Day 1: Father's Day
Father's Day is not an easy thing for me to write about. My memories of the day are difficult at best, and traumatic at worst. That's the way the cookie crumbles though, isn't it? Some people have great fathers to honour and love, and some people get duds; the guys who are deadbeats, and the guys who you wish were deadbeats.
We always spent father's day weekend with him because that was the agreement. Mum got mother's day, he got father's day. We'd buy him something pretty predictable - we chose from the same group of gifts every year, and just swapped who gave him what; but he'd always give himself an extra present when the lights went out and my brothers were asleep.
I don't think it would be appropriate to write in any more detail about what father's day looked like while I was growing up, and the ones passing me by now I'm an adult (and safe) are pretty boring. I don't call my father, I don't send him a card, and I don't visit him. But oh, the guilt is there. That's the thing, you can't escape that voice in your head that says "he's still your father". In my case, that voice is my mother's, and if I talk to her about not wanting him part of my life, that's exactly what she says to me. "He's still your father".
Thank God I don't have to face it until September.
Day 2: Camp
My best camp story is actually set just before camp. I should start by saying, in Australia, camp's a bit different than what I can gather about American camp. Firstly, it tends to be something schools do - the teachers will take all the students of their year/grade (pending payment, of course!) for up to a week, to a set location. There are no counsellors or anything like that, just yourselves and your teachers.
Anyhow, when I was in year 4 (10), the school decided that they would have camp for my year as well - this was unusual as generally they only took kids in year 5 and up - it was to be a short camp, and there was a lot of excitement about it amongst the kids in my year.
That was, right up until the older kids started the ghost stories. They had us shaking in our shoes, let me tell you. First was the tale of "Bloody Mary", who died in the toilet block at our school. Then there was the ghost, I forgot her name, who followed campers around and killed them when they were using the toilet. Suddenly, camp numbers started to drop off, as kids who had previously wanted to go were now too frightened. Nobody wanted to talk to the adults in their lives about it because we'd all been warned these ghosts particularly went after children who "told".
Eventually, the teachers figured out what was going on and put a stop to all the ghost stories and pranks. After reassuring us that they were not real, they banned any mention of them amongst the students. Camp numbers went back up and we all had a great time - even me, despite falling out of the top bunk and spraining or straining (the less serious one) my wrist.
I think we were the last year 4s to go on camp though.
Day 3: Roses
My mother's favourite flowers are roses, but they've never been particularly special to me. There are Roses that light me up, though - it's a chocolate brand! It comes in a box, and all the chocolates are mixed in together, but with individual foil wrappings. My favourites have always been the mint chocolates (green wrapper, and I think the rose & trimming is silver), but really I like most of them. The only one I never eat, the Turkish Delight ones (a yellow/gold wrapper with a red rose & trimming), I throw to my partner.
I don't buy them often, because they're too addictive and because I don't see the point in spending $5 on a small box of chocolates when I can spend less than $5 and get a big, family sized block. I'm not good at treating myself with the finer things in life, even though I know how much nicer Roses are than a block of plain chocolate. I inherited that from my mother, I think.
When I was a kid, they were a great gift to give mum on birthdays and mother's day, and Christmas too. Often her best friend, T, would buy her actual roses and we'd buy the chocolates. Roses and roses, the delicious and the beautiful.
Day 4: Winter
While you're there, melting in the heat of summer, spare a thought for me with my toes turning blue. Yes, winter has once again hit us here in Australia, and though you laugh about us not knowing real cold, remember that in most states of Australia, we don't prepare for the cold. In Queensland, we don't build for winter -- we build for Summer: big open windows and doors, designed to let in the breeze and allow the air some natural circulation.
Sure, it doesn't snow and it doesn't often get below 0C, but our buildings (mostly) don't have heating. There is no real escape from winter, and that is why you will often hear me whinge about the cold. My building has no heating system - I rely on blankets and clothing and my beloved electric blanket, to keep me warm.
There's one other thing that keeps me cold, and makes me even more susceptible than my fellow Queenslanders, and that's poor circulation. If I stand in the sun at 15C, I'll be fine -- put me in the shade, and my limbs will gradually cool until there is more warmth in a metal pole than there is to my skin. Brrr.
None of this, of course, applies to those lucky bastards in the Northern Territory, who're enjoying 30C temperatures still, and will continue to do so throughout the next few months until the temperature climbs into the 40s and 50s. I'm so jealous.
Day 5: BBQ
Ah, barbeques. What can I say about barbeques? Just about anything as they've been a staple of life since I was small. Once, my mother actually won a barbeque - a Weber. It was a big round red thing, beautiful to look at, and almost completely useless to cook on, but oh how we tried.
Most of the time, though, barbeques were had on picnics or weekends with dad. I think that man lived on barbeques. He would stand there with his stubbies, his holey singlet, and his other stubbies - cans or bottles of XXXX beer; and he would cook. One of my favourite barbeque treats was when he would throw some bananas on there and they'd get all warm and smooshy and delicious. Neither of my brothers were keen on that as they didn't like bananas to start with, so it always felt like something special just for me. Since at my mother's, the closest I came to something special just for me was when I snuck my silverbeet onto my brother's plate (we had it really often because my brother loved it), it meant a lot.
Now I'm grown up and I don't even own a barbeque, but sometimes we go out somewhere and take sausages. And sometimes my brother has barbeques, because I think he finds it easier than cooking other foods.
And as far as I know, my mother still has the old red Weber, pretty to look at, and almost completely useless to cook on.
Day 6: Wedding
I was 19 when I got married. I was young, I was in love, and I believed it was forever. I didn't see the neon signs that should have told me this wouldn't work, this was a bad idea, this wasn't right for me. I saw only his eyes, and his smile, and my own heart.
I wasn't like most girls. I hadn't dreamed of a wedding all my life, and I had no idea what to do when it began approaching. I suppose in that sense it was lucky my husband-to-be was very controlling -- he took the reins and we pretty much had his dream wedding.
I did choose my dress -- though it's not like you're thinking. We were at a store called Tree of Life and I fell in love. It was a rich purple, medieval style, dress, and it was only $69. I wasn't thinking wedding dress at the time, I was just looking for a pretty dress; but after we bought it, on the way home, I suggested it as my wedding dress.
The idea was well received as my fiance loved purple - and that was the start of his dream wedding. In the end, we married in a public rotunda overlooking the Brisbane River. I wore my dress and he wore a purple suit. The irony? Our bridesmaid (of whom I have a photograph taken the day of the wedding having her upper thigh clasped by my husband's hand) and best man wore black with purple touches. Both of our mothers wore black.
We thought it was a laugh, but the laugh was on me three years later when he told me he wanted a divorce.
Day 7: Solstice
This week has included some difficult topics, but the most difficult one is today's - solstice. How do you write about something that has no meaning to you at all? I don't mean I don't understand the definition of the term - I understand it's the turning point; the longest/shortest day of the year, and that in some religions it has significance... but here in Australia, in general, we just don't do solstices.
It's a bit like Halloween when I was a kid -- it's just a day. You don't get dressed up, or have a party, or put much thought into it at all, to be honest. Most people here wouldn't be able to tell you what the longest or shortest day of the year is, and they probably don't think it matters much, either.
So it's hard, as I said, to write something about today's topic. Other deviants have spoken about Stonehenge, and the beliefs around it that involve the solstice; and I have been there and witnessed its majesty, but I don't remember enough to write about it. I will tell you that I also visited Woodhenge, which is a similar site and is thought to predate Stonehenge by several thousand years. It has been theorised that Woodhenge was used, also, in part of a worshipping journey that culminated at Stonehenge -- or perhaps the reverse is true, that the journey would begin at Stonehenge and finish at Woodhenge.
Regardless, the places are wonders. I'm grateful I had the opportunity to visit them.