Dressing up

Last night I dressed up in seventies clobber and drove all the way out to Warrandyte to celebrate my cousin’s 40th birthday.

I’m not really a big fan of costume parties, but it’s probably a bloke thing. I didn’t put a lot of time into my outfit mainly because of the limitations I had – i.e. no money till Friday. Yesterday morning I visited some local op shops and picked up a seventies style shirt that I’d happily wear anytime. I don’t have flares, and so I paired it with some boot cut jeans. I ended up wearing a different shirt altogether, a garish green and blue number, unbuttoned to my chest revealing a few blonde chest hairs and a dangling chain. Some of my sister’s make-up created some sideburns, and that was it.

Once upon a time I used to play tennis in Warrandyte. That was competitive and fun, and on hot days – as they were mostly – we would dive into the river alongside to cool off. Later on we’d head to the pub for a beer, and maybe a meal. That was 15 years ago, or more, and I’d barely visited the area since.

It’s a leafy, relaxed place Warrandyte, and the party was upstairs at the pub we used to visit all those years ago, now much renovated. As soon as we walked in we knew we were at the right place because everyone looked funny.

There were some great outfits. There was an Evel Knievel, as well as an Elvis. My cousin C, a cricket lover, came as Dennis Lillee, and his young son dressed as Rod Marsh. There were many afros, and lots of bell bottom pants, and women in shiny vinyl boots to the knee. From a purely aesthetic point of view it was wasn’t pretty, but I found it liberating to prance around showing off my chest hairs and feeling free and easy in general.

I was driving, which meant I wasn’t drinking, which meant as the night went on I fell progressively behind in the festivities. I didn’t mind too much. I was in a thoughtful, observant mood. I watched people, most of who I didn’t know, studying their idiosyncrasies and how they interacted with each other. At the same time I caught up with the last remaining branch of family in Melbourne, who I hardly see anyway. It was easy though, and as the night went on I found many memories recalled to me, and connected from now to way back then.

It was quite a contrast to the previous night, when I was the big H. Last night I was the little H, and I appreciated it.

Friday night I had a bunch of very vivid and unusual dreams that I forgot on waking up. Though I had no memory of the events – other than they were intriguing – the dreams felt as if they were particularly clear. I had that clarity last night too. I drank light beer all night, slowly, and was as sober as a judge throughout. I had that keen eye seeing things and my memory working overtime, and between them connections were made.

I felt as if I stood apart, happily. For the first time ever in my life I felt like a writer, as if I was seeing with a writer’s eyes. It felt as if this what I’m meant to be and do now. This is my path forward, and part of that being the smaller H. I have to write a book about this one day, I thought, midway through the night, meaning I had to write a book about family.

For whatever reason I feel as if I’ve only got a certain number of books in me if they’re to be any good – maybe half a dozen. I’ve nearly finished the first, and it’s the book most foreign to my genre. I have another couple of novels in my head, and then perhaps this other – though I don’t know what – about the entanglements of family. As for the others, time will tell, but it felt clear then that if I stuck to it then it would happen. That’s how I might find happiness.

It was late driving home and the streets almost bare of traffic. I dropped my sister home then continued on across town to my own home. Of my own family news I’d got an update. My father is now settled in Eltham. Good on him, I wish him all the best. We don’t talk, but I’m not bitter – we just don’t have a relationship. To that point my sister told me out of the blue that dad was keeping me in his will, but had removed me as an executor. I wondered why I needed to be told this, but let it go.

There’s always plenty of materials when it comes to writing books about family. I could write a saga.

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