Did he have a party while I was away, like I worried HERE? I don’t believe he did. (And there was a small search for evidence, I admit). However, my bedroom door was open (I’d left it closed), and the bed was made (I’d left it stripped to air). Me: So what happened in my room? Him: Nothing Mum I swear! I’d never let anyone in there, that’s gross. But I was really tired from the party the night before at ‘B’s’ house, and I wanted a good sleep, so I got into your bed… I slept so well, and it smelt of you too… It was very cosy. Me *Can’t continue conversation- gone all soft and gooey*
Me: Remember I’m going to Perth for a week’s work tomorrow, which means you can’t stay home here alone, you gotta go back to Dad’s. Him: Mum, I’m nearly 18, I can look after myself… Me: You’re not 18! You only just turned 17; you’re still too young. PAUSE Him: I’m 17 and a half actually. Me: [counting months on my fingers] OK, you’re 17 and 4 months… LONG PAUSE Him: Well, in my mind I’m already 30, so what’s your point Mum?
I chewed my quinoa and baked veg salad looking up at her; in 2 hours from now, it would start. After 16 years of no access, 500 locals had registered for ‘The Chinny Charge’, a 7km run/walk up our tiny but omnipresent Mount Chincogan, near Byron Bay. The queue to collect our numbers was long, and you could feel the buzz of excitement; even Colin, who won the first ever Chinny Charge in 1967 with a time of 38 minutes and a $20 bar tab prize, was enthusiastic (in that utterly laid-back, short-phrased Australian country way) “Stick to the rules, so we can hopefully do it again next year: wear shoes, don’t litter, stick to the path, and no fighting.” [Fighting? I’m going to be struggling just to breathe aren’t I? What exactly went on in the olde days round here??] Yup, I’m happy to agree to all that. The tiny mountain is on private property, so unless the landowners give specific permission (which they do a few times a year to local school groups), …
So many times as a skinny teenager I used to ask ‘What’s for dinner Mum?’ She’d usually sigh, and dismiss me with ‘Oh I don’t know, I hate cooking.’ I made myself a lot of frozen pizza with instant mash potato. I learnt to love cooking though, especially after becoming a vegetarian in my early, idealistic twenties. When I had my son in my early thirties, I created different memories around food and eating with him; when he was 7 for example, I bought him his own small chopping knife to help me cook with, and ten years later, we still use it. We both enjoy good food a lot (he’s actually making dinner while I write this). His Dad’s a good cook too. We separated when ’17’ was only a toddler, and at first our son spent 2 days with each of us. It slowly stretched to 3 days, then 4; I think he was about 5 when it grew to Week On/Week Off. The day of ‘changeover’ became a mix of sadness and …
Him: ‘Mum look, I’ve created a Study Nook! I’m so going to get on top of my assignments.’ Me [Looking at my now un-useable spare room, complete with blocked access to my linen cupboard, and removal of my only bedside lamp plus the living room coffee table]: ‘That’s great Honey…’ ONE WEEK LATER Me [Having taken back my bedside light, and moved the coffee table so I can get sheets & towels out]: ‘How’s the study going?’ Him: ‘Well I can’t work now that my habitat has been destroyed.’
… he drapes his arm across my shoulder. He’s never done that before. I put my arm round his waist, but it feels awkward, so I let it drop. We move apart a little, and walk on. We sit in silence on the rocks watching a dolphin pod swim in lazy circles while the sky fades orange, pink, baby blue, dark blue. As we walk back towards the car, he does it again. This time, my arm round his waist feels comfortable. We walk and talk, arm in arm, 17 & 51, as night falls. Best. Homecoming. Ever.
Me: You know, some of my friends can’t believe I still make your lunch every day for school. *Pause Him: I think that’s a bit rough Mum… it hardly even rates as a snack really.
Me: I need something humorous about driving with you for my Blog… Ooh, look at that ‘grey nomad’ old lady over there with her massive brand new shiny RV … mmm, it’s even got a satellite dish… she must be driving round Australia… that’ll be me one day y’know, spending all your inheritance… Him: Well, that’s certainly not funny.
Me: I know you love them, but you can’t use the good white bathroom towels any more, they’re actually meant for guests. Him: Well… they’ll just have to adapt.
Me: I need something funny from you for my next Blog post, my readers love them Him: [Scathing glance sideways] Mum, I’m not your performing monkey