Friday, 6 January 2012

Jamie and Dawn of Dayboro.

So I am so physically exhausted right now that I don't even know why I set this sentence up for some kind of allegorical comparison. Bugger it. The body is failing but the mind - and sense of righteous, idealistic blasphemy is alive and seizing. And so, I will tell you about an experience I had several years ago.

I am not entirely sure when it was, but it was during the time I had a car full of clothes and whatever shit I could justify keeping in it, and not knowing where my next meal was coming from, or whether or not I would have a roof over my head that night. Now, at the time, I was broken. I can look back now with a 'healthy disrespect,' for who I was, then - but at the time, I was seriously hung up on some really heavy crap. I had just lost everyone dear to me, for good or for ill, and considered that the world owed me a living. I hadn't yet realised that it is perfectly fine to sleep under a bridge, or in my car, or that a slice of bread, an apple, and clean water is a perfectly beautiful meal. I was, in short, a colossal broken fool.

The mother of the family whose spare room I was inhabiting at the time suggested I visit her friend out in the sticks. This friend, whose name I forget, but what the hell, we will call her Dawn. Anyway, Dawn had been known to my erstwhile landlady to take in strays and orphans and fuck-ups. Usually a decade or so younger than me, but perhaps in a desperate attempt to get me out of her place, I got sent to meet Dawn and decide whether or not I could move there.

I noted with dismay, on arriving in Dawn's town, that it was no longer the picturesque and tranquil rural village I had known and loved since the first time my father first got it into his head to 'go for a drive in the country.' It had become yuppie central, full of pretentious cafe's, child-care centres and supermarkets with polished boardwalks. Even the streets were sealed and had concrete kerbs and streetsigns. They seemed also to have launched a crusade against dirt roads. Fuck.

Dawn was not the first person I met. Her 'adopted 'son'' Jamie met me in the front yard. We spent several minutes talking. The boy was strongly androgynous, 13 years old. I remember his straight, black hair down to his shoulders, and his melodic voice. Dawn knew I was there, but for some reason, did not deign to come and meet me for a good while - over half an hour, if memory serves. In that time, Jamie and I had talked about all kinds of things, from our experiences of life, to Warcraft II, to all the things the game meant to us. I just...knew deep inside that the kid was alright, and so was I.

Dawn was, in short, a caustic bitch. She had horrendous body odour, and her home smelled and looked the kind of mould-and-mildew-ey that you don't get unless you don't clean it properly for months. It ran deeper even than the filth I had endured in my mother's home growing up. Anyway, she barked an order at Jamie to go to his room when she found us talking, demanded to know what the hell I was thinking, to which I replied something along the lines of, he's a good kid, and we both like the same stuff. To that, she warned me about how unstable he was, the abuse he had suffered, how he still wet the bed and was prone to violent fits, and (this is fucking gold, right here) how she had worked too long and hard to 'fix' him to let somebody like me threaten all her hard work.

I mean, SERIOUSLY? He was an alright kid! You don't...DO THAT, to kids, unless your goal is actually to fuck them up even more. Dawn, you egocentric selfish fuck.

Back then I was pretty spineless, sure, but that incensed me. She then went on to ask me what I wanted from living there - I replied with a suggestion that she already had an agenda picked out for me. Spineless, yes. Diplomatic and insightful, absolutely. She demanded that I have a job, contribute to society, and be a part of her family. In short, the pattern came full circle. Unhygeinic control freaking bitch. As a dear friend of mine said, "people who want a certain atmosphere in their home usually expect it on their terms." Atmospheres rely on behaviour, which relies on stimuli and choices. At the time of the story I'm telling you here, I was in desperate need of a place to fucking collapse for as long as I needed to. I had been through hell, and knew my limits, despite having them pushed at every fucking turn. I knew I could not abide a home where I was being perpetually hounded by an egocentric, smelly fuck, so, as politely as I could, I declined to move into her home, and left.

I found Jamie sitting in the tree that I had parked my car under. He told me he wished he could go with me. I asked him how I knew I was leaving (since the last thing we had said before Dawn ordered him to his room (away from me) was that I was sent there to see about moving in), and he said he had not stayed in his room, but had listened to Dawn and my conversation.

All he wanted was a brother. Shit, not even that - just family, whatever that means. A connection with someone. This is our last conversation - what I had felt in my soul about him, and everyone like him, all my life.

"Dawn thinks you're bad, but I know you're not. If you stayed..."
"You heard what happened, mate. I can't stay."
"Yeah, I know."
There was a long silence, as he picked components off the tree, agitatedly, and I picked similar components off the bonnet of my car, in a similar state of agitation. Then he spoke again.
"Thanks for the Warcraft II cheats - whoever would have thought you could make your people invincible? I'm going to win the entire game with only one grunt, now."
"What will you name him?"
"What should I name him?"
"Jamie. 'Cause Jamie IS invincible, and he can do anything."
He sat quiet for a long moment, until Dawn screeched his name. He flinched. Dropped out of the tree and ran inside.

I drove away with several anguished thoughts. The predominant one being that Jamie and I had shared something profound - what was, at the time, a sublimely pure and beautiful human connection. For all of under an hour.

Not a day goes by that I don't lament the rarity of that kind of thing.

And not a week goes by where I don't, somewhere inside me, wish I had stayed. For Jamie.

And somewhere even in the deep, dark recesses of my soul, loathes myself for not being good enough to sustain every connection that has failed.

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