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.

this is the way the world ends.

The world has ended.

It didn’t happen at all like I thought it would. Whenever I had imagined the end of time, it was always so…cinematic. Maybe because it had always been talked up. I expected hurricanes that picked up entire cities. Tsunamis, deadly viruses, aliens. Or nuclear fallout, after each major world leader had pressed their big red button. Maybe even something more religiously inclined, Jesus finally returning to end it all.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

It was much more quiet. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I probably wouldn’t have realised. It was very subtle. A slow, incremental ending. Like the phasing out of a song when you don’t want to interrupt the atmosphere of the party. I don’t even know when it started to end, I only remember noticing that it had all gone much more quiet. Like the calm before the storm. But instead of the storm, nothing. Just the end of it all.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

And I don’t know what to do now. How does one go on, knowing that it’s over. I hadn’t anticipated this interlude. The world ending, but humanity still existing. I’d always thought that when it came to this, we’d all end too. But it’s funny. It’s all still pretty much the same, everything is as it was. The sun still shines. I still have work and assignments. Breakfast followed by lunch followed by dinner. It is all as it always been. All would be normal, if it wasn’t for the lump in my stomach and the nagging thought eating away at me.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I’ve realised the world doesn’t end with explosions and riots in the streets. It ends when you run out of things to say, when all your conversations have run their course. It ends with awkward silences when you realise you can never go back to the way things were. The world ends when the boy you love, loves someone else. Or when a boy loves you, but you love another. The world ends when you have to break someone’s heart, and live with that. The world ends when you realise that everything is not what you thought it was. That you can never really know what someone else thinks of you, whether your affection will ever be returned. Whether happiness can ever be attained. The world ends when you grow up.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I know it’s a first world problem. It’s up there with having too many friends to invite to the party, or choosing which dress to buy with birthday money, or forgetting the password to the Netflix account. And with the housing bubble being what it is and the refugee crisis and the world being forecasted to end three times in the next five years, I know it may seem trivial. But I assure you, it’s real. Writer’s block.

It eats away at my soul. I can spend hours, days, weeks, staring at a blank page. Balled up pieces of paper surrounding me, haunting me. First lines and opening monologues scratched out. Ideas eerily reminiscent of Harry Potter discarded. Rough drafts with only the author’s name to go from. 

I set alarms to go off in the middle of the night, hoping I’ll interrupt a dream featuring a dream within a dream. One that I can turn into the next winner of the Man Booker prize.

I read classics over and over, trying to find my version of Mr Darcy or “stay gold Ponyboy”. J Alfred Prufrock wanders aimlessly around in my head.

I go out and purposefully fall in love, just so I can have something to write about when they break my heart. Writing poems about the same boys over and over. Hoping that each time the same story will sound new. Taking different pieces of their personalities, turning them into one being, the ultimate muse.  

I time my walks for when the sky is soft and pink. Go for long strolls along the beach, Nicholas Sparks style. Spending my days looking up and around at the universe, hoping that it’ll elicit some Biblical revelation, and with it a story of the same ilk.

I try haikus. Epic novels and quintets. Short stories paired with long essays. Discovering whether acrostic poetry is my niche market (it’s not). Experimenting with every form of the written language, trying to find something that works. 

Because I know I need to write. It’s something that has surpassed all other fancies and whims. It has become an integral part of me. Not just a desire, but a necessity. I need to write like I need to eat, to breathe. It is the only way I can make sense of myself, the human race, our entire existence. I write because I can’t not. It is the only way to maintain my sanity, reason for living. I know I need to write.

The question is, what?

holidays.

Holidays are the best. Seriously. I actually forgot how lovely and beautiful and necessary they are. After a year that included moving out of home, getting 3 jobs, and starting a university degree, which was amazing and great and I had a ball, don’t get me wrong, I was so very thrilled with the idea of a holiday.
And, for the first time in my working career (just over 9years), I was taking my longest break to date – a total of 3 weeks. Which is a little sad in itself, but lets not talk about that.

I got to spend the first two weeks surrounded by some of my favourite people in all the world: the extended Britt family. With 14 grandchildren, not including girlfriends, husbands and kids, 8 aunts and uncles, and 1 set of amazing grandparents, spread out over 4 apartments in a one-way street a block back from the beach of South West Rocks, it was an absolute ball. Swims everyday. An excess of icecream. Raiding fridges from apartment to apartment. Different movies in different loungerooms being watched every night. The Annual Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathon. The Bridge Jump. Hot chips being eaten for lunch 10 times in 14 days. Serious perfection.

Getting to spend 2 blissful days back in Newy was the perfect separation between my two trips. New Years with best friends and gal pals and Wild Yak Pacific Ale. Happiness.

Spending the last days of my Great Laze in Evans Head with my best friend and my best friends fiance (and also really good friend) was about as good an end as you can get. Eating food, playing card games, going on long drives, visiting Byron for the first time, seeing a bevy of longhaired surfer dudes, was really all a girl could want. Going on bike rides and drinking thickshakes and trying not to vomit, and doing it with people you love, makes a girl pretty damn happy.

Many many thanks to any and all people that contributed to what has been an absolute banger of a year, that ended with three weeks of complete and total happiness. Much love to you all. Enjoy the ensuing pics X