Under the shadow of my favourite tree the rest of the world slipped away.
No need to worry about lunch time small talk.
No worrying about a lack of lunch and mum and Dad miles away by my brother’s hospital bed.
Sometimes a close friend dropped by to share the time with me and the tree,
but often just time to meditate and learn to find that strength within.
Under the shadow of a tree only the words of the green light and the bark’s insight.
Changing colour of leaves, texture of the earth beneath.
Still I play back conversations with the green enfolding me in comfort of a friendly tree.
They had a bunk bed, her mum’s was double at the base, and Nicki had the top bunk which was a single bed.
It was the first time I had ever seen a bunk bed like that.
The flat was always full of sewing projects her Mum was working on. I remember being struck by the colour, vibrance and clutter of it all.
Nicki, myself, and another friend used to walk everywhere because we couldn’t drive, but we were restless teenagers who didn’t want to stay cooped up at home. I remember one Tasmanian summer we spent most days together, walking, talking, and generally wandering from friend to friend.
We invariably went to see our ‘interesting’ friends, like Justin, an artist, and sometimes just anyone when we knew it wouldn’t take forever to arrive at their house, otherwise there would be no time to visit. We became extremely fit though as we pushed our walk to friend treks to the limit, especially as some of them lived in very steep areas of Trevallyn.
Nicki was very tall even back then. She had dark hair and almost ebony skin. Her mother by contrast was tall and blonde, but they looked very similar in their eyes. Even though Nick’s Mum sewed Nicki occasionally liked to borrow clothes off me though, just for something different. She lent me tapes of music she liked in exchange.
Her mother always told our trio that we were beautiful and could be models if we wished.
Nicki had more height for it than me, as I stopped growing. Also I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in being a model. I thought Nicki had much better looks for it than me, especially as I had a big scar under one of my eyes which I was very self -conscious about. Our other friend was the shortest of all of us, but I think she was more glamorous than me too. Still it was an encouraging thing for her mother to say.
One day we moved house so now I was beyond walking distance. I wasn’t able to friend trekking with Nicki and our other pal. I didn’t always feel like I could ask my Dad for lifts everywhere.
I am not sure if that’s why we grew apart, or whether she also moved back to Germany at some point. Teenagers too can be fickle in their friendships and I think maybe may be one of us or both of us did some friend hopping at times, just to make life interesting. I really can’t remember.
We lost touch for many years, until recently I found her Mum via a mutual friend, and Nicki turned up, as people do, in my facebook world.
We haven’t met up in person yet, but she takes amazing photographs and works in film.
Her mum is a passionate Christian. I can’t remember this from my youth, but perhaps she always was. Sometimes parents are just backdrops to our friends, and we are not always paying attention to the finer details of who they are.
Nicki seems like she is a very passionate and caring person from the photographs she posts and her status updates.
She is still tall and beautiful. Now we are both mothers.
We click like on each other’s pictures – and I look on with interest at her sharing of her talent with the world. I hope one day we will meet again in real space.
This time I am sure I would be a more constant friend, although sadly our friend Justin the artist drowned when he was only nineteen.
As for the other of our trio, we too are in touch via facebook and even have the occasional online chat.
Friends like Nicki, have shaped me more than I realised. I remember the times with them fondly, and I especially love that her Mum always told us we were beautiful.
From my friend:
What a lovely letter to wake up to today. The things we remember from all those years ago are so different and sometimes I think my memory fails me. So I was very happy to read your memories today as they are so different to mine. Thank you also for all your compliments.
You yourself seem to have walked down a path not so different than mine. You have a house full of beautiful children and you seem to have moved to a warmer climate, which I had also done. You love photography and you write if i am right.
I had forgotten the hours we spend walking around, but I was always excited to be wondering around , nothing much has actually changed. Beautiful Justin, what a shame that was. I still have a beautiful photo of him and Cella.
It was funny having come from Germany the size of our flat was just normal, it still amazes me how small peoples apartment are here, now that i am back. We have so much space in Australia and we don’t even realize it. I really do not remember to why our lives drifted apart
I remember your brother who was in my year, as a wild child, a beautiful soul.
I remember you June as being an excellent student and a prefect. If it’s right I don’t know. The other person you are referring to was S.. Yes! I guess you left after year ten and I don’t really know where you went and that was still before mobile phones.
Do you remember?
Toby lived downstairs from our flat in the same building. Anyway I did year ten and then went to Allanvale college for 1 year and then to Uni. I did have quite a lot of contact till recently with S. but I think she is doing fine in Thailand.
Again a big thank you June!
What a sweet thing to do and thank you for remembering me and my Ma.
I am really not sure where the future will take us, but for now we are in Berlin for 2 more years and then we will see.
Let’s stay in touch and all the best to your family too.
Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.
Riverside High, the early 1980s – I’m dropping my books, and about to head into Mr Kidd’s class.
Mr Kidd is notoriously scary for those who don’t have him as a teacher.
He is seen as the hardest task master in the whole school. He doesn’t give high marks easily. He comes across as grumpy.
He is tubby with a big beard and none of us like to bump into him in the hallways. He bounds along in a way that reminds one of a big ferocious bear.
Together with another teacher, Mr Sparks, he invites our class to be in the play, Twelfth Night. To my surprise, because I’ve deliberately dropped drama which was compulsory last year, due to overwhelming shyness, I am cast, on the basis of our in class reading aloud activities, in a lead role.
The rehearsals for that play take up many lunch hours and after school. New friendships are fostered, as members of other grades take up roles both on stage and off to support us.
Some of the boys take every opportunity to diligently practice sword fights with cardboard swords. Two of our classmates are the most unlikely set of twins you’d ever think of, he is half her height and blond, she is dark haired and has a totally different face, but they are the best actors for those roles, so twins they are.
We see another side of Mr Kidd as he nervously tries to memorise his lines, something many of us are finding terrifying as we head to opening night. He is reading his lines again and again trying to make them stick.
We have a prompt hidden in something that melds into the stage to help us out on the night.
Some of the drama teachers are sure we were not going to pull the production off, and even try to stage a coup to have the whole production called off, thinking we will put the school into disrepute, with a shocking performance.
Thankfully this doesn’t happen and for two nights we perform to packed audiences of family, friends and community.
I am able to wear makeup for the first time (to look better for the stage). I have a hooped dress and feel truly beautiful as my character. Mr Sparks and Mr Kidd need the prompt a few more times than the students.
Prior to opening night, as usual, I am teased heaps about my frizzy hair, and some of the boys call me Animal based on the Muppet’s character who plays the drums. Partly because of my hair, and also ironically due to my quiet nature, which is the opposite of Animal’s.
Opening night, one of the boys who is like a brother to me (so don’t read anything romantic in it) comes up and says how stunning I looked and how well I’ve done in the part. I turn a deep purple colour.
Every young girl wants to be thought of as beautiful and talented and Mr Kidd indirectly gave me an opportunity to have that experience at a time when I needed more self- esteem after years of secretly feeling ugly.
I think many students remember Mr Kidd with fondness because of his passion and creativity in the subject he taught.
I will always remember him because in my youth he believed the most I was going to grow up to be a writer and did everything to make me think that too.
Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open this month’s Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them!