Sapphire and I had the best fortnight ever.
Ever. As she kissed me on the cheek and left for school this morning, I thought I'd cry. No, not the usual tears of joy a parent has when school holiday ends, but in sadness. She's my best friend and I miss her already.
Her leaving for her 'real world' was the final pip squirted from the lemon of self-indulgent pity and doubt: a state that's been building up, sleepless night after sleepless night, for the past few weeks.
Firstly, Bulldog. My evil, egotistical and hypocritical ex-boss. Yeah the one whose actions drove me to spend several days in a psychiatric ward at the end of 2008 and caused my usually-unflappable union rep to shake her head in bewilderment and say, "For someone who publicly supports the rights of others she's just a bitch, Kath, that's all." ....... won an OAM in the recent Queen's Birthday honours.
Some of my friends didn't want to tell me because Bulldog's prize didn't interest the media outside of Adelaide, but some did tell me. The former group didn't want to see me spiral down a useless path of anger and powerlessness again; and the latter all tended to add a comment like, 'They must be scraping the bottom of the barrel, eh? Who'll be next - Ivan Milat?' to show that they were still thinking of me and hadn't forgotten her.
I shrugged my shoulders and scoffed. Publicly. See, I'd moved on, I was bigger than her, more mature and she no longer had the power to--
In private, I stewed.
It felt like every single frigging week after the news, Bulldog was quoted in at least one newspaper article a week on her chosen topic of influence. I'd be reading some Sunday morning article and her name would be there and my stomach would instantly start churning and I'd shut my eyes for a moment and think of the lost salary of the past two-and-a-half years, the lost super contributions, the anguish and stress I'd caused LC, my child and my parents; the mental and physical symptoms and the long leash of the Black Dog that still finds its way back into my hands.... Where were her just desserts, the karma that I'd hoped for? Instead of a Come-Uppance the woman was earning huge money, reaping rewards, gaining publicity and was clearly on the journo's Go To Hot List of experts!
Never mind, I've got my heal----- Bugger. My right elbow has been killing me. Now even lifting a one kilogram packet of carrots from a bag to the crisper has me involuntary squeaking in pain and being dry needled by the physio is no longer a funny anecdote when I'm lying in bed at 2am holding an arm with a steady, unrelenting heartbeat of throbbing pain.
This meant that my nervous nail picking increased. It's always been a particularly bad habit of mine to constantly trim the loose cuticle skin around each nail with my teeth before wondering just why I've ended up with messy bleeding instead. Knitting is often used to keep my hands busy but the elbow pain has meant that it is not an option right now so last week I tore off the entire cuticle on my left thumb and noted, a few days later, that like my right elbow, it too was keeping me awake with a heartbeat of its own.
Squeezing the pus out of it has helped, and after my tears have cleared, I've been washing it clean and bandaging it up again. But the slightest knock or even the mere act of unbuttoning my jeans can be agony. Self inflicted, stupid agony.
Perhaps, therefore this hasn't been the best time to wean myself off the sleeping medication I've been using post-Bulldog. Hindsight's a bittersweet thing, isn't it; kind of like insisting on a diet coke to go with the supersized, lard-arsed lunch special deepfried batter burgo and chips combo. Thus, my occasional visit to the nocturnal nightmare of insomnia has become a permanent transfer. No amount of meditation, relaxation, getting up, reading, stretching, thinking happy thoughts or staying up until Danoz Direct comes on has helped.
I'll keep plugging away though, because surely just sheer exhaustion will cause my red-speckled green eyes to finally close - and stay closed - for longer than two hours at a time one day?
Finally, money. Stupid, necessary, crappy, important, horrible, essential, evil, mesmerising, inescapably envious money. We three spent the weekend with our two friends at their beach house on Philip Island. We adore them dearly and know that they've worked hard to find such a beautiful place and greatly treasure it. I don't begrudge them their little slice of paradise and loved being their guest for three days.
On Saturday night, however, we five had another thirteen people over for dinner. ALL of them owned beach houses on the island. All of them drove cars no older than three and those I saw in the drive included a BMW, Audi, Peugot, Mercedes and VW. All of them had spent time holidaying in Europe, New York, Asia or the snow and were planning on doing it again before Christmas this year.
We'd 'spent a weekend in the snow' this year too - albeit in our camping parkas and shoes as rubberneckers, leaving only when Sapphire's jeans got too wet and we'd had enough rides on our $20 'non-skier' lift passes to make it worthwhile.
It was easier to avoid joining in the conversation and instead take away the empty plates and scrape the leftovers into the kitchen bin feeling more than a tad jealous and more than barely inadequate in my K-mart clothes, 2 bedroom house and 14 year old car. "You're doing a marvellous job there," a guest said, wandering over. I smiled, she introduced herself and we started talking as she loaded the dishwasher.
"You must get your future in order and not leave it until my poor friend Jan who turned sixty last week and has only just bought her first investment property," she said over the noisy chatter. "We've got seven now - have you and LC checked out the house for sale in Ventnor?"
Yes we had, actually, in a casual drive-by coming back from the Cowes supermarket with olives, fish and bread marked down as 'Quick Sale - half price' in black texta. $400,000 seems to buy no more than a box of decaying planks sitting uncertainly atop four rusted poles with a sliver of distant sea views until four blocks in front are sold. I didn't tell her any of this, but just said, "Oh yes, we have."
I also didn't tell her that we didn't have four thousand to spend, let alone four hundred thousand; that my 'job' earned me roughly one-tenth of what I earned when working for Bulldog and the car - stained seats, floating dog hairs and permanent bird turd imprints - would be driven until it gasped its last.
Still, there was a tattslotto ticket in my purse.
As usual, the slip of paper from the newsagent came back with 'Not A Winner' on it, but I'm not so sure.