Dear Berni

New years day should be lazy. Sure, there’ll be plenty of go-hard types out there who reckon it sets a poor example for the rest of the year, but in my book new years day is one of the few days of the calendar when you can be a bum without feeling guilty about it.

I was certainly a bum yesterday. I didn’t walk further than my front fence. Most of the day I sat right here and played Civilization, which I don’t even do as often as every new year. It’s easy to burn a lot of hours playing it. It drags you in, and if I did it any more often than this then I’d be ashamed of myself, but once a year is fine. It’s mindless fun, until you start doing it all the time – which so many do.

Once upon a time my excuse for a quiet new years day would have been a big new years eve, but this time around it was very sensible, and probably quite boring. I had a party to go to if I wanted, and some sort of function at one of the Southgate bars if I’d chosen to, but the heat put me off, and, well, because. As I discussed with one of my friends during the day, come new years eve you feel as if you should do something, but half the time realise that you really can’t be bothered. So I cancelled all plans and caught up with the Cheese’s instead.

It’s not the lamest new years eve I’ve ever had. Back in the day I had some royal new years ever celebrations, including featuring on TV two years running. I’ve had some great new years eve. The lamest though would have been nearly 25 years ago, which is strange, because I liked to party then.

I lived in South Yarra, at 3/36 Kensington road. I had a tentative invitation to some new years eve do, but it never really eventuated. In any case I wasn’t in that extroverted mood because I was in love. Actually, probably lurv – there’s a difference.

I was still at that age when it could consume me and, let’s face it, for all of my confident, masculine exterior I was very romantic then, and pretty sensitive. I’d play CD’s and moon about the house. I’d go for long walks, often in the dead of night, and think about her. I’d wonder how I could contrive to bump into her when we weren’t together. I was a dead duck for it. This is Berni I’m talking about.

It was the early days then, tumultuous and uncertain, as it probably was all the way through, but better days were coming. In time I would move from there to another address in Hawthorn East, and then to St Kilda East, and throughout she was there close to me. There were years of intimacy in store which at the time I didn’t know, and could only imagine. You tend not to be an optimist when you’re wracked with what feels an existential desire. One day it would be love proper.

That was all in the future. I remember that night I went for a walk down Toorak road looking in and listening to the various celebrations in progress. I wouldn’t have fitted in. Bernie was away maybe, back home in the Western District, or otherwise celebrating with her sister. I was by myself, unable to and unwilling to share my situation with anyone.

I returned home, and of all things watched Camelot on TV. Come midnight I probably popped a cork of some description to mark the occasion, and then off to bed, to dreams of what might be, to hopes and schemes that would, for a time, eventuate. But not yet, and not enough that I could yet believe.

Feels melancholy that, and remembering me. I always think how little fundamentally I’ve changed. I think that’s the same for most people. But I look back and he seems very different in some aspects, and I feel for him. Man, what a journey.

It’s not a bad thing to remember at such a time. I’ve posted here before how after Berni and I did eventually part company she went home to her parents for a number of years, before she committed suicide. That was a soul-deep shock that I still feel.

There came a time when I was recovering from it that the notion came to me that I had to make my life count, for her. Her life was cut short and made tragic. I couldn’t abide that, and though I couldn’t do anything about it, I wanted something positive to flow from it. It’s self-indulgent, but it works.

It’s the new year, and I remember that I’m living for her as much as me, and recall that I have to make it count.

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