She sang all the way home from school on the back of my bike. Across the railway line and up the steep road that had paddocks on one side, and the town on the other.
We were a few years away from saying good bye to our innocence. But even so, it was the beginning of the infatuation with the infatuations that lure most of us down the paths of the rest of our lives. She puts it best – ‘the dawning of a sense that there was something beyond family. A world of other people to be adored’.
Then I moved away. A tyrannical 40 kilometres that made further romance impossible. She bought me a parting gift, a silver chain. My Mum suggested that I get her something in return, but I mustn’t have, because she told me later that the only gift she received from me was a life lesson that ‘change was inevitable’.
Then, 42 years later, two cars approach in opposite directions on a track that follows the shoulder of a hill in a bare paddock with big horizons on each side. Two electric windows go down and it’s the same kind brown eyes looking at me.
For a moment we were those two kids again. She’s a farmer, married and with grown up kids of her own and the story we’d both tell of our lives would be about how much we’ve changed. But right then, I could almost feel the shape of the part of me that’s never changed at all.