THROUGH THE HAZE | THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT
By Marty Gleason
Winter wraps around us. Its grey hues and bitter mornings that we step into when we step out the door, force us into a kind of physical introspection; a folding in of ourselves. A shivering second of sadness and suffering before, for some people, resilience kicks in.
I am not one of those people. People say, ‘we need contrasts to help us appreciate the good times.’ Well I don’t! ‘We need to strive, they assert with certainty, or life is meaningless.’ I don’t! Give me my bubble of fantasy and be off with you.
On Wednesday morning, the ice had frozen over the car and I sat there for five minutes, in my colourless winter clothes, fiddling with an old car whose charmless foibles were a mirror of my own. I was leaving my brother’s house to go back to my real life, in which problems (like me consequently being late for work) need to be dealt with rather than imagined away by say, going to Brazil.
Last winter we popped into the van café in Brunswick and the desolate track Another Night In by Tindersticks played through the winter torpor but also contributed to it. A week later I unexpectedly saw online the wedding pictures of the previous love of my life. She had traded me in. Those pictures were the exact poses that I had once imagined would feature her and me.
That was the start of winter 2013. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was shaking in disbelief. I made a desperate call to a mate at 12:30pm and lost it completely. Another Night In had stopped being lovely and atmospheric and simply became representative…’there’s a man where she is tonight…’ it rang out.
If you’ve broken up with someone, I urge you never to listen to that song. It will create dreadful associations you won’t be able to shake. I had three months to wait out the devastation before we saw a trace of sun again. But time didn’t heal wounds and winter came too fast once more.
The winter before that I was driving home on the Western Ring Road at 1:30am. I saw the McDonald’s sign in the distance and that was the last thing I remember. I fell asleep at the wheel, woke up and found myself driving off the road. I swerved back, which you can’t do at 100 km/h. Centrifugal forces kicked in and the car spun in several 360-degree loops before coming to rest facing the wrong way on the freeway. It stopped, perfectly nestled in the centre strip, brushing up lovingly against the divider cables, away from harm without even crashing. Fate had dictated that, at 1:30am, no one else would be driving down the usually busy freeway and come barrelling into my out-of-control car. So I lived.
Instead of that being a well-deserved wake-up call, I told a mate that I “went home, had a tug and ate a bag of Doritos,” which was not the literal truth but may as well have been.
Marty Gleason is a Melbourne man who geeks out over sports (particularly the intellectual aspect of dudes trying to kill each other), languages, writing and South America. He is forever trying to convince people that the suits haven’t definitively won the game just yet, although he does on occasion wear a suit.