Give me a G

3 04 2007

I had just arrived at uni, all bright eyes and purple corduroy pants, when I met a girl in my Japanese class who happened to be a born-again Christian. She introduced me to a friend of hers, Gretsky, in the same class. I assumed she was also a born-again Christian. She assumed I was. We were polite to each other. Then came a Monday when the born-again Christian girl wasn’t there, and Gretsky and I had a polite chat about our weekends and on the way, established that we both a) did not attend church, b) had not given our lives to Jesus Christ and c) had been avoiding the other because of the religion thing. Talk about revelations. A (heathen) friendship was born.

Over the following years we kept turning up in each other’s classes, pubs and homes. I shamelessly rode her coat-tails in many a class and she shamelessly let me. Together, we counted the references our lecturers made to their most recently published works, rolled our eyes at the comments in tutes by the Young National guy with stinky shoes and commiserated over a shared tendency to be unable to string a sentence together when talking to our awesome but intimidating Japanese teacher.

A quick look over the last decade or so shows Gretsky’s quiet influence woven into my life. She convinced me to have a bash at the Monbusho scholarship exam; she told me she agreed it was reasonable to spend a year in Japan just because you got to have the degustation at the Chairman and Yip with the Ambassador before you went; and for my 21st she organised all-you-can-drink karaoke to start the evening, followed by sweet-talking a bar near her place into giving me a free membership and a bottle of sake and then convincing the whole bar to sing me happy birthday. Best. 21st. Evah. When the whole cheating bastard thing happened, she made me a care package including a brochure welcoming me to the Singles Association (slogan, “love is a pile of poo”). Then she tracked down wine and cheese and busted us out of some boring conference dinner to get smashed and overdose on dairy in our cabin.

When I was little, I used to worry about how many people I could fit into my heart. What if, I wondered, there is only a finite amount of love allocated for each person to give out, and once that’s used up, you stop loving people? To my seven-year-old mind, it seemed to explain the strange adult world of shifting relationships. Two decades on I realise not only was I quite the weird kid, but also the amount of people you can fit into your heart is infinite. The limit is not in emotion. As I blunder through cities and situations, the reality of people passing in and out of my life and my heart begins to sink in and I slowly accept some people will drift off the radar, even as others grow larger, sometimes regardless of the affection involved.

I’ve been sorting through some boxes of stuff this past weekend. I hoard memories. Cards, letters, ticket stubs, little fragments that remind me of those connections grown faint across time and distance. I think I do this for a couple of reasons. It’s good to occasionally remember the person I was five, ten, fifteen years ago, even if part of that recollection includes a lot of cringing (oh, the melodrama of a 17 year old sherd! Can you imagine? Complete. Wanker.). Also, it gives me perspective on my life, the tangents and the intersections, the billions of individual stories out there, each as central to their owners as my reality is to me. It’s easy to get wrapped up in my own head and my own story; it’s refreshing to remember there is a greater story of which I am a tiny part. Did Sammy Ludwig marry that boy and move to the villa in Spain? Did Jarred Butto become a rock star? Did John Loy climb Kilimanjaro? Do they ever wonder what happened to that odd girl they once knew? The popularity of sites like Friends Reunited shows that to know someone for a period of time – weeks, months, years – and then however long later still retain enough of that connection to muse on their trajectory isn’t unusual.

Sometimes I think it’s inevitable that people lose touch with other people. I’m as lazy as the next person; irregular jaunts down memory lane over a box of paper and trinkets doesn’t mean a lot to anyone but me. According to an old journal, seven years ago this week, I find Guinness for Gretsky’s birthday and we drink it and go to karaoke, and then a couple of days later we go to hanami at Inokashirakoen and watch mad people and eat sakura icecream, and a few days after that we go to a Regurgitator & Zoobombs concert and on the way home are filmed for a commercial eating takoyaki on the street at 2am saying “Love” holding a sign saying “Lave”. I’m not sure when we were going to class or working, but clearly we didn’t let it get in the way of propping up Japan’s beer and karaoke industries.

I’ve realised tomorrow is the first of either of our birthdays in many years we won’t celebrate together with a beer at a pub, seeing as neither of us has managed to engineer a convenient conference or interstate holiday. All this musing has made me realise that there are some people it doesn’t matter with, though. We could drift in and out of each other’s radar and then I could front up on her doorstep, or she on mine, in another seven years, or fourteen, or twenty one, and we would grab a couple of beers, or some coffee and cheesy toast, and pick up where we left off. And probably will.

Happy birthday, Gretsky. You za great.




8 responses

2 04 2007

That was beautiful. You have a great way with words. Might give some old mates a call tomorrow.

2 04 2007

The Gretsky: she sounds like the uber-cool, way awesome pal we all wish we had. Lucky Sherdie!Great post 🙂

3 04 2007

You bring a tear to an old man’s eye. Aren’t you glad you learned to write. I know I am.

3 04 2007

Happy Birthday Gretsky, may your day be filled with many smiles & wonderful surprises. Beers Cheers to you xoxox

4 04 2007

Awwww…shucks. I thought this was inspired by a late night phone call on the third – but it was just a post in itself! Thanks Sarha. I too am glad that you can write.

4 04 2007

that’s such a nice tribute. big whopping “aaaaw” here, but.. really… aaaaw. much better than a cheesy card. unless, of course, the card was extremely cheesy. it’s still better than the card, but the extremely cheesy card would be a nice cherry on top.i have a book of notes passed in 9th grade. i read it to humble myself after a day of rolling my eyes at teens. i used to have a bumpersticker that read, “do born against have two belly buttons?” if i find that, it’s yours!

4 04 2007

P.S John Loy did climb Killimanjaro

4 04 2007

Yay John!I’ll never forget that exit row trick.

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