Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My October to February at Australia Street

My life changed on the evening of December 4, 1973, in the small, downstairs front living room of a student house in Australia Street, Camperdown. 

I was 19.

I can pinpoint the event precisely because - unlike many others in my life, now blurred to soft, imprecise impression - I carefully recorded it in Indian ink in a small, erratic diary.

But even if I hadn’t, I can close my eyes and recall intricately my emotions, the shock of realising the enormity of what was happening, my reaction to smell, taste, touch, sound and the heat of that moment of completeness as though I experienced it all only five minutes ago.

Hilary was a slight wisp, a year older than me. A gal from Newcastle. A student too. Her wicked little smile seemed to knowingly curl the turned-up tip of her tiny nose even more when she let it run loose – which she did often. Her lips would reveal pegged but deliciously attractive small teeth. 

Hilary oozed sex, and when she realised I’d noticed how she delightfully parted her legs while standing, thinking about anything from what to cook for dinner to what courses to enroll in next, she oozed even more blatantly. No matter who was watching. And especially the first time we met, in a very public place.

I’d been into Sydney city that morning, watching some street event I never bothered to record. It was a late September Sunday. Crisp, sharp, cloudless sky, and university about to start for final term in a few days. As I lept onto the back landing of the green and cream double-decker No 438 bus to Abbotsford, I immediately caught her eye and wicked wink-smile. I looked over my shoulder, believing she’d recognised someone she’d known for years. Then she turned away and made her way down the aisle in front of me, her cute bum bobbing under her public transport-green uniform skirt. 

“Tickets, please! Tickets, please!” 

She dispensed several tickets, left, then right, as the aging bus groaned and rolled slowly and rhythmically west up Parramatta Road, past the Footbridge Theatre, through the Forest Lodge cutting. Then, quick as a flash, her wicked smile was in front of me, with small, piercing, intelligent brown eyes looking me up and down, and wanting to know where I was going, and needing to sell me a ticket.

Hilary was a student conductor working out of an Eastern Suburbs government bus depot over holiday breaks, and this late morning she’d scored my City-to-Abbotsford run.

Our conversation was immediate and shockingly comfortable. As fresh passengers climbed on along the route, she’d float off to sell them tickets before returning to the words we’d left off. By the time we’d reached Haberfield, I knew her name, had her address and a contact number. She knew as much about me as I could impart on a broken, short-hand 40-minute trip.

Hil shared the narrow Australia Street terrace with Laurie, who loved golf and his battered yellow Mini that always seemed to be parked out front when I visited – which was as often as I could initially, when Hil wasn’t working, and later when we weren’t studying.

We’d kissed, touched and held hands on those visits. Until that December 4.

Hilary was always matter-of-fact. If she wanted something, and there was no objection, she'd easily take first, answering questions later. Laurie had gone off drinking with golfing buddies, and Hil and I were alone.

During our chat, she abruptly wanted a kiss. Then another. And another. And our conversation quickly drifted off into the still, thick, hot night air, carried on insect-punctuated pleasure wings. Hil was hot and her chest was blotched red with pleasure, her breathing exquisitely short and increasingly shallow. 

Before I realised it, we had drifted into a sexual no-man’s land, a place of no return I had never entered before, but had fantasised about every time I’d indulged in the wonder of masturbation. But this was different. This was better. Oh . . . far better . . . Far more intense. Far more out of my control. At the same time, far more frightening.

Before I realised it, we were naked on the living room floor, our bodies joined at mouth and below. The heat, rolling pleasure through my body and brain, the realisation, for the first time, that I could never physically be any closer to another human being in a way the gods had designed so intimately was all simply too much.

I exploded deep inside Hilary all too quickly.

She was instantly disappointed, and I was instantly, deeply ashamed. Shortly after some more fumbled and awkward conversation, I was dressed and standing on the street outside, looking back at the front door now firmly closed.

I continued to see Hilary on campus, and soon dropped by her new apartment on the other side of the city. But we never again had sex. She had moved on, and expected me to, and became increasingly annoyed that I wasn’t doing it as fast as she.

Within two months, I had stopped seeing her altogether.

I never found out what Hil did with her life. But if I could ever wind the years back, and wipe out one intense regret, it would be that hot, still December night.

I wished I’d told Hilary I was a virgin. It may have made a difference.


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