“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Bickering Blogfest - June 30 (Secrets Blogfest entry below...)
I stopped for a break, realising my breath was coming in ragged gasps. ‘Too much chocolate cake!’ I chuckle to myself, ‘or is it just thinking about Michael that makes me breathless?’ I look across the rolling ocean. I shake my head. Sighing, I walk to my favourite spot amongst the dunes and spread my towel. Lying in the dappled shade watching the puffy clouds drifting overhead, my mind wanders…
…When we returned from our backpacking adventures, we fought bitterly. Michael insisted we buy a small apartment in inner-city Brisbane so he could be close to the law courts. I wanted to live in a leafy suburb, one with lots of coffee shops, maybe even buy one.
Michael had his way as usual, so we settled into our jobs and our new digs. He was snatched up by a prestigious law firm, while I took the first job I applied for—a journalist with the Courier Mail, a Brisbane daily. Michael had a meteoric rise to the top in International Law, travelling constantly. My ambitions lay elsewhere.
We entered a very turbulent period. On the few occasions we saw each other our conversations went something like this:
Me: ‘Michael, what sort of job requires you to work 16 hours a day?’
Michael: ‘Don’t ever call it a job. It’s a career. Why don’t you put a bit of effort into your career?’
Me: ‘How much effort does it take for me to hang around outside the Law Courts and shove a microphone in the face of the latest paedophile, white-collar criminal or wife beater?’
Michael: ‘That’s just your problem, Cassie. You’ve got no ambition, no drive,’ he sneered. ‘You could be where the action is, reporting from Baghdad, Afghanistan or Darfur. But what do you do? You rust away in a no-news town, counting your precious pennies for your ridiculous coffee shop.’
Me: ‘At least I’m not wasting my money on designer clothes.’
Michael: Sniffs. ‘My career demands a certain quality and Armani does very well. Anyway, I’m too busy to have this conversation. I fly to Moscow in exactly three hours.’
Me: ‘Moscow. How exciting. Plenty of Armani there I don’t think.’
Michael: ‘You’d be surprised what’s there. You’re just jealous. And you don’t like vodka. Really Cassie, you’ve become such a bore. Get yourself an assignment somewhere exciting and we might have something to talk about when I get back.’
I knew we were over. We weren’t a team any more. Had we ever been? But I’ll give it one last shot, I promised myself. To me, marriage was forever, but my resolve on this point was weakening. My resolve to own my own café wasn’t.
The decision in the end wasn’t as tough as I’d thought it would be. I took a plumb reporting assignment based in Paris, with opportunities to travel all over the world, not to mention the market research opportunities.
Even though I’d done what Michael wanted, our relationship didn’t improve. The spark had gone and neither of us had the time nor the inclination to do anything about it. We were both on the move constantly. We became tired of meeting in London, New York, Paris, Prague. We met less and less. I finally decided I was ready to make my dream a reality. I arranged a meeting with Michael.
‘Michael,’ I began tentatively over a snatched lunch in a sumptuous New York eatery. ‘I’ve had enough. I can’t stand this jet-setting life any longer.’
‘Oh, no, not this again.’ He snapped his snowy white napkin, throwing it across his lap.
‘You know what I’ve always wanted. I’ve put my dreams on hold for so long. I have enough capital to sink into my bistro. I’m ready.’
Michael looked across the table at me, an eyebrow cocked. I saw him glance around the room in case anyone was eavesdropping. Appearances were so important to him. ‘Cassie, are you still on about that?’ his voice was steel coated with velvet. ‘You haven’t mentioned it for ages. I thought you’d seen sense. It’s a stupid idea.’ He picked up his cutlery again. ‘I’ve always thought so and I haven’t changed my mind. All that hard work. Let someone else do it. Keep on the other side of the counter.’ He stabbed the space between us with a speared asparagus stalk, looked me in the eye, dared me to challenge him. I did.
‘Michael,’ Patient voice, ‘you know I’ve had this dream forever. I’ve taken jobs I’ve hated, travelled to places I’d rather never have seen, seen things that will disturb me all my life. As I said, I’ve had enough.’
‘Cassie, you always were a wimp. Always satisfied with so little. Never wanted to do anything important in your life. Food! Food! Food! What is it about your obsession?’
‘Why are you so against this dream of mine? There’s no shame in providing food for people. People always have to eat.’ I could hear my voice rising. ‘I’ve had lots of ideas I’ve never been able to share with you.’ I leaned closer, trying to placate him. ‘My idea is to provide healthy options for people. Light French fare. Taking the best of the cuisine I’ve discovered, and adding less fat and sugar.’
‘Fat free food tastes like crap. No-one will buy it.’ He folded his arms, leaned back in his chair and stared, his eyes like fire. It was the end of the matter as far as he was concerned.
‘Low fat can taste amazing,’ I continued. My turn to slap my napkin into my palm. ‘I’ve done my homework. My travels have shown me I’m on to something. Look at all the diabetics in the world. How do they get on when they travel to France or Italy? What about the gluten intolerant? Those on special diets? They can’t eat cheesy pizzas and creamy sauces. I could start a line of healthy, specialised food.’
‘You’re such a dreamer.’
‘That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me for, like, forever.’
© Denise Covey 2010