Bohemia & convention

Had a busy social weekend. The occasions were diverse, and mostly interesting. Taken separately they reflect and reveal different things, but it’s in their entirety a truer picture becomes visible.

I was invited to a house party on Saturday night across the bridge in Yarraville. I like a good house party, though they seem pretty rare these days. I like the casual randomness of them, the way you bump into people and have unexpected conversations while all around you the party shifts and turns and goes on its convoluted way. House party’s are organic in that sense, you toss a few ingredients in the pot and you see how they combine. There’s a trick to it, but once it’s in the pot you’re not sure how it will turn out.

This was a good one. I’d been invited by the woman I met about 6 weeks ago. It was her house. She’s a fun, vibrant woman with a distinct personality. Given what I knew of her, and the mutual friends we share, I expected it to be an interesting party, and so it was – an eclectic collection of artists and entrepreneurs and creative types with an alternative edge. There was plentiful booze, and from midway through the night a good collection of drugs.

I took a friend with me. The excuse was that I was getting him out of the house and into society. While that’s a legitimate objective I was also conscious of using him a chaperone for me. I was fearful, probably wrongly, that if I went alone then I would be induced to stay the night, which is not what I want. I like the lady – she’s a great person – just not in that way. I wanted to be able to get away unencumbered.

The downside of that is that I had to drive, and since I was driving had to be careful with the drinking. That doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m no-one’s idea of the designated driver. I chafed at it through the night, but managed to be disciplined. While everyone about me went hammer and tongs I sipped at water, feeling the flow of the party slip away from my sober self.

Which is not to say I didn’t have fun. I did, but I felt like I was on a leash all night as well. I did manage to meet and converse with a bunch of pretty interesting people. One artistic type – a young actress I later discovered – walked in and as I was the first person she saw gave me a big kiss. I didn’t know her, but I was happy to be kissed and responded accordingly.

There was another woman I talked to throughout the night on separate occasions. She was possibly the best looking woman there, and with a killer body to go with it. She also had an interesting personality. At first it was hard to read her. At times her eyes would sharpen as if you had inadevertently touched upon a sore spot. I learned from how she looked at me where I could go, and where She would prefer I didn’t. Later in the night the rules relaxed, the no-go zones made available to me, but that was later. Early on her enigmatic disposition drew me on. I teased and paused, drawing her to me, and leading the conversation into more interesting areas. By the end of the night I knew which buttons to push, and how.

She was an Art Therapist, something she was unwilling to discuss too much. As the night went on we shared more substantial intimacies. Towards the end she was interested, and as I watched her leave I wondered if I should contact her, and then, for why? I liked her, she was interesting and cute and I could imagine becoming friendly with her and the pleasures of sharing her bed – of course that was in my head – but did she fit in with my life? And, as was on my mind all night, was it ok to crack onto the hostess’ friend?

Then there was an annoying bloke I had a long and boring conversation with before escaping him. Ten minutes later we came face to face again. “You seem familiar,” he said, “do I know you?”

At first I didn’t think he was serious, then realised he was. I explained to him we had met before, over there? He was desperately apologetic, but I was disdainful. “I’ve got you, mate,” I said “you’re the goldfish.”

Another man told me a heartfelt, but confusing tale about a woman he had been with and how she had deceived him and they had broken up some time before now and how in some tenuous way that connected him to the party. I nodded my head and grunted and afterwards he looked at me with a kind of sorrowful surprise and said: “you’re the first person I’ve ever told that whole story to.” It seemed a nice point, though wasted on me. Even now I don’t understand his story.

There was even a woman we thought was a man who turned out to be a woman.

After all that we left at about 3. I’d had a couple of quick tokes an hour before we left for the usual effect – zippo. I drove the near empty Western Ring road feeling clear-headed and focused, and stayed the night at my mates.

I slept till about 10. Afterwards I realised that was the first time since Christmas I’d slept beyond 8am. Though we’d got to bed late there was the sense that the prolonged sleep was something the body had been craving. I had vivid and unusual dreams. I woke thinking I would get up in 5 minutes time only to fall back into sleep again. It was good.

I spent most of the day yesterday in and around the shop. My mate had come with me. We had breakfast, then walked down High St browsing the high-end furniture stores in the Autumn sunshine. It was another lovely day. Towards the end he decided to have a massage. For me it was all a pleasant diversion as well.

Then last night I went to a fund-raising trivia night. I caught up with a bunch of guys I knew down at South Wharf. The room was full of people gathered for a good cause and willing to have fun of it. We put together a kitty of beer money we drew on all night as we competed in the trivia contest. We would have won too, but were mis-scored and ripped off. That was annoying and sloppy, but ultimately irrelevant.

This was a much more conventional occasion. Everyone has a role on occasions like this. I watched and listened and was reminded of the generosity of people and their basic decency, and was warmed by it. It was a good cause and every person was genuine in supporting it. At the same time they had fun. There was much laughter and occasional high-jinks.

Somehow I felt more separate here though than I did the night before to the hard-drinking bohemians. Here about me were fathers and mothers. They possessed nuclear families. They operated and responded within the constraints of that perspective. It was familiar and known, a diary entry on the calendar.

At the same time I felt myself marginalised by my situation. Much of that is imagined, but some is real. These are all decent people and those who know me well are sympathetic. I can cop that, but it abuts pity pretty closely so I’m wary of it. I understand their inclination, but the fact is that I want none of that, not even sympathy really.

I want people to know that I am separate from my situation. It’s a hard road I’m on but some day it will lead to somewhere better. Whatever, whilst I am in the thick of it it is something happening to me, but not who I am. I’m no different to what I was before all of this, and if I am in any way I think it’s for the better. I understand the awkwardness, but there’s no need to feel any embarrassment or even sympathy for me. I remain focused, strong and capable. I don’t want encouragement no matter how heartfelt. I want nothing more than to be treated as an equal (though clearly in some ways I’m not – which I do accept, grudgingly).

I am over-sensitive about this, but then I’m the one in the middle of it and it’s tiresome to be treated differently by everyone you meet, no matter how kindly met. I feel sometimes that as a man I am discounted because I’m not in the same game as others, am no longer a member of the club they’re all a part of.

There are times I feel that of myself. It’s a sense of dilution, but in my mind it is circumstantial, not personal. I don’t know that others see it the same way, and that to some my predicament is the reflection of some personal failing. God will judge that, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Maybe I doth protesteth too much, but I feel as robust an individual as I ever was, and quite possibly more so. I still have teeth.

Lately I’ve had this thought in mind that this saga will be the making of me. It’s maybe late in the day for that, and it’s not as if I was ‘unmade’ before, but something like this focuses you like never before. It concentrates your essence. I’m hoping that is the case and the time will come when I can use that and make something of it. I’m still positive. For the first time in a while I have a good vibe about the months ahead. I believe for all that I have lost I have it in me to reclaim one day.

I’m a man, that’s all, and want nothing more than for people to know it, and to treat with him – and not my situation.

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