Monday, July 16, 2007
Walking the streets of a strange city, I understand that I am alien. I am homeless in my own country, and between addresses in this new state. I spent last night with a famous border crosser. My borders have all been breached. I've kept telling you about this new place that I've been looking for, this space for something new to grow. I think I've found it. It's ground zero. I am handed the simplest of forms, with the most basic of questions, and I don't have the answer. I'm in the middle of a fog, with sunlight beating down. Distinctions that used to be safe are melting on a blurred skyline and a hot tarmac. I talk to strangers. Most of them are homeless too. If I close my eyes for just 3 minutes 37 seconds I think I might melt too. There is no point in keeping your eyes open in a fog, you just have to feel your way through...
The evening sky presents a beautiful magenta slash, could it be a fishbone or a strange beetle? The new moon slither delicately places itself. I am in St Stephens cemetery in Newtown. It is an old cemetery, by Sydney standards and is completely walled in. It is an oasis in the inner city, a quiet place to read, picnic, sleep, contemplate, caress, listen to music. On the way here I overheard a woman say to another in passing - " It was 5 degrees this morning! Disgusting!". I think about that, now, as I listen. "Disgusting", such an odd word to describe a temperature measurement, or maybe the oddness is about where it was placed in the statement, at the end, a definite, a solid opinion, there is no negotiation!
I listen and think about the many years I have come to this cemetery, the visits marking my life, tide markers. This place holds many secrets and not just the ones that lie with the dead and buried. My 1st visit here was when I was 24, it was the middle of the night, I was high on life, inlove and on acid. My boyfriend, at the time was high on too much scotch. Always one for an adventure, on a whim he had bundled me into a taxi, from the party we had been at, and sped me off into the night leaving the revellers behind. We left the cab in some backstreet, and with suitable melodrama he proclaimed we must approach from here, the view is beautiful! As we walked along, I was floating, suitably distracted by the glow-worm sparks in every dark corner. Then I looked up to see the grand gothic spire from the cemetery church, looming in the night sky. It was quite breath-taking. As we came closer, a suitable hush descended upon us, the streets seemed quiet and deserted, there was a tension as if the air was holding its breath. At the gates, my boy suddenly let out a mischievous chuckle and with a flurry and a turn of his dark cape,raced head on into the darkness ahead. I smiled, I was still on a high, playing the game, unquestioningly following. However, after 30 metres or so the darkness enveloped me, I had no idea the lay of the land, so to speak, I did not know how extensive or large this place was and it was quiet and pitch black. Up till that point, appropriately enough, I had been pouring a length of heavy chain from one hand into the other. I had picked it up at the party and become obsessed with its feel and sound. However, in the stillness of the cemetery, it had started to sound booming and loud. A marker, a beacon for the denizens, that inhabit such nocturnal places. I waited for my boy to jump out from behind a grave, and laugh, hoping to make me scream. It didn't happen. i wandered a bit more, but the unfamiliarity and the aural and visual distortions of the drugs only served to halt my progress. At some point I found solace in a large morton bay figtree. Nestled in its fleshy limb, I waited and waited. A night bird sounded its forlorn chime. I must have stayed put for nearly 2 hours, listening to the occasional screeching cars and shouts from beyond the cemetery walls. I couldn't decide what was scarier, to stay inside here or venture out there. When the cold finally threatened to drag me down into the ground with its icy fingertips, I knew I had to leave. Plucking up more courage I prepared myself for the walk home, alone.
I survived that night, and my boy did come home not long after, when large droplets of rain had fallen on his face and woke him from his drunken slumber upon his favourite gravestone.
As the song comes to a close, I think, I never did find out which stone was the favourite gravestone of that fateful evening. Now, I have a selection of my own favourite gravestones, places to sit or lie or picnic or seduce. Not to mention the special grave, host to a thriving beehive, whose delicious pungent heady scent hangs in the air on those warm summer evenings as I lean over to kiss my lovers lips.