I wrote this piece years ago for a class. It’s funny how truly cyclic life is, hurt repeating hurt.

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 a camera lens covered with Vaseline in the romantic scenes of old movies. You’ll picture how things were, back when you were in love. And it’ll surprise you, the memories which stick. It won’t be your first kiss, or the first time they said ‘I love you’. 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. Moving 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 popping up, and another two going straight down. Butter slathered on, and 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, there’s just no desire to. You will have both loved too many of your favourite things, a lot of the meals will remind you of them. You’ll have to fight to enjoy cooking again, something you’d done together. Licking the spoon, their fingers. Blanking that out will take months.

​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 that they are 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; or (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.”
“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-alt music is for people who want to exacerbate the mood, and the word ‘jazz’ can 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. 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. 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 wonder 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 doesn’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, anyone, else.

Other things will become your favourite thing. The smell of a new book, 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 is 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.

somewhere in between and a little to the left.

Life is hard.
No one really warns you of that when you’re younger. I mean, it’s alluded to, but I just thought they meant paying rent or finding a comfy couch in your price range and discussing private health insurance.
But I guess that’s for the best. Because maybe if someone told me just how hard, I don’t know if I would’ve gone through with it.

There are times in our lives we think we won’t survive. Existing, in its simplest form, is heartbreaking. The idea of having to get up everyday, and be a human, and to go on doing that forever. (And I just want to say, it’s not suicidal. It’s just…not wanting to be living. There’s a big difference.)

You’ll feel less whole. Like you’re holding onto existence with only the briefest of fingertips. It turns out you can feel emptiness behind your eyes. Sadness is a physical feeling, below the ribs above the stomach, the black hole that defines you.

It seems insurmountable. Having to put ourselves back together. Picking up all the different parts strewn all over the floor, trying to assemble it all, what place fit where. Remaking the parts of ourselves we gave to other people.

But it can be done. It’ll take many cups of tea, and days spent just walking around the apartment, rearranging all the galaxies inside you. The neighbours will probably think you’re crazy. A pink sky will both make and break your heart. But the people who love you will tell what stars of yours they love, what to keep and what to remove. They’ll make your tea just the way you like it without having to ask, make you dinners and tell you that the sun will continue to rise everyday and it’s up to you to make peace with it.

But you’ll start sighing less and the notes you write yourself will get happier and happier. The people you love will become the centre of your universe and moments spent sitting around a table with make you feel the closest you’ve felt to whole in months. And one night you’ll be sitting at home having a cup of tea and you’ll realise that you feel at home in your skin again and it will make you feel something thats not happy and its not sad but somewhere in between and a little to the left. It’s nice.

a love letter to ABC Evenings.

This morning I am feeling nostalgic. I think it’s the winter air, being cold somehow always makes me look back. Or maybe it’s because we’ve gotten the space heater out, and every once in a while I get a whiff of the gas. The internet tells me that, “scents bypass the thalamus and go straight to the brain’s smell center, known as the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, which might explain why the smell of something can so immediately trigger a detailed memory or even intense emotion.”[1] The smell of the heater, paired with a cup of tea, perfectly blended to remind me of years ago when we’d heat our towel up on the space heater to warm us after a shower. Flannelette pyjamas and fluffy socks and crowding around the heater, rotating turns. This was before the days of air-conditioning, or when we could afford air-conditioning. The nights started earlier, the cold came quickly.
We didn’t have a TV growing up – religious reasons. We had homework and books to keep us company. And the radio. When we were younger it was the Christian radio station and ‘Adventures in Odyssey'[2], but I look back on that less. Once we were passed the age of receiving moral lessons with dinner, we switched to the mainstream. We eagerly awaited 7PM, for James O’Loghlin and ‘Norman the Quiz'[3]. I’ve been trying to find archived episodes, hunting for that theme song, or the way they said: ‘multiple, multiple, multiple choice. A, B, C, D.’ We tested our knowledge against it, “we would’ve won if we’d called up for this round.” Listening to people on a winning streak, only to get the final question wrong and someone swooping in to steal the win.
And then there was ‘PM with Mark Colvin'[4]. This morning I’ve had Wil Anderson’s Wilosophy episode with Mark Colvin on in the background. Colvin has one of my most iconic voices – iconic to me. A British journalist who moved to Australia and became arguably the most iconic radio journalist on our airwaves. He passed away in 2017, and can now only be listened to in past podcasts and interviews.
It is strange what we find comforting. What we put an onus on, what we ascribe meaning. ABC Radio has been thus chosen. It gives me the warm and fuzzies, it takes me out of a temporal present, negates ephemerality. I guess that’s the beautiful thing of memory, nostalgia, tea and space heaters. It’s almost … anachronistic. It’s outside of time, outside of the present. It’s nice.

[1] Hamer, Ashley. ‘Here’s Why Smell Triggers Such Vivid Memories’, Discovery.com, 01 August 2019, <https://www.discovery.com/science/Why-Smells-Trigger-Such-Vivid-Memories&gt;, (accessed 28 May 2020).
[2] 99.7 Rhema FM.
[3] 1233 ABC Newcastle (frequency changes depending on location).
[4] ibid.

i am easy to like but hard to love.

I like Dilmah. Extra strength. Teabag left in. I need to be there when the water boils, the click of the kettle when it’s done. Even if it means flicking on the kettle four times. The sound of boiling water being poured is one of my favourite things. For that reason, I never milk first.
I always use the same mug, ‘my’ mug. I used to be real specific when it came to milk amounts, embarrassingly so. Two milk-cap fulls. But I’ve eased up on that … partly as I don’t use milk bottles anymore. But also growth and acceptance. Anyways, it’s just a dash. Stop pouring almost as soon as you start. Then give the bag a couple of jiggles, get it nice and strong.
The first sip needs to be taken pretty much straight away, while it’s piping hot. Wait too long and miss that first sip and you have to make a whole new one. It’s not worth losing that first sip.

I like my tea in an (evidently) specific way. And everyone does. White with one. Black with three. Super-weak, using someone else’s teabag.
This is a long and boring metaphor all to say this: you are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

I end my showers on straight cold, and always scream because of it, even though I know it’s coming. I have to have my shoes of equal tightness, even if that means retying my laces 2 or 3 times. I am not fragile with my books, there’s tea stains and chocolate stains and I’m dog-earer. Words only make up about 50% of my communication, I am a huge utiliser of sounds and hand gestures. I have no inside voice and an inability to whisper. For a long time I prefered handshakes to hugs and the tide is only recently changing on that. I send 7 texts when one will do. I run perpetually late but only by a couple of minutes. I’m incredibly vain, and always need to look nice when leaving the house – I’ve faketanned once a week and we’re in isolation and I’m not seeing anyone. I am easy to like but hard to love. I don’t take anything seriously and don’t take criticism well. I am incredibly stubborn and struggle to concede being in the wrong. I would cut off my nose to spite my face, proud to an absolute fault.

I am a tumultous conglomeration of flaws and foibles, strengths and weaknesses. I am oddball, I know that. I was once out to dinner with a group of friends and just one person I’d never met before. He said to me at the end of the night, “you must be weird as you did a myriad of strange things tonight and nobody batted an eyelid.” I laugh with my entire body, head thrown back bending low to the ground. I have no control over my facial expressions, you can always tell what I’m thinking. I say the wrong thing all the time and constantly putting my foot in my very large mouth.

But I’d consider myself kind. Generous. Easygoing. Always good for a laugh – just watch me exist. I don’t embarrass easily. I try and remember people’s names. I’ll always be too friendly as opposed to not friendly enough. There is good with the not-so-good.

I am easy to like but hard to love. And that’s a hard thing to come to terms with: I may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I now know that. And I am not ashamed or scared of it.

living in isolation.

It’s a strange time we live in. Leaving the house only for essential services or exercise. And while we’ve never been here before, it has felt quite familiar.
I wouldn’t say I have depression. I’ve never been clinically diagnosed, nor do I know whether my periods of sadness warrant the name. But I do go into depressive states, instances of emptiness that I sometimes worry will swallow me whole. I’d spend hours just walking around my apartment, treating it like a therapist. Walking around its rooms, or quietly fidgeting on the lounge, voicing all of my thoughts and problems, my questioning of the universe and why it is the way it is. I’d laugh and I’d cry and I’d crack open my chest and lay everything out, spilling out every part of me saying, “here it all is”. But my voice would just echo back at me saying, “honey there’s no one here. we have to put this back together ourselves.”

2020 was already lost to me. Heartbreak – mine. An affair – not mine. Both connected and separate. Struggling with the realisation that life is fickle. That decisions made on a whim have still been made, you can’t reach out and put the words back in your mouth, swallowing them up again. I’d never really known the weight of it till now. But I had taken that pain, laid it all out, covering the table and dining chairs, the lounges, the coffee table. Stacking it up against the bookcase and covering the hanging artworks. It spilled out over the balcony. But I’d examined it all, one by one, piece by piece. Arranging it, placing complementary works side by side. And I named them all, after every storm that created it. Understanding the why and the how and the who.

But playing gallerist for weeks on end resulted almost in an epiphany, my chef d’oeuvre, magnum opus, piece de resistance. I had patched together all the different parts of me, intertwining it in all its complexities. Appreciating its intricacies, ready for the acclaim.

But then came the arrival of COVID-19. The weeks of tearing at my own skin and getting rid of the necessary parts, prying open my chest with a crowbar and removing those inside. It all felt for nothing. Curtailed, extinguished.

And I am still here. In this same apartment. Walking the same rooms, sitting on the same lounge. Sometimes I feel trapped. I broke down my own home to rebuild myself and now I feel forced to live in the wreckage. There is still comfort here, though. It has given me time to arrange all the leftover parts of me, to examine with neverending cups of tea. Because it is also the place of my greatest achievement, and with it the knowledge that it is I who made myself whole.

The world is no longer what it once was. I fear the change is irreversible, glimmering and unattainable in the past, forever beyond our reach.
And now we must adapt to this new normal. Time feels to move slower, or maybe it is I that is no longer moving through it, standing now at attention, glued to the spot. I feel like a visitor, like I’m not supposed to be here.
But there is still comfort.
The faces I have surrounded myself with bring me joy. I love the people in my life and the days we spend walking up and down the high street are highlighted by that golden haze of summer afternoons.
If two hearts break together will they heal as one bigger heart? And what of four hearts? Or ten?
The world is full of uncertainties but there is a consistency in us. In the ‘I love you’s’ and the ‘let me know if you need anything’ and the ‘I’m thinking of you’. In the mornings drinking tea and the evenings drinking wine. In the shared meals and common laughs.
The world is no longer what it was.
But we are the same.

It is the thread that should not be pulled, the box that cannot be opened.
It has collapsed in on itself, like the star burning in your favourite part of the night sky.
But it will be no supernova, the farewell will not consume other stars.
It’ll leave, small and dignified, excusing itself quietly and slipping out into the dark.

more things I have learnt.

for someone to see your ugliness and still love you will make you realise that the moon and stars aren’t the most wonderful thing in the universe. there is a beauty in those who walk towards the world with open arms

the greatest cruelty is the heart choosing someone who does not choose you back. continue to choose anyway

the people we love become a part of ourselves. my hands and nose and collarbones are no longer my own, I’ve taken them from someone else and they’ve taken mine in return

make friends so that it will take you twenty minutes to walk one block on smith street. your heart will love you forever

everyday the earth rotates one full circle. it always brings me back to you



Why must I fall in love with everyone who looks me in the eye and says my name slowly, letting it dance over their tongue first?
When they touch my waist and I can still feel the weight of their hand hours later.
They say the heart skips a beat but it’s more like you opened my chest and took it, saying “this is mine now.”