I didn’t realise how quickly the home phone would be disappearing as I documented my friends. It has been alarming to find that so many friends would now be off limits to me, down the blower, if I wasn’t doing this blog. I remember a time when the phone was new, quite a luxury and many were too shy or embarrassed to use it. They are no longer a luxury but we’re shy again!
I am not one bit embarrassed to be phoning ‘man in a million’, David Freedom Rose. He isn’t at home so I try the mobile. He is racing through South Australia to get to my call, so I tell him to slow down and I’ll call him on the landline in half an hour.
I feel as if only I could ever have a friend called ‘David Freedom Rose.’ But no, to date, 325 people have and they’re only the ones on Facebook!
Here’s the story. It is short, sweet and from the recent, lightly painted past.
David stepped out of his converted ambulance on the beach and into my life one spring morning two years ago. He stretched and smiled at me and my dog. I thought he was a construction worker with his big high-vis jacket and deckchair. He was an artist, of course, an artist in residence in the world.
The dog and I invited him over for coffee and cake later and he went back to the ambulance afterwards with a bowl of risotto. After that he came round for many afternoons to sit in the armchair and laugh at me, with me. He was like my own personal fully qualified gypsy comedian, his face alight with good advice borne over years of adversity and joy.
Then one day he suddenly left town. He banged on the front door at 7a.m. to tell me he was in love and leaving. I handed him our three week old kitten in a birdcage, with milk and a dropper. We wrestled the wild kitten out together and wrapped it in a towel to calm its hissy fit and David preached to me about the kitten’s rights and how this incarceration in the bird cage was cruel. The kitten quietly nodded her head at everything he said. With David, it’s all about the freedom.
Our whole phone conversation was a grand catch up. David has had many breakthroughs since we last spoke. He isn’t anxious or smoking. Was he? Did he? I didn’t realise at the time, I just thought he was mercurial. We talked at length about family and the bigger picture. We bring out each other’s English accents, he from Doncaster until the age of ten, my midland flat vowel sounds occasionally being heard to twang now. I was pleased to tell him that we ditched the bird cage when he left.
On reflection, this very conversation was one that I have dreaded having. With social media and the illusion that we are in touch, David and I will continue to watch each other live and comment. But unless we organise to go out of our ways and cross paths on purpose, like so many people that I have yet to ring, David and I might never speak again.
Maybe that’s the reason it has taken me so long to write up this post and why I am finding this blog to be a wrench at times, it is so hard to say goodbye.
PS. I had forgotten the name of David’s ambulance so called him just this minute, it’s called Vicky Vardo. We have arranged to cross paths at Christmas. Reader, ring your friend, don’t be shy, is it harder to say hello than goodbye?