Back at Kuta Beach in Bali after my accident I lay morosely for four days on my bed. No swimming, no more biking, couldn’t do much at all. I couldn’t even be bothered having a shower, just let the sweat and body odour build up until it was worthwhile washing off, which is incredibly unlike me. Actually, our shower cubicle was a tap and a bucket to throw water over us. I think there was a concrete basin. It was the extreme version of a Bali budget holiday. Anyway, it was difficult to wash with a bandaged knee and toe.
Debby came back from her daily adventures one day and roused on me. She picked up my dirty clothes and washed them for me. What a doll. Don’t know how I lived through that season without her. Eight years later she was to become my daughter’s godmother. Most of all at that time in Bali though, I missed Michael. He and his friends had reached the end of their Bali trip and gone home to Sydney. He had left me his address with an invitation to visit ASAP.
So laying there one day I decided to go home early. We still had almost a week of holiday left, and another week before recommencing work. In those brilliant days trainee nurses got six weeks holiday a year. Believe me we worked exceedingly hard for it too. I had to ask Debby. After all, I was leaving her alone in a foreign country, but she had made heaps of friends to keep company with. She assented, but really, I think it was many years before she forgave me. Our travel agent changed my ticket easily AND gave me a stopover in Sydney for a week. I wrote to Michael I was coming a few days later.
He didn’t get the letter due to the slowness of the Indonesian postal system. Consequently I arrived at Sydney airport finding no one to pick me up. Of course I had no idea what had happened, Michael could have died for all I knew. I jumped into a taxi, arriving at the Fivedock address early on a sunny winter’s morning. At my somewhat nervous knock on the door, a sunbleached surfer, Stephen, I was to find out later, answered.
“Is Michael here?” I asked him, hoping above hope everything was alright and that Michael WAS there, that Michael did, in fact, LIVE there. I had seen Michael’s passport when Debby and I had admired his face and name on our arrival in Bali before I met him. He had left it sitting on the little table outside his room. So I knew that WAS his real name.
Stephen told me to follow him and walked the entire length of the house, past a sleeping Dave on the lounge. Michael’s room was the dining alcove blocked off by a wardrobe. He was still in bed. As he woke, we hugged and he pulled me into the warm bed. It was, WOW, so great to see him, and the feeling was mutual.
Michael was the nicest boyfriend I ever had. We were together three years and later travelled throughout North, South, and Central America when few travellers from Australia went to the southern Americas. It was only because I has the stupid idea that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence that we eventually broke up and we didn’t get married. But I am getting ahead of myself. The brilliant week I spent in Sydney was the start of something that still exists today. When I knocked on that door and Stephen let me in, the whole huge group of friends immediately accepted me as one of them. I have never known such a group of people before or since. And as we shall see, they probably saved mine and Michael’s lives that week. I can still go into their houses today even not having seen them for twenty years and be welcomed as if I’ve never been away.
One night Michael was working and everyone else was out too so I was alone in the house. Someone knocked on the door. I answered it to find a gorgeous looking guy–they were all gorgeous looking!–who simply introduced himself as Snorter (he had a big nose), before inviting me to share a ________. I won’t tell you what as that time of my life is long gone. That was Colin. He didn’t care who I was or where I was from. If I was in that house I was alright. If one was home alone it was never for long as the house was a hub, with a constant stream of visitors coming and going. Even at night Dave was a familiar and comfortable fixture on the lounge. We all loved Dave. He looked like David Soul, the actor and singer. He is the main character in my next post.
The night in question, when our lives were saved, another of those times Father was looking after me despite my worldly lifestyle and unfaithfulness, albeit ignorantly, to His holy ways, Michael and I had decided to go to Luna Park. We got ready and were close to leaving when a few friends showed up. Then a few more, and a few more, until the lounge room was quite packed with people. We were all watching TV in the lounge, so Luna Park was forgotten. Who cared? This was nicer. It was warm and smokey in there, and as I looked around I noticed everyone was asleep. Except for one other person, Mitch, who also was looking around at the sleeping crowd. Our eyes met over the snoring heads and we laughed.
Never has a forgotten outing blessed anyone so much. Michael and I would not have even been able to go to Luna Park the next night. We may not even have SURVIVED to the next night. It was 1979. The evening we planned to go was the last one on which the amusement park was opened for many years. They had a fire there in the Ghost Train which famously killed six children and an adult.