Of all the people qualified to make it to paradise, I was actually quite high in the rankings. I had balls. I knew this. It wasn’t out of choice, just that through life I had gotten forced into corners from which I had learned to force my way out. I wasn’t actually very good at it, but once convinced with purpose I could find my way into most things. This had been my ace card during the years I lived in London. Having said that, one of my blind spots was knowing when I should be getting out. I tended to hang about too long in bad business. The problem was I didn’t imagine a better life existed anywhere, so dealing with shit day after day just seemed the norm. If I left this job it would be to another equally meaningless one. If I left this shitty town it will be to an equally shitty one. I knew the world was a lie and I knew wherever I went, whatever I did, I would still be the same person I always had been. So I saw nothing better anywhere. I didn’t really know what better meant. That was how my mind worked. But every now and then something stirred in me, something deep and when it did, in the blink of an eye I would be gone. I moved to London this way from Oxford and I moved to Sydney from London the same. I rarely looked back. Just dropped everything, everyone, and left town. Gone. Never to be heard from again.
Maybe one day I would become like some kind of shadowy legend figure. I liked the idea of it. The mystery. Let people imagine that in the end I finally got away. That would do. And so it was I now mosied the weekends away in what was one Paradise on Earth; Bondi Beach. Where I lived the dream. So they thought. Those I had left behind. I didn’t want to shake their illusion. It was like the film Cool Hand Luke only not quite so cool. People needed dreams, needed heroes and people they could look up to. We all did, even the ones that said they didn’t. Creatures of influence the lot of us. I had seen a lot of hate in mens eyes in my time for it, and a lot of deluded adoration from the ladies too. What the men didn’t know was that I was just as bitter and pained as them, if not more so, and what the women didn’t know, was that I was a useless self-centred shit underneath any stardust veneer, just like all the others. Though a couple had found that out the hard way. I didn’t like preying on peoples foolishness though, it wasn’t my style which was a pity really because I could have done pretty well for myself if I had the nature of a confidence trickster, but I didn’t. I had the opposite; A quite annoying desire to be habitually honest. Though if you scratched deep enough, that too was a lie.
So I finally made it out of the dirty, grey city of London where I had discovered dreams don’t last and the roads weren’t paved with gold but were rather paved in pure, cheap white snow-like disco dust. It wasn’t a bad time. 18 years of it. I had some good times and some tough ones but in the end I had just run out of the energy needed to make the most of a city like London. Truth was, she had been good to me. I didn’t think so in the last couple of years but looking back I know she was my town. My prime was lived on her streets. We had a love affair I wont ever forget. And then, just like I had always predicted, one day I got in one of those planes that I used to watch taking off from Heathrow while sat up on the Hill in Harrow often time feeling a bit whistful, and off I went and never looked back. That was it. 18 years getting to know a whole life, a whole bunch of friends, a city like the back of my hand. 18 years. Done. Walked off. Left it behind. It was like dying. In fact I thought I was going to. I went off into some lonely distant outback and waited for it to come. But to my surprise it didn’t come. So two months later I headed back to Sydney, got a job. Got a place by the ocean right on the front in Bondi Beach, and sat about waiting for life to start over again.
I’d made it to paradise. It was true. I would step out my door each morning heading for a job that wasn’t so bad as some I’d had. I would stand on the top step rising up and down on my toes letting off some pops of morning wind. A little excited because I was looking right at the turquoise blue ocean and white sands of one of the most famous beaches in the world. I would smile like a Cheshire cat and say to myself,
‘Marky boy, you fucking genius! You made it, my son, you absolutely fucking made it!’
And off I would trott to earn the money to stay in paradise, which is pretty much what my money went on. To live in paradise you need two things; Money for expensive rent, and something to do. I was just about getting away with the former and did fine with the latter for the first year and a half. It took about that long before I started to really wonder where I was at. The trouble with staring at paradise every day was that pretty soon you took it for granted. It was hard not to, maybe even impossible. People would hate you for such a comment, but it was true. Paradise only remained Paradise if it could be able to remain a dream. One of the cruel ,twisted truths in the movie we call life, is that the deepest and truest love you will ever feel is the unrequited kind. The dream must remain out of reach to remain a dream. It is the nature of things. We can never really have what it is we seek. That is the law. And once you get that law, once you figure it out. And many do. You start to wonder why you are seeking it in the first place. And there is no real answer to that. You realize that Paradise is an illusion just like everything else. Some tougher days it’s enough to make a man walk off into that beautiful blue ocean until breathing stops, and some have. Again, not really my style. But even so it was god damn beautiful and a place to come home of an evening and imagine I was being healed in some way. I think maybe I even was.
So I had finally done something a little better for myself but , like I said, there were still issues. It was endlessly this. I wasn’t even sure it could be figured out. You fixed one thing only to discover the sense of crisis in life had shifted to another. Now it was my loneliness and my age I was struggling with. Paradise was beautiful but I didn’t feel quite the same on the inside. I tried to. In fact some days I felt positively sinful for not feeling better about the fact that I was living the dream. I did a good job of it but there were farts in the ointment or whatever it is they say. I got pretty healthy for a time and happy too but it would be a lie to say it was perfect. It sure looked perfect and had a perfectness about it, pretty good post code too. 2026. But once you have made your environment idyllic it becomes glaringly obvious that the fault does not lie anywhere around you, but within you. Yes, my friends, you , YOU are to blame for everything you have a problem with. The ego, the I, the curse of mankind. That was what I came to see of myself. But I could not allow myself to fall there. I just couldn’t.
So I sat back, pulled on my board shorts and slipped a pair of soft-soled thongs onto my feet and stepped out into the balmy hot sunny day of yet another Sunday afternoon and strolled the beach looking at tanned blondes, rolling waves and swaythes of the finest golden summer sand this side of Christendom. I had made it. Here I was. Here, I finally was. In a paradise postcode. Sure I was still alone, sometimes lost, sometimes pretty confused and uncertain. Most of all about when the dream was going to end, and when would I be priced out of paradise. But while it was here. While I was right in the middle of it. Staring right down the barrel of the blue. For fucks sake, this was it. This was it! I’d god damn make sure I was going to appreciate every minute of it. Sip the gold and blue nectar of every last drop. Somehow Satan had made it back into Heaven and so far it seemed, no one had noticed.