Im in the process of packing up to move house again. Given that this will be my fourth address in two years or my sixth in three, I'm a bit peeved by it all. I'm attempting to rationalize my belongings, to be ruthless in throwing things away. How successful I am depends on my mood and how much I look at things before I toss them. I was going through a box of things the other day and came across some of my old writings, things I did while I was still at school and for one reason or another was sentimental enough to keep. It was a mix of essays, stories, the occasional half hearted attempt at a novel, a diary and notes and letters to and from girl friends. It's funny, though, because although I recognize the handwriting - even though it has changed dramatically since then - I barely recognize the writer as me.
I do not know this person from fifteen, twenty years ago. The certainty in her fiction, and mad raging anger of her notes, the snide snarky - well no, that part I do recognize. I can't imagine being so passionately angry about something that I would need to not only capitalise it when I wrote it, but I would underline the words so hard and so many times I would go throug the page. I do not remember being like that.
I remember writing, constantly, always, with torch at night under the covers, in darkness when I had written so long that my batteries died. When I should have been doing homework. When I had finished an exam early but wasn't allowed to leave. I have vague recollects of writing myself out when I was feeling hard done by, but I can't imagine myself back to the person who could be so incandescent in her anger. These days I can muster a bit of a squiff, an occasional huff, perhaps a bit of a tantrum if you squat your eyes the wrong way. The only things that really get me up are my grandmother, work, and L. But the emotions I feel now don't generate nearly as much heat as that girl could. She fairly scorched the page.
What happened to her? Where did that passion go? Where is the flame burning to write, to create worlds, to express fiery emotions that will not find any other outlet? How did that get replaced by quietly mocking, by sarcasm and by quips? Somewhere within, that other girl must still be there. I wonder if I can ever find her again, or if it's just my mood, a combination of nostalgia and perhaps a mild depression, bringing me to this point. Traditionally tortured artists are the ones who create the best works. Perhaps I should make use of this. If only I could over throw my apathy, I might. That's what I've grown into, though. The would-have, the should-have. That girl way back then, she was all about the could. A couple of little consonants, they change the shape of the world entirely.
The person I've been closest to for the best part of my life happens to be my cousin. We've gone through varying degrees of closeness since we we up and right now we seem to be inching our way back towards something like it was when we were still at uni and in constant contact with each other. It's a funny relationship in many ways, though. The politics of the family mean that there are some things we just don't talk about. Largely our own fault, of course. The best way to deflect quests about your own life is to volunteer information about the life of someone else, and who else's life did we know so intimately growing up? The number of times the family grape vine worked against the pair of us and our tattling ways is beyond counting. The upshot is that while we are close and consider each other almost as sisters, there are enormous gaping holes in our knowledge of each other now.
I've been trying to bridge this lately, feeling the need of a confidant who knows the whole back story, who I can use short hand to fill in. Someone that I know will be a sympathetic ear for all that we are hugely different people. But I'm stuck with the knowledge that there's a good chance anything I tell her will go to her mother, our grandmother, and then my mother, by which stage it will have been garbled and blown out of all proportn. But I need to talk to someone, some girl friend, and right now L is caught up in her own world of longing so she's off the list, and I don't have that many others who can offer the same support. The penalty for letting go of all of my university friends almost as soon as I left uni, I guess, having already jettisoned all bar one of my school friends.
But I want to talk to someone about my life, and where it is headed. About hopes, dreams, longings, and unfulfilled planning. I want to vent the frustrations of being stubbornly single, to have a shoulder to lean on, someone who has seen me emotional, and someone who brings a different perspective to the table. As a married mother, Cuz certainly does that.
We are very different, the pair of us, but there is a strong bond there all the same. We seem to have switched roles over the years. Where once I was the loud, confident one, she now plays that part while I'm the quieter of the two. We can stil make each other cry with laughter, though, can raise a giggle with just a look, and have a long list of short hand jokes, triggered by anything from a nod, to a phrase, to a raised eyebrow. I admit I let the friendship drift when she got married and had a baby. I was insanely jealous of her for having the things that I always wanted, always felt entitled to. Ad I want to talk to her now at I'm starting to consider the idea that I might have neither in my future. It's a selfish need, I know, but I also know that she needs adult company, stuck at home all day with a baby not yet one and a husband who works all hours and comes home exhausted. Right now, we need each other as much as ever.
If only we knew that we could trust the silence of the other...
Somehow today I've come to be thinking about speeches at birthday parties and weddings. Perhaps because of the movie that was on when I got home from dinner out. At the end of The Wedding Date, Debra Messing gives a singularly uninspired speech. "There's nobody who knows how to love my baby sister like you do. Be good to each other." Or words to that effect, at any rate. It made me tank back to the last time there was any chance of someone making a speech about me. Someone who at least should have known me really well.
It was probably my 21st. There have been occasional speechifying moments since then, but nothing nearly as major. I avoided the massive party that usually goes with that birthday. I was the last of my friends to reach the milestone and the thought of combining hard drinking friends with my teetotal family was something I was not prepared to confront. But I was also concerned about the speeches. I was secretly glad that there weren't too many stories to be told about me that could in any way embarrass me. I loved the idea that my life was so private it was known to only me.
Of course, my ideas on this have changed now. I think of the lack of friends able to tell stories about me and wonder why I've spent a lifetime keeping people at bay, what I did with my friends that they would have no stories about me. One of my oldest friends was trying to come up with stories about me not that long ago, someone I've known for almost 20 years now, and she came up blank. Or she claimed to. And we've shared a lot in that time. I have countless stories about her. So is it that I haven't lived? That I've spent my entire life on the fringes? That I'm simply not memorable? To tell the truth, if any of these theories are true, I'm horrified. I know my life hasn't exactly been the stuff that dreams are made of. But I don't want it to be so unremarkable that even the people who have shared it with me don't remember my part in it.
There is another theory for why people don't tell stories about me, though. And I think I'm going to stick with this one. As CC Bloom tells Hilary in Beaches, "My memory is long, very long." I remember all of their stories, even the ones they would rather I didn't share. And I have a better capacity for alcohol than most of them, which only helps the memories. I still hold out hope that my memory bank of retaliatory ammunition is all that keeps the stories back, not that there are none to tell. Dear god, let that be the reason...
There are some mysteries in life that I will never understand. Why some women have perfect hair. Why Collingwood Football team is universally hated by all other clubs. Why exactly chocolate tastes so good - although that's one I'm happy to just accept at face value. My six months or so away from blogging has thrown up some of these questions, so I thought I'd explore them here as a way of getting back into the swing of things after so long away. So here it is. My top five things that I will never be able to adequately explain.
1. Why I attract fickle men. And then I don't.
Sounds straight forward, yes? I'm quite capable of getting the attention of a certain type of man, it seems. And then I lose it. Abruptly. For instance, I've been messaging a seemingly nice guy for most of this month. He's a teacher, seems to have his head screwed on the right way and gave all the indications of being almost uncomfortably keen, given that we have never been on a date. We had things all locked in for last Saturday. Friday morning, afternoon and evening texts were being exchanged. He'd caught a cold and wasn't sure he was going to be able to make it for Saturday but said he'd let me know. And he did, Cancelling our date with a very cutesy text. And he hasn't been heard from since. So either it's a terrible case of man flu that he's suffering with - not impossible, I guess - or something else is going on.
It's sounding eerily familiar. One of the first guys I dated, Army Boy, suggested that we organize a holiday, and hinted that he'd like it if I took the initiative a little more in our long distance relationship (we met in Melbourne when he was on leave, then he had to go back to Townesville) and call him myself more often. And then we never spoke again. In fact, even his mother and grand mother, who both knew my mother well, took a long time get back in touch. All ties severed, and I still have no idea why.
Then in London there was the talker. All systems go, him very keen, then he went out for work drinks on a Friday night. It wasn't quite as abrupt here, because we spent a very awkward Saturday together, mostly with him either lugging my stuff - I was moving house - or sleeping off his hang over. The first warning was that he no longer wanted to hold hands. Then he changed the planned Thursday night dinner to drinks and dumped me. I have ideas about what went wrong there, a certain colleague of his perhaps being involved, but no confirmation. And all the warning I had was a reluctance to hold hands.
What is about me that can inspire almost stalkerish attention one minute, then have men running away the next? Anyone with clues, please, feel free to enlighten me.
2. There is apparently something about writing a blog that is great for my mental health. I've noticed it myself, and there have been other comments from various people who don't know that I blog, that the past six months have seen a definite slide in my attitude to various things. I've noticed myself that my temper, always a doubtful property when I'm in the comfort of my own home, has been much more easily triggered. That's part of the motivation for getting back here. But it's a chicken or the egg scenario, as I'm not sure if the mood is caused by a lack of blogging, or if the lack of blogging causes the mood. I'm guessing this little experiment will test the theory. All I know for sure is that I've spent parts of the past six months in a fairly dark place. Here's hoping for a little more sunshine.
3. Why is the grass always greener? Of late I've been thinking back pretty fondly on my time in London. I know that the rose tinted glasses are firmly in place, but I'm missing mucky old England. Much the same way that I missed Oz when I was over in London. I seem to have created a conundrum for myself, where both are home, and at the same time neither one is. I don't think I could move away from my family again, but I miss the lifestyle over there. Even as I realize that it wouldn't be the same if I went back again. People have moved on, the mood has shifted, and things are not as they were. But then again, they're not ideal here either. And I can't work out if it's genuinely a yen for the Old Dart or if I'm just having an anywhere-but-here/now thing due to the dark place I mentioned in point 2.
And it's not just locatnal. Whatever work I'm doing, I wish I was doing something else, as well. Right now, I'm daydreaming about heading over to the UK to study. Nothing that could be generally useful in life, but rather something that I think would fascinate me, at least on some levels. Something that I may actually be passionate about (yes, that reared its ugly head again today, when I was told in my performance review at work that I was lacking passion. Instant flashback to uni tutor telling me he'd never seen anyone less passionate than me...) sure, the literary thing fired the mental synapses. I still love it, but can't see myself in a career. Can't see myself in this other career either. But I still find the idea fascinating. I want to study the history of clothing, and perhaps even tie it in with museum and curatorial studies. I'm realist enough to know its not going to happen, but it's the daydream of choice at the moment. When I'm not figuring out how on earth to get my fledging company a little higher off the ground.
4. Nope, that's it. Why is it that as soon as you say you're going to be using a particular number of things, you fall short of the stated figure? I could always go back and adjust the original number, of cours...but no. Much more fun tis way!
Who knew that it would come to this. Long held dreams of finding a creative outlet, whether through the medium of print (as long as I can remember I wanted to be an author), through buildings (why else spend years years attempting to become an architect) or some other fancy (yes, I once thought I had a hope as an artist, as a singer...I soon came to the realisation that I was sadly deluded). But here we stand, and it turns out that the thing that I may be passionate enough to actually follow through on, the area where doubtful, dowdy and occasionally even frumpy little old me may have a creative bone, is in fashion. Specifically, in vintage.
Yes, my obsessive buying of old patterns over the years may have a good outcome. The sewing skills carefully harnessed and nurtured over the years actually have a purpose. I may be a nerd, but with any luck, I will be one who can pay her rent, and do it in style. I may sit in trackies or leggings and simply awful shirts while I work on it, and I may lack the motivation, but I may also make money off it now. All thanks to a little website called Etsy.
Forgive the excitement. It's not the first time I've used sewing to make ends meet. I've done bits and pieces for friends before, but never in areas that have interested me - making curtains is not an exciting occupation for someone with a short attention span - or that I've been happy with the outcome (turns out I need a bit more practice before making pants for other people). And work - my regular, every day office work, that is - has reached a particularly low point. So low that I've followed through on the threat to start applying elsewhere. So I am ridiculously happy at the thought that I may have my own thing, if I can make it work.
At the moment, it's just working with vintage patterns, but I have expansion plans. And there's been enough interest in my initial efforts to make me think that there could be something there. Here's hoping, because I'm moments away from losing it completely with customers at work. Or with the small children playing with a repetitive noisy toy outside my room right now. Thank god for itunes and for sewing...It might just be enough to get me through, and it might save my sanity. Not to mention L's nephews...
There have been a few run-ins with men over the past few days. Perhaps I'd better run them in chronological order...
I was on my way to training on Thursday morning when the first one happened. I know. It's strange. Me, heading to training. Not only that, me being out of the house before 7:30 in order to exercise. But it's true. I've been going ever since the second major incident of the back, and so far it seems to be helping. Except when it's making it worse, but that's a whole other story.
I wandered past a couple of workmen by their truck on the way there. They were the forerunners of a whole crew of workmen who would spend at least 20 minutes trying to work out the logistics of closing off part of a street in a one-way system of roads, that included a train station car park with one entrance before the closure and one after. It was apparently baffling, and had them standing in the middle of the road and scratching their heads as cars were forced to reverse into driveways to get back on track. When the rubbish truck arrived to empty the bins of the houses along the street, things got more confusing still.
But the intelligence or otherwise of these, ahem, fine physical specimens is not why I'm mentioning them. No doubt there were road crews across the city who were facing similar mentally taxing challenges. No, I'm mentioning them because of what was happening as I was walking past the first two of them to arrive. The older of the two was wandering, looking a little aimless, and fishing through his pockets for a cigarette. So far, so normal. The younger, however, was standing close to the side of the truck with his head down. As I got closer, I realised. He wasn't just standing there. He was peeing. On the side of the road. On his work truck. At 7:30 on a Thursday, right next door to a busy suburban train station. He didn't even have the grace to look shamefaced as I walked by him, even though I was smirking fit to burst.
My other run-in happened on Saturday night. I got a last minute request to play wing-man for a friend who, after much backwards and forwards, had lined up an outing with a dating prospect. The catch was, he had been spending the day with a friend and would only go out if the friend could come along. So I would be there to distract the friend, keep him occupied and entertained. I never realised I could be such a good friend. If I'd known going in just how good a friend I was going to be by agreeing, I would have said no.
I should have known when the tag along friend was at the bar and the date described him as "just like Alan from The Hangover". I should have known again when he was being encouraged to trot out his knowledge of geography in a Rainman like display of regurgitated facts. Or perhaps when we were encouraged to subtly get him onto the subject of Spain, only to see his bored expression vanish and his head fly up, to hear him speaking random Spanish phrases to demonstrate his fluency. But I didn't know, and neither did the friend I was accompanying.
I really started to pick up on it at the second venue, when I was dragged up to dance. And I mean dragged. I finally agreed to go, because it would have seemed churlish not to, and it gave my friend some alone time with the date. His dance style could best be described as original; if I'd seen other people pulling his moves, I would have thought they were joking. He wasn't. When he pulled me in closer to dance, alarms started going off. They should have gone off earlier, when he'd had his leg brushing mine quite a bit, but I'd just put it down to him being drunk. But there was no escaping his meaning on the dance floor.
He should have known I wasn't interested. I pulled away at every possible opportunity after the dancing. In fact, not even after the dancing. During. I walked a fine line between good friend (keeping him occupied) and self-preservation (keeping him at a distance). It was a knife edge balancing act, and I must have toppled off the wrong side, because when we went back to the friend's place to escape the noise of the bar (ie, for friend and date to come up with excuses for alone time), he still hadn't realised that I wasn't interested.
The date engineered a flimsy excuse for me to show him something about the house - he was a tradie, and my friend had been talking about a maintenance issue, so even if everybody else in the room failed to spot it for what it was, I picked up on the hint and took him upstairs to show him the problem. I should have seen it coming. The part where he turned around and launched himself at me for a kiss. His mouth was half open, his bloodshot eyes half closed as he put his hands on my shoulders and tried to pull me in. I should have seen it coming, but really, I didn't. Or at least I did, but only in time to turn him aside and tell him, "Ah, no," rather than in time to stop his lunge and grab. It was the first hint of actual humanity in him all night, as he got all embarrassed and pretended he was just looking at my necklace.
It was an awkward hour or so that we were left with. The happy couple disappeared not long after we got back into the room and left us perched uncomfortably at opposite ends of the couch, too embarrassed to speak. Rainman disappeared to the loo and I texted my friend.
"You have no idea how much you owe me."
Her phone was still downstairs in her handbag.
He returned from the loo and I went. I didn't know it at the time, but he called the date's phone while I was out of the room.
After half an hour or so of increasingly stilted conversation, he called the date again.
"You about ready? Yeah, it's Awkwardsville down here."
There was some relief at hand, finally.
"He said four minutes. I'm timing him."
With the end in sight, I began packing up, content in the knowledge that my run-ins with men could only improve. At least, after public pee-ing and unwanted kiss attacks, I certainly hope so, or I may be at risk of losing my faith in men all together. Not that there was much to start with...
I've just done something. I'm hoping it was the right thing, but somehow doubting that anything will come of it.
For all my bitching and moaning a couple of months back, I have not left my job. I'm still there and I'm still miserable, most of the time. But tonight, in spite of the fact that I only got home at about 10, I have taken a step in what I hope is the direction of the door. I've actually gotten around to listing some vintage-related things for sale. And oh, god, I hope they sell. Because not only do I need the money, I need the out.
I've been clinging to a version of this particular dream for a little while now, and have taken a few steps along the path to realising it, without getting too bored. That's unusual for me, I have to be honest. For all the dreams I've had along the way, I've never really wanted to see any of them through. Not properly. It might be that my sister-in-law-of-sorts is also treading down a similar path with me this time that is driving it. Or maybe it's just that I'm finally finding something that I feel passionate enough about. Who can tell? And who on earth would have thought that it would have anything to do with clothing, if it is? That the sartorial failure would want to build a career around this?
But there again, it's not fashions for the now - it's fashion for way back then. So I guess it works for me, given that I'm something of a history nerd.
So here's crossing fingers, toes, eyes, ankles, knees, anything else I can manage to get across something else, that there are people out there who are interested in what I'm selling, and that they actually buy it. Because I want out.
I'm a wannabe writer trapped in an architect's job. Also trapped by my inability to finish anything, or to structure a sentence without typos, spelling mistakes, and proper punctuation. One day, I will even check my blog posts before hitting publish. Until then, have fun picking out all the mistakes. I know I do.