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Kelly Fuller: ABC New England Breakfast

Kelly Fuller, photo by Tim Lehā

I’d love to link to this interview, but I couldn’t get a copy of it. It’s disappointing, because I thought it went really well – my favourite to date. We talked about all the normal things to do with the release of Wish You Were Here. Route 66, staying on an Indian reservation, the generosity of the average American…

Wading in the Deep End

But we also detoured into the themes of the inner journey and how it came to be. There’s one line in particular, early in the book, which affected me deeply. The man I was living with at the time told me he ‘couldn’t stand the thought of sleeping with only one woman for the rest of his life’. That simple statement of existential crisis undid our relationship and set me on the road.

Hindsight has given me a certain sympathy about it, but back in the day those words lodged deep inside me as an irreparable shame. They lodged so deeply that it was actually years before I could face them.

The shift occurred – the words started to dissolve – when I working with Stephan Elliott. He’d had a life threatening accident – shattered his pelvis skiing. The accident put him in hospital for weeks and rehab for months. It caused me to move to London for a while and live in his guest room while we continued writing together.

The experience brought us closer in the intimacy of incapacity. Since he was the vulnerable party, I reached out and gave him that story as a token of trust. He was the only person I had ever told, and I said it in the spirt of deeply shared intimacy.

Some time later when he was out of hospital but still flat on his back, I found him lying on the couch looking despondent. We were working on a screenplay that he hated. He kept sabotaging it with terrible jokes. Because he was high on morphine I was able to take the jokes out each night without him noticing. Mysteriously though, almost every day he had the same bad idea for the same terrible joke and back in it went. Which was where we were up to when I found him prone on the couch, laptop open, looking despondent.

“What’s up, love?” I asked.

“I just can’t stand the thought of writing with only one person for the rest of my life.”

His words reverberated through me like betrayal.

“Too far?” he asked. His pixie face screwing up with a mixture of mirth and real concern.

“Yes.” I said, before starting to laugh. It was a scandalously dangerous joke. Dark and based in truth. My very favourite kind.

So that was the start of my real healing. He made light of my darkness. He liberated the story to become the sympathetic catalyst to my memoir, and something which was now a subject for conversation with Kelly. The connection of crisis and catharsis. About the healing nature of journeying. The Odyssey. The Pilgrimage. The journey of time which heals all wounds.

Back in the Studio

We were serious for a moment, and then laughed about how much excess emotional baggage you can take on the road… Whether airlines should weigh you for it… If you could ask to change seats because of not having enough room to contain it.

I marvelled that a story which had been locked inside me was now the subject of anecdote. It was no longer heavy, but a light thing set on the breeze.

ABC Radio New England – Museum of Modern Technology

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