Thursday, March 16, 2006

hepi bondei bare-bum

ricebags best friend from school is bare-bum (AKA BBC) ... and today is bare-bum's birthday!

Bare-bum and I hit it off right away in the hallowed corridors of our boarding house on the major highway of a majorly dreary upper-class suburb on Sydney's leafy North Shore … the kind where coiffed mums and their fufu dogs leave their sprawling designer homes in their shiny jeep cherokees to drop off beribbonned pony-tailed gals in royal blue blazers at the ancient gates and manicured lawns of very expensive schools just like the one we went to (actually ... all the mums I knew worked and cooked and loved and hurt ... and drove 1982 ford sedans ... and they weren't plastic at all ... but some of their little girls were little princesses!).

Yeah yeah. We were boarders and we lived it, played it, dressed it up, chowed it down, ran amok and grew up together, sometimes painfully, never too shyly, boarders - always near each other, in front of each other, alongside each other.

And it's just over a decade since we left ... a time of: sunned up teenage leggage sprawling in our blue tunics on the boarders lawn; the midnight foodie gorges and illegal tv; the heads-down study hardies and urgent all-nighters; the slamming doors and cutting tears; lots of tears, mostly me-me-me ones and lonely ones and homesick ones ... but also tears for others - the tears that tell you salt can't sting like missing can; the haircuts in the shower and home&away on brown milk-stained cushions; blubbery phone calls to mums in faraway places and postcards from dads who seemed even further; toast on the heater and one spoon of quik; honey and weetbix facials and smoking teabags graduating to puffing fags in the corner park; communical waxing sessions in the common room and a deep clinical analysis of folicles, pimples, bums and boobs; hysterical laughs and practical jokes ... a relief of the stress and tension that growing up and getting smarter brings; meeting boys for rumby fumbles and silver handbags in the city; always conferring and discussing and ruminating and prophecising; always dreaming and wishing and idolising and imagining; always wanting the end of school, the end of summer, the end of being a minor, just the end of that time so that the rest of our time could begin.

Somehow bare-bum kept me grounded (and still does in ways even she doesn't suspect). Such a person! The kind everyone wants to be friends with - and she picked me. And there she was (and still is), so beautiful and fit and hard-working and a little to the left - just enough to be vibrant and open-minded and non-judgmental - rare qualities in any person, let alone a girl in an all-girls school. And maybe that's why I love her so much - because she's never expected me to be anything other than what I am, never judged my folly, always lauded my success. And that's the way family loves, not friends. And she is, my family, I mean. And at school, it was what she had - just an open, disarming, daring innocence. That fresh-faced rudeness of someone totally unaware of her own glow.

Yeah - we had some laughs ricebag and bare-bum!! And a whole truckload of memories … the kind where she has total recall of the things I'd rather forget … the kind you'd never trade because if she doesn’t remember them, noone will. The very personal, the very best, the very biased kind.

And so its been a few years since school ... and very few of them have been spent in the same country for ricebag and bare-bum. But phones and photos have kept us parallel and I am just so proud to call her my mate. Thinking on those bus-rides we shared to Orange ... day-long train rides to country parties ... 4 hour car rides to parties and even longer ones to picnics ... housing me homeless in camperhole ... and that lovely summer of '97 when bare-bum camped on my langley floor at college - a whole perfect youthful silly season of unbroken beerage and kissing the wrong boys ... entire seasons of talking and months of absence. It's been a real journey, knowing this woman ... and I am totally in it for the long haul - what an utter privilege!!

Today is bare-bum's birthday. That beautiful, surprising, realist … turns another year older. And I am counting down the minutes until I see her again in just 9 short days!

Here's to you BBC!!! ... just remember to FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS ...

not so long ago the lovely brave bare-bum packed herself and her man and went off west west north western australia to work in mining country and live in the incomperable pilbara ... here are some of her photos a la tom price country


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