Chapter Ten: 1991 ~ Spreading My Wings
‘It has been shown how every external activity is directed by an inner motion and how, at the source of it, there is a principal cause. It must be understood that every wave of life which is set in motion by the principal cause, works towards a purpose. With its every motion, the purpose becomes more definite, and at its every stage of evolution, it adjusts itself, making a perfect harmony – although in a limited space, this same activity may appear inharmonious. Therefore good and evil, right and wrong, when viewed by the keen sight, correspond with a certain purpose, and thus prove harmonious from the standpoint of the perfect Whole.’ ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
I partied as normal, over, and beyond the festive, party period, frequenting Hordern dance parties, as well as attending my third fabulous Mardi Gras feeling like a seasoned party goer. I often enjoyed evenings at the Chinese Laundry nightclub, a trendy venue in the City where Julie was a bar girl, and Daniel a door attendant. From there, we would move to DCM (Don’t Cry Mumma) a nightclub on Oxford Street where we’d spend the remainder of the night dancing and pounding to music that wouldn’t let us off the dance floor because it was so good. Feeling wonderfully at one with all, the entire nightclub was a dance floor, so we danced wherever we were, and the hours flew by with smiley, funny, cool people.
Mum wasn’t having such a fun time back on the home front. The only good thing was having me there for her peace of mind and distraction. She devoted years to helping Ron’s boys—Mike and Rich, and now she felt dejected. She had tried giving them motherly love, but being unaccustomed to those attentions due to a shaky upbringing, they rejected her and created barriers. Ron influenced the boy’s behaviour by habitually putting them first, inferring Mum’s less important position to all concerned. This stood in stark contrast to the Woy Woy home, where Dad placed the stepfamily first; believing family would always love you. Oh, the paradox was ironic!
Mum and Ron had offered me to move in with them when troubles rose in my Woy Woy home, but I strongly believed this wouldn’t be needed. Now I actually had left my home in such a way, I couldn’t keep sleeping in Julie’s bed forever, so took up their offer and moved into a spare room, made special by a motherly touch. Mike and I were two months apart in age and we’d already developed a fine friendship since meeting when we were fourteen. We had a genuine brotherly, sisterly friendship, which widened when we shared special dances and dance party moments experiencing the wonder of such incredible events, such as walking in the parade at our first Mardi Gras. Rich, a couple of years younger, was also a sweetheart, his presence made me feel I now had a loving, younger brother in my life. And, Ron showed he was agreeable to me living there. He’d provide ample fruits and vegetables from the markets, and would leave a freshly squeezed orange juice for me in the mornings. Sadly, though, Mum wasn’t having a great relationship with him, and hadn’t been for some time.
She eventually sought alternative living arrangements, and didn’t tell Ron about her plans because he wouldn’t allow her to take any furniture without seeing a solicitor. When she saw one and explained the strange particulars, he gave her off the record advice: ‘The only way to escape from this man is to do a ‘fly-by night’.
Mum had no other choice. We found a two bedroom duplex in Belmore in late February, five minutes up the road from Louise, Ian, and the girls. And, Matty—my friend from dance parties and exclusive visitor of Alpine—helped us move. Two trips over a twenty minute distance and our home and circumstance had entirely changed.
* * *
The following week, I flew down to Melbourne with Louise, Alana, and Bianca, for a ten day holiday at my uncle and auntie’s house. I loved being there spending time with my cousins until Julie arrived; her presence made me feel inferior due to her nonchalance with me. We began bickering almost immediately. She could easily ruffle my sensitive feathers because I was so much younger and deficient in wordsmith skills. I’d become irrationally upset to her comments taken as brush-offs and run-downs. Louise treated me differently too when Julie came, demoting my importance from sister/friend to the role of dispensable aunt, more like an agony aunt. I felt like a child again, like Cinderella doing all the unwanted work.
A couple of days later we got along better and through Julie, I met Aaron …
In my diary I wrote: Thursday 28th - ‘Met Aaron at Chasers nightclub. I didn’t meet him until towards the end of the night when dancing with Louise and Julie. He was sitting on the nearby stage watching, and when Julie went to sit for a rest, they started speaking and he asked about me. She introduced us as the last dance ended, so we all ventured outside. Louise attempted to hail down a taxi (out of waiting line) when Aaron offered us a lift home. His car was just across the road, a flashy number, and the catch came on opening the passenger door. His car was really a two-seater that provided only a tight and narrow area as the backseat. This was the first time in my life that I was to come first and be put in front of both Louise and Julie. They were uncomfortable and expressed it a little; however, the trip was short and appreciated all the same, especially by me. This guy was so lovely and interesting. I loved his response when I asked what he did for work. ‘I’m a ballroom dance instructor.’
This was exciting!
We went to watch our cousin Chris play in a band the next evening, and later Julie, Aaron, and I went nightclubbing in two of Melbourne’s cool nightclubs. It wasn’t so fun with just the three of us, but we still had some good dances together. Aaron talked me into going back to his house when he took us home, and I left a note for Aunty Rosy and Louise informing of my whereabouts, telling them not to worry, because Aaron was a ‘perfect gentlemen’. When I returned the next morning, Aunty Rosy made a fuss about how thoughtful and lovely the letter was. I felt grown up and thrilled, receiving praise for being considerate while going about adult things!
We spoke on the phone that night and the next day from work. I returned home from work to two red roses in a cylinder hanging on the front door with a card To Suzie, All my love Aaron (PS Please say yes). I guessed his passionate question was about marriage but certainly wasn’t ready to consider such a thing. He sent me a letter few days later bursting with emotion. He had chosen a star for us: ‘Just remember no matter where we are in the world at night we both see the same stars and I’ve picked one for us. It will always be there looking after you, and if you ever miss me like I miss you, just go and have a look at our star because that’s where I am’. He also said there was something about his past he wanted to share with me face-to-face, emphasising it wasn’t too bad, and not to panic. I was curious!
I met him at the airport the following Friday afternoon where we were amorous again. Back at home, he revealed the secret… His ballroom dance partner was his former wife, but they separated a year ago. I knew what she looked like because he posted a video of them winning That’s Dancing—a popular 80s ballroom dancing show, with the letter he recently sent to me. He needed me to reassure him I was okay with this, and we went on to have a wonderful weekend, meeting family, friends, and dancing at my favourite nightspots. I loved dancing with him. He was able to move freely, without ballroom constraints, never having had a substance running through his system to make that exceedingly easier. Derrick, my original favourite gay guy, in terms of gorgeousness, sexy-cool dancing, dressing, and appeal, even appreciated his beauty from a respectful distance!
Aaron, four years older than me, was fun-loving and so very romantic and affectionate. When we were around others, he continued to lavish affection onto me, yet still wanted me to be natural and affectionate with Paul as I would when he wasn’t there. So next minute, I was sitting on Paul’s lap, gigging to the music.
At home alone, he was so passionate. We kissed, loved, and held each other as if time would never end. I adored looking at him: his beautiful face, blue eyes, dark brown hair and complexion, as he lay in my pink sheets on my double bed. I loved feeling so grown up with him. He was my coming of age.
Alas, the long weekend ended too quickly. I’d arranged a flex-day for Monday so we could spend the precious day together before airport time in the early evening. The day flew by too quickly, and at the airport, we didn’t want to say goodbye. Sad, soppy, and romantic, we waved and waved to each other until out of sight!
‘He’s the one for you, you’re both so suited.’ Mum said to me later that night. Her long-term suggestion shocked and excited me, even though I knew deep down Aaron was already too complicated. I was far too young for such things, but enjoyed the recognition of being a grown woman—especially by Mum. I was exhilarated about the unknown future!
A few weeks later, I flew down to Melbourne for the Easter Break to see Aaron, with his compliments. I watched him teach a ballroom lesson, we had dinners, visited his friends, but stayed at his house most the time loving each other, until he developed tonsillitis on the last night, so we went to the doctors. Back at home in his room, Aaron cried. I thought his sadness was because we were parting the next morning, but he was having foresight I realised sometime later, knowing it would be the last time we’d see each other as a couple. Different from me, too caught up in the thrill of our romance to detect any subtle messages. We lovingly kissed goodbye at the airport early Tuesday morning, and I caught the plane to Sydney airport, took a taxi to my work, and walked around all day with my heart on my sleeve.
* * *
But it’s dangerous bearing our hearts so openly to others, and things were quickly changing.
Julie moved in with us in April. We had asked Julie if she wanted to move out with us before Mum and I moved, but she had other arrangements. Things changed and two months later, she did need to live with us indefinitely. As we had only two bedrooms, she slept with Mum in a queen-sized bed. I thought this was right. Their energies were more suited to each other. She looked like Mum and often made Mum laugh, and I envied their relationship, wishing we had one just as harmonious.
I was becoming too worried about Aaron to concentrate on my relationship with Mum and Julie. His calls were becoming irregular and I recorded in my work diary when he hadn’t rung, and happily amended when, ‘He Did!’ In fact, he was supposed to return to Sydney April 25, the Anzac Day long weekend. A dance party was on that weekend too and he asked me to buy him a ticket. I felt reassured he was coming with the tickets in my hand, but Aaron didn’t come as feared, and the absence of a phone call to tell me, hurt the most. So I rang him, and spoke to his sweet Nanna—who he lived with, to find he was definitely not coming. She didn’t know anything, except he wasn’t coming to Sydney. I was sad and pensive, yet went to the dance party anyway and still managed a fantastic night!
As a ripple effect perhaps, Julie and I had a serious tiff the following Tuesday morning, over a cup-of-tea. My work operated on a ‘flex-time’ system, which records hours worked. The earlier one arrives to work and/or the later stayed, the more hours accrued for leaving early; a fortnightly day off; or making up time. As partying, sleep, and social times were central to my life, I worked to make up lost hours each week, and was in the habit of rushing. Cups of tea were luxury I enjoyed at work in work hours, and this morning was no different.
I intended to shower, dress, apply make-up, and rush out the door, for the long walk to the station with or without Julie. Julie, with an underlying wish to have company to the station and on the train, said I shouldn’t go before making teas for Mum and herself. I attempted to re-explain why I had to rush, but over-reacted to her insinuations of me being lazy and uncaring about Mum. Old anger, brewing from a lifetime of off-handed younger sister treatment, started festering inside me, reigniting when Mum got up from bed and immediately defended Julie without knowing the nature of our upset. For it wasn’t about a cup of tea, it was about disdain caused from an old pattern of sibling rivalry. Mum, disgusted at my direct emotion, called me a ‘Drama Queen’, which hurt and I looked at Julie as the blame behind Mum’s yelling. Charged with duress, I walked over to Julie and punched her on the arm, incensed at her unnecessary treatment that brought back memories of years ago. With that, I retreated, and on closing the front door, Mum yelled, ‘Just go back to your Father and Fay’s!’ hurting me again considering what occurred on that home front.
In tears, I made my way to Louise and Ian’s haven, where I continued sobbing uncontrollably. Little Alana kept saying, ‘What’s wrong with Aunty Suzie, what’s wrong?’ Louise and Ian’s comforting eased my emotions… Louise empathised with me as she felt Mum favoured Julie, and we thought this was because they were the most alike in looks, habits, and mannerisms. ‘Always the bridesmaids and never the bride’, she said about us. After that necessary pit stop, I was back on route to work.
I walked through my office door and announced to Stephen my urgent need to go to England. Stephen understood. Mum had already rung and left a message for me to phone Julie. I didn’t call, too hurt to speak amicably to her. I copied the daily calendar quotation in my diary: ‘As a cure for worrying work is better than whisky’. The daily stars: ‘AQUARIUS: This is not the time to let other people dominate you. In many ways it is imperative you use your independence to get ahead. Assert your will and be a little bit one-eyed where people are trying to make a puppet out of you.’
In protest of the morning’s episode, I arranged to meet Alicia at the Wynyard Hotel after work. Earlier that day she sent flowers to my work: ‘My Dearest Suzie, Chin-up babe, if the worse comes to worst, you can share my family! Take it easy babe. Love ya heaps Alicia xxxooo’. We stayed at the hotel with a group of Alicia’s work friends until long after 11 pm and caught taxis home. Belmore is a 20-minute drive from the city, and by midnight, I quietly entered my house, careful not to disturb Mum and Julie, still uncomfortable at the prospect of seeing them. Mum had placed little white flowers on my bedside table as an expression of her love, which helped me fall to sleep more peacefully.
I retreated to my bedroom early the following evening. Mum came in to talk with me; a talk that gave rise to something I had thought before but had never spoken, not having the heart to hurt her. Now, suffering unfairly when it came to my self-conjured image of Julie, I said, ‘If you wanted me to be more like you then you should never have left me when I was young, as it means I am more like Dad’. Who is more relaxed, laid-back, and unsystematic—to some aggravatingly so! I could see she felt pain, but she knew I hadn’t intended to hurt her. My words were to identify and ideally rectify personality differences, by understanding how they might have developed. Mum was genuinely sorry and we made up.
I went to artistic lengths to scribe the word ‘Indifference’ in my diary: drawing little faces in a variety of emotions around it, telling myself that despite the many states of emotions we might have about something or someone, we should be detached to the outcome, to allow a peaceful state of mind. I was consoling myself over my Aaron disappointment, which Mum and Julie assumed was the reason behind my argument with Julie. Being extra-sensitive, I confess to, but he wasn’t the trigger to my automatic reaction to Julie.
Aaron called approximately a hundred days later than he said he would, and at 3.30 am, full of apologies for hurting me, explaining he was confused about his ex. I don’t know what really happened, but it was important that he was sorry and did care as he had professed, and his contact dispelled further quizzical speculations about not hearing from him. A few days later, Aaron sent another red rose in a canister with a card in thanks for speaking to him after all he’d done to me.
PERHAPS AS A FORM OF SUBCONSCIOUS PROTECTION from over-emotion, I became a stone heavier at this time, and my small frame became a bloated round one. It dawned on me that I had gained weight when I had trouble doing up the zipper of a skirt I had worn only two weeks earlier. My previously little bottom was now a bigger rounded bottom, and my usual rounded belly was an even larger belly. Shamefully, this horrified me! Mum and Julie tried to reassure me not to worry. But do you think that stopped me? Some time later, I did find solace in Julie’s words of wisdom regarding my body image. ‘I can’t wait for the day when you see your body as a whole and not just in parts’, she said in response to my complaints about having ‘a fat’ stomach. Her powerful statement gave me hope that someday I might be satisfied again.
Alas, I needed a vain experience, suddenly feeling invisible to the majority of the male population. Gentlemen no longer held doors open for me, trains weren’t waiting, lift doors were closing, and a seeming genuine interest in how my day was, was missing. Dismayed and even heartbroken, I wondered what was happening to the world. Where were the gents who seemed so interested in your day and bidding you well? Almost all of them (at least two-thirds) seemed to have jumped off the planet and been replaced by busy, preoccupied, nonchalant men, hustling and bustling about.
I soon realised my extra weight was making men blind, and it was shocking to realise their interests were mostly visual. I had assumed and hoped my friendly, smiling face and energy had been the main attraction—the body secondary or at least complimentary. Men are attracted to womanly figures, we know, and their smiling nods and compliments did make me feel good. But deep down, I hoped they were mainly interested in my happiness for life! This was so naïve in the world’s current climate, I sadly realised… realising too that may have always been the case!
Heavily weighed down in mind and body, it was hard for me to feel a real happiness and love of life, which reflected on my everyday experiences. I hadn’t considered my extra weight as weighing down my happiness and love of life, and blamed outside forces, bringing me a period of being negative towards men. Of course, not all men. Stephen, Paul, and a few loyal ones didn’t give me any misgivings for my extra coating, and I appreciated their friendship more than ever! Naturally, I celebrated the gay man even more.
My misguided body image, boy problems, and infrequent disharmonies with my sister Julie hadn’t become all-consuming because I knew there had to be so much more to life!
~~~ Cory ~~~
‘There are three ways of seeking God in the human heart. The first way is to recognise God the divine in every person, and to care for every person with whom we come in contact, in our thought, speech, and action. Human personality is very delicate. The more living the heart the more sensitive it is; that which causes sensitivity is the love element in the heart, and love is God. The person whose heart is not sensitive is without feeling; his heart is not living, but dead. In that case the divine spirit is buried in his heart.’
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Meeting Cory on October 24 1991 was like re-meeting a special old friend. At 20 years and 8 months, I met him when he was serving at the 747 bar where I went to for lunch, and his Errol Flynn looks and easygoing charm struck me. We got on so well I overstayed my lunch hour chatting with him, and saw him again after work because I took an Irish guy from Belfast there, who I met the weekend earlier at an Irish pub in the Rocks called The Mercantile. The 747 Bar was one of eight or nine pubs within Wynyard's Hunter Arcade—one of Sydney’s busiest arcades that was packed full of drinking spots in the 90s. Designed like the inside of an aeroplane, I thought the 747 was the perfect place to take a jet-setting Irishmen. When we there though, my Irish friend drank too much and was talking to everyone, so I continued talking with Cory most of the time.
In the morning, Mum asked about my date. I said he was nice, but I liked the Irish barman more! Mum roared with laughter. I visited the 747 bar again at lunch that day and there was something between Cory and me, but my fears were a block. How could such an incredibly good-looking guy be attracted to me? Me, a ‘fatty-boom-stick’, focused far too aesthetically on her looks!
Things were simpler for Cory, who was two months older, half Irish, half English, growing up in Western Australia from age four. Cory wanted to be accepted and welcomed into a down-to-earth, fun-loving atmosphere that offered partying, as well as warm, family company. His wishes came true: friends, strangers, and family alike happily accepted him. He was such a wonderful person!
I was distracted from the party ‘scene’ on meeting this beautiful beau, though I stayed extremely hopeful that Cory would also enjoy dance parties, and accept the vast array of peoples in this world! We couldn’t have a relationship if he didn’t. When I saw him welcoming and embracing the diversity of life, loving my friends, unthreatened by admiring glances and stares from men appreciating his beauty, I was more than delighted. Cory didn’t disappoint me: his smiling heart beamed on the world! Destiny had brought me this beautiful soulful mirror, and he lifted me up!
Two months later, Cory returned to Perth, Western Australia, and our new relationship had a breather. He had travelled around Australia during the last two years, lived in Sydney, and planned to return home before we met. I encouraged him to keep with his plans, and allow whatever to happen, happen. I promised to visit him in Perth and he was adamant about coming back to live in Sydney. It was up in the air, but we believed we’d see each other again.
Chapter Eleven: 1992 ~~ Independence and Love
‘Conflict is corruption, is a waste of energy, it is the battle of our life; from the moment we are born until we die. Is it possible to live without a single moment of conflict?’
Louise and Ian held a party in their home for my 21st birth year. Special friends came, as well as Aunty Rosy and Uncle Jeff from Melbourne, and Cousin Vicky flew down from Cairns. Dad delivered a beautiful and amusing speech because of his enormous lovability and gift of expression. I beamed with delight beside him, jigging up and down, interjecting, and adding my two bobs worth here and there. ‘Hey this is my speech’, he said, ‘You’re a real ham!’ Being 21 now, I needed to say to him, ‘I’m off your hands, you don’t need to worry about me anymore’, which had him bursting with laughter, asking me to promise. We ventured to Oxford Street after the party and danced the night away in nightclubs. The metaphoric key to my future was now in hand!
I flew to Perth two days later, on Monday February 3. ‘Cory was waiting at the airport!’ I recorded in my diary. ‘It was great seeing him in the flesh again! He looked so beautiful, brown, and yummy and was totally gorgeous. We were really happy to see each other and as before, very comfortable together’. We visited the Brass Monkey hotel for a couple of merry drinks with Sky and Paddy—Cory’s friendly parents.
Rob, Cory’s good friend, joined us later and we had a night out in Northbridge, Perth’s party district dancing together freely as we did in Sydney. Sydney’s gay party dynamics had yet to influence Perth’s nightclubs, so people watched us curiously, as we danced or darted between people having fun chasing each other, hopefully not looking too ‘uncool’. Cory and I didn’t dance together as well as I danced with other guys. Most of them were gay or straight-gay-guys and their dancing abilities were usually amazing. I had the best fun dancing with gay guys whose energies were thrilling to me, pure, as it was funky!
My actual birthday fell during a holiday with Cory and Rob on Rottnest Island—a holiday island off the coastline. We bumped into friends of Cory and family, and they went to great lengths to make this birthday day extra special. ‘There were about 12 people and they all wrote on a card and bought a cake with candle: so beautiful. This was now my 3rd birthday cake and celebration. Work, party, and now birthday BBQ Party! We even danced in their lounge room, as you’ll see in the photos (whoever you are—I’m talking to my diary as if it were real). After the night was over Cory and I rode (on bikes) to one of the beaches (The Basin) and sat for ages on the sand and talked and talked – it was beautiful – I can talk to him for hours about almost anything. God I love him, his heart, his mind, his soul! That was deep and true – I can remember how I felt sitting there under the sky, so far away, so free!’
I was supposed to return to Sydney on Valentine’s Day. This was bad timing and very unromantic, so I called Glenda, my work supervisor, requesting an extension. She was sympathetic and allowed the extra day, which was a Friday. So, I shared another weekend with Cory, and needed these extra days as I was beginning to have silent reservations about whether Cory would actually be returning to Sydney.
Uncertainty mounted on the third day of my arrival and precisely on my birthday when I felt rejected from Cory’s careless comments about girls, and in particular, a girl passing by! ‘I’d be locked up if the police knew what I’d like to do to her.’ Cory remarked this way because we were with Rob, otherwise, he wouldn’t have shared his brazen thoughts, the likes only for heterosexual males, with strange fantasies. Even Rob wasn’t impressed.
I went quiet and Cory soon understood that I wouldn’t tolerate such talk, and his willingness to look at himself, pushed aside my sudden fears. Deep down, I worried he wasn’t ready or wishing for a deep soulful connection! My fears magnified when he spoke about coming back to Sydney. ‘Perth’s not for me, Sydney’s for me’, he said so strongly and often, as if he was trying to convince only himself!
BACK IN SYDNEY, two weeks later, I unconsciously found myself preparing a cushion for another fall when I visited the 747 bar where Cory had worked, to say hello to the woman manager. While I stood in the spot nearest to the bar staff, something unexpected happened. University students on a bender suddenly bombarded the bar, filling all corners of the room.
Soon and sure enough, I began chatting with the people nearest, and one in particular was very lovely—Christian from New York, in Australia doing a year at university. I have always loved foreigners and their accents; the diversity excited me, reminding me of the world’s immensity, inspiring me to travel! Something was between us from the moment we met. He was a tall gentle yet strong looking man, couple of years older, with curly dark brown hair crowning a good looking good face, and we got along as if we’d known each other for ages. On saying goodbye, we kissed and exchanged numbers, and I didn’t feel very guilty, justifying to myself that I was putting a protection mechanism into place, in case Cory just didn’t return. I thought Chris might have come as a gift and comforter to keep me strong, and from hurting, when Cory falls off the face of the earth, as Aaron seemed to do.
Chris came to a family dinner at Louise's and Ian’s; we went on a couple of dinners; and he stayed over a couple of times; but luckily, we didn’t become too close during the month, because all of a sudden Cory rang confirming he had a plane ticket booked for April Fool’s Day! With those words, I knew my heart belonged to Cory. Now that he was actually coming, I needed to take back the part given to Chris, no longer able to fragment my feelings. I affirmed to myself not to kiss Chris again, as I needed to generate complete honesty to Cory… but I’d never forget those moments Chris and I shared! Chris and I met for dinner a couple of times during the following months, and I kept that kissing promise.
* * *
Cory settled into sharing a home with three women very well. Cory was a great cook, so Julie and/or Cory created our nightly meals with good spirits. Mum and I preferred to wash up than cook! Julie, Cory, and I shared most the weekends partying in some fashion—dance parties, nightclubbing, or house-parties. After nearly two months, when his brother Luke also moved over from Perth and lived on the couch at our house for two weeks, the three of us moved to Manly with a guy named Gary, and eventually Rob. It was the end and beginning of another era. Mum and Ron had reunited, and Julie moved back to Sydney with Paul and Daniel. It made sense for me to share a home with Cory!
We moved into the top level of an old character home with distant views of Manly Beach and a sunroom to sit and appreciate this outlook while eating, chatting, and socialising. Cory and I shared the front main room at the other end of the house, and its old style, built-in fireplace and lattice walls made me feel as if I’d stepped back in time. I couldn’t believe I was old enough to live with my boyfriend in a house full of boys. And, it didn’t cross my mind that I’d be doing more of the cleaning because I was female. Cleaning was an all in duty or it wasn’t done at all. Maybe I did a bit more washing up, and cooked uninventive meals such as packet pasta with extra vegies for Rod and me when Cory was at work in the evenings, but other than that, we had a great non-gender specific ambience in the house. It made sense the guys cleaned the toilet and scrubbed the bathroom when needed, having the extra muscle power to do those heavy jobs.
I was more career minded and party-focused than domesticated in any way. Therefore, getting to the city for work was very important to me and living in Manly required catching the ferry or hydrofoil (Jetcat) to and from work. I considered myself one of the luckiest girls in the world journeying to work this way, on beautiful Sydney Harbour: rain, hail, or shine, except when riding the waves on stormy days! I often took a Jetcat in the mornings, as it completed the trip in half the time and I was usually running late! No matter how late I was, on arrival at my building, I’d always bound up the stairs to the 13th floor with a freshly squeezed juice in hand, and I’d often clock in at 9.35am, five minutes later than expected…
AFTER A MONTH OF LIVING TOGETHER, Cory and I started talking about travelling overseas: ‘June Planner: Savings for Overseas!’ But, we had a few hic-ups to test us before that time …
I went to bed one evening, read, then fell to sleep, waking a few hours later in a flood of fright finding Cory hadn’t come home from work. I fetched the phone from the other end of the house to plug into the connection in our room and called the local twenty-four hour hotel to look for him, growing further distressed when he wasn’t there. I woke Rob for reassurance, and to share in a much-needed cigarette, even though I was trying to kick the habit, and we had a couple, while he listened with an open ear, as a good friend.
Back in bed, I couldn’t fall to sleep, my mind raced and reared to the tune of where could he be, and who with? A type of slumber did finally come, but soon a taxi sounded out the front. When Cory’s figure appeared at the bedroom door, I questioned, ‘Where have you been, and who with?’ He went to a workmate’s house for drinks after work, and had a few too many. He was quite smashed but still very sorry for causing concern, and would have rung, but had assumed I was sleeping, and didn’t want to wake me. Now it was 5.30 am, and I needed to be up at 7.30 am at the latest, to go to work.
Dragging myself up again two hours later, I managed enough time to shower, dress, and be out the door to run the long run to the ferries. Sometimes, and on this day, a passing car would stop and give me a lift, if going in the direction of the ferries. I would indicate for the drivers to stop with a happy wave gesture, and never the hitchhiking one, knowing this was a maximum risk, but I held a strong trust in human encounters.
My work phone rang sometime later, and I answered in a slightly weary voice, ‘Good morning Marketing’, to Cory’s happy voice: ‘Hello, hello, hello!’
‘Where have you been this time’, I asked, querying why he wasn’t answering the phone. He hadn’t heard it ring; the phone was still in our room at the other end of the house—a distance from the sunroom where he and Rob sat. He was sincerely sorry for worrying me again, and told me about the lecture Rob gave him on the probability of our relationship ending if he continued like last night. Cory touchingly said he didn’t want us to end. He also shared a conversation he had with his Mum that morning. ‘Cory, you have someone else to think about now, and last night was not fair on Suzie’.
ANOTHER TEST CAME at the end of November when a girl from Perth stayed with us. A pretty girl named Kim, friend of Cory, Luke, and family—a girl who had a romantic time with Cory, as I did with Chris. (Cory and I must have sensed each other’s vibrations.) I didn’t know their history when Kim arrived, but soon did. The revelation—I discovered through Rob—didn’t make me angry towards Kim, or Cory, as I had been with Chris during the time we were apart. Still, as my fears and own actions assured, seeds of mistrust existed in our relationship from the very beginning, amid the good.
Mistrust continued to grow one evening after we’d had an out-of-ordinary day. Cory, Kim, and I went on a trip to Sydney on a glorious sunny blue-sky day, and Cory and I decided to indulge in a little portion of a mind-altering substance, of which Kim sensibly declined. This was out of the ordinary; we never took drugs fresh in the day, and rarely took any at all now we lived together. So we proposed a special day, and special it was, until there was trouble…
Following an interesting perusal at the Museum looking at dinosaur fossils and giant bugs etc, we walked along Oxford Street and decided to have afternoon drinks at Gilligan’s, a trendy cocktail bar above The Oxford, overlooking Taylor Square. As usual, the place overflowed with gay guys, dynamic, colourful, and often gorgeous. We enjoyed very potent cocktails, and after a time, a friendly couple sat beside us. Cory sparked it off with them, while Kim and I continued a lively conversation. Cory hit it off particularly well with the girl, but I’d assumed the guy with her was her boyfriend so I wasn’t concerned. Until they went missing!
Suddenly worried, aware of the possibilities, I jumped up and headed for the toilets, arriving as the girl—wearing freshly applied lipstick, came out saying Cory was sick. Racing into the male toilets, I found Cory confused in a cubicle, professing illness from the liquor. I questioned and interrogated him, which brought no clarification, although I hoped his words of innocence were true. He was convincing to a degree, and we left with Kim to hail a taxi out the front.
Assuming the situation safe, I responded to hunger pangs and walked to the take-away shop next-door with Kim. A moment later, we discovered Cory wasn’t with us, so I returned to the front of The Oxford, to find the girl giving him a passionate kiss. Even though he wasn’t reciprocating, he wasn’t refusing either. In hurt astonishment, I pulled Cory a way from her and slapped him across the face. He already looked dumbfounded, and became even more so from the slap. He was out of his senses, puppet-like.
In foolish spontaneity and anticipation of Cory following me, I dashed across the wide road and up a block in the direction of Julie’s house. I thought Cory’s footsteps were running behind me, but I turned to see a worried Kim in toe and was suddenly further anxious realising he was still alone with that girl! I ran back to find the girl had Cory backed up against a wall, this time trying verbally to coax him to her. That prospect was definitely over on my re-arrival, and she went. I then found a little secluded spot to sit and cry, devastated by this simple act of deception. He hadn’t mindfully meant to hurt me, which was somehow worse. I couldn’t trust him out drinking alone and already had fears in this regard.
This was the first real splinter in our relationship…