Upon the eve of my impending fortieth birthday I find myself indulging in a great deal of introspection. I am curious as to whether the teenage Fiona would be satisfied with the life path grown-up Fiona decided upon.
I reflected upon my teenage self, she was fun, vivacious and energetic with a very idealist notion of the world. Despite all her sparkle though she was highly sensitive and prone to bouts of depression and a general inexplicable malaise which I would now simply attribute to being a teenager. It simply felt like the end of the world at the time.
The lyrics to Marianne Faithful’s Lucy Jordan used to evoke great melancholy within my already deeply melancholy teenage self.
“At the age of 37 she realised she would never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair”.
I remember hearing the injured vocals of Ms Faithful haunting those lyrics and feeling terribly sad. Not for me, not then, but for my Mum. I clearly recall so much sadness for my Mum that she would probably never get to Paris, probably never ride in a sports car (a Mercedes, her favourite) with the warm wind blowing through her unruly tangle of black/brown curls, her green eyes wouldn’t be framed with big fashionable sunglasses and neither would her peaches and cream complexion ever bask in the glow of a warm Parisian sun.
Even though I was only a teenager at the time I knew that that was not going to be my Mums lot in life. I didn’t even think to ask her if that is what she wanted from life, I strongly suspect not, but in my eyes that is what she should have wanted for herself on some level. In my young mind, that is what every woman should want, romantic location, flash car and freedom. After everything Mum had given up for us kids I thought that was the least she deserved. I didn’t want her suffering the same fate as Lucy Jordan.
If I had explained any of my fears to Mum she simply would have pointed me to the Lord with a bible verse and told me that she had everything waiting for her in heaven. She was hellfire and brimstone, no grey areas, well maybe a little around her temples and I am pretty sure I put a few of them there.
Fast forward 20 years and I found myself metaphorically rearranging the flowers for hours. By the time I was staring down the barrel of my mid-thirties I came to the crushing realisation that I too had never been to Paris, in a sports car with the warm wind in my hair.
The injustice and yearning I felt for my mother some twenty years earlier was still as palpable except now it was for yours truly. How could that have happened? Where did my quixotic teenage-self disappear to? It seemed that almost overnight my mirrored reflection was that of a mid-thirty year old mother of two, eking out an existence in domestic subservience hanging on by only the thinnest of threads, super human amounts of intestinal fortitude and the most insidious of white lies “things will get better when………”.
Or in other words, denial. I was at a crisis point. At 35 I knew I had a choice to make. Was I going to make a break for “Paris” and the sports car or was I going to run naked, screaming down my shady street, which happened to be 15 miles long, very hilly and through farmland. I chose the former.
I chose Paris and embarked upon a journey and process of healing, growth, self-awareness and personal responsibility. I didn’t want some funny little man climbing up onto my roof, coaxing me down and taking me away in a “wambulance” to be fed a cocktail of drugs and kitted out in an unflattering jacket that would be an absolute bugger to get off.
No darling readers that was not going to be my fate.
In my Google quest for answers and commonality I stumbled upon this website http://www.innerbonding.com/ . If you are serious about taking complete responsibility for your own happiness and doing some serious healing, learning and growing then this is the one site on the entire web that I recommend you visit. Word of warning don’t visit it if you are not serious about completely and utterly owning all of your own crap. If you are looking for an easy fix, something fluffy, girly and in pastel shades, then this isn’t for you. I raged, I railed and I resisted but at the end of the day I realised I was responsible.
There is no running from yourself, you’ve got to take yourself with you wherever you go so you may as well learn to love yourself, no-one can you love you like you can.
So even after all my learning and growing I still hadn’t quite made it to the city of love, although when you are married to someone as smoking hot as Beloved you don’t need a towering iron edifice in a European City to get you in the mood, normally a cheeky wink or a sly grope does the trick. Besides, being Scots I was more likely to run off to Gretna Green in an echo of my quixotic youth.
Speaking of things Gallic, my intrepid adventurer Beloved decided he wanted to go hiking up Frenchman’s Peak in Tasmania. Again my dirty mind couldn’t help running away with itself but I bit my tongue, encouraged him to go with a mate (Lemonheads – The Outdoor Type anyone?) and set about fixing for my own grand adventure that didn’t involve blisters, tents and dried food.
I decided I needed a best girlfriend, fun and booze.
Cue soul sister from Sydney, fun wheels and a mission to find my favourite beer on tap. Yes I just did say I wanted to go find my favourite beer on tap. While some girls might day dream about flying east to shop til they drop all I wanted to do was fly half way east, grab myself a sexy car and hunt down the brewery of my daydreams
So Miss T and I met half way across the country, hired a sports car and cruised through the quiescent Barossa Valley with the sun roof down so our hair could blow. We sipped bubbles, watched an air show with sprawling vineyards as a spectacular back drop, we quaffed fine wines, gorged on gourmet goodies and stayed in the quaintest cottage imaginable. We stayed up late, painted our nails, swapped our stories and bared our soul scars.
As much as I thrived on our wild woman weekend I still wasn’t going to be completely satisfied until I reached my ultimate destination. I was determined to savour every drop of my favourite brew, off the wood, perfectly chilled, in a frosty pint glass and reach my bliss. Beer from the source. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get much better than that. I had flown 2,738 kilometres and driven 500kms in my quest to find the holy grail of beers.
The day started off bleak and grey, we couldn’t put the sun roof back and we got lost. Not the most auspicious of starts. Still I pressed on, as one with such an important mission must.
We finally arrived at our destination, the Knappstein Enterprise Brewery in the Clare Valley. We entered the cavernous building and I was greeted with the mouth-watering sight of huge brassy vats, filled with what I hoped would be the most gloriously fruity, hoppy brew. I was in heaven. I eagerly looked around, scanning for the bar area where I could be served, where were those beer taps?
Our search of the main building was not as fruitful as I hoped so we pushed on through to the cellar door area, there was no stopping me now, and I was so close I could almost taste it. We were greeted by a genial old chap who looked as if he was enjoying his retirement years. I couldn’t blame him, pulling Knappstein on tap all day? What a gig.
“Would you ladies like to sample some wines?” he asked.
If we weren’t the only ones in the cellar door area (read entire premises) I would have sworn he was talking to someone else. Surely I had “give me beer, NOW” imprinted on my impatient forehead. I mean, didn’t everyone come here for the beer?
I could hear Miss T stifle a giggle, I was glad she could see the humour in it because right it was failing me. All I could see were long necks of wine displayed artistically around the room. Nothing at all resembled my imagined big wooden bar area, with shiny brassy beer taps, dewy with condensation, keeping my favourite beer at perfect temperature.
All I had was a wrinkly old fellow asking me if I wanted to sample fermented grapes? Hell no, I live one hour away from Margaret River if I wanted premium wine I would have stayed at bloody home. I want hops and yeast and barley and whatever else that goes into making your beer taste like paradise in a bottle.
So I kindly explained that I had in fact traversed half way across this great continent of ours with the sole purpose of drinking their golden ale straight off the wood so serve me a frosty pint of the best, please!
“Oh I am sorry madam.” he replied most apologetically “but we do tastings only of the Reserve Lager, here would you like to try some in a wine glass?” I just did not see that one coming.
So I did what any thirty lass on the last leg of an epic journey would do. I obliged the kind old soul. I skulled back the taster, then another and bought a four pack for the road for more than what it would cost me at my local bottle shop. We piled into the Audi and Miss T put the pedal to the metal. The sun came out, we opened the sunroof, cranked up the tunes and Miss T drove me all the way back to the Barossa Valley at full speed and full volume while I got gloriously sloshed in the passenger seat. We sang off key at the top of our lungs, our voices raised in unison to the anthems of our times and made up the long forgotten words as we went along. Knappstein had never tasted so good.
It was a truly unforgettable afternoon if I could do it all again tomorrow I would. That was my Paris, my sports car, the warm wind in my hair. I had made it after all and didn’t need a passport to do it.
If I could tell Lucy Jordan anything I would tell her that the view from Grant Burge in the Barossa is way better than the view from her rooftop so she best come down.
I would tell her not to get too caught up in the whole Paris thing, it’s not where you are but what’s in your heart.
I would tell her that that the wind in your hair could be problematic unless you have a really good de-tangler, so a sun roof will do just fine if you are on a budget.
I would tell her that she was definitely right about the sports car though, ours was sex on wheels.
Lastly I would tell her to forget about the pretty nursery rhymes her Daddy used to sing, they are for little girls and in the past, you are a woman now. Sometimes you just need to crank up Rage Against The Machines Killing in the Name of and sing the last chorus at the top of your lungs as if your life depended on it.
And to my teenage self, my dearest girl, I would tell her that I love her, her passion, her energy and compassion will see her through. One day she will summon the courage to say “f%*k you, I won’t do what you tell me” and she then will finally able reclaim her life, don her red boots and start her own journey to “Paris” and wherever in the world that may lead….