memoirs of a miserable bastard
— an abridged version –
excerpts edited – Monday, 8 April 2013
[originally writttnen Feb 2009]
Once upon a time on a warm spring evening a friendly young man was sent on a mission to retrieve
two women hopelessly lost in seek of guidance and direction. He was sent by his companion because of his thorough knowledge of the location and his eagerness for adventure. He was naive enough to be excited but had enough foresight to be cautious, but little did he know that this chance meeting would change his life.
Unbeknownst to him at the time the person he was to meet was an amazingly interesting, powerful and beautiful woman.
The man, Steve, accomplished his mission and guided them to their destination with no complications.
Within moments of their arrival several other people joined them and there was instant mayhem. The small mob of merrymakers seemed like a multitude in the tiny enclosure of the small apartment.
There was no indications at all that night that Steve had just met a woman he would fall deeply and greatly in love with.
I attempt here to share their story and illuminate highlights of their magical journey. Well, when I say highlights I use this term in a general sense all journeys well travelled have mishaps, low points as well as the good. There is a well known saying that states `no man is an island` and science tells us that humans like most animals with higher intelligence are naturally social beings and try as hard as we may like we can not avoid this fact. Steve and Rae were two individuals living parallel lives both doing their best to be self-sufficient, self-reliant successful people living relatively happy carefree lives.
A marvellous and beautiful tale to which is my honour to tell.
A fun and funny exploration of love.
Steve reflected warmly and fondly on the first night they went to her flat. He was feeling great, excited and yet pleasantly calm. Even though he had been looking forward to being alone with her and getting intimate he was in no hurry and was open to anything to come. He was immediately taken by her place a very small quaint old fashioned flat. Without knowing her at all he was at ease and keenly aware that this was `her` home. The little living room was incredibly wonderful and beautiful a reflection of her and her life, you could just tell this was Rae’s place. And, Steve liked it a lot, the look, charm prettiness and general feel it felt homely, welcoming, enticing and sensual all at the same time. Steve was to find out in time that was Rae; you could sense danger, but also felt like she would look after you In a storm.
They had already had a great night at their friend Thomas’s and weren’t too sure about what to do once back at Rae’s house. I mean it was obvious they both wanted to express their lustful desires, but they both wanted to move cautiously and respectfully. As an interesting ice-breaker Rae decided to read Steve a story. When suggested he thought she’d pull out a sensual story of adventure or maybe a thriller to draw them together, but the first book she laid her hands on was Dr Zeus The Cat In The Hat. She began to read, as a joke at first, but as she went it was so much fun she continued. The contrast was fabulous and the light-hearted oddness of it brought them closer and help form a bond. It was great and truth be known Steve really enjoyed the story. But, more importantly he was thoroughly captured by this infectious glorious personality. But, enough was enough as fun as Dr Zeus is it was definitely time for some adult play now. Their night in bed together was nothing spectacular, especially in light of things to come. But, it was very sexy, fun and lovely.
Steve who had just turned forty was very unsuccessful in the world of relationships with women. He’d had long periods of time where the majority of his friends were women. And, possibly even longer periods when he felt he had no friends at all. He has had many brief, fleeting partners and several significant relationships. Every partner had something unique or a little special and some relationships have struck a permanent place in his heart.
He knew he needed something else, not exactly sure what, but something.
Steve discovered later that what he was seeking wasn’t excitement or adventure as he thought it was at first, but passion and a fullness of love. Many years prior to meeting Rae he lived with a woman for about six months; they had love commitment, friendship, fun (not as much as Steve liked), but no passion. It wasn’t totally dull, far from it, just no spark or spirit.
Without really knowing it, that’s what he was craving spirit, a lust for life.
To pursue his interests with vigour and vitality, not the live fast and die young “train spotting” kind of attitude, a toned down version a more moderate healthy pursuit of happiness and a full life.
From the age of sixteen when he left school and considered himself an adult until the age of forty he had spent maybe eight years in the intimate company of a woman he had love for. So, one-third of his life at that point Steve had been involved in some form of relationship with a woman. But during the other two-thirds Steve felt isolated from the world and terribly lonely.
At some point, not exactly sure when, Steve was bitten by the dreaded Black Dog of depression. He’d spent lots of time and money with different forms of therapists to try and find the cause and cure for it, with only minimal success.
One thing Steve had learnt was that success was difficult to measure in the realm of therapy and counselling. He was also aware that there may not be a cure and it might not be necessary to know exactly where the problem came from or why. It seems the idea of counselling is to raise the awareness of the issues and lessen there affect. He did wish that it wasn’t taking so long. Steve was greatly aware of the issues and saw the effect they had, knew the pattern oh too well. He knew that he was in a long well grounded rut that had been wearing him ragged for over twenty years or more. A cycle where he’d feel too depressed or anxious to be part of the world and yet desperately needing more than the world around him could ever provide. Then when he did finally pick himself up he had no-one to play with because he’d pushed them all away. Over the years this cycle depression, self loathing, self abuse and sabotage has had its costs. More and more the actual reality of Steve’s world was that there was very few people in his life and sometimes no friends in physical proximity. This dastardly and sometimes dangerous pattern of living had become a real problem and kept feeding itself. Steve knew that the more he dwelled in the depths of depression and isolated himself the harder it would become to arise fly free and be the man he wanted to be. But, it was hard, and doing it alone was difficult, but that’s what was needed. The skill was to begin, stay focussed, enthused and most importantly believe you can and you will.
Steve didn’t go much for clichés, but for him at the time of his fortieth birthday he really did feel like his life was just beginning. There was so many new, interesting fun and sensational things all kicking off around him. Life was looking great and only getting better.
It was late January when he first started to get to know Rae some months after their initial fleeting blustery introduction. They had a mutual friend Thomas and both spent a lot of time at his house, so they were able to gradually get to know each other in a neutral setting where they both felt at ease. They both confided in Thomas separately that they thought the other attractive and wanted to get together sometime. Thomas really didn’t like this matchmaking caper, so, gave them both corresponding phone numbers and left them to it.
Steve went to the pub in South Fremantle with a loose plan. What if she was there, now that really would be something.
His plan was to check out what was happening there and then give her a call. “Hey; I’m at the Beaconsfield, there’s not much happening but a good atmosphere, just wondering if you wanted to meet me for a drink?”, Steve had said.
Rae replied with a laugh “I just live near there”.
“Oh do you”, Steve said trying to vain surprise, that’s why he went there.
“Um, but, I’m not at home”, Rae added.
Steve was disappointed his scheme, as vague as it was, wasn’t working. Why did he think a gorgeous girl like that would be free on a Saturday night.
Rae continued “I am house-sitting a friends place downtown just off the cappuccino strip. And, my daughter’s here so I’m just having a quiet night in”.
Steve and Rae continued with some chit-chat until Steve started to get a bit flustered and thought he’d may as well wind it up.
“Well I might go back to the bar have another drink and maybe see if anyone’s got a smoke”, he said lethargically.
“I’ve some here Rae said with a smile, bought it today, and well I don’t really smoke, just that my friend was getting some – it looked good, so I got some too. You can have one if you want. You can come over for a short drink grab the stuff, and well sorry you wont be able to stay. I haven’t seen my daughter for a while and…”, Rae was saying apologetically, but yet still very inviting and friendly.
Steve cut her off, ”no probs, not a worry, that sounds just great”.
He got the directions and was there in a minute flat. He loved it when a plan came together. He didn’t care how or why he was seeing her just that he was – perfect.
One key element to Steve and Rae’s friendship was their love of music. Steve took great pleasure in music, loved to have it around, know about the songs he liked and enjoyed all forms of live music. Rae lived for music, she adored it. She would have music playing 24 hours where ever she was. She loved going to concerts and festivals. And, whenever she could, which was most of the time meet the artist and usually spend time with them backstage. At the age of fifty she would still get as excited listening to her favourite musicians as a star-struck teenager. Whilst Steve didn’t share the same level of passion, enthusiasm or obsession, he did share her enjoyment and style and taste. They went to a couple of great concerts together. One memorable one for Steve was the John Butler Trio at the Fremantle Arts Center. This was the first time Steve had been to the center for a big gig and was really looking forward to it. John butler was just reaching his peak with several hits on the radio. And, Steve felt that him and Rae had just firmly formed a strong and beautiful union. It was going to be great. – It was fantastic. The music was wonderful and brilliant, the atmosphere was beautiful and the woman he was with was stunning; Steve couldn’t have asked for anything more. He remembers one moment in the gig when John Buttler played one of his hit songs – `Peaches & Cream`, a beautiful and well crafted song, fun and lovely. He remembers standing holding Rae in front of him swaying to the music and picking up on the theme of the song and the key lyrics `you fill my half empty cup` & `all I know is; all I know is, I love you`. He held his girl tightly, lovingly, embraced her with a freedom and joy he couldn’t remember feeling before and kissed her gently on the cheek. The memory of that experience brings a tear to his eye whenever it fills his mind.
Another great musical memory Steve has and still considers it their special song is listening to and dancing to a Paul Kelly song `The Pretty Place”.
Its not that it is an extraordinary outstanding song or tune, most of Paul Kelly’s songs are fantastic, and the lyrics didn’t really move him greatly. It was them; there time and space. Steve thought Rae was his pretty place and he was so glad to be there. The love that flowed between them felt very special that night. Steve still can’t play the Paul Kelly album with the song Pretty Place – Nothing But A Dream without tears flowing freely, partly tears of joy for love once shared and partly because the depth of love has now passed.
People move; some things change and yet still stay the same
“Fuck it’s hot” Steve exclaimed. ‘God I hate this place, it’s so small, dank dusty and dingy’, he blurted . he was lying on his bed in the flat behind the café. Luckily the café was closed so no one heard him carrying on like a lune.
If the café was open he wouldn’t feel as comfortable even being home let alone trying to relax and chill-out on this extremely hot Melbourne day.
What were the words to that song Minyama Manyana; – Melbourne in summer no place for fun.
Anyway what would I know about fun? Steve asked himself.
He didn’t want to let himself slide into that familiar dark, dangerous spiral to persecution and loathing. He was just taking the opportunity to do nothing and avoid the heat. “One thing about living in this dump it makes me really appreciate where I’ve been before and motivates me to get out and do more for myself”, he thought.
“I thought that place on Stirling Highway was crappy and it was, but, it’s nothing compared to this. And, at least that was near the river, beach and Freo. But, Jesus I was really down then and even though I had lots of good stuff around me and was seeing people occasionally and going out and stuff.
I was lucky that night, imagine if I’d fallen further probably would have broken a few things and god knows how long I would have been there before anyone noticed me. It sure woke me up in more ways than one. Don’t think pot, heat and depression were a good combination at that time for sure. How did I get myself out of that clog-mire?
Did I do anything or just wait for intervention?””
At the time Steve was in one of his many transitional periods. He packed up his previous house with the plans to go travelling but, his plans fell through. He was stuck. No where to go and had to ask his father if he could stay at his house for a short while. Steve was determined to ensure it was only a short stay he hated calling on his dad like that. It was a great blow to Steve to have to ask his father for help. Whilst his dad always gave Steve the help he needed Steve always felt uncomfortable about it. “Father Son relationships, the bread & butter income for therapists”, he mused. Steve did all he could to find an affordable suitable place as soon as he could. It wasn’t easy. He looked at heaps of places in all different suburbs. So, finally he found one that wasn’t too bad in a great location and took it without hesitation.
On reflection the flat in Cottesloe was alright. It was probably more his attitude. He wasn’t too sure what was really wrong with him but, he knew he better change it fast. His late night `stoned-out` stroll along the hilltop and unexpected fall to reality helped him realise that he wanted life and wanted to experience as much of it as he could. He also realised he should phone an old work colleague and see if he could find a job. Steve made the call, his contact knew a place who was looking for someone with his experience.
He got the job.
Steve was having one of his quiet pondering moments. Asking himself lots of unanswerable questions but, this time he wasn’t getting sad or mad when he couldn’t find the solutions just by lying down and thinking about them He had a goal, as usual it was pretty vague and had no plans to put it into action. But, he knew what he wanted and knew that waiting for intervention divine or otherwise would not work.
Steve got off the bed and decided to put some music on and make a cup of tea. He randomly selected some music on the computer pressed play and waited to see what came out. It was great some good old country rock`n`roll. Then a bit later the computer played a very familiar track – The Pretty Place and as usual it brought a tear to his eye but also made him smile broadly. “It’s great now that song has a pretty location that I can link with it as well as the pretty face I always associate with it”, he thought to himself. He put the track back to the start turned it up loud and sang along with it as best he could. The memory of that beautiful bay and lovely time always filled his heart with joy.
He and Rae had such a brilliant time when they stayed on their holiday on the bay up the North Coast. It was relaxing, fun and just simply wonderful to spend time doing whatever they pleased and loving one-another.
A couple of characters
Steve and Rae are both interesting and strong individuals. Strong willed, determined powerful personalities.
Steven Joseph Chan the first son of a Chinese migrant grew up with an air of great expectation around him. Not that anything was ever said by anyone it was the underlying every day atmosphere. It wasn’t a horrible or abusive upbringing, in the contrary Steve and his brother James were cared for in a loving home with the benefit of a wonderful extended family around them.
But, they were also engulfed in a culture of nervousness and anxiety. To which Steve took on dutifully.
Steven’s father never shared or explained any of his own personal history or culture. Steve’s knowledge of Chinese culture or heritage is miniscule and very little of it came from his father. He rarely identifies himself as Asian or Chinese. When he does it is in an academic or conversational manner with no depth or meaning. Like most people he knows the Chinese astrological sign to which he was born – Dragon (Golden Dragon).
A friend of Steve’s in a piece of fiction wrote this about a mythical golden dragon;- You are blessed to have the Golden Dragon as your companion and guardian. It is a proud and beautiful being and can
serve you well. Remember, that it is there in your times of need.”
The Elder then paused. “But I am concerned, my son, because the
dragons can be creatures of deception if they sense any weakness in their companion.
Steve knows he is very much dragon like; powerful, protective, fire breathing and fierce. Living on the ground and spending time soaring amongst the clouds upon high. Even the Dragon character in the movie Shrek 2 was menacing and dangerous. But, she, like Steve was just trying to protect herself and things dear to her.
Rae Mapete McConnell;- is the eldest in a large catholic family. She’s lived a diverse and courageous life. She has been given and accepted gracefully many roles in her journey of life.
But, her greatest and most challenging role is mother. With six children spread over a wide age range and seven grandchildren Rae’s time and energy is enthusiastically, lovingly and devotionally dedicated to her family.
A truly inspiring and wonderful woman.
Rae has faced illness and adversity several times in her life with great dignity remarkable strength and courage. The scars of life may sometimes take their toll, but Rae has two outstanding features that never dull – a beautiful and delightful smile and her dazzling brilliant eyes. Her eyes they shine like the diamonds and they are inviting like a warm fire on a crisp cold winters night.
When Rae smiles she glows with an amazing beauty that is irresistible, cheeky and joyful.
Rae is a very good looking woman with a fabulous taste in fashion, style and colour. She is a very colourful person physically and spiritually. Her dynamic colourful personality and beauty are what instantly attracted her to Steve.
Rae loves to have fun and does it very well. Her infectious love of life draws people in. she’s so attractive and easy going she meets people easily and becomes friends with them quickly. Steve was amazed but not surprised by her natural ability to ease into social situations and light up a room. It was what made her so enjoyable to be with.
Steve and Rae’s friendship ebbed and flowed like two magnificent rivers running alongside one-another waters over lapping to form one. Their individual streams would flow harmoniously together for a tie forming a beautiful lovely river contently drifting in the same direction. Occasionally though the waters would heat and rise, crash and tumble enter a whirlpool and cause mayhem and destruction.
Choices: places, people and pathways.
So, it’s decision time and Steve had never been too good at making decisions. Well, more accurately he hadn’t made too many plans that require choices. And, as it happened this time he wasn’t solely responsible for the choices facing him now. He had found and applied for the lovely little garden flat near the beach on his own. He hadn’t really expected to get the flat and now it was offered to him with no fuss or bother he desperately wanted it. But, how was he going to afford it? It wasn’t going to leave him much money once rent and expenses had been paid. And, what’s the point of living in such a beautiful place if you can’t afford to do anything? Can’t spend too much longer pretending he was on holidays. His cousin John had planted the seeds of change. John on hearing about the dramatic demise of his relationship and living arrangements had offered Steve a stay at his place in Melbourne. “Why don’t you come and visit us, we’d love to see you”, John had said while talking to Steve about his options. Steve thought he would love to see his cousin John and partner Jennifer he really enjoyed their company, but, he needed something permanent and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to live in Melbourne, he loved it here on the coat. He couldn’t picture Melbourne in the summer, and after spending so much time in a small town living in a big city would just be too much. Then John offered a sweetener – asked him to apply for a position in a training course. Steve applied and got a position. So, now he was expected to go to Melbourne and had a great opportunity there. “Dam! Wish I could have both. Live hear enjoy all this and have a great career opportunity.” he thought to himself as he pondered his choices.
Steve had never been career minded or ambitious in regards to work. As long as he had some employment and it wasn’t totally horrible that was enough for him. Well, it had been. Steve had become tired of his current situation, under-paid, under-valued and under-utilised. It was definitely time for a major change to his employment status and future prospects. If he was to stay on the north coast he’d need to get a good job and they were limited. And, on a personal note he needed to change his routine and break out from the rut. The choices were so contrasting and both very challenging. They both required Steve to have belief in himself, his judgement and his ability to achieve the goals set before him. Many of these concepts and tasks were a little foreign to him and therefore daunting. He hadn’t set too many professional goals and didn’t have much confidence in his skills and his ability to promote them in such a tight job market. Steve had recently set himself a personal goal to follow his heart and take the advice of Ben Lee `Gamble Everything For Love`, and that’s how he got here. So, was it time to go with his head this time?
When reflecting on his time spent with Rae Steve noticed all the simple little things that made it memorable and enjoyable, a wonder filled experience:- – laughter; the sound of little feet running on wooden floors; the joy of sharing company with a delightful vibrant, wise loving seven year old girl and learning to appreciate and enjoy all she appreciated and enjoyed; the lantern parade; having a house to live in, a house rather than a flat or apartment provides more space and variety in living areas and he even took pride and pleasure in taking care of the yard and garden; the opportunity to live in, experience the pleasures of the beautiful north coast of NSW; the privilege of living with Rae, the way she decorated the house, the marvellous meals she prepared and the love that they shared. Steve also has one particular memory of making love in her pretty bedroom in the deep darkness illuminated regularly by the trucks headlights shining through the windows as they roared rumbling down the road.
But, the most indelible impacting memory is that of Family and Home. Steve had never put too much emphasis on his family and never really connected to the full sense of family before and with Rae he had. Steve has lived in many houses and none have really fully filled him with a sense of home. Even the brand new fantastic attractive apartment in central Fremantle, an area he’d always wanted to live, didn’t motivate him to call it Home or create a homely environment. Steve realises the extent of the proverb “home is where the heart is” and his heart is still firmly rooted with Rae.
A few months into his stay in Melbourne and his doubts and fears of living in this huge city had been realised. Melbourne was horrible in summer and the bigness of everything was freaking him out. Part of Melbourne’s charm and attractiveness is that it is so old and has lots of character. The old buildings appear so dark and grey, and Melbourne’s imfamous weather was living up to its reputation cloudy all the time. It was all adding to darken Steve’s experience. He hadn’t realised to what extent living in a regional area surrounded by lush countryside and beautiful beaches had on him. For most of his life he hardly ever left the metropolitan area. It wasn’t till quite recently that he started to understand the attraction and benefits of forests and the sea. now he longed for it and notice how he breathed more freely, openly and happier when out of the city limits.
What this current time of sadness, isolation and loneliness has slowly demonstrated to him was that it was up to him. He had no one to reach out to, so, he better learn to reach in to himself. He had to rely on finding happiness and love for himself by himself rather than thinking it will lie in the arms of another.
Steve continues to miss Rae greatly and still holds some small hope that they can reignite a special and close friendship wherever, whenever, sometime. He isn’t basing his future plans or choices on it, but Rae will still figure prominently in his heart and mind and long term future possibilities.
He is sure and definite about one thing and he hasn’t been too clear about to many things; Rae was / is the person he has felt the deepest and greatest Love for and with.