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Drinking juolukahvi (I think I spelled that right.) Christmas coffee. Spiced with a bunch of stuff. J brought it over. Had to buy a plunger just to use it, but worth it.

It's going to be weird not being here. I say this as someone who gets homesick and knows it. But Over There is absolutely the right place for me to be. It's the next evolutionary step. It also means I can get to anywhere I need to be, which makes me a more viable proposition. €1-300 for a return flight to London is nothing and I'm fine with cattle car. I may not be able to sleep in my own bed but sitting in the cab of a Toyota bouncing across some busted track in the bush and I have trouble staying awake. I figure I'm meant to be doing this... even if I don't know precisely what it is that I'm doing.

I think my folks are having to face the fact that this puts me even further away from them than I have been for the last 12 years. I think they've already done the math on how many days we'll have left together. I know I have. I'm not sure what happens if they become so infirm they can't care for themselves. If it comes to that I'll fly back and settle in Cooktown for the duration. Hoping I'll have made enough by then to keep us all in some sort of style or comfort. I think Dad'll be okay. He always said if it got to that point he'd just walk out into the scrub and we wouldn't see him again. He's said it more than once and it always spooked me, but the older I get the more I think I'll probably wind up doing the same - if it came to that. I think my brother's on the same wavelength. I know I've mentioned it here before, but one of the last times we saw our grandmother it was at a nursing home in Cairns. Broke my heart. Didn't know what to do about any of it. But I do remember turning to Alan as we walked out of there and the exchange went like this:

"Listen, if either of us ever gets..."

I like my brother. Took a while, but I do. We're remarkably similar, just took different roads. If he was mildly aspergic and looked up rather than around we'd probably be sharing a house.

I've always said our father saw me as the prototype for him. Stress-tested me for three years before v2 came along. At the end of the day the code and mechanics all have the same base. Alan became more like Dad, and I still think I might be adopted. If it weren't for my grandfather who was an English political activist and academic, and a career Navy man. Saved a lot of lives during the war, running Coastwatcher operations, single-manning a patrol craft avoiding Japanese shipping to collect marathon surveillance groups from the PNG shoreline. The older I get the more I look like him, and the more he seemed to take an interest in who I was turning into. I only wish I'd been a few years older - and he a few years younger - so that we could have had some proper conversations.

My family doesn't know where we come from. Our lineage has been masked on both sides by some sort of melodrama we haven't been able to unravel. I know that my great-grandfather worked as a bodyguard for unsavoury types, eventually meeting his end in a gunfight someplace in Canada. He made a lot of his fortune gambling, and that had something to do with it. And I know that there was some deep shame about my paternal great-grandfather. He came from Middlesex in England, and I'm pretty sure he wound up in Sturt prison in Townsville when my grandfather was born. All I know is that at the junction of those two families are a group of people who seem to be pretty good at shooting, gambling, situational strategy and toughing it out - and not that great at the long view. Case in point: Dad's deaf in one ear. The reason for this is he was stalking a razorback boar across someone's property. He was alongside the house when it came into view, muscle-memory kicked in and he'd shouldered and fired the rifle before thinking about what happens when sound encounters a hard, flat surface. The sound of the shot rebounded point-blank at him. He got the boar, but still... that's us right there. Do what you have to and any negative results become elements of what you have to do next. Roll with it.

If a life is a lock we seem to reach for dynamite before thinking about a key. It's subtle, and weird, but it's there. I wish I knew more about where we come from. Hell, my surname isn't even Rogers, technically. It's Colledge. Rogers was a name my grandfather took in order to distance himself from his own father and the associated shame. Whatever that was.

I guess I'm thinking about all this now because I spent three days out there. I've got city feet and bad habits, but the code is still there. I like being in Melbourne. I like having a good bed even if I can sleep on a floor. I like good coffee even if I can live without it. The older I get the smarter I get about what I've been told and what's actually true, and it's like chipping a mould from something kiln-fired. I get the feeling the purpose of my life is to have all of this revealed a piece at a time, and then I'll die. That and working out people.

I don't know if any of that makes sense. It's been wriggling to get out for the last few days.


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March 2012

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