Memoir

Study for the weather station

WE DIDN'T KNOW so much; we knew how to touch. We unpacked our boxes in the box on the cliff. We thought we had time. We stayed for a season. Salt crystals bigger than sugar cubes formed on the spoons. Stereo circuitry went mushy in that air, where the light refracted and sparkled, stark and saline. The waves boomed into sleep until dreaming was booming. Often all this would continue till morning. We would wake entangled; but you were already commencing the elsewhere. You were starting to audition for untangling.

We knew warmth, and we had history: long before, when our friend the architect had said, 'Terrain One Situation,′ we said, 'What do you mean?′ and she said, 'There is nothing between you and the weather. Nothing built.′ I felt the top of my head come off at night, because space grew so greatly, and drowned in that roaring, as the sandstone wore down one electron a decade, and the difference between inside and outside was warmth.

The earth spun on its axis; for one whole season you cooked. The guests all said you loved me. When the wind whipped the windows, the windows went white with the spray. That the world could contain the taking of tea with the watching of whales: we knew that kind of giving, and rejoiced.

Do we know each other? you had once said in a supermarket aisle. We do now. I live on the edge of the world; would you like to see more? In winter, nothing between ourselves and Antarctica. Gratitude at high volume; even the roaring surf was drowned in that. Nothing but wind, nothing but windows vibrating. The endless humming soothed us into sleep. The bed so bunched and rumpled with love.

But we were racing to get ready. You had to audition for the thing that would come. I thought that architecture and landscape had finally made way for the eternal; you thought you were in a bowl of wind. When the windows salted over, you thought you were in an invisible bowl of wind.

For a season we thrived, and all went thrivingly. In the rugging-up we knew that always later on, after the adventures, after the flat tyres and the high-wire acts, all that endless world outside the story: after everything, in the unrugging, when only unrugging was left, we were home, and our clothes fell soundlessly to the floor. For the world outside the story was left behind. One season. It was all one season there.

One to laugh and one to lose you, and white sheets of water sprayed up from the rocks when the southerlies blew. What was it with space? You auditioned for untangling. We were weatherless, and the waves boomed as we slept.

Always a return, always to a headland. We were mostly weather station, though sometimes, the sun slanting through us as through an hourglass, we were lighthouse too: we gathered light. It is not a lost place if you settle, I said. We would juggle the groceries. We would meet time and circumstance. The difference between inside and outside was warmth. For a very long season, even as we slept, the sun was coming, always first, to us. It is not a lost place if you settle.

  • This was the companion piece for a photograph by Stuart Spence, Tonight Show Over Claude, exhibited in 2009. The photograph shows the interior of an apartment perched on a cliff at Ben Buckler Point, in North Bondi. When Luke Davies was shown the photograph, he realised he had lived in the apartment years earlier.

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