A busy, successful two weeks: seminar in London, then here on my home turf; attending several student concerts, one quite inspired, the other beautifully produced – amazed at the capability of our kids, and wish I could have participated at that level at their age; and then tonight was a fine Late Thanksgiving – four Americans, a spouse and a best friend, a vast dinner with too much food, and laughter and stories and talking and playing records, and even harpsichord-playing, until three-thirty in the morning. But that's not what I'm writing about tonight....
Earlier this night of the full moon, not having heard anything about the Australian elections, I was playing Peter Gabriel's soundtrack for The Rabbit-Proof Fence – that noble/tragic film about the mistreatment of Australian aborigines; most of the score is pleasant enough, but the final track, 'Cloudless' (which I suspect I've mentioned before on this blog), is glorious. A circling pattern that cross through sad minor chords and back out from them, a mass of aboriginal voices rising over a long time to a great peak of sound – not quite tragic, but full of feeling and a great presence, an immense calm sorrow that seems to contain a vast amount of time and the strength to keep going.
And I was running over, in my head, the memories and arguments about my Australian debacle from six years ago: for some reason I have told the story again, twice, this week, to colleagues who had never heard it – of leaving a high-paying but boring job in Hong Kong, for an ideal life in the ideal world of Sydney, only to be sent away because of being HIV+. And thereby losing the only partner I've ever lived with, the only substantial savings I've ever had, the only hope of a successful and lively career – indeed the loss of all kinds of hope. Because what was really awful about the situation was that I had reconstructed my imagination around a new and happy future: the little house in Woolloomoolloo, the boyfriend working in the garden, the musicians and composers in a new glass building, the sun, the happy people in the streets. That I would be happy, in the wonderful land of Oz.
Which means, of course, that when that was gone.... I don't know if you do this yourself: that when you are upset or confused, or even when you remember being upset or confused, you stage arguments, speeches, theatrical confrontations, in your head – something I've done from an early age (I remember doing it while mowing the lawn, up by the pine tree at the top of the front yard, and wondering whether it was a bit strange of me to do so – especially with such impassioned speeches, such accusations, such drama).
That was what this was – replaying what happened to me in Australia, and what I would say if I were there. The joys of self-justification.... Then tonight I hear that, finally, six years later, Australia has finally dumped the evil Howard government that deported me. Good news, I suppose: but it seems very distant – it sadly no longer has anything to do with me, although I e-mailed congratulations to my beloved John, now living happily with another partner.
It is a bit like a subtle novel, when characters remember something terrible or wonderful at a great distance, and they are more sensitive to the size and meaning of that thing than they were at the time – like Van remembering Lucy's suicide in Nabokov's Ada, perhaps.
Sadness, remembered griefs and hopes, a dazzling full moon....