Lockie’s eyes crinkle with his laugh; it is one of his most lovable features. His ginger beard muffles a wide smile but it’s his brown almond shaped eyes that hold my full attention. My 23 year old son and I are travelling to Sydney to see the Archibald’s; (we are an art-loving family) and to spend time together in re-discovering each other, after 5 years apart as mother and son.
Well, that’s probably not quite true, but it does seem like I haven’t seen my son for the past five years. His fulltime work, uni studies, and his currant gal-pal Val, demand his time and mind. I have to stop myself from hugging him too much. Restraint is not my second name. Passion is.
On the plane we discuss the concept of a god, aliens, and conspiracies. He discusses Socrates. The dead philosopher is Lockie’s latest passion, (he’s reading the book of Apologies) and later that night – at the musical show Wicked - Socrates is mentioned in passing. I nudge and wink. “See, he’s still relevant” says Lockie. We grin.
I am in my parent’s town. I am walking the streets my father walked, before the war. I am looking at cathedrals and dead Kings that my mother saw. Her town. Her Sydney. My mother’s culture. I walk the streets with my eldest son, my bearded, chatty, laughing son who’s eyes wrinkle and crinkle with humour.
Over lunch and Rock oysters, he speaks. His hands keep time to his voice; knitting the air. Entranced by his perfect nose, I marvel at my own handiwork. As a natural birth consumer, his celebrated arrival was long and joyous; my birth cry of “I have a son, I have a son” echoing the corridor.
Sometimes, we are so busy bringing each other up as a parent and a child, we forget to simply revel in the uniqueness and beauty of each other. I stare away his conversation, nodding when I remember. His straight, no-nonsense nose. His generous, talking mouth. I mentally trim a stray hair of his moustache as he eats his Kilpatrick oysters. An unknown tourist takes our photo.
We are in the foreground, and the Bridge yawns behind us as a dozen climbers tickle it’s back. Later, our photograph will be placed carefully in a blue covered album entitled “My Trip To Australia Down Under” and placed on the middle shelf of the American snapper’s bookcase.
Circular Quay is a whorehouse for tourists. Have camera, will click. It doesn’t matter to us though; we too are tourists, to each other’s lives, and this sparkling city. I bite into my oyster and its creaminess. An angel’s full-mouth kiss.
Within the hour we will be seated 3 rows from the top of the Opera House, to see the ballet. For now though, it’s a talk-fest of information, swapping lives and experiences, embellishing stories of family, honed and polished, to be retold to unborn children.
We dream of unplanned joy, and share the rebirth of our lives, together, as adults.