Stanthorpe to Byron
They are mashing down the grapes at Wild Soul. You push the skins and stalks down. As the juice ferments, they float up. You push them down.
The wine is excellent. You can feel they have cared for it. You can feel the caress.
I know I should admire the caress. I demand it. I want it in everything.
But I am disturbed that they are going to plant out more grapes -- other varieties -- so that rather than be purveyors of wine they have cared for, they will one day be just another Granite Belt winery.
Passing through Lismore, I see ahead of us a motorbike rider lift his legs out to the side. Woohoo, he is celebrating. Woohoo, I am not you, he is saying.
I struggle sometimes to think what I traded freedom for. Love? I don't think so. I wanted to be loved but not enough to be beloved. Is it because I no longer feel loved that I no longer feel I am loveable?
I know that there are people who will feel hurt that I say I don't feel loved. But I don't think any one of them loves me. They love an image they have of me that I cannot see reflected in myself.
I am afraid that if I were wiped away tomorrow, only what I do would be missed, not what I am.
I am not blaming anyone else for that. Whatever else they do or don't do, I know that they didn't make me afraid.
Sometimes I try to move beyond allowing fear to be my interpreter. But I am misunderstood and I feel it was better to stay inside. I have moments, hours, days that I could just stay where I am, never move again, never venture.
I would miss the scent of the trees but I would soon be able to convince myself that I was learning enough not to need it.
Perhaps I am just not loveable. Perhaps there really is no one who can. Perhaps it doesn't matter because I have just overestimated how much it is worth.
I keep trying to think that I have done that and that it is okay just to care about other things but I'm not convinced.
On the bus, I am looking at a woman's face. I am trying to decide whether she could possibly be attractive. I don't mean to anyone, not attractive in an objective sense. I mean attractive to me.
She is engaged to be married but I know she does not want to be married. She feels brittle, breakable even. She thinks that it will go away once she has done it, that she will feel right about it in the aftermath.
How do I know? I know. Something she says tells me she is trying to convince herself. I know what it sounds like. I speak that language myself. It's not a language you can sing in.
No wonder I have given up poetry. I used to express hopes, fears and, yes, desires. Now my hopes are extinguished, my fears too mundane to stand to look at and my desires too ugly to make good poetry.
Given the chance I would lie to her, promise her redemption and fuck her up the arse. She could put it down to drinking too much and pretend she didn't enjoy any of it.
No, I decide she is not attractive. I just couldn't imagine bothering.
The sun shines on me, standing on the front at Byron Bay. Everyone is happy. I can't see anyone who isn't laughing or at least smiling, unless they are sleeping it off in the afternoon warmth.
Everyone is kissing and running. Everyone is jumping in and out of the waves.
I'm thinking, I fucking hate you all. I'm going to have to leave before I cannot stand how I hate you all.
I'm thinking, I can no longer abide being on the same planet as myself. I am smiling too. It's a beautiful, sunny day and everyone's happy in Byron Bay. I am smiling too but why am I crying?