I was to meet Emrys for breakfast at the stipulated time. It was part of his ultimatum or perhaps pen-ultimatum. For when I arrived to pick him up he was still in bed. He had forgotten he had written me off as a bad dad the day before and that I must take him to breakfast at eight sharp or we were done. We went for breakfast at Split cafe. It was cold and rainy so we did not go for walk. We sat in the cafe and he told me the story-lines from the various mediums he has been indulging in of late. I had not slept well under the previous days welter of emotional cross-fire. I could not maintain my interest in his disconnected anecdotes from youtube. I apologised, hugged him, told him I loved him before dropping him home.
I did not want to go home. I drove south avoiding the highway. I ended up at Wenmouth Head. There is not much to see there. A low scrubby headland, an expanse of sandy beach with people fishing off it. Some bommies off the shore. I sat on a rock and watched the waves.
As often happens my mind wandered to my friend Greg. I decided to visit his childhood home. He had told me a few happy stories about his adventures there. I walked back to the ute and headed to Scotts Head.
It was much the same as I remembered it. The beach break curved round the headland as I had often seen it. I drove on up past Greg’s Mum and Dad’s old house. I stopped at Grassy Head. Drank some water and ate a handful of nuts before climbing around the headland. The rocks here are gnarly. I took some photos of the rocks, the sea and some of the deep green and orange pandanus palms.
The cliffs on the south of the headland made me think of a childhood friend. He also thrives on walks along clifftops and rough pathways. I sat at the edge of the cliff edge watching the waves surge and feeling them break through the rocks beneath my feet. The vertigo made me slide away from the edge and continue my journey.
I drove too far. I found myself funnelled onto the newly upgraded highway. Circled back on myself. Passing the grim Slim Dusty Interchange I thought of
something I had read by E.Annie Proulx. A tragedy, an old man becoming forgetful, confused and lost as he drives along the never ending and always expanding continental roads of North America. The memories of a lifetime of itinerant fruit-picking and agricultural labouring no help to him in this new world. The memory and the road I was on, impossibly, lowered my mood.
I pulled off the highway at Port Macquarie. Today it was a dire and pointless town. I found myself eating
KFC. Feeding misery with misery. I glumly walked the streets. This was no good. Abruptly I got back in my ute and drove to Hat Head. Three point two kilometres of “Experienced Bushwalkers only (by order of…)” finally helped me turn the corner. Despite the plethora of moron sign-posts instructing their audience in the most obvious and petty warnings and rules, I felt happier. Nature won over the trappings of the bureaucratic state. The weather helped as it absolutely pissed down. Huge gobbets of ice cold rain hammered down as if a million heavenly taps had been opened. Bedraggled wallabies appeared from the long grass and dark-eyed me suspciously.
I left the path and scrambled through lawyer vines and wet mud. Slipping down to explore the blue-black sea-smooth rocks with the sharp salt smell. The waves smashed hard over the rounded boulders. I waded through the warm foam and spray, already soaked to the skin by the cold rain. I had found what I was looking for and now I could go home.
In a crevice on Hat Head