I'm in the Choux Box café in Kingscliff, looking across the road to the sunny blue ocean through the few foreshore trees. I'm having a mug of mocha coffee and a big slice of their amazing banana cream pie topped with toffee chips and macadamia nuts. Andrew and I came here a lot over the years, particularly the Pottsville years. It was one of our favourite places. I am trying to remember when the last time would have been. It must have been after we had moved back to Murwillumbah. He was already somewhat frail, I recall.
We always had a mug of mocha and a slice of this very decadent pie. Today I am finding it a touch too rich, but I finish it all the same — a gesture to memory, and good times we shared. I am at the corner table we liked best. The breeze is just a little too brisk, as always; but, as always, the ambience is worth it.
I was going to visit a friend in Kingscliff after the Life Writing group today, but she texted me this morning to say she and her son have colds. I phoned another friend who lives in Cabarita, not far away, but she wasn't home. Somehow I was reluctant to leave Kingscliff today. In recent weeks I've been popping in and out to the Life Writing group, straight there and straight home afterwards, without any diversions. Today I finally did a bit of reconnecting, calling at the shopping centre, walking around and re-acquainting myself with it, and discovering some changes that make it even better than it used to be. 'I could shop here on Tuesdays,' I thought.
That was before today's meeting, but I guess it set the mood for afterwards. I wanted to linger. So, when my friends weren't available, I decided to come to the Choux Box and have a little nostalgia trip. It's been nice, and so far hasn't made me cry. Instead I've enjoyed it, just as we both used to do. It's easy to imagine him here with me, as he was so often — every time until now. These are small, ordinary memories of relaxed pleasure.
Lately I have found myself going over bits of our history together, my mind spontaneously summoning them up and running through them. Now it is bits of our history with Kingscliff that occur to me as I sit here. I look across the road to the right and see the little hall where our Reconciliation group, run by the indomitable Khani, staged an art show one year — a very successful art show. And down to the left is the market ground where Andrew and I often had a stall, and where we met Marieah, the lady who made me the purple goddess gown that I wore on my poetry tour of Texas.
I remember walking on the beach that last time we were here together, deploring what the erosion had done, and collecting stones to become the gratitude rocks which we gave away at the markets. No, that can't have been our last visit, because he stopped doing the markets a year before we moved to Murwillumbah. Also I remember him walking on the beach OK, which he couldn't have later — though impatient as always for me to hurry up and finish collecting the stones so we could get home. I wonder now if his legs were already giving him more trouble than he was letting on. But in any case, he was always impatient, always eager to get on to the next thing. Only in a few places, like this café, he could relax and enjoy some leisure. He was not a leisurely man.