The first day of the year

The Arts spire caught alight last night during the fireworks. I did not notice at the time and only realised when I read about it in the newspaper today. It seems it was not such a spectacular event but from my perch at the top of the hill overlooking the city we managed an excellent view of the fireworks as we do every year at midnight. From this distance I did not notice the flames.

We came out onto the street in the nick of time to greet our neighbours, as we do every year and this time they had company among them, one of whom Pandora introduced herself. She greeted me as sixthinline. My neighbour who follows Face Book and the like presumably alerted her to the connection.

What a surprise to greet a fellow blogger at midnight on New years Eve and she a friend of Kath’s, another blogger who has recently written about her experience of meeting a fellow blogger in person in Geneva of all places.

‘Pandora’ and I chatted briefly and then made our ways back into our respective lives, but for me at that moment half groggy with sleep – I had not been able to stay awake till midnight and had collapsed on the bed. My husband woke me minutes before the witching hour – I felt as if I had climbed into a still life painting on the wall or into a online version of the Sims game, which my daughters used to play in a bid to create imaginary lives.

And to think that next Saturday I shall meet another blogger, Isabel, in the flesh as it were, too spooky for words.

There are a couple of boggers I have known in real life before they started blogging and to me their identities are different. To me it’s as if they have dual identities, even so I learn more about them online than I would ever know through our shared lives.

There is a greater intimacy made possible in the blogosphere, however constructed, and for me it is as if I am reading a novel, only the characters are essentially ‘real’.

Later today my husband will collect our youngest daughter from her overnight party at Rye. I hope she is well enough. I dare not ring her yet. It is too early for young folks who must surely be sleeping in. She has just turned eighteen and has hit the world running.

Every Tuesday night many of the young folk around here go off to one of several of the local hotels and bars to drink and dance and converse and otherwise have what they consider to be a fun time.

I tend to wait up, and even after I’ve gone to bed I cannot sleep. I try not to worry but I do. Not until I hear the turning of the doorhandle and my daughter materialises do I stop my worrying.

You would think I’d be over if by now, after four such daughters, but somehow the worry only gets worse with my youngest. She seems more carefree than her older sisters who all behaved sensibly most of the time. As does my youngest, but just sometimes, the enthusiasm of her so-called freedom seems to get the better of her.

I remember myself at eighteen. I was the proverbial frump, or at least I saw myself that way. Though there was one night when I went to Canberra for my oldest brother’s wedding and at the reception met one of his friends who danced with me at the reception and then offered to give me a lift back to the caravan park where I had been staying over night with the rest of my family.

This brother, I might add, is ten years older than me. His friend was old in my mind, but ever so dashing and kind and attentive. He drove me to the top of Black mountain and we looked over the city lights. He dared not touch me, he told me then, out of resect for his friend, my brother, but he was tempted, or so he said, and for five minutes I fell in love.

All the way home to Melbourne driving down the dusty Hume Highway my heart throbbed for the love of him. I never saw the man again and have often wondered what became of him.

My brother’s marriage lasted little more than a year and he formed a new relationship. There are stories there, which are for others to tell.

My life is woven into the lives of my sisters and brothers, my early life that is, and these days it is woven into that of my children. Strangely, I feel freer by far telling the stories of my siblings than I do that of my children.

Born into such a crowd it is not surprising there are many stories to tell.

My children’s lives are in the here and now. I must respect their privacy. My siblings’ lives, or at least the ones I could describe, are in the distant past, built on memory and therefore to a large extent constructed.

I can bear to mention those. My husband is off limits too, which is why I refer to him as such and do not offer even a name.

All this disguise to protect the identities of those we love. It is necessary I suppose but there are days when I wish I could write more feely and yet in a strange way there is a freedom to this more obscure writing too, though not entirely fictional it has that quality. To me at least.

There are people like Kath, whom I mentioned earlier, who refers to her husband as ‘Love Chunks’ and gives her daughter the pseudonym, ‘Sapphire’. I suspect she does so for privacy too, but Kath writes in the here and now, with authenticity and therefore presumably in honesty.

She tempers everything with her marvellous and to me Australian sense of humour, made even more hilarious at the moment because the family have decamped to Geneva and no longer live in the suburbs of Melbourne.

How do others deal with this intractable problem within the blogosphere, I wonder, with this need to reveal and simultaneously to conceal?

Today is the first day of the year and I am determined not to let the year get the better of me. I have been so grumpy of late, I must revert to my usual tolerant and cheerful ways. Grumpiness has no inherent merit and it feeds on itself.

I have three quarters filled a skip with household rubbish collected over the past thirty years, stuff that is no longer useful to anyone, and useful stuff I have shipped off to St Vinnies and the Salvos.

It’s time for a space in my mind for my writing, once I’ve finished the tax preparations which may take me days.

From my seat here it seems to have been a quiet and understated New Years Eve, apart from the spire catching alight. I hope it is so for everyone. New Years Eve can be such a manic time.

I tend to imagine dreadful things happening with all the mad partying, so that when the day arrives, the first day of the year, there is a lull and a sense of relief that no one has died and nothing too dreadful has happened.

At least I hope so. I’ve yet to hear. And then the phone rings.