I never thought about my future. I was always too busy taking care of everyone else to even imagine such a beast existed.
My father’s wife insisted I wanted to be a hairdresser, (don’t know where the fuck she got that idea, unless it was the fringe cutting incident and we all know how that turned out), so she got me a Saturday morning job hairdressing. I enjoyed it, though not for the reasons she thought.
- I had a valid reason for not being home five and half days a week.
- I had a bit of spare cash, not much, but the stores nearby let me buy my ciggies.
That was as far as my future went, a job was a job to help me escape my life for a few hours each week.
It seemed, throughout my young life, that every time I showed a talent for something, I was removed from the situation nourishing that talent. It was the same when I married, my world was locked safety away in my head. It removed the horror I felt at having to participate in it, life that is.
My married life was bringing up my children, whom I love dearly, but I did have a sort of bucket list of the things I wanted to achieve when I was younger, but didn’t get a chance to. It’s the closest thing I had that resembled an idea of some type of future.
The first thing I did, and no-one knows this, I approached an army office in Perth WA and tried to sign up. Sure I was short, but very sporty and still believe I would’ve made a good soldier. I’d already been beaten into submission, and the harder the sport, the better.
That visit occurred a few months shy of my sixteenth birthday. I recognise today why I attempted to sign up. My elder sibling joined the forces at sixteen and got to leave home… see where I’m going?
Yep, escape, but by the time I was sixteen I forgot about it. I completed year ten and my father’s wife said, ‘You don’t have to go back to school if you get a job over the holidays.’
I got three.
School was this cauldron of shit bubbling away and my name was the cherry on top. High school reinforced the oppression I was already yoked with at home, so I started work and couldn’t stop.
I worked at a shirt factory from 8-am to 4-pm, a Greek deli from 4.15-pm to 7.30-pm, the I’d race to a store about three kilometers from that deli and work from 8-pm-10.30-pm just in time to catch the last bus home.
My work life served to get me out of school and away from the bullshit, and got me away from my father’s wife, but I had no future in mind.
My bucket list comprised of:
- Become a gymnastics instructor. I participated in a weekend course, and achieved bucket list item one. I could teach level one to four mat work.
Number two came about when I was standing at a shopping check out. I had a baby in my arms, and toddler at my feet saying, ‘I wan go wee,’ while trying to pull his pants down to wee in the lolly display.
I was frazzled. I looked up and at the next checkout stood two older women. They were nicely dressed. Their faces made up, not overly, just right. So, number two was a promise to myself.
- When you get older, always look your best. Just because I was old, didn’t mean I had to look it. Though I didn’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb, just look at Helen Mirren. She’s a beautiful older woman who could never be mistaken for mutton dressed up as lamb. She has class and style, things I could only ever dream of having.
- My third and final desire for myself was to train my voice, hone my vocals, and I did. I got to have three lessons and they were going well.
‘My dad said it’d take time to hear the results of my work,’ my instructor said on my last session with her.
I was so excited. Felt confident for the first time in along time, but while I was at her house, ten minutes into my lesson, her doorbell rang.
Her husband opened the door, we could hear muffled voices then all was quiet again and we heard the door close. We’d stopped because we were recording the sessions.
When I called to set up the next session, she told me she was no-longer teaching. I found it to be very odd, because she’d only just started advertising when I’d called the for the first time, and our last session went so well.
Later, I was to find that my now ex-husband had stalked me, and not for the first time. He followed me to her house, and waited fifteen minutes, probably trying to catch me having an affair. He rang the bell, would’ve heard me singing somewhere in the house and it was probably the only reason my tutors husband didn’t get a beating. Instead, he threatened her husband, and was told my tutor was to cancel my sessions.
I came to know my future, knew it’d be ruled by oppression with the only way out, I eventually surmised, was through death, but that too is a story for another day.
I was a reflection in a mirror, packed away in a forgotten lockup, screaming for sweet relief, where silence, and defiance, were both my friends, and enemies.