The One In Sydney

The night is rich and it is pleasant. Hugs me in a green glow only cameras know to catch. The day is a haze, stitched together with love – for food, for companionship, for something. My fingers curl and they extend; there is something I cannot grasp. There are young people out tonight. They are celebrating their youth. I avert my eyes because youth is foolish and grasping and lonely. It is understanding appetites that cannot be curtailed. Because they are young and they are only beginning to know how much they hunger.

Today, I tried to remember a book I did not understand when I was a teenager. It’s a terribly lonely book about terribly lonely people. It fills the air around me with a sort of dreadful melancholy. Yet I push past pages. I want to learn how to read again.

Some things haven’t changed. I still want to change the world. But it is recalcitrant because its inhabitants grow hungrier. Can one die for a thousand? Can the appetites of the rich be starved for the poor? Can we all starve for some force out there that flickers more dimly?

As ever, my feelings sit uneasily in my chest as a defiant hope pulls me into alignment.

And I kiss the cat who is not mine and curl on a sofa that is to live some imaginary life.

I

I cannot write anymore. When I do not grieve, I cannot write. Maybe I mean to say “when I do not feel” but that, too, feels like a half-truth.

I cannot read anymore, because the acquisition of stories feels less relevant to my being. I don’t feel the need to feel another’s pulse and breath. I don’t feel the need to see or hear.

Maybe the idea that I do not feel is accurate after all.

II

I am re-learning many things I thought I knew. I am pushing my circles into squares and the like. Because maybe I don’t understand authority after all. Maybe I don’t understand my race or my culture. Maybe I don’t understand what makes a life matter.

It is odd to me how I had begun my year – almost burning to feel. Yet, here I am, not daring to trust my feelings, because who knows if I can trust myself.

III

A snapshot. My fingers are cold. I sit cross-legged, staring at a screen that slowly fills with words. My nose twitches because there is cat fur floating in the air. I think of Covid-19 and how I am negative. I allow myself to sneeze.

I am very good at giving people up to themselves. They are their own and I am very doggedly in possession of myself. I think of this as I consider my conspicuous silence in some spaces. I have grown to value my voice less. I have grown to value myself less. Yet, here I am – happy, peaceful, and almost ignorant. (Because how can I be okay with what is happening out there?)

I am weary of my own feelings, because so often does my heart threaten to explode out of my chest that I think, “Surely, I would be more tempered by now?” But, here I am again, with that deep, sinking ache of loving. (Because, of course, to a person like me, love is a consuming weight, instead of a rising, jubilant breeze.)

And, as ever, my vignette closes with me returning to reality, where I have things to do and a person to be.

I awoke one morning – aware of what raged outside my walls – and found myself startlingly at peace.

I found myself smashing avocado (there is an odd abundance in my house) and sprinkling fancy sea salt atop toast. Found myself making a nice coffee with fancy beans. Caught myself thinking, “I am living my best life.”

No desire to live a better life. No desire to be anywhere else. Just…content to be.

There is no odder sensation for someone like me. I feel my fingertips press up from beneath my skin – as if I am meant to grow into something more – and wonder how I could be content.

But, there these feelings are – those that ultimately play part in my contentment. Joy and peace and love.

So, I shall be.

Voice

I

The year whispered in with tears.

I think a lot about voice now – digital, audible – and the weight of what is carried by voice.

(I am privileged enough that my fractures are only soul-deep. My skin is intact, my bruises mend. Soul-deep wounds only fester when I patch them poorly or when I think they’re okay and hide them away.)

But, here I am, defined by what has been spoken over me. Cruel, stupid child. Only beautiful when she smiles. Loud. And, as expected, words that have actually carried enough weight to break me.

I think of how, years ago, I longed to be sweet, because I thought it would save me.

And, realising from another voice: “sweet is the same as harmless.”

II

I am determined.

To wreak havoc, as I used to. To tear down and push back and just…break things.

III

And, now, I am tired. I am sick. Worse, I enjoy being sick. I enjoy being alone. I enjoy stewing.

All my thoughts have been spaghetti for the past year. What shall I do?

I have changed my mind

I. I thought loving people was enough. It didn’t matter if I would prefer to have no attachments – I thought the very act of loving that was important and the heart mattered less. I have changed my mind.

I will love in the face of being hurt. I will love in the face of scorn. I will love because it is the only way to be.

II. I’ve never had fully formed thoughts about marriage. I only knew that I wanted to be married and that I wanted to be loved. It goes without saying that I didn’t understand anything about relationships either.

But, for now, I have decided that I will be mindful. A relationship of a certain sort is meant for more than walking on clouds. It’s not empty promises, because your aim isn’t security or affection or gifts – your aim won’t be for anything you can get, it’s for what you can give.

This model works because a relationship should be built on shared vision. A couple is stronger together, but only if they’re going in the same direction.

I have changed my mind about relationships. Any relationship I enter, like any good contract, must not be unequal in its terms. If we do not walk for the same purpose, we do not walk together at all. And, following the principle of love I have just decided on, I will love as a choice and I will decide it daily.

III. I have changed my mind about destiny. I have changed my mind about purpose. It’s all still brewing and it doesn’t make as much sense as I would like it to. But it has changed how I walk.

And, as ever, my last month of the year will be spent in introspection. May I always, always, always change my mind.

Lessons

Is it premature to list the lessons I have learnt this year? (Probably.)

I. My brain frustrates me. Am I thinking too fast or am I thinking too slow? I have learnt to accept the intensity. I have learnt to bridle the intensity. Not everyone needs to know. Not everyone wants to care.

II. If love is the most powerful force on earth, it is not for the reasons you think. (I think this is a good and accurate guess.) There is a militant sort of love; the sort of love that is steadfast in the face of scorn. The sort of love that wages war on perception and on my pain (even as love is forged in pain).

Accidents, willful foolishness – they are all the same in the end. The only thing to do is return to the path of militant love.

III.¬†Capacity doesn’t actually matter. For a long time, I’ve thought of myself as a computer – being better meant expanding my CPU, my RAM, my processing speed.

Correction: It’s not that capacity doesn’t matter at all. The focus on building capacity is crippling. Sometimes I cannot do better. It does not mean I cannot be better. But I am looking for fruit under the wrong leaves, in the wrong season.

/

There is more to come, i.e., there’s more pain to come. We will see.

Three Dresses

I

Feeling unlike myself in full-face make-up, a pretty dress, and sandals my feet bemoan. But joy sparks as I run through a Sydney storm, knowing that the contradiction is me. I am laughing as I run, feet soaked and hair in disarray; what will the fancy French restaurant think when they see me?

I hope they see the mass of contradictions, even if they don’t derive nearly as much delight.

II

Plush cream carpet. Dresses more expensive than I feel I am worth. A window that overlooks the park.

And I almost step on the hem of a white dress because I’d rather stare out the window.

I wonder about the women that find themselves here. I wonder if the white dresses will bring more delight than consternation. I wonder if I’ll ever find myself in this place and be enthralled by what the dress would mean.

Or if I’d find myself by the window, muttering to a fiance about going to look at toys instead.

III

I smelled like sheep. More specifically, I smelled like a petting zoo lamb. And the dress was slightly stained because of the faecal pellets caught in its wool.

I wondered if I truly didn’t mind.

I truly didn’t.

The same night, I tucked myself into a corner of a darkened church hall, still smelling vaguely of a misplaced lamb and asked to be found anew.

Almost

I tell myself it is not 2019. It is only 2018. I tell myself that we will stay here awhile, that time will not pass.

I feel like a child crouched under sheets in make-believe.

My heart thrums in the morning, as if announcing to my dead ears that I am alive. It thrums in the night, making promises of diligence as I slip to sleep.

I stand on the precipice again. I fall.

Here’s to the new.

June

And almost July.

Time has swallowed me whole. I do not recognise it. It feels like I was in Malaysia yesterday. It feels like I’ll be back in years. Time squeezes and expands simultaneously. I have no idea where I am.

A collection of thoughts for my time capsule today. (As, apparently, I do not have time for even monthly maintenance of this blog.)

I

My love is easy. My love is cheap. I squander it on anything with a soul.

My love is frustrated. My love smashes up against rocks. I dig deep into empty pockets to give. I learn to become a miser.

And I think to myself: if these I love like children can break my heart, what more my own flesh and blood? How terrifying.

II

In dishonouring the simple, I honour knowledge above all else, thinking it crucial to the salvation of my soul. In dishonouring knowledge, I am ignorant, thinking I am enough for myself.

Tensions exist between points. The easy thing to say is: we need balance. The hard thing to say is: I am wrong; you are wrong.

We are wrong.

III

I sometimes wish I did not exist because existence is painful.

Yet, I am happy. Almost joyful.

And I remember I exist for more than myself.

Caught

I

Is it really June?

Is it really almost the end of June?

Is 2017 almost over?

II

I teeter on this fine line and peer over the edge.

Here I am and there I am going.

Here I am…and there I am going.

III

The hem of this jacket is trapped in the door. This shoe is caught under yours. I’m fumbling with zips that won’t budge. Feel my arms bound in cloth.

But it’s not me. I shed what cannot move and cannot change and I disappear.