Five years ago I was holding an infant Hazel and had a whirling dervish of a son who was crazy about Lego. I think it was Stevie who came home one day with something to show us – a blog titled Leo’s Lego Lab. It was a delightful document of creativity; Leo, aged five at the time, posted various Lego creations with the help of his mum. I remember liking this little kid, and the world captured in his blog. I felt an immediate sense of kinship with his mum. When I read that Leo had taken a break from blogging with the arrival of his little sister Hazel – who not only shared the same name but was the same age as mine – I just knew we were fated for friendship. Other than a vague sense that this crew were Melbourne based I really had nothing to go on. We continued to read Leo’s blog. Hazel learned to crawl.
At the tail end of summer we celebrated a friend’s sixth birthday in the Edinburgh Gardens. The playground was a mangle of kids when Otto found himself in a confusing disagreement with a mum about Hazel. I've got a Hazel, he said. I've got a Hazel, she replied. There were two Hazels. That mum turned out to be the tough, smart, creative and highly original Emma G.
In the years since Otto and Leo have developed a strong friendship. The Hazel's, not so much. Emma and I have drunk our fair share of tea mostly over her kitchen table. Of all of his friends Leo's home is the one in which Otto feels most comfortable. I sometimes wonder whether Otto senses the common thread between us; a life that revolves around art, music, books and family.
Driving down Sydney Road after a play at Leo's last weekend Otto and Hazel asked me to tell them once again the story of how we came to meet Leo and his family, the one recounted here. We started at the beginning. They love to tell it, hear it and add to it. We think of it as the story of us.
Photo of my feet and Emma's shoes by Emma Byrnes. She belongs in this story too. It was her daughter's birthday that we were attending that fateful day in the Ed Gardens.