Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letter to Kat

Dearest Kat,

I know, I know, I haven't kept in touch like I'm supposed to, and I know things are going so wrong for you right're on my mind, and I know how dissatisfying it is when someone tells you that. People tell me that too, but if I don't see something concrete, I think, out of sight, out of mind.

An old man just walked in, with a plastic Coffee Bean cup stuffed with dollar notes. He's gone over to the two women sitting in the armchair. He's wearing a clean blue shirt, but his hair is gray and wild. He bows respectfully and waits. They wave him off.

Beggars aren't supposed to come into Coffee Bean at BV2. That's Bangsar Village 2. I know all that. And yet as he makes his way to me, something opens inside. Maybe it's because of the way I'm feeling right now. Lonely and dispossessed. Maybe it was the book I just read (Treehouse by Naomi Wolf, I think you'll love it too). Maybe it's because looking at him, it's obvious that he was something more once. Could he imagine himself sinking to this? Anyway as he stops in front of me, bowing a few times, I reach into my blue knapsack (you remember the one I used to carry everywhere in Australia? It's falling apart but I still cling to it with affection) and take out my wallet. I don't have any dollar notes so give him five. He starts in surprise. Rich people (as in people who hang out at Coffee Bean) are notoriously stingy and loath to part with cash. He bows a few times. I don't meet his eyes because I am suddenly overwhelmed.

Without warning, I am crying. I bend my head to hide it. This place is empty and hopefully the barristas are not watching me.


Too much sadness.

I wish you were here.

We would sit in quiet cafes and write. You would read your latest effusion and I would tell you what I think. I love it when you're you. I hate it when you adopt that slightly hard edge, like you're fighting off someone, when really, there's nobody there to fight off. I still think "My Father in Four Acts" was one of the best pieces I read in uni. Really Kat, I'm not kidding. It was stunning.

And I would write something and read it to you. And you would tell me what you thought.

Remember Marcella's class and all that poetry we came up with on the spur of the moment? Wild! Or that creative writing class in winter where I wore that thick overcoat in class and wrote nasty odes to my pink stapler? Everyone liked it but you thought it was mean. And when I came home and read it out to my housemate, she cottoned on to the fact that I was talking to myself rather than my stapler, before I did. Wow!

I use everything I learned now in the worst way possible. I manipulate emotions to sell products. I think the products are OK, I mean, they're better than what's out there, but this is not how we dreamed of being, is it?

You said you're visiting at the end of this year, and I'm thinking of making a trip over there. Maybe we can go for another wine tour at Margaret River, stopping over at the Berry Farm for some of that excellent chutney.

I miss you, Kat. I miss who I was there. Not much of that me left.


PS: I just read this in Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind:

I honor English majors. It's a dumb thing to major in. It leads nowhere. It's good to be dumb, it allows us to love something for no reason. That's the best kind of love.


goldennib said...

It would be so great if we could only do that which we love without compromise and still live. We all should be able to do so.

Jenn said...

According to Leonard Wolf we can. You should read Treehouse, Nessa. It's by his daughter Naomi Wolf, the same woman who gave us "The Beauty Myth".

jackie's garden said...

Sounds like a wonderful friend you have. And you have a good soul - to share with the begger. Whether or not I do, depends on where I am at the time. If I'm feeling cynical and untrusting, I'll ignore them - sure that they are going home to put on name brand clothing and drive somewhere in their SUV. If I'm feeling at one with the world and myself, I'll give them $ thinking "There but for the grace of God...."

Jenn said...

Um, I'm not actually a good soul. Usually I wave the beggars off. Which is why this was such an unusual situation that I had to blog about it...:)