I was walking Fin when I realised I didn’t have my phone. I gulped. Was it in the car? I was close enough to check. Nope. I followed my tracks in the dunes in case it fell out of my pocket. It must be at home still, I reasoned. Suddenly, a lightening shiver ran down my spine. Did I leave it on top of the car? That had happened before. I wanted to run straight back home though the dunes. No, I reasoned, you’re older now. Less flaky. You would have noticed the phone before you drove off.
Jack and I were living in Australia when we lost that phone. It was the year 2000. We’d been together for a couple of years by then. He’d helped me through my last couple of years of Uni.. fed me, stuck around when I was studying all the time. Don’t worry – I was grateful! Plus I had to tell one bailiff he didn’t live there anymore, and pretend to the tv licence man we didn’t have a tv. I covered it. And then his mum died a year into us knowing each other. He lost his shit for a while. I get it. It was really sad.
After I finished Uni, we decided to visit Australia on working visas. We flew over and stayed with friends of his family. They set us up with a car – a big, blue station wagon and sent us on our way. We made it approximately an hour up the highway until we found an apartment and settled in Perth to work. Jack became a dive master for a scuba diving business. I did a few different things around the University. Ahhhh, those twenty-something years.
It wasn’t all perfect though. Sometimes Jack would get mad. Don’t get me wrong – everyone gets mad. It was just his mad never seemed to fit the crime of the situation. In these moments, it felt I was paying for crimes I did not commit. Hold on a second – what crimes? I didn’t do anything wrong if you discount some strange food adventures I went on. I admit it too – sometimes my food does taste a little weird. And I probably overuse leftovers.
We stayed at the apartment in Perth for six months, leaving us about three months left before we had to go home. We hopped in our big, blue station wagon and did a quick tour of Australia. It was dope. Mostly. There’d still be times when that temper of Jack’s would rear up. We’d have an argument starting out of nowhere and it would get as big as one of those Pacific tsunamis. My mind would feel full of debris. Cars on top of buildings, furniture on the beach. How did we get here? I remember trying to write it down to understand. When I read it back, it was so full of gobbledygook I gave up trying. It sounded even crazier on paper.
Then there was the phone. It was the time when flip phones were the ultimate in fly. This wasn’t flip. Even so, it didn’t stop me figuring how to change the language to Polish on its tiny screen. Uh-oh. I realised afterwards I didn’t understand enough written Polish to turn it back to English again. In those days you didn’t have the ability to Facebook message my mother so she could translate and help me turn it back to English.
We were driving out of the Whitsundays area on the east coast the morning we lost it. Had spent an hour packing up our campsite, loading everything into that big blue car until you couldn’t fit a spare rat inside. I was carrying a number of scientific text books. Poor Jack – he should have spent his temper constructively burning those books rather than stressing about my weird, leftover dinners.
We packed the car, and as we were packing it, we put the phone on the roof. The now, impossible-to-understand, Polish phone. I’ll never forget the moment we remembered. About five miles down the road an excited gasp passed through us. The phone! Too late to do anything now. And if someone found it, we wondered, would they be able to turn it back to English? Or what if the person was Polish? Could you imagine? That phone would be like a gift from heaven. We spent days driving back to Western Australia wondering.
Oh, I found my phone by the way. I’m writing on it now. I did leave it at home.