I did the things.

I chose the path that takes me home to Australia. It took a while to realise that NYC was not a city I came to, for NYC. But for other reasons, and I do not feel like I am failing because I leave the big city of lights behind. If anything I take on a new chapter full of opportunity back in Melbourne as opposed to the dead ends that were in NYC.

I will be sad to say bye to my friends shortly, but these same friends are the ones who helped me see that going home is going to be the best way forward. And I am excited. Back into my industry of venue management and at the same time my writing is progressing wonderfully.

I printed my first book and it arrived in the mail. I opened it and held the physical being of my words and I was so proud. It was such a step into the next chapter of sharing my passion with the world. Do the things that make you happy and which then ripple out and make others happy. It’s a good way to be.

I sit and write this as I look over the Pacific Ocean in North California. It is chilly but sunny, there are two owls hovering like helicopters above, trying to eye out a mouse. The sun is dancing back at me from the water’s glassy top. The tall brown grass on the cliffs softens the dramatic jagged rocks below. And I am lucky to sit here and see this as I think about my way forward. I finished my job that sucked the life from me but where I met such wonderful souls. Was a good experience overall. And now I head back to NYC for a few more weeks before I bring myself and a few bags of NYC on a QANTAS jet across the seas. I will snap my fingers and will be in Australia, looking back at this moment while the sea roars below and will remember the salty smell as the deers bounce by through the grass.

The Visit

The waitress walked towards us, no eye contact. She was having a rough day. Seated at the awkward table beside the serving counter, mum and I sat down and we were handed a thick bible of a menu. We both just looked at the specials, easier and less words. Quickly choosing some starchy dish we placed the menus down and sipped the water that had just splashed out of the iced jug from the distracted waitress.

Mum has a belief that she has nothing worth saying so conversation stops and starts with her. As her son, I have the gene that seems to have carried this trait. I fight it everyday. We all have something worth saying, especially to those who love us.

We sat in the diner on the Upper East Side, mother and son together on the other side of the world in NYC. She is visiting from her little island in the South Pacific. She never would have dreamed to come here to see me. But she was given the chance.

On Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend at the time surprised me by saying he would get flights for my mum and her partner so a little piece of Australia could come to me. I burst into tears when he told me in the street down in the East Village, it was incredibly sweet and generous. My mum could finally meet the man I loved and his kids. The reason I left my home in Australia for. And as a couple, slowly looking at forming a family unit.

Yet a few short months later he ended it suddenly. In my shock and grief the last thing I wanted was to have her come here, and see the huge hole that was now NYC to me. I couldn’t say no, of course they should come. That whole, “let’s make it an adventure that we originally didn’t foresee” but in the end she was coming for a funeral of the life I had. Though she was the sort of guest who didn’t know those who are no longer in my life. One who was attending the funeral, as a support.

So as we sit in this diner, our starch arrives, the weight of the plate thumped on the table . And she has seen me the last week and a half in a fog. She also sees me find the energy to look past the constant stab of a reminder, that instead of showing her Brooklyn Bridge, I should have been showing her how much of a cheeky and funny pair the kids are. How happy I was in the world beside the cheeky and warm man I stood beside. I look at my mum and know she she gets it. She is having a ball in NYC and sees her son being taken away in the sorrow.

“I’m sorry mum for not being so present, I want to be and I have so much guilt that I am not. I only have a few days to share with you here before you are leaving”

“Mate, don’t ever feel that way, it makes sense and I am glad to be here for you, even if no words make it better. Don’t ever feel that guilt. “

I write the above as to how I feel we both wanted to say to the other. It came out and stabs and starts, but that was the general vibe. And my eyes welled with tears. We have gone through a lot together.

I read her an email from one of my cousins who recently wanted to reach out for forgiveness. She said sorry for her part in the large pool of hurt that the religious world we came from held down on us, so many years ago. I can see that meant a lot to her too. And she was taken back to those years ago and went absent herself, as she repeats over and over her regret at the way things happened with her and my family. When it was her time for fog.

We eat our dinner, we talk about our worlds and sit up to focus more on our moment. We get less and less of them and I refused to be taken away by the fog.

The check comes, when mum is in the bathroom I do the sneaky pay the check. Getting mum dinner just always feels good.

We wave back at the waitress to say thanks as we leave, she didn’t look up.

We sit on a brick garden wall, on a street corner eating an ice cream. And take a photo. Enjoy the moment.

NYC SUBWAY POLES CRY OUT AGAINST MEASLES VACCINATIONS

By Edwin Jones

Seventy four percent of subway poles across NYC are anti-vaxxers, based on a recent survey during the current measles crisis hitting the city. Subway poles, who typically ride the subway most days and therefore exposed to this ongoing crisis, were asked how they felt about the outbreak and what they were doing to stay protected.

Some of the questions asked of them included “Would you vaccinate due to the recent outbreak of measles?” and “Do you feel touch contributes to the spread of common illness?”

Belinda, a pole on the F train, felt like she was targeted and was simply another New Yorker going about her business, “Measles on me is just hysteria. Come on, we are not part of the problem. It’s a myth!” She felt like she was made to be part of the reason New Yorkers are in a panic, “I keep to myself and yet I am supposedly the threat! How would you like it, to be blamed or exposed as the problem? I refuse to accept vaccination as the answer!” Belinda, along with some of her friends were going to an anti-vaxxer rally this Friday in Williamsburg.  

The most interesting thing to come out of the survey was the majority (74%) did not believe in taking a trip to their doctor to get the measles vaccine. “Usually I cannot make the doctor, as the subway is my main commitment, so I would rather not.” says Bastien on the 1, sometimes 2, train. “Also, I have heard that vaccines are just a way for the rich to get richer and us poles gain nothing but more grime”.

Local communities are banding together to talk to anti-vaxxers such as poles and have even provided flyers with speaking points. How to approach a pole with the right body language and how to not offend a pole, seemingly unusual flyers to discover but communities are taking this very seriously. Chantal from the West Village has successfully had some great conversations with the ant-vaxxers. “I feel they remain calm and respectful just like me, we ride the subway as fellow New Yorkers and I hope what I say to them really makes them think on their journey home. We are one New York.”

New York City has recorded at least 423 cases of the outbreak since October 2018 and there is no sign of this reducing. Public Heath emergencies have been declared in both New York City and Rockland County.

A few subway seats who overheard the survey reportedly chimed in and expressed their views which were not available at the time of printing.

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I thought too much.

And I regret this, as part of the fun of the writing is just saying anything. Cause someone will understand, even if it is just one person. And that person may nod while reading or smile or close the page down and say “never again” or something to that nature.

I tried writing a comic strip today. It amused me. I feel that we are told we are bad drawers unless we have a standard. But maybe I just want to set a new standard that everyone sets themselves. It felt good to do and I shared it around the office. I doubt they enjoyed it as much as I did or even understood it. But that is not the point, I was creating and sharing like we all should.

Last night I sat beside an ice skating rink in Bryant Park, the Christmas stalls now closed and empty. Spending time with my good mate and just being in the space really made me happy. I feel home here and I imagined seven rats trying to walk across the ice and they were into it.

Word Less

Its funny, how I had four months off, and I decided not to write anything here.

Its funny, how I have to make myself write.

When you are in habit, you realise why you love what you love. Like fitness, regular hang outs with friends and loved ones. Writing. When you leave it be for a while you miss it, and you feel guilt for not investing. Funny thing, guilt.

I met with a friend today. Him and his partner have been one of my major inspirations. His partner passed away last year and the forty years they shared together ended in this life for now. He has lived such a colourful life so far, and his partner’s life was similar so. The bond and the commitment is something I aspire to have. I hope to have. It was privilege enough to have witnessed it with others.

The love I have found, and that is growing, has the potential. And to even experience that is a gift.

Stop using short sentences Edwin. And stop talking in third person.

So again, I am no longer word less.

Skunks and Coconut Coffee

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I have been and gone. Travelled across North America, via car, boat, bus, plane and train. And it was incredible. It felt complete and I felt so relaxed, so inspired.

OK now the contrived sentences are out of the way…  I fell over onto a lady with my iced tea on the train, I was too scared to paddle board on the lake in Seattle, but redeemed myself in a much shallower lake (about 1 foot deep) later in the trip in Maine. I was given a T-shirt with my face printed on it as a gift. I wrote about 10 postcards, paid for postage, but then never posted them. I sat and watched San Francisco buses asleep at 1am, in their parking lot. I drank so many iced coffee and coconut milk beverages, I smell like a bounty with a hint of arabica beans. I read all the accreditation of the people from the cuddle shop in Portland, Oregon. I said hello to my first skunk by English Bay in Vancouver, and my first chipmunk at Crater Lake. We got along, to the extent I usually get along with wild animals.

(Breath)

I walked through a park at 9am on a Sunday in LA, and was the only one awake, and one semi-awake person dressed up like a Starbucks worker. I sat in a dining car travelling across North Dakota with an Amish couple, learning about their world. I filled my wallet with many one dollar bills, that I awkwardly pulled out and handed bar staff a lot. I read six graphic novels, for the first time. I slept on a sailboat in Seattle. I got to know my friend Jim much better, I got to know a black beetle more so. A cat and I exchanged sleepy nods in North California.

Now I am back. Many choices ahead, and do I get a puppy?

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Empty Lot.

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The carpark sat there silently, beside the dark brick building. Inside the car, he merged with the faded vinyl seat. he wasn’t ready. Obedience is what was overpowering him. Guilt and obedience. Leaving the warmth of the car and many other secrets.

Knocking on the dull door, his acne scars is what he noticed first. Tony, in his 50’s. Walking in, he had expected to sit on a couch, to complete the cliche, but he was offered a seat in an old desk chair.  Throughout the session, he would sub-consciously he fiddled with the height adjuster, that ignored him, broken.

“Your mum has mentioned you wanted to talk”

“Yeah, I need to”

“That’s great to hear. Really good. The first step is the hardest, and you have already done that”

“I just dont know what the next step is.”

“That is where I come in. I have dealt with this many times, for many years. You can be rest assured you are not alone”.

Tony had the notepad. And the writing that he could not read upside down. I didnt want him writing things. Things I didnt know.

“I have worked through many different struggles with people, mate. From child sex offenders to prostitutes. I spend most my week in the prison system, so much change and reward there.”

I dont think he asked Tony for his CV. But it felt good to know he wasn’t alone, perhaps.

“Martin, I am sure it is all very overwhelming. We dont need to talk about everything all at once. Let’s start in one little corner.” Tony’s voice was calm, but the calm a pool closed for the winter would be, way too cold. Way too still. And this corner he spoke of, was where a naughty kid should be sent.

He swallowed. Then breathed. This is where he had to jump in.

“Well, I just have got to a point where I never want to hurt. Hurt anyone else, most importantly. And God has led me to be honest outside, not just inside.”

Here is where the lies were about to start.

——-

Walking back to the carpark, did he feel any better? Mum was already back at the car. She had a slight smile on. “Don’t worry mate, you are doing the right thing”.

“It was fine Mum. I know it feels right.”

“Good mate, good.”

The slight smell of cigarette smoke hung there. Mum had been doing it again.

The car began moving onward to home. The steep hill made no difference to the speed. Cruising silently, there was a lot that could be said but the words lay inside. Each bend in the darkness, wrapped around them, mother and son.

 

Weekender

Weekenders remind us we have so much more to live for. Went to a getaway last weekend, to a beautiful part of the world, the Great Ocean Road. Had a house overlooking the ocean and we felt the coming winter coolness, jammed with the warm lingering sun. Celebrating birthdays and just good company.

OK enough of that, it sounds like the opening to one of those articles where you want to rip the page in half but you cant, because it is an online article. So you close the window with a slow click, to get more satisfaction.

But yes, good weekend.

I have finally found the story I want to write. And it was in front of me the whole time. I have given myself until December to have the first draft complete. I am having so much fun with it. I have dropped to four days a week in my job, to give myself one day a week dedicated to it. It felt really adult doing that, as it is a financial sacrifice so I better get something out of it. Which I am. Its like reading a book you cannot put down, but it doesnt have an ending yet, the words appear in the book. Like the Never-Ending Story, but hopefully there is an ending.

Speaking of.. here is a photo of a cake with Falcor from Never-Ending Story.

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Ute

I sat at the top of the cliff, looking down the green hill to the crashing waves below. You could see the white caps spraying. The wind was a little strong, it nudged my car gently, letting me know it was there. Turning, I looked down the winding road that kissed the edge, and saw a white ute driving towards me. It was you. It had to be you.

I turned back to the water, though the gravel let me know you had pulled up. I opened my car door, and felt the wind embrace me, a cool old friend. Casually, I looked over, as you got out of your car. There you were, hello.

Looking back at me, your dark features, gentle, reserved but honest face nodded hello. Walking around towards me, you stretched out your hand and shook mine. I felt the warmth, like the gentle glow of embers in a quiet fire.

Without having to prompt, we both grabbed our day packs, and began our adventure. Having no idea it wasnt just the path ahead of us that day, that we were to go on.

A Decade

I never knew it would go by this quickly. You tell yourself when you are 5, “wow I am going to be 15 in 10 years!!!”. Then when you are 15, you imagine yourself at 25, and you cannot. Then at 25, you stop thinking about it.

Today marks ten years since my writing in this blog began. And also the day family changed a lot, and this isn’t going to be an entry about sadness and pain. It is about how after ten years, so many can grow, learn and forgive. I never thought it would fly by. But it does, no matter how cliche that sounds.

A lot of the story, is not my own and so I won’t go into details, but I am so proud of where we have all come to. There are moments of sadness or pain, but overall we all get that life is too short and the main thing to do is focus on love. That’s all you need right?

I found this today, written a year after everything happened. My journal, and sometimes you just want to talk to your young self and just smile. They were on the right path.

Ok its my bed back at home in Brixton now. The holiday is over.  I had a very hardcore weekend really, but was a good boy. Im just proud im beyond all the crap that can go on at a club or bar, I can sit back and watch so much and just, don’t understand the craziness around me.  It was a year now, since Mum went. How do I feel? That was a lifetime ago and then also at the same time, last week. I can taste the salt tears in my mouth that ran down my cheek when I went out on the balcony that day, to call Heather, tell her my mum just left. Struggling to breathe, I’m glad I got to cry again today, it means I’m not hiding my feelings. I feel so free in that, I am not what I feared I would be. Every aspect of my life has changed, but I am still Lloyd. I am getting over so much. I realise that because I am becoming more of who I love to be, someone who people can come to and I can support them and help them. When everything happened, I let go of that and did stuff for myself.  I will keep enough room for my own things too, but also part of who I am is listening and encouraging. Like even last night, hearing Jamie’s new boyfriend go on about his fears, after he just claimed he had no fears, I got to challenge him, help him. I know God likes to do that through me, and its where I feel at home.

I can feel the strength in me regaining. But also there is a new aspect of me, I am open to being weak and letting people know I can be, and rely on others for once, in a good way. And also the fear of people finding out horrible things about me, that might change how they see me, its all so, not worth it. So not worth it.

I found out Hadleigh was sick and this instinct clicked into gear of really wanting to look after him. Never had that with a guy, it scared me to be honest, cause I didn’t know that could happen to me, like scared in not a negative way, but more, just reminded there is a lot of hope. Don’t’ know how else to explain it.

But if I am being honest, there is still the thing inside of me, feeling very vulnerable, expressing how I feel or think. The thing inside of me that is like a protection, is the assumption that who I open up to, will go weird on me and close up. Then I am left where I was left so often. And it gets harder if there is a next time, to open up to the next person.

So there are more thoughts.

Normal life in London is back now for 4 weeks, then I fly out home. I am looking forward to it.

Edwin Jones. London, UK. 14/05/06 4:14pm GMT

Reading this nine years later. Man I love that I wrote and keep writing. It is such a rewarding experience.

Happy Mother’s Day.

10 years, since I was 21 and when things changed.

10 years, since I was 21 and when things changed.