We interrupt our scheduled journey for some things that need to be slotted in, the loss of friends…
I was laying on the oval at school with Philippa. I was 13 and we were back from the spring break.
“Do you remember what happened? That day at Gary’s?” I began to shake. I’d been having flashes over the holidays of… something. The day she was asking about had been two days before the holiday break. I told her… “I remember calling for you and Justine. I remember tears. I remember… Craig. I remember Justine’s face at the door… laughing”. Philippa replied with tears in her eyes… “I tried to reach you. I tried, but they held me back”. They were Gary and Justine. She had been my best friend at the time. We were so similar in so many ways. We could almost finish each other’s sentences.
“You didn’t say anything, so I thought maybe you were lucky and didn’t remember. But, all the talk has started. You need to know Jus has been spending a lot of time with Gary and Craig”.
Justine. Loss of a friend. Age 13.
Cameron was a year or two younger than me and lived across the road. We were friends, but we didn’t really hang out much until his mother moved across the country with his younger brother, leaving him alone with his alcoholic father. By then I was dating R.
“Was that when it happened, Mari? You know? That day the police brought you home, your clothes were all over the place. I wanted to see you, but your parents wouldn’t let me in”.
“Cameron, promise me, please, that you’ll never rape someone. Even with the way your father treats everyone… promise me you’ll never mistreat a woman?”
“Mari, one day you and I will tell our parents to go to hell and we’ll live together. We’ll be family for each other.”
I was 16 or 17.
“I need to talk to you. About Cameron. I know you and he are friends, but one night we were hanging out and, well, we drank too much. I said no, but he wouldn’t listen. Why would a friend of yours do that? I wouldn’t think you’d be a friend with someone who would do that”. Sadly, I don’t even remember her name anymore.
Cameron. Loss of a friend. Age 18.
On one of the breaks from R (oops, that post coming), I became friends with Frank. He was a little older than R and used to watch out for me when I was on one of my… spirals. I was working by then and would go on regular drinking binges. He’d find me at the clubs and make sure I stayed safe. Many a time he parked at the bottom of my street and let me sleep it off in his car. Sometimes we’d stay at his place. It never went any further than that. Quite a few times I woke up in his arms, in a panic… “Nothing happened! Oh God, tell me nothing happened!” He would calm me down, assure me that nothing happened.
“I have something to tell you. I used to sleep with a lot of girls, but all the talk of Aids made me realise that it’s time to be more careful. I promised myself that I wouldn’t take relationships lightly. I’ve been seeing someone for a while, from before you and I met. I wanted to see how things went before I told anyone. We’re getting engaged. I’d like you to meet her. You’re both important to me. You could be twins, your sense of humour, the way you see the world. She says you were friends once, that something happened and it was all lies about her. I’d like you to be friends again. It’s important to me… Her name is Justine.“
Frank. Loss of a friend. Age 18.
Throughout this journey, and yes, I know what’s still to come, the one thing that repeats over and over is my inability to talk to people about what’s inside me. Between the early message that I can’t talk in the family or outside the family and a number of events later, the above included, yeah, I can understand why I became like this. Too many times I trusted the wrong people, or things were used against me, or events just went the wrong way. Okay, unless there’s another interruption, next time we’re back to the lead up to my son’s father.