I wrote down what happened when I was thinking out loud about my life a few years ago back in New Zealand. I admit it, I talk to myself. So what, some of the most intelligent and frank conversations I’ve ever had have been with myself. 😉
I sat on the hard wooden bench on the deck looking out towards the harbour entrance. “So why have you come down here to live Jack?” I asked myself.
“It’s as good a place as any,” I replied, rolling a smoke. I put down the pouch of tobacco and reached for my lighter. “Why do you want to know that?” I asked, lighting the hand-rolled cigarette.
“No reason in particular, most people wonder why someone your age is still footloose and fancy free, so to speak?”
I inhaled and stared out towards the harbour mouth. Small barely perceptible clouds of smoke were released through my tobacco-stained moustache that drifted in a hazy grey-blue cloud around my head. “I guess the only reason I came here was to find peace and quiet,” I said, finally exhaling the remainder of the smoke through the baleen-like strands of hair that make up my moustache.
“I’ve travelled most parts of this beautiful bloody world of ours. I came to this country back in the late fifties with my parents as a young boy,” I went on, flicking the ash from the slow burning roll-up onto the deck, before pushing it between the planks with my shoe. “It’s taken me a while to realise that this place is probably as good as anywhere else. So here I am,” I added as I watched a fishing boat heading out for a day’s sport as I picked up my mug of coffee.
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” I said, pressing the point. I never waste words on idle conversation. I knew I would sit and think for a long time before saying anything more.
“I’ve spent most of my life working and earning just like the rest of the poor bastards in this world,” I said, at long last. I put down the mug, flicked the short stub of my spent roll-up in the air, and started to roll another. Lighting the new one, I inhaled. The now familiar slow release of smoke through my moustache signalled the beginning of my answer. “Think about it Jack, I collapsed and was hopitalized from stress back in ninety-one – remember?” I began. “Since then I’ve realized that all the things that most people spend their entire lives working and saving for are a bloody pointless waste of time. You come into this world with nothing and you damned well leave the same way. So what’s the bloody point! After that little episode I realised that all the things that seem important, simply aren’t anymore,” I continued, through a haze of smoke. “Since that time, I’ve never been able to stick a job for very long. As for possessions and the like, I’ve given most of mine away. When I’ve got no more use for something, what’s the point in keeping it?”
I looked back through the door into the room. A small battery powered travelling alarm stood by the bed. A couple of books were on the floor among the pile of dirty clothes. A bag was slung in the corner with clean clothes poking out over its sides. A small transistor radio and a library book lay on the bed. “Why have you given everything away? Why not sell the stuff instead?” I asked, as I gazed across the harbour from where I sat.
“Why not?” I finished off the remainder of my mug of coffee and put the empty mug down beside me. “The job I’ve got brings in just enough for me to live on,” I continued, while the familiar cloud of smoke drifted slowly away, “I’ll keep going for as long as my health holds out. These days I take each day as it comes. There’s no point in planning too far ahead, you never know what’s round the corner waiting to bite you in the arse.”
I sat for a moment before I asked myself, “What about family? Surely they must wonder about you?”
“The old saying about you being able to choose your friends and not your relative’s pretty well answers the question, don’t you think? I replied, shifting my gaze back out towards the harbour through those far away eyes of mine. I continued watching the boats. “My old man was a total bastard. He treated my mother like a skivvy. They say you inherit a lot from your parents, good and bad – mostly bad in my case. If that’s so, why in hell would I want to inflict my bloody genes on someone else? I was an only child. I’m used to being on my own. I don’t crave companionship in the way you’re talking about,” I quietly reminded myself.
I sat for a moment before adding, “I met my old man’s first cousin once. It was like travelling back in time. He was a nasty spiteful control freak just like my old man! That’s what I mean by inheriting stuff. If it wasn’t for the fact that dad’s cousin was in his eighties, I’d have hung one on him for the way he used to speak to me! He not only looked like my old man, he treated his own close family in exactly the same bloody way! I was warned about him by distant cousins before I met him. But I always tend to look for the good in people when I meet them for the first time. Even so I wasn’t prepared for his vicious little outbursts of bile! Although thinking about it now, I damn well should have shouldn’t I?”
At that point I had to stop. I was stirring up too many bad memories, so I just sat in total silence for a couple of hours, enjoying the early morning sunshine…