Silvie and I met in rehab in 1998. We became instant best friends, thought we were top shit and ruled the place. We used to elbow each other out of the way of the mirror as we got ready for recovery meetings each night, shared the one red lipstick. We never went to the womens meeting .... why on earth would we, there were no boys there!
Silvie was a few years younger than me, tall, blonde, STUNNING. She had a daughter who she never saw and didn't talk about much. She came into rehab with a broken back after she'd jumped off a cliff in a failed suicide attempt.
We loved each other fiercely, and would get into trouble during group about our pathological relationship. (I had to ask the therapist what pathological meant because I didn't know.)
We wouldn't eat all day, and then weigh each other at the big silver scales at that old chemist on Katoomba Street. Silvie was prone to violent outbursts and I worried all the time she'd get kicked out and leave me there alone. Soon she found a boyfriend and crept out every single night to be with him. I was always her alibi. We used to smoke cartons of cigarettes and talk about what we would do with our lives. There were so many characters in that rehab with us. I miss it.
We drifted apart and she moved to Melbourne. She had a son right about the same time I had Max, and she was a GOOD mother. We'd talk on the phone, compare baby stories, write letters with real ink. Then she relapsed and her son was taken away by DOCS. I didn't hear from her for years until one day she visited out of the blue .... clean! She was clean, trying desperately to get visitation to her boy, start a new life again. It's a common thing for alcoholics and addicts to get back on the merry-go-round. It's dangerous and it kills. Addiction to booze and drugs is a vicious, confusing, disgusting thing. A lot of my people are dead - you don't see very many old junkies. I almost died a few times. I learnt so many things in rehab, unfortunately one of them was how to shoot up.
Anyway so last week I was at Penrith Plaza (again!) on my way into Target to buy undies for the boys. And who did I literally walk right into? My Silvie. Off her face. I didn't care that she was off her face and neither did she. It was so, so good to see her. Her skin was shit and she hadn't slept in two days and she was crazy but she was ALIVE! She hugged me so hard - for almost a full minute she grabbed me close and didn't let go. Her cronies surrounding her, all of them off their dials for everybody to see.
"EDEN OH MY GOD EDEN."
We spoke and laughed and I told her I loved her, right there in the middle of the shopping centre with women looking us up and down like the vermin we were. Fuck you, mainstream society. Some of us are fuckups. Sucks to be us and it could easily be you so don't judge. Silvie told me she just got raped and hadn't seen her son in two years and missed him so badly. All of her change fell out of her pocket. We were standing outside a tobacconist. She asked me to come outside for a smoke but I told her I don't smoke anymore. And that I had a new son. And that Dave got cancer and survived. And that I'd relapsed in the last few years too so just go back to meetings, Silvie. She smiled and said she would and then she showed me her teeth. They were almost green. Rotten.
"I'm a fucken meth head. Look at my teeth."
We hugged a bit more, then she had to go.
So while her legs walked her outside to the dealer to get on, my legs walked me inside Target to buy my boys new underpants. Because my boys needed new underpants. And if I were to use drugs at this point in my life when I'm in so much pain I know I would never come back.
I really hope that one day Silvie will be sitting next to me in a meeting. A womens meeting, because they are the best ones.
1. Noelene the Young
2. Megan the Mouse
3. Harpal the Australian
4. Darren the Artist
5. Jo the Interesting
6. John the Telstra Guy
7. Michael the Photographer
8. Peg the Lady
9. Jeff the Preacher Man
10. Andres the Cobbler
11. Honey the Prostitute
12. Mark the Masseur
13. You the Blog Reader
14. Jo the Podiatrist
15. Casey the Uni Student
16. Dream the Horse and Carriage Driver
17. Tamas the Hungarian Accordionist
18. The Dignified Trolley Ladies
19. Alex With The Studded Hot Pink Belt
20. Leaf The Fallen
21. Bel Of The Library
22. Jay And His Big Issue
23. Emma The Adult Shop Cashier
24. Teena, Saver Of Dogs
25. The Luna Park Face
26. Gary The Missing
27. Kristen at the Elephant Bean Cafe
28. Uncle Paul
29. Jess The Mama
30. The Two People At The Checkout
31. Alfie The Pourer
32. Breaking The Rules With Captain Starlight!
33. The Woman In Line At The Bakery A Few Weekends Ago
34. Dog The Dog
35. Julia Gillard The Person
36. Nancy The Badass
37. Bruce From The Psych Ward
38. Jeremy The Costumeless
39. The Women In The Morgue
40. Ross From Knucklehead Shipping Co
41. The Woman At The Eyebrow Threading Counter