Saturday, September 18, 2010

Memoir Class

So I am about to learn how write Memoir. Just in case someone might find my life interesting.

The workshop will be held by Patti Miller, over 2 days, and fits in perfectly with schedule of seeing my mother.

I am in Rockhampton, home of the Fitzroy River and the many boats that tickle its belly as it glides to the sea 35 kilometres away.

Yesterday I came to see the Walter Reid Centre, to visualise where the class would be held. It’s not for me to arse-about endless rooms and become lost in the labyrinth of arts and craft related activities; I like to know where I’ll be. It’s the Capricorn in me; the practical girl who dwells within.

Walking upstairs to the first level, I follow a man and his wife. He is the writer, and she leads him into the large empty room. They have travelled from Mackay to be here. He carries his life typed in single spaced white sheets of paper, held together by an old bulldog clip.

Every now and then as his large fingers flick through the pages (all 120 pages of them) the clip releases, sending his life-story in a shower of heavy confetti, to the floor.

A circle of 10 chairs is formed, posse-like, and we’ll sit here, this bunch of strangers, and wait for the injuns to attack.

Patti Miller is busy, head down, reviewing her notes. She’s a small, well-built woman with firm thighs and toned arms. She wears a classic Little Black Dress, sleeveless, with gorgeous leather suede shoes. A tan remains, and freckles are barely hidden on her face. Her hair is thick and brown, with hints of auburn in it, and as she speaks, her voice is clipped, articulate, and intelligent. You can see the university lecturer in her. Her face has no laugh lines. This worries me greatly, but it’s not her style to laugh at life, it’s her job to analyse it, and write it down.

She is not a frivolous woman.

We sit in a circle in pairs of five, neatly pinched into couples, in order to share a book.

And so we begin.


At lunch break, I amble the empty wide corridor and peek into the hobbies of Rockhampton. Model Train Modelling. Lapidary Club. Rockhampton Quilters. Rockhampton Photographers Club, and so on.

A large Dance Studio adjacent to our Writers Centre offers Belly Dancing. The room has curtains and full length mirrors, and I can see ‘pops’ on the floor. As I leave, a young man, a gay man, spins in lazy circles in the Dancing Room. He is dressed in army fatigues pants and huge work boots, with a purple singlet top. Alone, with the afternoon sun streaming weakly through grimy windows, he spins. Twirl, twirl, twirl. He stretches his arms and lets his fingers uncurl. He really is dancing like no one is watching.


Driving home, I choose the long way, along the Fitzroy, past the clubs and pubs and trendy restaurants, past the trees with their parrot virus germs, past the muddy rocks jutting out along the river bank. I commit to lying on my childhood bed, with a pillow over my head. I might just cry.

Seeing mum laying on her bed, I tiptoe in, and sit on the side. Bending over, we embrace, and I lie in her arms, as she smooths my hair. I cry there, instead, listening to my mother’s heart.  She tells me things, stuff of whispers and comfort, and I rejoice in the love of my mother's words. 

I am home. I am safe.


To be continued....

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