your twenties

your twenties have the potential to suck.

you’ve moved out of home, and now have to properly adult for the first time. pay the utility bills, eat food that isn’t junk food, attend classes at uni, submit all your assignments and actually get good grades, turn up to work and work well, never having a bad day, trying to also maintain friendships and maybe, just maybe, also try your hand at love.

it’s a lot to manage. more than one at first realises. and, unless i’m the only one in which case this will be embarrassing, some days it will get you down. the odds are stacked against you on that. you will have bad days.

but this is where your twenties get good. you are surrounded by absolute legends. best friends who will send you funny youtube videos that you can then watch at the same time and send each other their favourite lines and you’ll tell them when you’re crying or “just can’t even this is too funny”. housemates who make you a cup of tea when you’ve had an average day. and not just a normal cup, but made exactly the weird way in which you like it. gal pals who purposefully try to expand their friendship circles to include the guy you think is pretty. friends back in your hometown who send you “how have you been lovely? x” messages, who put up with your LDR that you chose to create.

big group dinners, where some of you cook, some of you clean. playing emperor/scum while it’s in the oven. all sitting around the table, swapping stories and throwing banter. drop in cuppas, having a good old yarn over tea and whatever you can find in your pantry. work mates, ones that you will happily spend free time with, even as far as going to the gigs of the token barista/boy band member.

your twenties are filled with people that you are comfortable with. getting maccas after work and then going back to their house, having a nap on their lounge while watching parks & rec.  getting coffee, going on road trips and small adventures. enjoying each others company, and genuinely being excited for their existence and everything that is going for them.

it’s filled with weddings and engagement parties and birthday weekends and end-of-exam celebrations. but also small, non-descript evenings where you make a throw together meal and have a beer and tell stories and laugh. you laugh a lot. your twenties could arguably be the hardest years of your life. they’re definitely the hardest so far. but they are also the best.

 

coldplay was wrong.
I love that song, but people aren’t a problem you can fix, a mystery for you to solve. they are complete without you.
people can only cure themselves.

the sky was the colour of a musk stick.

The sky was the colour of a musk stick, all pink and sugary. It was getting darker earlier, and the sunset had started to coincide with Charlotte’s walk home. Craning her neck, the clouds looked like fairy floss. She began to mentally raid the fridge. Nothing was there except for garlic, half an apple, and cheap beer. Not even Gordon Ramsay could turn that into a meal. Concentrating on the sky instead, she focused her gaze on its darker edges, and saw a star come into view. When she was younger, she thought it was magic. It still had that thrill to it.

The five flights of stairs up to her apartment had the burn of intense cardio exercise, without ever resulting in abs. Opening the front door took an equal amount of effort. Pulling on it slightly to the left, turning the key with a deft flick of the wrist, and a last little kick in the bottom right-hand corner was a daily ritual. Finally in the house, Charlotte dumped her keys next to the record player, knowing if she carried them any further she’d put them down and never find them again. After some fiddling with the turntable, Debussy started to play through the house. Tripping over a stack of books, she made her way past the bedroom and into the kitchen, putting on the kettle and popping down some toast. Tonight’s meal would be an old staple, tea and Vegemite. Filling up a jug, she watered the plants that were verging on taking over her apartment. It was a small place, but fulfilled every interior dream she’d had, even from that young age of drawing her future home with crayons for her mum to put up on the fridge. Hardwood floors, white walls and high ceilings. But the dream apartment of a 5-year old girl come at a price, and with old charm comes a myriad of electrical, plumbing and spacial problems.

Munching on her toast, Charlotte checked her phone, which she’d found wedged in between the cushions of the lounge. It’d been a whole day without it, and she wondered what social enquiries she’d missed.
Messages: Mum (1)
Email: Work – why are you late again?
She considered putting it back where she found it. It would probably be better utilised there, could even buy a home phone to call it and make a massage chair. She looked around her apartment, trying to fight the feeling that was starting behind her eyes. God, she loved this place. She was proud of what she’d created, furniture sourced from council clean-ups and Salvos store’s. An Ikea lounge, the one brand-new thing, the result of a particulary giving End Of Financial Year. Plants and books scattered around, and prints on the wall from when she’d attempted a Fine Arts degree. The kettle began to whistle. As she poured a tea for herself, always just herself, the feeling behind her eyes began to settle.

She knew who she wanted to be. She wanted to be someone nicer, kinder, softer, brighter. And while maybe she was a combination of all those things, somewhere between her head and heart it got confused. Never finding the perfect way to meld all the different aspects of her personality together, she felt just not pretty enough, just not funny enough, just not smart enough. Everything, but not enough of anything. Grabbing her tea, she flicked off the lights and headed to her room. Maybe Netflix in bed would do her some good.

The sound of her phone vibrating itself off her bedside table and onto the floor was what woke Charlotte.
“Hello?” she answered, still admiring the back of her eyelids.
“Lottie, where are you? We’re supposed to be meeting for breakfast.” It was her best friend Winnie. They’d been friends since school, when they’d bonded over a mutual hatred of the show the Big Bang Theory. Nothing brings people together like a common dislike.
“Yeah, I’m on my way there, calm down.”
“Lottie, I’m outside your apartment. I’m parked in front of you. We were carpooling remember. I know you better than that. So hurry up and get down here.”
“My bad. I’ll be down in five.”
She rolled out of bed and onto the floor. She was glad she’d been lazy and not removed her makeup from yesterday. Wiping under her eyes to get rid of any unwanted smudges, she pulled on a pair of jeans and spritzed her hair with dry shampoo. Checking her appearance in the mirror, she looked like someone who had given up on surface appearances, paired with a hint of 15-year old boy. The perfect combination.

“I got ready as fast as I could,” she said, getting into the car.
Winnie gave her a once over. “I can tell.”
“Oh, just shut up and drive.”
Winnie laughed. “Put on some music if you’d like. Though none of that music without words that you like.”
“Maybe I’ll just listen to the delightful sound of you insulting me the whole way there.”
“Suits me.”
Charlotte looked over at her friend. She was gorgeous. The kind of girl that looked worse with makeup. Adding to that, she was kind, intelligent and quick-witted. Too quick-witted sometimes, she had a penchant for insulting Charlotte. “I’m just keeping you humble”, she’d say. Her boyfriend was much the same. They all got along, but Charlotte often felt like she was more their kid than their friend, their being so far ahead of her in life.

“So how have you been?”, Winnie asked. They’d ordered their breakfast, and were sitting in the corner of their favourite café, both facing out for maximum people-watching potential.
Charlotte laughed, and began to doodle on a napkin. “I’ve been good. You know how things are.”
“No, not really.” Winnie’s phone beeped. It was a message from her boyfriend.
God, I love you.
Charlotte checked her watch. It was 10.27AM. What was it like, getting messages like that, in the day. Knowing they’re not sent with the aid of too many beers, or with something other than love on the mind.
Sending back a quick reply, Winnie looked at her. “Are you sure? You seem sad.”
Charlotte sighed, wishing her eagerness for company wasn’t so obvious. “I’m just tired. You know how it is. Work, classes, laundry.” Tiredness was so much easier to explain. That, and she didn’t know how to make, “my heart breaks at the end of every day, knowing that I’m still not who I want to be”, sound not pathetic. Not desperate. She wondered if people could explode from feeling this way. Or would they slowly deflate, crushed from the weight of things left unsaid. “Yeah, I think I’m just tired.”
Winnie’s response was stifled by the arrival of the waiter, but the look in her eyes made Charlotte nervous. She was in for a lecture.
“Who had the pancakes?” The waiter had to be one of the most beautiful men Charlotte had ever seen. She’d recently discovered the secret to making cute men appear: look like you haven’t showered in a week, and are surviving only on toast and beer. Today was no exception. They’d met at a wedding a couple of weekends before, but she’d long learnt not to expect remembrance.
“With the chocolate chips? That would be mine”. Charlotte smiled at the waiter, for a second longer than normal. She heard Winnie giggle, then try to mask it with a cough. Someone else would be getting a lecture now.
“Hey, that’s a good idea. I’ll have to try that on my lunch break.”
“She’s full of good ideas, this one”, Winnie said with a smirk. Charlotte elbowed her under the table.
“She seems to. Actually, have we met before? Your face seems more familiar to me than just a regular customer. At a wedding right?”
“You know, I think we might have.” Charlotte remembered the moment with perfect clarity. She’d replayed the moment over and over, choosing different things to say, wondering which one would have been the right response, the best possible combination of words to make her seem perfect to him.
“And what was your name again? Claire?”
“Charlotte. Lottie for short. And this is my friend Winnie.” Damn politeness. It was never smart to introduce Winnie to a potential male. She wished Winnie’s boyfriend would propose, so she’d have to wear that beautiful diamond ring that reads, don’t bother.
“Well, it’s nice to see you again. I’m Will.”

Back in her apartment, the midday sun was coming through at the perfect angle, lighting up the floors and making the whole space golden with reflected light. Sipping on a cup of tea, Charlotte examined her arm, which Will had squeezed in farewell as they left the café. She wondered if it would ever reach the point where her skin wouldn’t burn at the touch of someone else. If one day it would be so natural that she wouldn’t feel it anymore.
Rifling around, she found her phone in between her pillows, misplaced after this morning’s hasty exit.
Facebook Message (1) – Hey, it’s Will from the café. Would you like to get some chocolate breakfast food together sometime?
Charlotte checked her arm again. She was sure his touch had left a scar, a mark that would signify nothing if not the simple fact that it’s not kissing or sex or sneaking out that she’d warn her daughters about. It’s the boy they find beautiful touching their arm that will end them.

untitled.

So this is an amalgamation of a bunch of different pieces I’ve written, so a lot of this will seem familiar. This was an attempt at a piece for my final assessment. I’m not sure if I’ll use it, but give it a read anyway.

You will feel sadness most of all. Sadness filtered through loneliness. You will spend your days wondering why. Retracing all your steps, picking apart everything you’ve ever said or done. Trying to pin-point exactly where it started – was it leaving clothes on the floor, or the sarcastic comments you made? Replaying the moment over and over, when your phone first chirped and you looked over to see a message that read:
There’s someone on my bus that is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt and I’ve just never felt that way about you. I’m sorry.

You will look back on old memories, and things will go all beautifully foggy, like when they covered the camera lens with Vaseline in the romantic scenes of old movies. You’ll picture how things were, back when you were in love. And it will surprise you, what memories stick. It won’t be your first kiss, or when they said I love you back. It’ll be the simpler things that last.

You’ll remember early mornings. They will have been your favourite times. Once you’d untangled yourselves from the bedsheets, rolled out of bed and into the kitchen, making cups of tea and boiled eggs. Standing around the oven and using it as a heater. Dancing around each other, packing lunches and coordinating schedules. Or dancing to warm up, whirling around to Miles Davis, to what will have been “your song”. You always said nothing beats jazz in the morning. They will have complained that the kitchen was too small. You thought it brought you closer together.

Or afternoon toast-a-thons, when you had both gotten home from class or work or whatever daily errands that were being run. Dinner was still a couple of hours away, so you’d make cups of tea and toast. Some afternoons you’d go through an entire loaf. Two slices would pop up, and another two would go straight down. Butter slathered on, and then whatever topping took your fancy. And you’d sit around the island bench, legs intertwined, the afternoon sun coming in through the window, crumbs everywhere, talking about your day.

But now, you will not want to eat, no matter how much you know you should.
“It’s been days since we’ve seen you eat a meal”, your housemates will say.
And you will know they mean well, but they just won’t understand. You’re not choosing not to eat, you just don’t have any desire to. You will have both loved too many of your favourite things. A lot of the meals will remind you of them. You will have to fight to enjoy cooking again, something you’d done together. Licking the spoon, their fingers. Blanking that out will be tough.

Living in a small coastal town will make this harder. Everyone will know everyone, and everyone’s business even more. Walking down the main street, you’ll avoid everyone’s eyes, sure they know. People will come up to you and say they’re sorry. They’ll tell you that they knew you’d never last, that you’re better off without them. You will write them letters that ask; (a) why they never said anything (b) if they are fools, because you’re meant to be together, and (c) who in the name of all things holy do they think they are giving their damn opinion. You will stamp these letters but never mail them.

Conversations with your best friend will go around in circles.
“I’m worried about you”, they’ll say.
“Don’t be. I’m fine. Really I am. I don’t think this will last. I think we just need some time. apart Absence makes the heart grow fonder you know.”
“But it doesn’t always. Some things just aren’t meant to be. And I’m sorry to say that. But I just don’t want you to hang all your hopes on this.”
“I appreciate you saying that. But I think you’re wrong.”
“But what if I’m not? What if they find someone else, move on. I don’t want to have to be the one to put you back together again. God, they’re your entire universe. And I’m worried that you aren’t theirs.”
You won’t know what to say back.

Sitting on the bus going to and from classes, pop music will play through your headphones. Sad alternative music is for people who want to exacerbate the mood, and the j-word will no longer be uttered. You’ll have to find a new favourite genre. No one will warn you about this side of break ups. You’ll stare out the window, and realise you can actually feel sadness in your eyes. You’ll go home and go straight to bed. You’ll fall asleep thinking of them, maybe you’ll still be together in your dreams.

You’ll go on long drives and stare out at the sea. It’s a cliché, but you’ll do it anyway. You won’t know quite what you’re looking for in the crashing waves. Maybe they’ll remind you of your heart, both constantly breaking. Maybe you’ll find solace in its vigour, beating against the same shore, never stopping, never changing. You’ll think about all the times you had laughed over this scene together in movies. The overworked ‘lonely lover stares out to sea’ trope. How you had thought you were lucky, because that would never be you. You will wonder how much God is laughing.

When you break your favourite tea cup, you’ll cry for a week. Getting a tea cup that you find aesthetically pleasing, has a good hand grip, and is both the size and shape that you like, is harder than it sounds. Someone will say it’s a metaphor. You won’t like their Instagram pictures for a month. You’ll put hours of effort into finding an exact replica. It will break your heart when you don’t. You’ll wander if that someone is right, if you’re trying to distract yourself from the existential crisis looming in your peripherals. You’ll consider getting a fringe or a new car. You wonder when you became a cliché.

So you’ll start to read more and talk less. Try and understand who you are through comparisons to Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield and Sal Paradise. See if you can learn from how the Greasers dealt with loss. You’ll try your hand at poetry, and start writing long sad letters after reading too much Virginia Wolff. You’ll realise that other people have gone through this: love, heartbreak, confusion. You’ll also realise this doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

But, for the most part, you will go on existing, trying to live a normal life. You have always prided yourself on not needing people to be complete, so this will hit you hard. You’ll go to work, classes, whatever extra-curricular activity you choose to kill your time. You’ll laugh harder than normal, you always do when you’re faking it. You’ll tell people you are fine. Because you are – on paper. On paper, this won’t affect you as hard as it will.

Then, on an ordinary Tuesday, you’ll laugh and not fake it. You’ll be sitting in the lounge room, and the sun coming through the front door will bring that nostalgic joy, like the smell of earl grey or a tea cake in the oven. You’ll see the dust motes meandering around, nice and lazy. And you’ll realise for the first time in a while that you no longer feel like the human personification of a clenched fist.

And you will see them, maybe with someone else, and they’ll be happy. But their happiness will no longer make you want to crack open your ribcage, and give your heart to someone, anybody else.

Other things will become your favourite thing. The smell of a new magazine, or how the sound of hot water getting poured into a cup sounds different to cold water somehow, the ritual of tea. The way the sky looks when the sun’s setting behind you, and for a split second the whole world is pink.

You’ll decide you’ve had an epiphany. You’ll get a hobby, and go for runs. You’ll make a habit of looking up at the sky, even if it hurts your neck. You’ll use the space in your brain where their favourite book was to remember the names of the five closest stars. You’ll still go for long drives, and sigh deeper than you used to, but the plant that is your heart will start to grow new leaves and get taller.

 

you will feel sad. 

You will feel sadness most of all. Sadness filtered through loneliness. You will spend your days wondering why. Retracing all your steps, picking apart everything you’ve ever said or done. Trying to pinpoint exactly where it started. Replaying the moment over and over, when your phone first chirped and you look over to see a message that reads: There’s someone on my bus that is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt and I’ve never felt that way about you. I’m sorry

You will not want to eat, no matter how much you know you should. 

“It’s been days since we’ve seen you eat a meal”, your housemates will say. And you will know they mean well, but they just don’t understand. You’re not choosing not to eat, you have no desire to. 

You’ll sit on the bus, pop music playing through your headphones. Sad music is for people that want to exacerbate the mood. You’ll stare out the window, and realise you can feel sadness in your eyes. You’ll go home and go straight to bed. You fall asleep thinking of them, maybe you’ll still be together in your dreams. 

You’ll go for long drives and stare out at the ocean. It’s a cliche, but you’ll do it anyway. You won’t know quite what you’re looking for in the crashing waves. Maybe they’ll remind you of your heart, both constantly breaking. Maybe you’ll find solace in its vigour, always beating against the same shore, never stopping, never changing. 

You’ll read more and talk less. Try and understand who you are through comparisons to Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield and Sal Paradise. You’ll realise that other people have gone through this: love, heartbreak, confusion. You’ll also realise this doesn’t make it any easier to bear. 

But you will go on existing, trying to live a normal life. You will have always prided yourself on not needing people to be complete, so this will hit you hard. You’ll go to work, classes, whatever extracurricular activity you choose to spend your time. You’ll laugh harder than normal, a classic over-compensational move. You’ll tell people you are fine. Because you are – on paper. On paper, this won’t affect you as hard as it will. 
Things will start to get better. You’ll realise that the “we are here for you, whatever you need”, texts from friends will heal you. Housemates putting hot water bottles at the end of your bed and making you cups of tea and buying you chocolate will start to fix the hole in your heart. One day you will laugh and not fake it. You’ll see them, maybe with someone else, and you’ll no longer want to crack open your ribcage, give your heart to someone else. Your eyes will feel less sad. You will be okay. 

morning rituals.

The kettle boils. The weather is finally starting to get cold. Water bottles at the end of the bed, slippers and scarves pulled out from the back of the wardrobe. Walking around in the mornings with a blanket around you, trying to see if it’s cold enough to see your breath. Growing up we used to have one of those kettles that whistles when it’s ready. It was more fun. But not conducive with an electric stove top. I turn off the oven, which had served the dual purpose of making toast, and being my little heater. Miles Davis is playing in the background. Nothing beats jazz in the morning.

I pour the water into my second favourite tea cup. I broke my most favourite tea cup last week, and I’m still grieving its loss. Getting a tea cup that you find aesthetically pleasing, has a good hand grip, and is both the size and shape that you like, is harder than it sounds. The sound of hot water getting poured into a cup sounds different to cold water somehow. I don’t know why, but it’s one of my favourite things.

I put my tea together in the very specific way that I like it. Half a sugar, two milk caps of milk. It’s weird and finicky, but achieves the perfect cuppa every time. Worth it. The bin is getting very close to full, so I put the tea bag down the side, so it doesn’t look like I was the last person to use it. Housemate tricks.

It’s funny how long you can take making a cup of tea, if you really want it. Or how long you can take to do anything. Life can turn into one big time waster. Room the cleanest it’s ever been. Laundry up to date. All my texts responded to, books arranged in alphabetical order. You know you’re desperate when you’re even up to date on university work.
I’m not even completely sure what I’m trying to distract myself from. But I know it’s there, in my peripheral vision. I can feel the weight of it. Pandora’s box. An existential crisis waiting to happen. I’m twenty-three, they come like regular visits.

The sun coming through the front door brings that nostalgic joy, like the smell of earl grey or a tea cake in the oven. You can see the dust motes meandering around, nice and lazy. If I focus on them long enough, maybe I’ll feel the same. I’m not on the verge of a breakdown. I’ve never felt more at peace.

I lay in the sun. Maybe I’m experiencing SAD, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder. I’ve got tea, I’ve got toast, I’ve got some of that good old Vitamin D, what more could I need?
Something in my brain shifts. Now is not the time for rhetorical questions. I flip Miles Davis to his B-side. Take a long draught of tea. No, now is for enjoying the feeling of the sun on my face. I can question everything I know a little later.

it’s possible I have a personality disorder.

I am three persons. We all are. This is not a new thought, an original one. But it is something worth re-exploring.

Person One: the Person I Am to Other People
If we were doing a flow chart, this guy could go off into a million tangents. Person One is actually Person 1/10000000. We are slightly marginally microscopically different for every person out there in the world. And I’m not insinuating you’re some lying, two-faced, double lived so and so. That’s not on us, but on others perception’s of us. How we know someone, where we met them, our commonalities and our grievances all affect people’s view of us. Work Taylah is different to Youth Leader Taylah. And that’s not because I’m leading some double life, but because of their situations. In both, I enjoy a laugh, am quite clumsy, always manage to embarrass myself, can never walk away with a clean shirt, am hard working (to a degree, I’m only human) and relatively fun to be around. I have theological discussions in both environments. However, I’ll always be perceived differently by my youth kids than by my co-workers.
But, there are also purposeful differences. The Taylah hanging with close girl friends is different to the Taylah making small talk with customers, lucky for the customers. We slightly modify ourselves, appropriating ourselves to the situation. More physical contact-y with girls than guys, talking more about English Lit at UNI than at work, saving my Song of Songs jokes for church people, the usual. And it’s an interesting thought really, the different Taylah’s out there in peoples minds. Or scary. Either or.

Person Two: the Person I think I Am
This is where it starts to get slightly tricky/existential. I am not the person I think I am. We have skewed versions of ourselves. Or realistic. Depends on which side of the fence you sit. Or how your self esteem is. Or the selfie lighting at the time. Our perceptions of ourselves are not entirely accurate. Part of that is to do with our inner monologue, I think. The very high pitched voice (you think my voice is high) in my head, analysing everything I do and say. Analysing everything others do and say. Like when you talk to a guy you think is cute and you think it’s really obvious because you’re aware of the various potential scenarios you’ve played out in your head featuring him. But to him maybe you’re just a girl who always seems to be blushing.
And I have this conversation with my housemate all the time. We both have the tendency to see ourselves in a more critical, or what I like to call accurate for myself but not for her and yes I see the irony of this, light. And while I’m not going to give examples right now over what aspects of my personality I stew over, I know that we as humans do have the potential to focus on the negatives of ourselves. We tend to err on the side of humbleness, taking it to the point of viewing ourselves in the negative light.
And on the other end of that spectrum: it is highly probable that I think that I am funnier than I am. The other day I was watching stand up comedians and thinking, I could do that. I really couldn’t. Not that it’s that far different than what I’m doing now, writing average content for free for people to occasionally smirk over.
And it’s both a consolation and a worry. Or an existential crisis waiting to happen, because I need another one of those.

Person Three: the Person I actually Am
I’m not sure if I’m qualified to write this part. I’m the person I think I am, not the person I actually am. I think a nice social experiment would be to get a bunch of mates to all describe each other, and use all those answers to try and get an accurate depiction of the person they are. But I hope the person I actually am is kind. A good housemate. Enjoyable to be around. Good for both a laugh and a chat. Someone you’d recommend.

But just know, every day I am trying to close the gap between these three people. Because I think that’s where happiness is.

soz shakespeare for saying I could write better than you.

It’s starting to feel like I have an existential crisis every day.
To feel or not to feel.
I think it would’ve made a better quote. Soz Shakespeare.

This is one of those pieces that you write and then delete. Write and delete. Have a beer, write. Read over and find it way too overshare-y, delete. You get my drift. But I’ve really enjoyed my latest couple of pieces, and they’ve all been quite personal. And y’all, the readers, have been absolute godsends. To every one of you that sent me a message or told me you liked it or it made you feel understood or thankful for the significant others in your life or even just fricking read it, thank you so much. I don’t think you’ll ever realise how much that means to me. Seriously, makes soul-crushing introspection worthwhile.

So, back to my recurring existential crises. (Or is it crisis because even though it’s occurring multiple times, it’s the same premise so really only one crisis? Can someone let me know, I ummed and ahhed over this for more than a second). Anyway, so unlike me to digress. On a sentence that was supposed to be realigning myself. Feelings.

Anyone that has known me for more than a second will know that me and feelings ain’t the best of mates. Heck, even if you have known me a second you might know this. And it’s not me saying I don’t have feelings as some ploy to disguise the fact that I in fact spend all my free time crying in bed, nursing a beer (despite what my previous facebook status would make you think), cursing the existence of the man I had previously thought would be my Prince Charming until a prettier-funnier-more-put-together girl had come along and filched my man. No, it goes deeper than that. In fact, feelings and I have never really seen eye to eye.

Because they’re pretty shite (keeping it PG Mum). And while this is a definite correlation to my hypothetical single friend’s experiences, I don’t deny that, I’m pretty sure even you happy people out there can attest to multiple times that old mate feelings hasn’t done you any favours. In fact, even going as far as to purposefully stitch you up. And yes, there’s 100% latent bitterness there. I’ve never had a boyfriend. Who didn’t see that bitterness coming. Because I’ve liked people. Romantically, non-romantically. The whole kit and kaboodle. I’ve had sentiments for people, even if it is purely just to high-five them on a regular basis. Friendships and those things that are nearly relationships but also are so damn far from it. Inklings for emotional connection.

And so often we get drunk on these. You hype up these situations in your head. We’re going to be best friends forever and we’ll get brekky every Saturday and tell each other everything and never have fights and even if by some magical occurrence a “discussion” takes place, we’ll forgive each other and order another espresso martini on our quarterly trip to Melbourne.

We create the perfect version in our heads. Hours have been spent in the shower, emulating my hypothesis on how my night will go. My outfit will come together exactly how I planned, my winged eyeliner will be symmetrical first go. The guy I like will be there. We’ll get to talk. He’ll discover that I’m funny af and like beer. He’ll realise he wants to spend the rest of his existence with me. We’ll have an April wedding. You get the gist.

And these feelings that we get, they can last a surprisingly long time, the sons of bitches. You can spend weeks checking your phone every five minutes. Did they like my photo, or send me a DM asking if I’d mind if they bought me some chocolate. Every time you go to an event, you scan the room to see if they’re there. Spend the rest of the night with one eye on the door. Constantly being disappointed when they click ‘going’ on the FB event but don’t actually go (please, if you do this, stop. It’s probably driving some other pathetic human crazy).

And every time it disappoints you. You do some FBI level lurking and discover they’re seeing someone. Or they just turn out to be a dickhead. Or it’s just simply, not meant to be. Every time that happens I think to myself, it would be so much easier if we went back to the good old days of not feeling anything at all. And it was better, in a way. Not constantly repairing the broken heart (that’s no overreaction. Young people’s hearts are easily broken. I think it’s all the passion pop). It’s funny and also slightly worrying, but current Taylah is the most emotional Taylah that’s existed. Because the unfortunate fact of the matter is, while no feelings means no sadness, hurt, or disappointment, it’s not happiness either.

So, in close, here’s a thing I wrote previous to this moment that I’d forgotten I’d written, but ties in perfectly with this:

I have mended my own heart
many many times.
Picked up the pieces,
and put it back together.
But that isn’t the hardest part.
The hardest part
is putting it back together
without using metal and wood.
The hardest part is putting
it back together
soft
fragile
and still very very breakable.

Anyway, this was full of things. Please don’t hold it against me.

so I have this hypothetical single friend.

Does anyone else find the fact that there are so many couples out there in the world completely astounding? Mind-boggling? Seemingly impossible? The concept that so many of the people out there in the universe found someone who they liked, was nice to look at, had the right sense of humour and was also physically attractive. And that that person thought the same thing about them.

Suzanne Collins had it right. “May the odds be ever in your favour”. Because honestly, the likelihood of that, in both my opinion and experience, is small. Yet I look around me, and feel somewhat surrounded by couples.

And I wonder. I really do. Have people compromised on some of their wants for a man? Because it’s not like I’m looking for anything specific. Just a guy who knows how to surf, who comes from money, and is rich. But also loves the Lord. And is willing to do this whole waiting thing. And on top of that, finds me to be the kind, beautiful, funny and attractive female that I clearly am not. I don’t think I’m asking for much. So how in the world have you others managed to pull this off?

This isn’t me being bitter. The purpose of this post that at first looks like a rant about being alone but then you realise it isn’t even that it’s just words, is twofold:
1. To all of the people that make a up a couple. Do not take each other for granted. From where I’m standing, you guys have won the lottery. Finding someone you love who loves you, who you’re compatible with, whose willing to deal with your flaws and still sing your praises high. Every day know that you are living what us mere mortals, and by that I mean single folk, find to be the miracle existence. Try and treat it with the respect and honour it deserves.
2. To all you fellow mere mortals out there, I could hit you with a bunch of clichés. Ones that I repeat to myself every night to ward off the evil demons. Or I could tell you to watch Blue Valentine over and over until you think that while love is 100% real because oh my goodness that chemistry, sometimes it will break your heart like it broke mine because why can’t Ryan Gosling be mine, even if its slightly older/fatter/mutton chops Ryan Gosling. But seriously, based on the fact that a bunch of other, no offense, non-perfect humans have done it, surely we’ll be able to pull it off.

And maybe one day, I’ll find a guy who ticks all the boxes, or maybe he won’t, as long as he makes Mum a Grandma (I joke), and I’ll look back and say to myself, “ahhhhh, I understand.” Like how you have to see the whole of Inception before you start analysing it. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe God’s destined me to be the next Mother Teresa. Bring nunneries back. Create a fashionable chastity belt.

Either way, I will always look at this time of extreme doubt about what I bring to the table as a female, and whether I’m pretty enough, and why oh why do I always say the wrong thing, with love and nostalgia. Because I have utilised this time of occasional soul-crushing loneliness to further my existence. I have got to dedicate myself to being a good friend and housemate. To live somewhat selfishly, doing whatever I want, when I want (going to bed at 9.30PM without having to have some cute convo with a boy that goes all hours into the night). My time as a single person, forever, has shaped who I am. It has made me the somewhat strong and independent person that I am. Confident in my personality, in my ability to be alone.

And I know that love is real, I see it every day (Sarah and Hamish you guys are gross but I love you too). Sometimes it’s hard not to marvel/lament over the fact that it seems so bloody unattainable. But at the end of the day, just having it as something to strive for, to be surrounded by, is kinda nice.
And at the end of the day, if I’m ever having a crisis of singledom, I like to recite an ancient Australian proverb.
She’ll be right.

home.

When you move away from home, you’re taking a risk, putting all your faith in your own abilities to keep yourself alive. Trusting that everything you’ve done up until this point is adequate to substantiate yourself henceforth. And using big words to prove it.
“Mum. What would you say to me possibly moving out?”
“Um, well, I don’t know hon. I’d never given it much thought. Where were you thinking of moving?”
“Uh, you know, just a casual three hours away – to Wollongong. Sarah’s roommate is moving out, and she asked if I’d want to take her place.”
“When would you move?”
“In two weeks.”

Two weeks go fast when you’re reducing your life into cardboard boxes that fit in the back of your little hatchback. Finishing up at work. Having farewell drinks with all the people you’ve become acquainted with. Things go all beautifully foggy, like when they covered the camera lens with Vaseline in the romantic scenes of old movies. You wonder if you’re making a terrible mistake. But then you realise that everything’s going so well, because you’re finally taking the time to notice everything. You know it’s ending. That’s when you make the most of it.

The first months of living away from home are the hardest. You remember Newcastle as those final two weeks, at its peak. You spend days just sitting at home, slowly unpacking the boxes, questioning everything. You call your mum more than you have in your whole life, in the space of three weeks.
“Did I make a big mistake? Surely it’ll get better. The degree only goes for three years, time flies when you hate your life, right?”
That imagined meet-cute of moving into a new town and meeting a boy doesn’t go quite as you’d hope.
“Hey there, I don’t think I’ve seen you at church before. My name’s Jude,” says the attractive guy who was seating two seats away from you that you spent the whole sermon trying to see his left hand.
“Hi. Nope, I avoid places where I might have to have deep emotional discussions with someone like the plague. I’m Tilly.”
“Oh. Right. Um, cool. So what do you do with yourself?”
“Working. Starting university again soon, which I’m looking forward to. Give my existence some purpose.”
“What are you going to do at uni?”
“Writing and English Lit.”
“Writing hey. That’s cool. So you must be heaps into poetry and rom-coms and feelings and that kind of stuff.”
“Not quite. I’m pretty anti-anything that requires having a heart. Missed out on that one.” You laugh. He doesn’t. You realise you should probably phase in that kind of humour. Oh well, better luck next time.

But after a while, things start to pick up. You get a job that you love, working with people you’re actually quite fond of. Where you don’t have to think of an excuse every time they ask you to go for a beer. Your church is filled with people who are genuine and kind, offering to shout dinner so you don’t miss a potential husband-finding opportunity. You have dinners with friends, spend evenings playing monopoly deal. Traditions of Thai night. In-jokes. Your housemates learn your particulars.
“Two capfuls of milk in the tea yeah? And do you need a refill on that hot water bottle and some more Panadol?”
“Yes please.”
“You really need to man up and see a doctor.”
“Thank you.”

And then, one day, you’ll realise Wollongong has become your home. While Newcastle will always be the place you come from, your hometown, it isn’t it anymore. Nearly everything you love is here now. Because there’s something so gratifying about building a life for yourself. Knowing that you’ve cultivated the friendships, paid the bills, kept yourself alive. Your mum will call you and ask when you’re coming to visit. And while you miss your family, and your beautiful best friend who you call every other week, and so many lovely people you grew up with and went to church with, you know it isn’t where you belong anymore. Here is. Where you’re your own entity. And it’s the most lovely feeling in the world.