It’s been a while since we last had an in depth chat without kids running around distracting us. It is difficult to get into things too deeply when we live over five hours away from each other and neither of us is in a state to travel the entire distance. I saw you last weekend in the country and it was delightful. The dinner at the club was a bit pricey for a bit of frozen meat and heated up veggies, but just spending some time with you made it worth it.
I am not writing about the care you gave me during my postnatal psychosis, nor the aftercare of calling me multiple times a day to offer support when I returned to Canberra. I am not writing about the younger years in my childhood when you would bandage my knees or try to look after my faith in God by dragging me to Church each week (as an adult I am Atheist, but those experiences did give me a better understanding of the world and my place in it). I am not writing about how you cared so lovingly and devotionally for dad when he was unwell for all those years, or your seemingly never-ending forgiveness for our drug-addicted brother who I have since decided not to be a part of my life and the lives of my children and family.
I am writing about your influence in my writing.
When I think of you it is often through the many filters of the aforementioned things, but in truth, they are only a smudge of who you really are. I think the fondest memories I have are related to working in your bookshop where you would encourage my writing, dancing, knitting, study… and you would offer assistance where you could by making costumes for concerts, buying and teaching me about writing journals and offer me stories from the shelves that I would not have picked myself. I have keen memories of reading Goosebumps and other kids’ horror books that led me to love the adult version such as Stephen King and Christophe Pike. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have been hiding them as I was reading them at age 12, but they were so good and taught me so much about that a good writer is able to find what audiences like and write what they enjoy and infiltrate the story they have in their heads, into those styles.
I learnt also that it is okay to not have a style, but just to tell a story by reading My Place helped me to start journalling with meaning. And do I have a lot of journals. You printed out all my journaling during my stint in Japan and I hid my collection of teen journals in the back of my cupboard along with the sandwiches I was hoarding for nuclear fall-out thanks to reading Children of the Dust in year 8. You kept my journaling going when I felt that it wasn’t meaningful and you were the person who encouraged me to write about my experiences of parenting on Become Mum. It is a difficult journey and at times I still lose my way, but you help get me back of track by reading and talking to me about my writing. There are only a few people who have continued with me for this entire journey. Thank you for showing me the way.
Live journaling through regular blogging is a whole other dimension that requires a deal of bravery. I hate attributing strong characteristics to myself as it feels like I am tooting my own horn (for lack of a better term) but brave is the closest word I can come up with. You taught me that it is okay to say what you need to say in the online world, and to use my connections here to not only tell my story but also to heal in the journey, to help make sense of what is going on. It has helped me to connect with people locally, nationally and internationally and to see similarities between our journeys with and without children, older, younger, gender-diverse and culturally variant peoples and I am richer for it. You were the impetus for me to respond to the first comments on my blog as I sat on your couch in a haze of medication. You showed me that writing is about me and my audience rather than me and the world of possibilities of ‘such-and-such might read it’. To open up and share. To be real. Writing.
Thank you for showing me the way- it has opened up my world.