Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Street Talk: Thelma, The Best Neighbour I Never Had.

So I'm walking outside to put my rubbish in the bins and there's this lady standing at the bins and I was all "Ugh I'm going to have to acknowledge her" and I did, I acknowledged her and said hello. And she said hello. And I can't quite remember how or why we started talking about all the stuff we talked about but she told me her husband had a stroke last month (Rocco was here and watched as he was put into the ambulance and I told him it's rude to stare, come back inside.)

So Thelma tells me she's been living in the same block of flats as me for years but now she's packing up to move and go live with her daughter in Sydney and her husband can't talk, walk ... he's in hospital and may never get his faculties back again.

Faculty: "An inherent mental and physical power."

And I look right into Thelma's beautiful sad sad brown crying eyes and I said "I'm really, really so sorry Thelma. Life is just bullshit. We got to live it but we never know what's going to happen and it sucks. And I'm sorry. And my stepdad died and my brother died and we just get through the days as best we can and one day it'll all be over." And she HUGGED me so, so hard, ignoring all my swear words. And she meant her hug .. you know when somebody really means their hug? She meant it, and I gave her a meant hug back. And we both couldn't believe we'd never met each other before (possibly because I keep my head down and don't acknowledge people) .. and I wished her luck and she walked off.

A few days later I went to the florist and chose one pink tulip because I could only afford one but a flower is a flower, you don't need a whole bunch. One can suffice. Me and Roc knocked on Thelma's door, my lord I do not knock on peoples doors it is a foreign concept. She opened it, when I gave her the tulip she teared up again, apologising for crying and I said don't worry I been crying my whole life ... the Pacific Ocean? All my doing. I cried a whole fucken ocean of tears and I'm not finished yet.

Thelma invited us inside and showed us how her packing was going. Thelma told me she can't believe I gave her a tulip that day because she'd just come from the local hospital to be with her husband who was being transported down to a Sydney hospital and it was a hard day. She asked Rocco what his name is and spoke to him kindly. I love people who talk to my kids properly. She asked me what I did and I told her I was a writer than I got real vague about it because as soon as people google me I usually never hear from them again. Not that I care, but still. I liked her.

Thelma looked around and wanted to give me something back so she gave me this book.


She wrote her name and number in there even though you're not supposed to write on books? I thanked her and said goodbye.

That's not the end. A few days later I came out of my cave because I was fucken depressed as fuck and Thelma's standing there at the bins AGAIN and she told me to come back inside to her flat. So I did. And she gave me her old typewriter and told me to write, write, write. And in that few seconds she was my grandmother who always told me to write and this time, it was my turn to cry. I put the typewriter under my hoodie because I didn't want to get it wet from the rain and hugged her a meant hug and that's probably the last time I'll ever see Thelma.

So Thelma - we both know that's not your real name, your real name is much cooler but I never asked your permission to write about you. I hope you don't mind. I'm sending you a link .. I been writing for a while, online. Welcome to the Shitshow. That typewriter and book is among the most precious gifts anyone has ever given me. It was no accident that we met. I adore you. Good luck in the rest of your life - remember what I said. It's stupid, try not to take it seriously. I'm glad you're living with your daughter in a noisy house filled with your grandchildrens mess and laughter because we all need people and I swear to god you're one hell of a person. This is my Street Talk series which I started in 2013 with the intention of profiling a stranger every week but then my brother killed himself and everything turned to heartdust. I've interviewed then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Kirribilli House on the same day I interviewed Honey the Prostitute in Kings Cross. Honey was more interesting but Thelma? You are my favouritest Street Talk ever.

::

PREVIOUS STREET TALKS

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. The Lady Whose Name I Didn't Quite Catch.
41. Eden
42. William the Worldchanger



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