Monday, February 28, 2005

At Lennox Head

A brahminy kite wheels over Angels Beach. Two boys on bikes. The surf roars. It never stops. If you want to know how inconsequential you are, you need only listen to the ever moving sea.


Drifting spray on the front street. The band is no good but they are trying hard. We do not know the songs they are playing. Are they covers or their own? They started with a cover of Easy and that made it hard for us to know.

If they are covers, why not play something we know and can join in with?

They started with a cover of Easy and the girl stepped out into the pub so that she could check the levels. She told the bassist up a bit, the keyboardist up a bit, but she didn't listen to herself. She didn't hear herself and now she is drowned out.

The rhythm section is not quite tight. I am saying to Mrs Zen that she should listen to the bass drum and hear where the bass goes. But that's not quite it because you feel it if it's right. You can't analyse it but we are willing to substitute explanations for understanding. Mrs Zen eats a steakburger. The girls who are sharing our table are talking about men.

They don't seem to have been enjoying their lives lately.


A man in a kaftan. I'm reminded of home. We used to laugh that you could tell the DS because they were the guys in kaftans. This guy is not DS. He's trying too hard to be alternative though, just as they did.

The problem with the alternative here is that they talk about peace and love but mostly they just don't like the rest of the world much. Yes, I know they're not likeable but I think that trying to is noble.

If I could only figure out why I think trying to is noble.


We are high above the coastal plain. We can see the cape and the whole of Byron Bay. We can see Lennox, probably Skennars Head the other way. We are playing Bloc Party but Naughtyman is crying.

I remember how I hated travelling the Highlands with my dad. How I wanted just to read. I learned to read in cars without feeling sick and I rarely bothered to look at scenery you'd pay for.

Kids, I know, you can't make them want it.

When we are at the market, Zenella will not eat anything. The only place on the east coast of Australia where a vegetarian can feel at home and she will not eat. She only wants ice cream. When I ask her what is the best part of her holiday, she does not hesitate for a moment. Ice cream, she laughs.


When it is still in the night -- still bar the ever present surf and the cicadas -- I turn to look at Zenella, sleeping next to me.

I have become afraid of dying but I am more afraid that she will have to die too. What a thing to do, to give that to someone. But I have given her life too. Will that be enough to make up for it?

Is the taste of ice cream enough to make up for its one day having to be gone from you?

I want to change my life because I do not have answers. I am envious of those with answers. I am envious of certainty. I'm just trying to get through it but it's hard.

I am watching Zenella run across the sand.


There is a pelican on the beach, close enough that we could almost touch it. It seems entirely unmoved by us, unlike the other birds that scatter if we walk among them; unlike the lizard who sprinted through the bush at Flat Rock; unlike us, who are readily moved by it, although not from fear.

The pelican is not looking at anything; at least, I can't believe it is. It is gazing out to sea but it surely could not spot fish from the beach.

I am hoping the pelican will take off because their grace in flight belies their ungainly looks and clumsiness on land. What a metaphor for me! I fly. I truly believe I can when I have the right conditions. I feel I can lift myself on wings of brilliant words and go aloft, soaring on the warmth of well-used verbs and apt adjectives. But it does not. It allows the water to pick it up and it floats out with the ebb.

I walk away from the beach, thinking how old I have become without ever noticing the days go by.


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