocks (in summer) if I hadn’t taken my lunch or had tuckshop money. At the sight of Dad arriving in our orange Kingswood someone would yell, ‘Mr Palmer’s here!’ and we’d all go racing to his car and there was usually enough treats for everyone. The other reason was because my house was a cool place to go after school and weekends, especially because we had free rein without Mum at home, and Dad worked late at nights!
Dad often worked late nights because he managed a local TAB and his finishing hours fluctuated. I would worry when he travelled two and from work, which was a whole five minutes drive away. Such anxious stirrings were the first time I contemplated the apparent finality of death, unable to imagine my life without him. Dad was also the source of my affection and nurturing without Mum being there, so he was very important to me. When he walked in the front door in the evenings after a safe homecoming, I was able to settle in my tummy and commence being his ‘little shadow’ as Julie called me. Dad would say I was like a little old lady and a worrier, describing me as 7 going on 70, 8 going on 80, and 9-90 as the years progressed.
PERHAPS THE REWARD for all my concern and worry over the years was the gift of a horse, because I was in love the moment Aunty Frecks and I laid our eyes on Alpine. He was a glorious horse … fine covered dark brown with a white running star on his forehead. He had a long slender neck, long slick front legs, and chest, standing at fourteen and a half hands. Opposite in delicate features from the rear, he had a large rump and strong hindquarters—a connoisseur’s delight! With a bouncy pace, he came towards us down a slope, led by a stable hand. Bright, alert, inquisitive, he was like a young racehorse about to run a race, and as he was only four, he could have been a racehorse! I thought he’d be far too high-spirited for me, but was still willing and game to have a ride on him to see.
We were in an enclosed paddock, which was a relief, because he bounded and bounced alongside the fence the moment I settled in the saddle and indicated forward movement. Alpine was frightened; he sensed my trepidation, as well as lack of weight and experience on his back, and it was only when I turned his head towards the fence to halt him that we could start our relationship.
We continued until I could definitely pull him up, through the manoeuvre just described. Although I liked his bouncy, kangaroo gait that showed signs he’d never be a smooth-sailing ride, the real magic between us began on dismount. Alpine was a different horse without a rider. Quiet, placid, and adorable, he could be touched anywhere! And, the way he held his ears forward and head peacefully, told me I could trust him. To demonstrate another beautiful attribute of this fine creature, the owner turned, walked away, and Alpine followed. He stopped when she stopped, turned when she turned, and looked like a loyal, loving puppy dog. Again our hearts melted.
Alpine graced us with another breathtaking moment when he was being led away. Clip clopping up the path he stopped, turned his glorious neck, and looked at us magnetically for seconds that seemed minutes. His shiny slightly furry brown coat resembled kangaroo fur, and he was an absolute vision of loveliness. I was hypnotised and love-struck; we knew he was the one. Our drive home was very merry, having found my man, well gelding that is. We would need to work hard to build a partnership, a flowing combination. The old owner said he’d go as far as my potential. The future looked bright, as did the present for I had found my dream present!
THIS IS HOW MOUSE and I flourished. I can still remember the first time I noticed Mouse in a line up at school assembly one day. She was to my right with her head lowered and a protective arm crossing her chest holding her other arm. My heart went out to her immediately for her meekness, and I also couldn’t believe how beautiful she was! Flowing blonde hair, with beautiful big green eyes on a well-structured face, all covered with brown, shiny skin! Her disposition definitely was shy but it didn’t take long before we became best friends!
Initially, due to the reasons mentioned about me being in the toughie group, Mouse and I would arrange our out of school render-vous on the quiet, not wanting to ruffle any feathers. I guess this only added more fun to our meetings!
From the moment I met Mouse my academic abilities increased daily for she was an A+ student and a real quiet achiever. As the saying goes ‘still waters run deep’ and with Mouse her depth seemed fathomless! I never considered myself as a deep thinker or of bearing a brilliant mind, I had never considered it at all, but with Mouse one knew they were in the company of true intelligence. As a natural result I commenced pondering my own level of perception and understanding! Prior to the influence of Mouse, as well as my dynamic and unique Aunty Freckles, I lacked confidence school-wise and regarded myself as an average student having no real ambition to achieve highly.
Mouse would often visit Alpine with me in afternoons after high school. I became the proud owner of Alpine in summer transition between primary and high school and spent the school holidays truly horsing around in the horsy setting of Matcham/Holgate 45 minutes from home. A year later, when I moved Alpine to a property closer to home, cool people from the Bouddi Pony Club I joined, lent her a horse to ride as her own. Mouse was the best horsy friend anyone could wish for… living, loving, and imagining horses the way I did. We horsed around for hours. Even when we weren’t near them, our imaginations sufficed for horses. We’d conduct important dressage events and imaginary performances: at school, in the park, at the beach! We were obsessed with horses, and people thought us crazy cantering here and there on our own two feet. Our minds would create the most perfectly behaved, conditioned mounts. But, even my imagination couldn’t match the actual beauty of my Alpino-man.
As Alpine and I matured together, I set my sights high and strived to compete in dressage. Dressage requires expert execution through all the gaits of a horse and we were in no way expert, the less technical, showier, show-riding arena suited us better. The sight of Alpine at his best often drew admiring onlookers. Judges were calling Alpine and me into the ring more and more as we grew together. From there, those of us selected from the group took our horses through gaits performing to the judge’s further commands. Often, a look of love would cross their face, as she or he surveyed Alpine, and they’d would sometimes receive his friendly head in their chest since halting was our biggest challenge. The last stage of an individual workout is invariably a hand-gallop in a large circle, requiring a prompt halt in front of the judge and Alpine would usually manage a few more paces out of the halt, edging closer and closer to the assessor. Even though I could never bring him to a swift standstill, he was a real charmer to all of us.
I didn’t get to see where our competition career would take us, quitting while we were ahead—well, on our way ahead anyway. Friends, boys, and a social life started winning my attention away from him. The most valuable and life-applicable lesson I gained through riding was learning that when I sometimes successfully mastered Alpine’s performance, I was mastering my own mind. A harmonious union with nature is the ideal, and the link between Alpine and me was preciously shaped. Alpine proved to be an amazing challenge and I only reaped rewards when he willingly responded to my commands, when his body language showed: ‘I want too’. We were one when we connected and shared in the movement of nature, within our own natures.
Mouse and I experienced many adventures! Before magnificent horses came our dogs! Our family now owned two Old English Sheep Dogs, Daisy and Katie. Mum had saved Katie from a neglectful owner and she initially lived with Mum, but then came to us because she kept getting out going on explorations when Mum went to work. I was thrilled. Katie and I had built our relationship when I’d visit Mum’s every second weekend, so she became my dog when she moved in with us. Because of a tough beginning, Katie’s temperament tended toward a begging behaviour and I eventually taught her how to sit up and beg, which only added to her gorgeous, loving, devotional nature!
We’d often take them to the beach. One day we were swimming and frolicking around in the surf, when this large man with a camera came up to us! He had a German accent and name was Fritz.
He asked us, ‘Can I take photos of you and your dogs?’
Innocent and trusting, Mouse and I agreed!!
Fritz directed us to play naturally with the dogs, sitting, smiling, and bounding for a long duration! When finished, Fritz gave us his number and took my address and phone number so we could meet up again for another photo session in the near future.
We couldn’t wait to get home to tell our families. Dad didn’t show any unease when I told him, but I realise now he would have naturally been concerned, he simply said he would come along in the future. Mouse didn’t fare so well, her Mum expressing her fears! Fortunately within a short time, a package arrived from Fritz containing fantastic photographs, reassuring our parents immensely. The next thing we knew we were at the beach again having another photo session. This time Dad met Fritz for his own peace of mind and assurance! And, Fritz had his partner and camera lady with him named Heidi.
We were soon on the cover of a German magazine for the RSPCA! Mouse and I smiling into the camera cuddling Daisy and Katie in the water! So famous! Fritz also took pictures of Frisky, our cats—Amber and Mini, Nanna’s toy poodle Pippa, and my horse, Alpine! He came early to my sister’s wedding to photograph bride, bridesmaids, and our beautiful dogs with pink ribbons on their heads, pink being the colour of us bridesmaids.
Fritz provided some of the most precious and joyous memories on film for us, I am so grateful! Pictures of the dogs have popped up in the most peculiar places; calendars, framed pictures etc since that time, even on a dog food wrapper that also had Mouse’s cute dog named Fugsley in the picture! We never knew where we would find images of our much-loved pets.
Actually one time Daisy, Katie and Dad graced the front page of the Express, our local newspaper, complementing Dad’s performance as the President of the Australian Rules football club! Another occasion, our dogs were graced the front page on their own... stars on the Peninsula we lived! Dad was recognised as the Sheep Dog man. Many a friend and passers by frequently saw Dad pounding the pavement addicted to jogging daily and especially on compressed, hard beach sand! Dad would arise just after sunrise, and with puppies in tow head off down the beach! Such a great influence; however, I only managed to drag myself out of bed at sunrise for all day gymkhanas and equestrian events at Bouddi Pony Club. Oh, to the love and power of horses!
Chapter Five ~~ Early Days
‘This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance; a lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.
We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.
This is a precious moment, but it is transient, it is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring light heartedness and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And, then this moment will have been worthwhile – Gotama the Buddha’
Alicia came into my life in my early teens. We had been at the same schools—St John the Baptist Primary School since kindergarten and moved into St Joseph Girl’s High School together, but didn’t hang out together until her family bought a home across the park from me. Living so close, we started seeing each other outside of school. She’d visit my house, which we had to ourselves until Julie came home from work.
After school one day at Woy Woy Railway Station, Alicia was talking to a friend of her brother named Rick. They were looking for a place to meet up next Friday night, so I offered mine! Dad wouldn’t be home until nine pm and he always gave me and my friend’s time on our own when he was home. The next day Rick asked me if his school friend Ben could come along too. We giggled at the thought of a double date and were very excited when the night came having never had a date with a guy on a Friday night, or on any night. We fussed about ourselves in the mirror, smoked cigarettes, which I had started smoking more regularly than when Lindy and I would sneak a rare cigarette near the creek down the road when I was only 12. Now 14, I felt quite grown up, entering the adult world, quickly and surely.
After quite a wait, we took a torch and walked across the park in expectation. Finally, a figure appeared on a bicycle. To our calls the figure stopped, but didn’t answer. On nearer approach we saw that it was Ben. He seemed familiar and later we realised we had met twice, approximately three years ago at this park… and he hadn’t said hello then either. As an 11 year old, this wouldn’t do, and I remember calling, ‘Why won’t you answer me?’ as he rode away. Ben still didn’t speak when he followed us into my house, so Alicia and I chitchatted away, being all the noise we needed, as well as playing music for nerve relief. In no time, Rick arrived. We watched music videos, played music, and I felt strangely comfortable with Ben even though he was a shy guy of few words. The stilted conversation and awkward moments didn’t deter me. I detected a special ‘boyfriend’ feeling with him, detectable enough to kiss … but, not before accidentally burning him on the chin with my cigarette.
As Ben rode away that evening I sang Mum’s favourite goodbye song, ‘When will I see you again?’
The relationship that transpired with Ben wasn’t one of many cuddles. It seemed as if we were just part of a gang, except he stayed around when Mouse and Alicia went home. He was two years older than me, and I liked his quiet patience and his deep-thinking mind. A bond inevitably developed between us due to seeing each other after school most days and on the weekends; however, I started to feel we were getting too serious... that I was growing up too fast.
* * *
I wanted to break it off after seven months of going out with him. This was much harder than I expected. He was devastated, his normally quite inexpressive face showed so much emotion. Tears fell, as his chin quivered. He didn’t want this to happen, he whispered to me so tenderly. I didn’t realise he had been feeling such deep emotion. We both cried. Such emotion was new to me.
At school the next day, Ben sent a red rose to my classroom. The words were ‘Another chance?’ I was touched. A day or two later another arrived, with words ‘love always Ben’. He left freshly picked roses at my front door on other days, and as each day went by, I looked forward to coming home to flowers. One afternoon a parcel was in my letterbox, with the plaque I bought him at Christmas enclosed: ‘Happiness is loving you’. He wrote on a note:
This is probably my last and final ditch effort to get you back. Remember the plaque? They were your feelings but they are not now, but they are still mine, and always will be. Just tell me if you even think there’s a chance yes/no, and I won’t annoy you anymore.
Love always Ben
PS: Send me back the plaque if you can, so I can have it.’
He also left letters at my front door, filled with loving, romantic things. I was very flattered by his passionate persistence:
‘I love you hopelessly over and over, you are the ultimate dream come true, and when I’m with you I’m in heaven…. I’m not competition compared to other guys (?) but I love you, love you honey, give me a go precious. Love eternally Ben xxxxxxxxxx’
‘Anyway I’m going to send you a rose everyday (when I can’t afford anymore, I’ll pinch roses). You can throw the roses away or keep them. (If you throw them away, or ring me up or contact me in anyway, and tell me to stop sending flowers, I won’t listen, stubborn you reckon.)’
I became addicted to Ben’s many expressions of love and didn’t mind if he was watching me walk home from the bus stop. I only sensed him, but somehow knew he was looking from a secret location across the park, or the end of the street. He actually did do these things, and I felt strangely honoured he’d bother to spend his time in such ways. So I’d behave as normal as possible, not feeling irked. Ben would also ring and hang up, ride by my house on his bicycle, then postie bike, and when he got his license, he would often drive-by in his cool V8 car to draw my thoughts to him.
All this sounds obsessive and it was, but back then, I felt it was testimony of his love. To find Ben’s behaviour appealing shows my own peculiar mind. Not surprisingly, it was never long before I invited him back. The lovely feeling of reunion in those tender moments was intense and transitory—and Dad’s words would run through my mind, ‘it may surprise you, but it’s the men that usually want the relationship so much, that find it hard to let go’.
Chapter Six: 1987 ~~ Dancing Before My Time
‘If there were no pain, one would not enjoy the experience of joy. It is pain that helps one to experience joy. Everything is distinguishable by its opposite. The one who feels pain deeply is more capable of experiencing joy.’ Hazrat Inayat Khan
I was ‘allowed’ into the Ettalong Beach Memorial Club at only 15 years and 9 months. It was my first attempt to go to an over 18 venue and I went with Lindy’s Identification and Electoral/Medicare Care cards, familiar with her signature. Gaining entrance was a nerve-racking process. The door attendant asked me to sign Lindy’s signature a few times on a separate piece of paper to ensure authenticity. Everyone told me I looked younger than my age, so I thought there was no way he would let me. He did and I felt incredibly relieved walking up the stairs with Ben to the nightclub. Happily for me, photo identifications had yet to come into existence.
We met Lindy upstairs and she and I boogied on the dance floor for the first time! Lindy initiated me into the dance scene… and I was blessed to share many more dances with her over the next two years. Dances I would always cherish ….
I didn’t tell Dad about that time; however, I soon asked him if I could go nightclubbing, with a good reason. When I was at parties with Mouse and Alicia, partygoers would progressively dwindle from nine pm onward, until only those in for the big drink remained. All we wanted to do was dance, but we couldn’t in a non-existent dance atmosphere. Dad graciously agreed, understanding that the majority of my friends were two years older, and legally able. He trusted my maturity and felt the bouncers would know I was underage; yet, let me in seeing I was harmless. So fair minded!
Lindy and I had fun getting ready for these nights, laughing, and talking throughout the procedure as girls do! She would leave an hour earlier to sign the left or right book, whichever we arranged. An hour alone, I would re-fix my make-up and hair until the time came to call a cab bound for the disco. Successful entrance allowed us to dance, dance, dance, and every attempt was successful!
Ben and I had trouble getting along at social affairs, and at nightclubs, this was even worse. Because Ben didn’t enjoy dancing, he often stood on the outskirts, observing me having a ball, friendly and happy, dancing for the love of it! The smiles, charms, and energies of the guys and girls dancing nearby heightened my zest.
But, tragically I was losing my zest for Alpine! Having a great social life, a boyfriend, playing hockey on Saturdays, and not forgetting schoolwork, my time and energies were diminishing from Alpine. The situation was unfair on both Dad and Alpine; things couldn’t remain as they were. I needed to sell Alpine! Dad was pleased with my decision, saying it was the right and mature thing to do. Not ready to make it a reality, I left further details to Dad.
Fairly soon afterwards, Dad told me a woman named Sue was interested. Days later, I went with her to see Alpine. She seemed a nice person, which put me at ease if Alpine went to her, but I didn’t really think about losing him, preferring to shut myself off from the inevitable daunting, tearing emotions. We chatted easily in the car, and once there, I proudly showed him off. He was as good as always in the paddock and still so when I rode him, working figure eights and having fun.
Before Sue mounted Alpine, I warned he was likely to take-off, being accustomed to only one rider. Sure enough, first steps of the trot turned into a fast canter, and then gallop, right up the hill to the fence. My darling hadn’t changed! When we were reunited, I decided to double Sue to give her a feel for his gait, and show how placid he really was. Doubling wasn’t a problem; Alpine didn’t put a foot wrong. On dismount, I gave Sue a display of Alpine’s most endearing qualities, i.e. following puppy-like, standing quietly as I moved around and underneath him, between his back legs and belly. She was touched. The only thing she needed to consider was whether he was too high-spirited—a familiar memory.
The only thing I asked of Sue if she decided to buy Alpine, was to let me know when she would be collecting him. She said she would. On the 31st May, Dad said Sue certainly did wish to buy him … my diary records: ‘Today I Sold my Alpine Baby ~ The second worst day in my life. I LOVE HIM TOO MUCH TO LET HIM GO – NOW IT’S TOO LATE. Together 4 years and 5 months. Our Highest achievement in equestrian competitions = RESERVE CHAMPION GELDING.’
Sadly, Sue didn’t tell me when she was to collect Alpine. I discovered this from Dad. This made June 1987 one of the most intense months for me so far.
30 Tuesday June 1987: ‘30 figures aren’t my days of the month. I bought him 31st/Dec/1983; Sold him 31st /5/1987, Lost him 30th / 6th/1987. Alpine is gone forever. … The worst day of my life! I just found out that Alpine had been moved from Seabreeze to Terry Hills in Hornsby. Now I’ll never get to see him again. The new owner didn’t give me a chance to say GOODBYE. To the only thing I have ever owned and ever loved (of my own). My baby’s gone forever! I sold him on the 30th of 5th but the reality of it hasn’t hit me until now! I’ll never get to ride him, cuddle him, kiss him, talk to him, love him ever again. I didn’t even know he meant so much to me. God, I wish I didn’t sell him. I NEVER WANT TO RIDE ANY OTHER HORSE AGAIN. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. HE WAS THE BEST FRIEND I’VE EVER HAD and I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT – UNTIL NOW……….. I Love Alpine’
IT WAS A TIME OF ENDINGS. On June 20th, my diary also records: ‘broke up with Ben. This time for sure and never be back with him again because we don’t work. I’ll miss him heaps though! I still care heaps about him but not love. I was sooo sad – I cried and cried and cried – So did he.’
This time, I promised myself I would resist his colourful expressions of love!
But as many first loves, it was on again just over month later. I didn’t know what was going on inside my brain, but something made me want to see him again! After each tender reunion, I couldn’t believe that our relationship would become even more up and down, and angrier. Whenever we were out, he became extra watchful over me as I interacted with others… his stare was penetrating, and I was confused. Why were we together, I often questioned myself, especially when we didn’t know how to get along.
We had an unhealthy relationship, as trust didn’t exist between us. We had also begun smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana—a generally perceived illegal activity, became acceptable to me, curiosity bringing about my first attempts to try it. I enjoyed smoking far more than drinking, as I maintained control of my mind and emotions. It was strange to me that alcohol was legal yet capable of bringing out the worst in people. I felt marijuana was vastly tame in comparison.
Marijuana acted as a buffer from the madness of my relationship with Ben, for he too preferred a puff to a drink. We would have smokes in his car, in my bedroom (blowing smoke out the window), at friends’ houses, and often at my brother’s house. David lived with a lovely woman named Kaz, and Ben and I spent many evenings at their home as our relationship found solace in their company. That was until David and Kaz became argumentative from drinking too much. At these times, we’d make our departure at the first opportunity. Once we left because David had become argumentative with me. Next day after school, I found this letter under my pillow:
‘DEAR BEAUTIFUL SUZIE I AM VERY SORRY ABOUT LAST NIGHT. I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT I SAID BUT KAZ TOLD ME IT WAS PRETTY BAD. I AM VERY, VERY SORRY BECAUSE I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH. TO MY FAVOURITE, BEAUTIFUL SISTER. FROM DAVID (ALIAS DICKHEAD FROM LAST NIGHT). I HOPE YOU AND BEN CAN FORGET LAST NIGHT AND COME UP AND SEE US.’
Regardless of the infrequent silly stuff, there was a lot of love between Dave and me.
Looking over my diary for age sixteen it is not surprising my relationship with Ben was off and on. I mention four guys, spaced quarterly within the year: numbers reflecting my ever-changing adolescent mind. With these people, we kissed and cuddled. My interests were innocent. If we had crossed sexual barriers, it may have been a different matter. When the other started to wish for more, then that was my departure time, having no desire to ‘sleep around’. This was the trigger to propel me back to Ben, as he was my only ‘real’ intimate partner – safe with ‘better the devil you know’.
My emotions were up and down, pulled between breaking up with Ben and getting back with him again. In the between times, I was with the other love interests or hanging out with Mouse, Alicia and/or Lindy. At exactly sixteen years and ten months, I wrote the strongest words I’d ever written in my diary, and don’t even remember why: ‘I HATE LIFE AND SOMETIMES I HATE ME’… along with the mention that Ben had left for the third time that day.
I was fighting an inner battle to find my identity and understand my constantly changing heart.
Chapter Seven: 1988 ~~ Calm Before the Storms
Not much happened when I was 17, though I still lived in a topsy-turvy mind for most of it, almost welcoming the distraction of school. Especially towards the year’s end as the final HSC examinations fast approached. I did well in them, surprisingly, since I was back in a mixed sex education at Henry Kendall High (St Joseph only went to year 10), where I was more easily distracted, but topped the school in the Three Unit Modern History examination—a first for me in huge or small exams. Even the teacher was surprised!
Ben and I continued seeing each other throughout this year and our friendship was better than the previous years. I shared many weeknight meals at his house with his generous parents and younger sister; and felt blessed to be a part of their family!
Then came my wild eighteenth year—dance parties, college, and a very sad occurrence. A colourful year that changed my life, deepened it, and gave me strength for the years to come.
~~ To be continued ...