Saturday, 14 March 2015

The First Boy I Ever Loved

I want to tell you about my brother… but I can’t.

I want to tell you about his heart and about his successes and about his struggles. I want to share with you what I see when I look at him. I want to tell you how strong he his. I want you to know what amazing things he has done with himself and his life.

I want to tell you but I can’t.

I have these stories about my brother that will amaze you. There are things I could tell you that would move you. The paths he has travelled would blow your mind. I want to tell you.

I want to tell everyone. But I can’t.

I wish I could share my perspective of my brother with the whole world. I want the world to know what an incredible soul walks among us. I want to tell you how his life has taught me. I want you to see how his love has healed me.

But I can’t.

I want everyone who knows me today to understand that before they did, I was first his sister. I want to tell you why being his sister has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. I want you to understand why that though it seems like I am the strong one it has always been him. I want to tell you the reason I would not be the mother I am today if it were not for my brother. I want to explain to you how I would not be the woman I am today if it were not for my brother. I want to share how he taught me to love and how he taught me to forgive. I want you to see how I have always felt stronger with him by my side. I want you to know that he was the first person who made me want to be better.

I want to. But I can’t.

My brother guards his heart. My brother guards his stories. So I love him completely and quietly. I don’t share his stories. I don’t share our memories. I stand with him and help him guard his heart. I stand quiet and proud that I am his sister, though I can never tell you why.

What I can tell you is that he is 40 today. I have loved this man for forty years. I have looked upon his face as it has grown and I have smiled into his eyes a million times. I have cheered him on at soccer carnivals and screamed encouragement at BMX races. I have consoled women who have loved him and sniggered with mates who have adored him. I have been scared that I will never see him again. I have rolled my eyes at some seriously stupid shit he’s done. I have whipped his arse at Monopoly and spent hours playing UNO and Pick-Up Sticks. I have fought hard against him in stand-offs neither of us wanted to back down from. I have laughed until I cried listening to his boyhood tales and have cried until I have laughed commiserating with him. My brother and I have survived losing our father and very nearly our way together.  

I can tell you that Jason was the first boy that I ever loved and though you may never know why, I am one lucky woman to call him my brother.

Happy Birthday Jase. Love you little bro x

Friday, 6 March 2015

Where do you go to my lovely?

"Where do you go to my lovely?
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do"

When I was in my early twenties I worked for Apple. They were some of the greatest days of my life for many, many reasons not the least being that I was in my early twenties. I have memories that make me smile every time I think of them even decades later but there is one that still amazes me as much as it did when it actually happened all those years ago.

I was at one of their national conferences in Sydney and out for the evening with all my newly connected colleagues from head office and the branches around Australia. The early 90s was pre Fringe Benefits Tax so EVERYTHING went on the Apple tab. EVERY.THING. So much fun. Lots of drinking and lots of late night talking. And on this particular night I was talking to a relatively new exec at Apple called Lorraine. She was older than me [I WAS young after all, everyone was bloody older than I was] but we ‘clicked’ and sat chatting in the bar for hours about all things.

I can’t remember how or why but I do remember talking to her quite openly and nostalgically about my recently departed dad. Perhaps it was just that he was recently departed or perhaps there was another catalyst but whatever the reason, I felt inspired to share.

I told her about my parents’ great, young love and romanticised their demise. I spoke of the inherent ‘coolness’ of having young parents who loved each other in the 70s and I told her of ‘their song’. You know how all our relationships [good and bad] have ‘the song’? The one that you hear today, even decades later that will remind you of that time and that love? Well their song was ‘Where do you go to my lovely?” by Peter Sarstedt. In my circles of friends it was a little-known, old song. But I knew it word for word because I had heard it so many times.

So I tell my new found friend Lorraine of this song except instead of telling her the song, I sing it to her because no-one ever knows the song when I mention it by title. And as I sing, paying no mind to the bar we were sitting in, I cry a little bit because I’d been drinking and I was young and my dad’s death was fresh on my heart.

And I watched her face change as I sang it and saw the tears well up in her eyes too and I remember thinking very briefly that she was moved by my story and by the lyric. She waits until I have finished the chorus and says to me :

“Peter Sarstedt is my brother”

Accascuse me?? [of course I didn’t say that because the genius of Pitch Perfect hadn’t been invented yet but my 20 something self would definitely have rolled that one out if I had known about it then]

I can’t even tell you what I thought in that exact moment. But I do remember thinking she must be bullshitting me. No-one I knew had even heard of the song, let alone the artist and here was this woman, that I had just met who for some bizarre reason I felt compelled to share such an emotional part of myself with telling me that she was this artist’s sister.

And then she told me things. Many things about her and her relationships and her family and how she never tells anyone who her brother is. She told me that hearing how something her brother had done was so special to a family on the other side of the world, made her feel proud and connected to him. That shared moment of vulnerability was extraordinary and will be forever imprinted on my life’s tapestry. When I got home I told my mum, who COULD NOT BELIEVE IT until a copy of the cassette [it was the 90s people] signed by Peter himself arrived for her. Very, very special.

It was never a story I thought to share until just last week a friend of mine posted a link to that song on her Facebook page. And the memory hit me, full-force, in the gut. And I told her that story and she loved it and it was her that highlighted the value of vulnerability and where sharing can take us all.

So here I am, sharing.

"I know where you go to my lovely,
When you're alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
'Cause I can look inside your head"