A fluffy, perfectly-storybook cloud drifts across the sky, low on the horizon, at the perfect angle to get caught up in the top of a formidable gum tree. I feel that familiar desire lurching in my chest. I need to live in the country.
The barbed wire on top of the chainlink fence immediately below the picturesque scene reminds me of where I currently live. Not just in the city, but in a part of the city where a school so routinely gets vandalised that the budget was expended to give it these prison accoutrements.
Depressing, if you think about it, so I don’t.
It’s a beautiful and sunny morning, and the temperature reminds you that it’s the perfect time of year, when a jacket is only slightly too much and a singlet and boardies only slightly too little. Jeans are fine, shorts are fine, sandals are fine, boots are fine. The weather is fine.
The short walk to the park involves yet another freestyle song to an original tune. If I had a guitar and a recording contract right now, I’d change the way you feel about your radio. It matters little that the song is about my baby boy’s toes and the way his hair curls and that he enjoys sampling the tree bark surrounding our homepark. The song may or may not involve the concept of a good poo and cartoons too. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember. *Sigh* Goodbye record deal.
Neighbours we recognise are already at the park, and I secretly love when this happens as much as I love it when they leave and it’s just me and the Boo and my writing.
The nice man with the little girl, who is almost Boo’s exact age, comes over. “Ahhh… babee guhl!” he says animatedly to my little boy.
He gestures to his little girl, “Go… seesteh… seesteh!”
“Uhm… brother,” I say clearly.
He looks at me with surprise, “Bruzzuh?”
Then he shrugs, “My English… not good.”
I tell him it’s fine, and then I remember Wifeage telling me that, in the Chinese culture, they usually start cutting the boy’s hair quite early, and they keep it quite short for a while. Only girls have long hair, which would explain why Boo keeps getting called “baby girl” by the Chinese greengrocer we love, Jimmy.
The little girl is fascinated with Boo, and frightened by me. She moves in to kiss him and he runs away giggling. Quite a pair.
As I’m struggling to learn from the man how to say his daughter’s name, which I still don’t know other than it sounds a LOT like “goodbye” in Mandarin (tze-deyon?), I turn to see that Boo is accosting the little boy on his bike. The kid isn’t much older than Boo, maybe 3 or 4, but he rides the tiniest of bikes like a champ. He’s sitting in his little Buzz Lightyear helmet, staring bemusedly at Boo, who is spinning the crossbar pad around and around while staring with fascination at the training wheels.
“Anything with wheels, he LOVES, ” I say to the boy’s mother.
She squints in the sun at me from beneath her headwrap, a symbol of her Islamic faith I’m guessing, and says in slightly-accented, but perfect, English, “Oh him too! He’s always loved anything that moves, with wheels. Anything that rolls!”
Her little boy has escaped Boo’s interminable examinations of his bike and is speeding away up the footpath and his mother leans around me to call out to him, “Hockena sheel a la biddy biddy biddy!”
I marvel, as I do, at the way bilingual folk can seamlessly switch, and look on with envy. As I watch my little bulldog of a kid stomping around the playground, I wonder if I should get better at speaking my limited dirty Mexican around them. I’m still undecided as to whether or not it will provide appropriate benefit to them to ask someone in Spanish if they just farted, or if they just smell that way.
The cloud has long since moved away, and the new angle I’m sitting at sees more of them coming in off the coast instead of crossing out over the hills. There are more, and they are beautiful. My little boy stomps up, shoves my hands off of the keyboard and puts his arms up. Time for a cuddle. As I hold him close and breathe deep of him, I can almost feel the country life happening here.
I turn him to point at the clouds and for the briefest instant we’re both taken there before the bin truck roars around the nearest corner and the brakes scream in protest of their daily flogging as it pulls to a stop across the street. Something robotic then does what a man used to do not long ago before it roars to life again and travels another 30 metres.
We live in a circle. Our street, our lives.
And sometimes the bin truck stays for too long.