Amber Fresh – The Burger Van

Amber Fresh wrote us a letter a few months back, which we published in TLB16. That piece was titled ‘The Birds’, and it began like this:

“The birds out the front of my house are trying really hard to have a baby. I keep looking for little chicks, but all I find are tiny white egg shells, broken in half and licked dry.”

Now Amber has sent us through another letter — kind of a follow-up to ‘The Birds’. It’s a letter to someone on tour with their band. It’s published below, for you.  


Dear D,

This morning I had a beautiful dream and you were in it. You guys were in a plane that actually was your private jet, I was there too, and my mum, and J. It made sense at the time that you’d have a private jet, and the best thing that happened was that it flew to my house at Goode Beach, and when we got to the bay, the jet went underwater, because it was built to be able to do that. All the water was clear and bright and green and we all held our breath as the plane dived under, and then all swam up to the surface in a really nice way.

Today I found three very special things. The first was a nest. There are birds out the front of my house that I’ve written about before… I will send you that piece along with this. They poop on my car all the time, making it look really uninviting because they have dark poo and it always goes on the driver’s side door because of where I park under their tree, but I am so in love with them. They are some kind of pigeon. Their little eggs always fall to the ground and I find them cracked under the tree. But this morning I found something very special – a nest. It was actually the greatest nest I’ve seen. So delicately made. All the outside was twiggy, with a little extra curve toward the top, like the lip of a specially created bowl, but inside it was knitted carefully and softly all with feathers. Can you believe it? Of course, this is what nests are like, but this one was so very delicate and somehow tough at the same time. The guy I liked recently told me I am too sensitive. As we sat in the car, under the bird poo, I cried and as I was crying I tried to say I’m not too sensitive. I think it’s ok to be like the nest, with twigs on the outside, soft tiny feathers on the inside, strong enough to house a family, strong enough to withstand a storm, but at the same time delicate enough to be broken with just a clenched hand. I think that’s what you’re like too, and it’s just fine.



The second thing was shown to me by our friend Matt. He was in the dream too. We walked a long way into the city to get coffee, but everywhere was closed and finally he said he could take me to a place but I’d have to be prepared to sit and talk for a while. I was intrigued. So we walked all the way back up town, and finally came to a place on the corner of two streets, where the streets made a triangular building. On one of the sides the corrugated fences had a gap and inside there was a van with the words “Burger Van” on the side. Inside the fence and surrounding the van were concrete slabs where someone had been drawing in big crayons, and then a series of mismatched chairs, a few little tables, and a whole bunch of succulents in little pots. Cactuses, aloe veras, and the rest. And on one of the chairs was a man who I’d seen only a few hours before, on my friend’s street. He’d been walking along the street and I was sitting in my car, which I couldn’t leave yet because I wanted to hear the end of the song that was playing as I arrived. Our eyes met. He was striding, with shoulder length hair, a little beard shaped like a pirate’s, and in blue long-sleeved work overalls. I kept singing along to the song and watching him, and he kept walking and watching me.

So this man was in the backyard with the tables, chairs, succulents and the van. He greeted us and then asked what we’d like – coffee, or chilli coffee? The van was decked out with all sorts of bits and pieces, and a blackboard with magnetic letters spelling out some words and dates, one of which was the mysterious name “Olga Brolga”. A large fridge, moka pots, some sort of old wooden grinding machine, a plate of crostoli, all surrounding this man, as he made our coffees. Matt asked if he could take me “inside”, which meant into the buildings behind the “Burger Van”. We walked in and there were two rooms, one larger, one smaller, both lit up from big windows and both containing a few chairs, power tools, framed art works, books, and in the bigger room a stereo from which some beautiful classical music was playing. It was as if I’d fallen upwards, from the ground up into a tree, into a nest and the nest was made exactly to fit me, like a little heaven of indulgence directed to my desires, both ones I’d known about and ones I didn’t know about.

When we went back outside, our coffees were ready, and mine was just like a French coffee – the same flavour, the same feeling. As I drank it my eyes went from Matt to the man, back and forth, as Matt asked questions and the man talked about making a community garden, the outrageously perfect dream of having a cow there, in the city so that children can know where milk comes from, working with concrete, building permits and how he was going to still have the exhibition of an artist who recently spoke at NATO and makes works about Assange and drones, and recently won an international London prize of some sort and how if they tell him he can’t have the exhibition there he’ll just tell them to “get fucked”. And while we were there two men came, one in work clothes, one in bright but dirty shorts and with striped arm warmers and they got coffees too, drew a bit on the ground with crayons, and one explained the modifications he’d made to his Vespa. “Everyone’s got Vespas now. So I thought, ‘I’m going to cut my vespa up with an angle grinder’.”

Yes, a little heaven, just for me.

The last thing I found was love, lying on the street. It was as we walked back from the Burger Van, and my head was in the clouds, or at least the tree tops, thinking of all the wonderful things I’d seen and heard at the Burger Van. And telling my friend about the nest from the morning. That’s when I saw it, a little seed pod, split open so the seed had already popped out from it, and the way it was made it was shaped exactly like a little love heart, joined in the middle, and on a tiny stem. I picked it up and held it between my fingers, and showed Matt, and took a photo of it on my phone, with the colour of a little bit of nailpolish left on my nails from a girl in hospital who painted them for me, a little bit of pink to set the photo off.

I miss you, but just in a nice way. And I loved talking to you the other night. A girl from England wrote to me again and talked about going to see you. It was going to be the highlight of her year maybe, after all her exams were done.

Yours truly,
your friend,