Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Jan 21

My place. Saturday, 10.30am.

It’s been a long time since this last happened. Years, in fact.

The girlfriend is moving in.

There are cardboard boxes everywhere filled with the stuff of her life – books, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, ornaments, photos, clothes... lots of clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. If you were to lay all her clothes end to end they would wrap around the equator. Twice.

Three times now I have had my girlfriend move into my humble shack under the cliffs. (Not the same girlfriend of course.) Twice I have had my girlfriend move out.

I worry when the girlfriend moves in; I grieve when she moves out. I worry and grieve a lot. It’s my lifestyle that’s to blame. I know that now. You see, I got a letter the other day. It started like this:

‘For several years we’ve been reading your column each week in The Echo . Whilst we appreciate your obvious talent, virtually every column detailed a primitive lifestyle, irresponsible drinking, drugs, promiscuity, casual and/or broken relationships, a negative attitude to routine employment, an uncritical promotion of alternative attitudes and Green policies. Above all there is a constant attack on mainstream society and everything it values.’

It’s true. I have no money.

My sarong catches on a photo of her washing an elephant as I negotiate past the boxes to the bathroom. (Is my life primitive? Can’t be. I’ve got a bathroom. With running water.) I want to splash water on my face. I feel flushed and anxious. I need a drink.

Maybe I am promiscuous. Three relationships in four decades. I’m a regular Casanova.

I wish the persons who wrote that letter hadn’t forgotten to put their name on it. Maybe they could help me. I didn’t realise that Australia was perfect until Gough wrecked it. And now people like me are making Jesus come back and he’ll be more like the Jesus we should have had in the first place – an angry bloke smoting all the socialists, rather than a peace-loving hippie hanging out with unemployed fishermen and a prostitute.

If you secret letter writers are reading this (and I know you are, you naughty things) maybe you could drop into The Echo on one of those rare days when I’m doing routine employment and help me. (I’ll be the naked guy smoking a joint.)

The thing about the girlfriend moving in is that it means the end of the dating period. I like the dating period. That’s when I am pleasant and charming. I’m good at dating. I open the car door, crack jokes and pay for the wine.

Experience shows I’m not so good at the post-dating period, the living together bit. I get tired of opening car doors, there’s nothing to say, and it’s her turn to pay for the wine.

Splashing water on my face, I stare at the extra toothbrush and the new fluoride-free, herbal toothpaste. I look into the mirror. What have I done?

As the letter writers wrote, ‘Having worked so hard to bring it to pass, and having made this bed of thorns, now you, and all of us, must lie in it.’

The thought of sharing our bed with ‘all of us’– though sexually exciting – does not bode well for the relationship.

In the mirror I see her carry a box of shampoo, conditioners, moisturisers, cotton buds and herbal lotions into the bathroom.

She smiles. Her face lights up like an angel on ecstasy. My heart skips a beat. My anxiety disappears like bathroom shelf space.

Hey, I’m glad she’s moving in.

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