Day 263 | 85km from Newman: just one day to go

100 km | Heading west total: 12,197 km

Had a chat with my friend B in Chicago while standing at the phone outside the Karijini Visitor Centre yesterday.

I’ve been trying to speak since getting to Broome but he’s been away. Claims to have caught a 7 lb fish in some Minnesotan lake but was so surprised ended up letting it go. Show us the photo then mate.

We first met at the University of Melbourne back when he was finishing off courses to transfer his American degree to Australia and I was in the death throes of my Masters.

He has two characteristics that are rather uncommon in this day and age: the ability to listen carefully in a conversation and to therefore thrash through any line of argument for extended periods and, secondly, to recall events of his life at a startling level of detail. Like who was his primary school engineering shop teacher and the names of people in that class. We are talking mid 1960s here. Or what obscure, but obviously deserved, criticism I had levelled at someone 15 years previously. I marvelled at his ability to recall stories that always were told to make a particular point, not just for the intricate painting of a picture of the times, but the fact over the years he hasn’t seemed to repeat any of the dozens.

There was a downside to this at times: the length of a tale often meant many hours were spent in discussion at times when he should have been doing something else.

This tendency verged on procrastination in the extreme: he would ring that he was leaving work ‘right now’ to come over for a quick takeaway on the way home but would then on arrival be surprised to find all the takeaways were closed as it had taken 4 hours to finally wrest himself away. We would then just have to sit around downstairs in my office shop front window watching the world go by and drinking beer late into the night instead.

I haven’t seen him for many years when he left Melbourne to tidy up the affairs of his uncle who had died in Poland and then he ended up moving on to Chicago. This matters not. He is always good for perceptive advice about the more important things of life and in many ways has been a rock in my life after my breakup with my last partner. (It was after all he who had been somewhat instrumental in us getting together in the first place.)

His observations can be pretty incisive. That’s a mark of a good friendship. But yesterday he reckoned I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for having what from the outside might seem like a series of roller coaster relationships: after all I’d been true to myself and had just drawn a line about what was acceptable to me. If my partners weren’t comfortable about that it wasn’t my fault but more to do with their own paranoias and jealousies.

But like many of those who can offer sage advice, his own life is a bit of a catastrophe.

I guess many would see me fall into that same category.