Inspired by a few of my close friends and acquaintances. Thank you Amanda for letting me borrow your name.
I’ve been experimenting lately with creating scenarios and imagining what type of emotions would rationally suit that situation however, the tone of this conversation played out in my head as a sombre interaction, which was probably more a reflection of my own emotional state at the time of writing.
To set the scene, this conversation takes place between two friends as one of them prepares to move out of Cairns after completing his Accounting degree at JCU after years of struggle and sacrifice.
“Boomerangs are meant to come back…”
It left my hand before he had the chance to finish his sentence.
“…but only if you throw it right.”
“You’re an idiot”.
The boomerang, made out of plastic, neon coloured, was obviously not made in Australia. It looked out of place crashing precariously into the sand adding to yet another crater in the hour long battle of learning to throw a boomerang.
He sighed under his breath. I could tell he knew this was a waste of his time. His mind was already in Melbourne where he would move to in just under a week.
I hate quitting while learning, but this was one of those times when being a mate was more important then throwing a boomerang.
“So you sorted for Melbourne bro?” I quizzed without sounding too concerned.
“I got a mate though. I’ll jus’ crash at his for a week to figure shit out.” His nonchalance working overtime to hide his obvious worry.
We’d been friends long enough for me to tell that he was worried. We were learning how to throw a bloody boomerang down at Yorkey’s Knob for gods sake! The last time we did something like this, he learnt his mom had lost her second part time job at Woolies. He postponed his Accounting degree to take up a part time job in a Palm Cove kitchen to help pay the bills.
Sand particles dancing on the gust of wind became too acquainted with our eyes. A late afternoon storm was brewing out at sea.
“Yeah. Good idea bro.”
What else would a mate say, especially to someone so driven to make a life for himself after seeing the trouble his mum had gone through. She made sure they stayed in the same house for the time he was at James Cook University. They rented. He cooked. She drove. He caught the bus. He didn’t complain or blame anyone.
“Bro, reckon we should go grab sushi ay.”
We left Yorkey’s just as the first spit of precipitation made land fall. I’ll blame the cold front for those boomerangs not working.
He went back to complete his Bachelor of Accounting, taking it all in his stride. Numbers and order made sense to him. He could have been an engineer but he didn’t want to move to Townsville to the larger James Cook Campus, let alone Brisbane. He got the OP and the acceptance letters to prove it.
He made a habit of saying how the big towns were not for him, I figured he stayed because he wanted to be with his mom. He was young then. But just like youth, habits faded and new desires set in.
Not even time can curb desire, especially when desire is named Amanda. But desire to stay can quickly become desire to leave when young love, so big, shatters into a thousand pieces. It becomes a minefield of shards that pierce the heart.
Cairns is big enough not to forget and small enough to remember.
That was about six months ago.
His mom still worked two jobs to pay for their rent.
He got a job at a small tier accounting firm while in his last year of Accounting, trying his hands at everything from tax to management and business development. After eighteen months, rapid career progression followed, fuelled by necessity and his willingness to consume himself in that world.
He mentioned in passing that a manager from one of the big four firms in Cairns had asked for his CV to keep on file. He was being watched. This world captured his desire more then Amanda did and she could not compete. He could have been an engineer but he was now an accountant.
The Smithfield sushi train chugged wearily by enticing us with the standard selection but nothing seemed terribly palatable.
“What kind of sushi do you want bro, my treat?”
“Teriyaki Chicken and Salmon rolls sounds good.”
“s’that it bro?”, I said still grazing the menu, as if expecting more.
“Get me some shitty sake, Melbourne’ll have the good ones but I wan’ some shitty Cairns sake.”
I ordered the sushi and sake while I resigned to make do with the sushi train.
He picked up the drinks menu again and scrolled with his eyes, fixed it on something for a second to long, as if not taking it in at all.
The small firm, offered him a pay rise when his contract was up for renewal, but his heart had already decided. It didn’t help that he had ran into Amanda the week before that. It rained that week so we didn’t make it to the beach. Boomerangs don’t fly well in the rain, especially at Yorkey’s Knob.
I tried to get him to reconsider, but he had a stubborn side. A coping mechanism with it’s dials set to flight rather then fight.
That was two months ago.
He was told that his job would be here for him if he wanted it. Small firms in regional cities invest a lot in young guns like him with the real risk of losing them in the blink of an eye.
This was our last week hanging out together.
The sake was shitty but heck it worked like a charm as he began telling me his plans without much of a prompt.
“Mum’s shitty at me for bailing from the job and all that…”, he stabbed the teriyaki chicken roll with his chopsticks showing his obvious inexperience with the ancient tool.
“…She’ll be alright though, I saved up a bit and gave her some to go on a holiday, she should get a smaller place when I’m down there.”
He’d always been good with money and saving.
A smile cracked the cool demeanour.
“I’ve signed up to go into real estate though.” He gazed over as if to jerk a reaction from me.
“A six month course through the Kaplan Institute. I’m going to get into real estate bro; make a killing; buy mom a house; then come up here and retire.”
“What the fuck bro, you serious? That’s a bloody brilliant idea!”. It was not unlike him to come up with definite choices like that but, this was something we’d only talked about in passing. One of those ideas you have and laugh at but think about at night. He was going through with it.
He paused a second too long gathering his next line of thought. I eyed out the chicken katsu doing the rail rounds hoping the kid across the line would not touch it.
“I still like it up here, but it’s too small… and she’s still here…”, tapping his right temple.
“Yeah she is, and you know she’ll be in town for a while too. You should make it a goal to come back bro. Cairns needs young blood man.” I interjected acknowledging and dismissing her from the conversation. I hate talking about the past let alone events we can not change, and I wasn’t about to start then.
“I know. As long as mom’s here, I’ll come back. But Melbourne man…”
“…Yeah it’s fucking cold aaand cold”
The shitty sake had set in. We laughed. It rained.
Just like the boomerang, they will all come back.
Part 2.2: The return of the prodigal child