A year ago about this time the talk around town (and Facebook) was all about Pamela and me going to Australia.
It seems like yesterday but it feels like years since we were talking about it.
That said, here I am still reminiscing about the 2 weeks in time that I will not soon forget.
I began writing about our journey a while back and stopped short for reasons that now elude me.
Let’s just say that life sometimes gets in the way.
Please forgive me.
My last post got us to Townsville in Queensland where Moe and Mark live.
I remember descending into the small airport and thinking, “So, this is where we Skype every weekend,” not knowing that there was much more than meets the eye behind this place called Townsville (aka, Paradise).
After taking a badly needed shower, Pamela and me proceeded to do what you do on holiday.
We sat our asses in the backyard and had a few drinks, a few cigars and talked about our flights over.
The QLD sun was hotter than I thought it would be and I found a slice of shade to sit in.
I kept mentally pinching myself as if to notify my tired brain that I was really sitting in Oz;
being that far away from home can disorient you into believing you’re not really there.
I got the piss taken out of me 244 times that afternoon. (yeah, I counted)
The plan for the day was to chill out for a bit and go to Mel and Steve’s
(Moe and Mark’s daughter and son-in-law) later that day for our first authentic Australian barbecue.
The details of our first afternoon are a bit foggy but I do remember shitting my pants on our drive over when Mark went into the first Aussie roundabout I had ever encountered.
I mentally made the sign of the Cross knowing I was about to die because he was going the opposite way that people in the States go.
After getting through the roundabout I once again made the sign of the Cross and began a deeper understanding of the phrase, ‘DownUnder’.
Please pass me the vegemite.
We arrived at Mel and Steve’s and got a tour of the place which was under some serious renovation.
With the help of Caleb and Lucas (M&S’s sons) we toured the house which was in a transition phase.
In about six months this place would be a palace.
I still badly want Mel’s kitchen which was any true chef’s dream.
Appetizers came out; Prawns (huge ass shrimp for you folks in the Northeast, but they’re sweeter than shrimp), Cabana and cheese (Cabana is like a really nice mild but spicy kielbasa), fruit, veggies and more than one could ever eat. [just you wait for my description of the amazing Brie in Victoria]
But Steve had a plan for me in terms of Australian beer.
XXXX Gold: (rat piss in a can, and Steve told me I could just toss it, which I did)
Toohey’s New: (not bad but reminded me of Sam Adam’s lager, which I hate. I drank it though)
VB Victoria Bitters; once again not bad but not much better than Toohey’s.
James Boag; a total winner for me, hands down. A great beer with flavor and strength to boot.
With multiple beers under my belt I watched in amazement as Steve grilled our food.
The smell coming off the grill should be made into a MAN cologne. [truth]
Snags, lamb chops, steak and grilled onions made my stomach yearn for some food.
Snags, btw, are beef sausages and not available in the US.
The aroma of grilled snags is simply wonderful.
Steve also made some snags w/ vegemite.
How do you spell AWESOME?
We sat and ate a BBQ that just blew my mind (and our caloric count for the day)(like I was counting, right?)
Life was very good that night at Mel and Steve’s.
To them we were in a sense strangers but they made us feel like family.
And maybe we were; I like to think that.
The blazing sun had set hours before we got done eating and it was time for yours truly to look at the Australian night sky.
Me, Mark, Steve, Caleb and Lucas went out into the front yard.
“There it is,” Mark said.
As he was pointing, I saw it.
I’ve loved stargazing for as long as I can remember but never have I wanted to see something as bad as this.
“The Southern Cross.”
I gazed at it, totally spellbound, tears forming in my eyes.
My first night in Oz was now complete.
That was until Mel brought out the Pavlova.
to be continued . . .
ps. Snags and eggs? I love you.
Last Sunday my wife and I stopped by the cemetery to spend a few quiet moments with my Dad
seeing it was Father’s Day.
It was a sun-shiny day with puffy white clouds dotting an iridescent indigo sky and a gentle breeze that easily moved the American flag marking my father’s eternal place in the world.
We watered the royal purple petunias that my sister got for the grave and sat for a spell.
Cemetery silence is like no other.
It traps me in my own thoughts as I ‘talk’ to Dad while trying to figure out just what the hell is going on in my life.
Like he will just pop out of nowhere and answer me.
In a perfect world, as I always say.
I can’t remember the last Father’s Day that I spent with the man when he was of sane mind.
That bothered me last Sunday, a bit more than usual.
Maybe my daily commute to Boston and endless hours on the merry-go-round/cheese wheel that we call life has sucked the remembering marrow out of too many bones in my body.
I told him, “I’m tired, Dad. And I miss you. And I want to be 10 years old again,” as the thoughts of oiling my old Rawlings baseball glove for the ultimate game of ‘Catch’ rolled around my head.
It was total vindication of the good old days that sat heavy in my heart.
Every visit to see my Mom and Dad is sentimental in some way.
Maybe it’s how I’m wired, I don’t know.
I kissed my palm and touched the names of both Walter and Virginia, all that’s physically left of them.
I wanted to just drive by the old neighborhood for shits and giggles and made my way towards my old house.
I turned down Harvard Street driving past all the old neighbors; the Gilbert’s, the Masterson’s, the Pelletier’s, the Pinard’s and on and on.
The fields I once played on were totally overgrown with brush and trees and sadly no sign of my once significant presence.
We came back up Harvard Street and I looked at the house I’d grown up in.
There was no one home and there were pastel yellow signs taped on the front and back door that said, “NO TRESPASSING!”
I pulled my SUV into the driveway and Pamela and I got out to survey the multiple broken windows and damage.
The place that was once my ‘home’ was devastated.
Mold was eating its way throughout the entire exterior.
It was raped of its innocence and simple beauty.
It was a crime scene of epic proportions.
I was crying inside as I peered into the windows of rooms that held so many good memories for me now destroyed by people that just didn’t give a shit; holes in walls, carpets that looked a million years old and covered with dirt and soot.
It was disgusting.
The animals living here were lower than assholes.
If they were standing right in front of me I would say that to their hairy faces.
I was angry and sadder than I had been when I sold the house.
What would make someone do this to a place called home?
I was speechless.
What really hurt was that the window in what used to be my bedroom was shattered, she-doo-bee-doop, shattered, shattered.
I wish I had a great ‘tie it all up in a bow’ ending for this story but I don’t.
My old house is very sad.
And I can’t blame her.
It makes me even sadder because there’s nothing that I can do.
If my arms were big enough, I would have given her a hug.
But it’s too late for that.
The damage is already done.
And I’ll remain shattered . . .