Saturday, 9 January 2010

Nothing Much Happens

The water of the bay is shallow, lapping over white sand. I wade out fifty metres, seventy metres. The water is still only thigh deep but here there is a chilling undercurrent. The sea in Tasmania sweeps in straight from Antarctica. It always has an edge. I hesitate then dive. My head clears instantly. A lazy backstroke is good exercise for my left arm and shoulder, still creaky as a result of my surgery. I swim back towards the shore until my hands begin to strike the bottom. Then it’s a slow crocodile crawl into the shallows, dragging myself along on my elbows, my head barely peeping above the surface. I find an underwater depression in the sand. The water here is as still and warm as a bath. I float, arms and legs outstretched. “Let...” I breathe in, “go...” I breathe out. Let... go... let... go... let... go...” Breathe in... breathe out... I wish that I could stay like this for a very long time, maybe a year.

The days seem endless. Everything here is beautiful. The food is heavenly. I’m surrounded by the love of my family. But I am flat and joyless.

Mum and aunty Noni have gone to camp overnight at the Cygnet folk festival. Cousin Fay and I have stayed put. It’s a hilarious reversal. The mums are off raving, the stodgy daughters remain at home. To emphasise the point I bake a cake.

Cousin Fay drops by. “Time for your make-up lesson,” I exclaim. We gather mirrors and brushes, powder and paint. Fay is nervous at first. She has not worn make-up for decades. But pretty soon we are having fun, pulling faces, discussing make-up brands and compiling a shopping list of tools and products that Fay is to acquire for her new look. With subtle eye shadow and blusher she looks aglow. I’m always amazed at the ability of simple make-up to transform a woman’s countenance. One doesn’t need much. It’s all about enhancing the play of light and shadow, not piling on loads of slap and garish colours.

Makeover successful, Fay and Simon trip off to Port Arthur. They’re going on a night-time ghost tour. If there’s one place in Australia that has a ghoulish history, Port Arthur is it.

And I’m left alone with my own ghosts again.