I spent 24 hours at Russell’s place in West Wollongong. When I arrived he had been having a nap in the afternoon and we had a cup of tea looking at the new wall he had built. The sun streaming through from the west, it was a hot day.
After, at sunset, we drove to the sea and he went for a dip at a private, lovely inlet. I was expecting him to swim out but he saw two small stingrays and, owing to a story at hospital where he’s a trainee doctor, he just had a dip.
We went out for dinner to a Balinese restaurant in the center of Wollongong on Keira St, which seemed appropriate owing to the warmth. I let Russell choose the two dishes and we enjoyed a glass of red after the beer we’d had back at the house. I told him Michelle, my friend Dave’s daughter, has been to Bali ten times and knows everyone there. He suggested we all go to Bali in January.
Russell has been doing Medicine for over twenty months and recently with my assistance bought a house close to the hospital and has renovated the area where you walk into the house and kitchen. He is also, with a number of colleagues, restoring a smallish boat. The other night they had a poker night where Russell won his money back ($40) at 1.30am.
He’s been unsure of his girlfriend Sarah, also a Med student, and suggested they breakup. The outcome was to move her things into the second bedroom and their relationship continued.
After we arrived back from the Balinese restaurant we both were tired had a cup of tea, showered and went to bed. He in her bed, and me in his. Sarah is visiting her parents in Sydney.
On waking, after we both had a long sleep and a morning tea, we drove to a cafe Russell recommended for an egg and bacon roll. He told me Sarah was returning from Sydney a day early, which was today, and her mother wanted her to leave him as she was unstable with him. It also seemed she was pregnant.
Back at the house, Russell began work on finishing the renovation, while I had a call from my friend Krish. Iona, another Med student, was coming round to help and Buzz and Nick decided to go surfing rather than working on the boat in Russell’s backyard. Russell told me he had at 1pm a counseling session with a psychologist that would be an hour. Sarah apparently had told him she would be leaving unless he did something about their situation.
We headed back to town for the counseling and I dropped him on time and went down to the busy seaside and had a hamburger. On time, I parked outside the office but he was delayed well over time and eventually he came and we had Vietnamese as they were closing. Russell said she had a long session the first time to get to know each other.
She thought Russell relied on external feedback, rather than on his own, for validation. I asked him about anger and he said he told her about my anger and he told her he doesn’t ever get or show anger. He said Sarah has said she’s never seen him angry.
I asked him what he said about my anger and he said I was angry nearly every second time they came over, about the time Drew, my partner’s son, gave me the ultimatum to leave. I said yes but Drew didn’t come back (to his mum, my partner’s home) until I left. And I acknowledged he was right and left myself.
Russell also said he told her about his punching me. I said to him I caused him to do it. I was drunk, I kept egging him on. I said to Russell, the problem I had had with him was that I didn’t respect him for who he is, not giving him his space.
After, we were walking across to the car near the counselor’s office, Russell said it’s so good to talk with someone with no vested interest.
Artwork by Australian landscape painter Sally Stokes.
Please note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people mentioned.