I should have confided in you more about what was going on, but the truth is, I simply did not think my collapse could be attributed to anything, other than tiredness.
I did try to talk to you several times about Paul and Alan’s behavior at Board meetings but I did not press the point, they were family; your father and brother. I never doubted your confidence in me, but I knew that fighting against family was a battle I could never win, so I simply absorbed what was happening
You insisted I take a month off after Perth and very generously offered to fund a first-class flight to anywhere in the world I wanted to go.
I had been in Miami the previous year for the NAR conference and had briefly discovered the fabled South Beach. A friend who lived there, managed to find me a serviced flat on Washington Street for three weeks. He described it as “three blocks to the beach, close to the best gay bar in town and just a block from the best gym on the beach”.
Best of all, he told me there was great bookshop within an easy walk
It sounded like the perfect place for me to recharge my batteries, I could hibernate or I could venture out whenever I felt like it.
The flat was perfect, it was in a small deco building, the bedroom had a balcony overlooking Washington and the living areas were quite spacious.
Days became a well-worn path; the Gym, the beach and lunch before coming back to the flat for a rest in mid afternoon
I would wander over to the bar in the evenings for “happy hour” and, most nights I would come back to the flat for dinner and go to bed with a book.
I was conscious this was my recovery time and I used it to catch up on reading, meet new friends but most importantly; to rest and recuperate.
I did go over to Tampa for one night to catch up with Kevin, we had a great night together reliving the days in Melbourne, reminiscing about friends and catching up on our lives over the past 3 years.
One day, I was having lunch at a café on the beach, I was reading Tim Winton’s “Cloudstreet”, a novel unknown to most Americans at the time but one that perfectly captures the people and the times of late 50’s rural Australia. I was, I thought, quietly chuckling to myself, but a well-dressed man sitting at a nearby table came over, as he was leaving.
“Man, that has to be the funniest book on earth, either that, or you have a big problem”
He said this with a smile and wandered off to his next appointment.
I made new friends at the bar, generally over the pool table; there were several dinners and many laughs with these people.
My last night in Miami was meant to be small party at the flat to get rid of the half bottles of scotch, vodka etc I had assembled over the past three weeks.
It turned out to be a night of riotous celebration, finishing with me being dragged back to the bar. Well past my normal bedtime with well over a reasonable level of alcohol in my system.
What happened later that night is a story for another letter, but; after three weeks of peace, reading and reflection I was ready to come home and get back to work.