To be a writer is to have a weight on your shoulders of things both unsaid and words uncoupled in your mind. Strings of thoughts and concepts swirling around, fighting to organise them in both succint and beautiful ways. Pouring yourself out onto a page, cracking open your ribcage and having your heart on display.
I’ve always struggled to label my writing style, how to define myself as an author. Lately I’ve been settling on creative nonfiction, or personal essay, or poetry without the flowers. It is writing that is deeply personal, fictious only to blur others identity, or for a little creative licence, to make life seem funnier or more profound. I write selfishly, I write personally, I write in order to arrange my own thoughts and to make life feel more beautiful.
And it is hard. Sometimes I think it almost an act of love. To be so at peace with the self to willingly display the innards to another. Comfortable enough with the actions of the heart to discuss them publicly.
But also an act of torture. There is an episode of Vikings where they perform a ‘Blood Eagle’, which is itself is considered not fictional. The back it sliced open, and the ribcage chipped away until your insides are on display. It was considered the most painful way to die, and a Viking could only enter Valhalla if he endures the punishment without crying out or screaming for mercy.
But the lighting in my apartment is lovely and the breeze is the perfect temperature and I’m playing just the right music to feel nostalgic.
While time is just a construct and a year is an abstract amalgamation of so that we can keep track of our existences, its easy to reminsice at the end of a ‘year’. To look back on the experiences of the past rotation of the earth around the sun. And it can make you happy and it can make you sad but there is much to be garnered from it, if we choose to.
2020 broke my heart. It is the year of loss. A loss of innocence, mainly. Of hope. Maybe a little bit of ideals, or maybe just idealism. But it was also the year of love and camaraderie.
And to discuss it publicly seems so perverse. But I am learning that it is also how I grow. I’ve always struggled with my emotions. I am a bottler, I often joke that I can only have deep conversations when the lights are off and no one can see my face. I think that’s one of the holistic ways writing has helped me, it has forced me to articulate myself while the sun is still up.
I tried to fall in love in 2020. Multiple times. None of them ever stuck. It is a loss I am getting better at dealing with. I am yet to pull the thread as to why, but I still do think that some boxes are not to be opened and some concepts are not to be explored. I don’t believe that truth is always the definitive course of action. Some things are better not to be known. But there is still a happiness in trying to fall in love, while things are still good. Getting to know someone, and being excited when you discover a commonality. Inside jokes that are funny only through sheer determination to have a secret alliance. First compliments and first kisses and songs that will always remind them of you. Being able to touch someone in that simple way that says, even just for now, you’re mine. A hand on their shoulder, a nudge to their knee. A smile across the room or catching their eye and not having to look away. A permission of public intimacy that I’ve always envied.
But with trying to fall in love comes trying to fall out of it as well. When life conspires for other avenues to take precedence. A sadness that is tangible, a weight in your centre of mass. Its not just of the particular person and the things about them you liked, their smell, the way they stroked your thigh, the nicknames and the way they could make you smile and blush at 10.47AM with a text that shows that, you’re on their mind as well. It is losing the concept of an other, a person specific to you. It is no longer being anyone’s number one. No one sending you photos of the sky when it looks nice, or to ask how your day has been. It is adjusting to a constant lack of anticipation. To being just another lonely person again.
There is so much to be said, however, for the love between people who love and care for each other. And 2020 has been the year of friendship. Times such as these bind people together, as we are forced to realign our perspectives and priorities. And I am a blessed woman. Wine Club and dinner parties and learning to cook new things for new people and spending evenings laughing and sharing wines with so many different people I love. Nights spent watching Taskmaster and falling alseep on friends’ lounges as I’m so comfortable in their presence. Netflix parties and Skype chats and long conversations with besties overseas.Beers in park and nights at the golfy. Walking into Black Cockatoo and being surrounded by friends. Learning that friendships take work and dedication and putting in the effort to create a loving and beautiful coterie of humans. To look around a room on a birthday and tear up at how truly truly lucky you are. To love and be loved by such magnificent people.
And it is these friendships that helped me endure the hardships of this year. The separation of my parents. The shattering of family ideals and values that had, with a heavy hand, shaped my life. With that came anxiety attacks and a depressive phase. An inwardness and a bitterness. But with their love and understanding and patience of the gods, I pulled myself together. A love for me that I’m trying to learn from, paired with the help of medication, and I feel weightless for the first time in a long time.
I keep these little notebooks, Moleskins, and I always have them on me, to jot down any thoughts or ideas for pieces. And with them, it is easy to graph myself. Through those pages you can watch me fall in and out of love, to become happy and sad and angry and content. Some pages have tear stains and others peaceful drawings. Today I rewrote a phrase that comes back to me every once in a while, but has been rare this year:
the world is beautiful, and I am happy.