Sitting on a dune overlooking the beach and suddenly gripped with a powerful memory. I realize this is the home of a close friend, the child of a Fijian mother and Scottish father. I’m instantly transported to Melbourne in the early ’90s for no particular reason. I am living next door to a Bahai temple. A mutual friend needs a scratch band and asks me to help out. I’m not madly enthusiastic but the Bahai thing pricks my interest so I go along to the temple.
I meet an Iranian bass player and a guitarist called Dave. Easy going guys and competent players because It doesn’t take long to get on top of the material. But it’s Dave who I have a certain affinity. He sits crossed legged on the ground when he plays and reminds me of a happy Buddha. Strange, within ten minutes I feel I know him. Like me, he’s left handed and Aries. He’s got a fantastic ear and into the same music. He tells me he was conceived on the Gold Coast over a packet of chips, that there was a raincoat creep in one of the tall towers that used to perv on him and his friends as they swam. We play music ideas down the phone line and he jives on about Humbucker pick ups and the like. The years roll by and I’m living interstate when I get the call he’s died. I’m shocked because he seems so spirited and alive. A part of my life vanishes with his passing. A seagull shrieks as it hovers overhead but I’m somewhere else. Standing up I brush the sand away feeling empty. I came here for a holiday but realize I needed some closure.
Exit the water as group of girl surfers drive their boards into the waves. Towel down and head for Burleigh Heads and on to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Damn, its shut. Vegetation here a little different. Tall trees and ferns leading down to grassed dunes. Beautiful dragonfly hovers before me. Wings of opalescence. Head for Coolangatta to catch up with Alex. He wants to show me a special surfing beach behind the headland. Along the way he points out a spot where a surfer was taken by a shark. Sobering stuff. He works the hotel on the weekend but tells me the shifts are demanding behind the front bar. The forecast is for more storms. I take a stroll around the headland and find myself under shady trees and mangroves. Take some photos of what appear to be bearded dragons and a fascinating bush turkey. A friendly lady tells me the lizards can tell when it rains and they’re more accurate than the Bureau of Meteorology. I make it back to the car and sure enough the heavens break.
Early rise and a quick scan through apartment so as not to leave anything behind because I normally do. But I like this place. I want to stay a week or two longer. I find myself thinking and feeling differently. The sea air, the coastal climate, it’s intoxicating.
Leave the spare purchases for the staff by the fruit bowl. No problemo. Drop off the key and head for the car park. Feeling emotionally positive, as if my troubles are lifted.
Spot the airport turn off and then the car hire turn off. Where is everybody? Couple of of people waiting near the entrance. Coffee in hand, I get to the entrance only to be greeted with a Covid sign ‘airport is shut until flight departures’. What about luggage check in? A guy tells me they’ll open soon and stay open. He’s on his way to Thursday island via Caines. He’s German and lived here for eighteen years. His son’s on Thursday island and he’s happy to travel as the Covid restrictions have lifted. He’s stressed about Covid especially in Northern Europe. As we chat the doors open and bid our farewells. I make it through customs and go to the gate. Pass a charity box for Currumbin animal sanctuary and feel a tug inside. Drop in a a fiver and remember the fauna on Coolangatta headland.
Step out on the runway and the clouds have lifted. The fizzing atmosphere and blinding light wake me from the torpor of the lounge. Climb the stairs and find my window seat. There’s still a queue out there and I notice a couple of girls practicing a dance routine. I smile inside – Dave would approve. I daydream mid flight about the sunny days at the beach house as a kid and wake as we descend over the city. Apart from a scary shudder before touching down it’s been a smooth flight.