Yesterday I drove up our communal driveway in the dark en route to my swimming training. It was about 5.45am and 7C (thankfully I only put myself through this kind of early morning torture once a week in Winter).
My headlights caught a pair of glinting eyes staring right back at me. They belonged to a girl of late teenage years (I’m guessing here). She was crouching in the visitors parking area near the rubbish bay. Given the time of day and the quietness of our little street we gave each other a bit of a fright.
Despite the outside temperature my deer in the headlights had on only a black camisole. She was big framed so the shock of the naked flesh added to my surprise.
Turns out she is a local and lives on her own as her mother was recently put into a nursing home.
On my return from the pool I noticed a proud pile of faeces on the spot where she had been crouching surrounded by a wide wet patch.
My mind turned to her predicament throughout my working day in between the usual busy-ness of phone calls, emails and meetings.
I was reminded of the time years ago when I visited the bathroom at MacDonald’s in Covent Garden London. A woman of the street was holding up the queue at the hand basins as she dried her freshly rinsed underpants under the hand dryers, oblivious to the small silent congregation gathering behind her.
I realised then that having the privacy to do our ablutions is a first world privilege.
My thoughts also turned to all the people here in Sydney sleeping rough at this time of year. And of an advertisement in the recent edition of Australian Local Government News that caught my eye – swags for the homeless. They were asking for donations.
I feel grateful for my creature comforts even though I have to juggle my needs with the two males in my house.
I celebrated my Birthday yesterday. Turns out I now share it with royal company – HRH the Prince of Cambridge.
I have in fact always shared my Birthday. I am a twin. People ask the typical questions: are you identical? (no) who came first? (she did) do you know what each other is thinking? (sometimes)
When my twin and I were born my parents were dealing with 4 children under the age of 5, albeit for a brief period (my eldest brother Mark turned 5 in August). This fact always raises a few eyebrows. As does the fact that there were more to follow after us! During the early days of our existence my mother engaged a live in nurse to help with our round the clock demands.
Birthdays are always a marker of time in more ways than just counting the years (perish the sad thought!). Buddhists hold the somewhat pragmatic view that we are all on death row, at varying increments of time on this planet.
One tends to remember what took place on one’s anniversary day more than other days of the year.
When I travelled for 2 years straight – a long time ago now (pre mortgage and family of my own) I began one Birthday in a caravan park on the other side of Australia, Geraldton WA. That day brought tears at the overwhelming amount of Birthday mail that awaited my attention at the post office. Of particular note was a homemade card from my then 11 year old nephew in London.
I was also given a very unwelcome present in the shape of a red back spider bite. Fortunately for me it was only a small male. I was sick for a week with a throbbing arm and inertia and was administered the anti-venom at week’s end (by this time we had travelled to the stunning Kalbarri National Park and hooked up our kombi van at the camp ground on the edge of the town of the same name). My infirmed state sent tongues a wagging amongst the mostly grey haired denizens of our makeshift home. They thought I was pregnant!
The year after that I was camped under nylon in the back garden of my brother’s house in Wimbledon Park outside London. His excited 4 year old woke me and my husband up with gifts plus a card that he had picked out by himself. It had a rocket ship on the front. I have kept it over the 20 intervening years. My beloved sister-in-law brought me my favourite breakfast in bed (in sleeping bag!): Earl Grey tea and marmalade on toast.
I recall that we were nursing hangovers from pre-Birthday celebrations. A resident squirrel had been energetically doing laps of the fence throughout the night and consequently impeded our sleep. This aided the foggy feeling no doubt.
I am now 51 and one day old. I look forward to turning 52 as my mum didn’t make it to that relatively young age (she died 2 months prior to her Birthday).