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It's been a week.
My housemate's cat is missing and I don't know what I can do to help. There are posters up around the nearby streets; in pubs and on bus shelters. The council has been rung.
This morning my housemate cried. I made a cup of tea and hugged her. We joked that the cat had moved into the brothel around the corner, that he'd already started walking back to New Zealand.
Tonight I'll listen to the cat's name being called. Then the calling will stop and I'll listen to the cars keep driving along the main road.
I no longer want to waste time feeling guilty about unwashed dishes, unflossed teeth, untidy rooms, unstretched muscles and unused talents. My time should be spent doing rather than avoiding.
I realised that getting things done can be a release, not a restriction.
In the shower, common sense and wakefulness kicked in. Nothing, no-one apart from myself could make me do yoga.
It's taken over two months, but finally an effort, however cursory, has been made towards starting daily yoga practice again.
Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Lunge, Plank Chaturanga, Upward-Facing Dog, Downward-Facing Dog.
It felt good.
Finally the weather is getting warmer.
After lunch we sat outside the pub. Sunglasses were donned, outer layers of clothing removed, cameras wielded and beer, pink lemonade and Pimms consumed.
The weather's getting warmer. Icecream can be eaten with justification.
We walked across the road and purchased plastic cups of frozen, creamy deliciousness. On returning to the pub, the people who had stayed behind looked with desire at our gelati.
The weather's getting warmer. New clothes should be bought.
I walked up the street and spent money on the most lovely pair of green shoes. They match my jacket perfectly.
Sequences of notes interconnect, drop, weave and fight against each other. A special device, not yet invented, could track the way thoughts travel between the players. I know that without music their personalities sometimes clash, but when they play, they merge.
My body might move in time with the guitars and drums, but they are playing the piece of music, the collection of noises that stills me inside.
If the song wouldn't stop I am sure that I could achieve some kind of ecstasy, but four minutes later it is over and I have tears in my eyes.
In the morning we ate yum cha. I bravely ate a chicken's foot for the first and only time.
In the afternoon we met up again.
He told me that his father spoke about bicycles every time he told him he was gay. How he was going to add an image of a bike to the background of his graduation photo.
Later, over marzipan cake and cups of tea, his boyfriend showed me photos of a village he'd visited in Papua New Guinea.
Finally, he has a boyfriend. Someone who suits him.
I thought that he'd never looked as happy.
I wander about supermarkets. Lost for hours.
I go into a trance and get bemused by the choice, silently critique the purchases of the other customers and wonder about their lives.
The other day I stood entranced considering which rubber gloves would be best suited to my needs. I ended up buying a hot pink, strawberry scented pair which make me feel sick every time I wash the dishes.
Despite the sickly odour, I felt good when I did the washing up with them. After all, they are hot pink rubber gloves.
And, as I've realised, cleaning products are cool.
I craved broccoli pasta for dinner, so after work I detoured past the supermarket to buy the two main ingredients.
I walked home through the rain, thinking of my forthcoming meal.
While the pasta cooked I chopped the broccoli into small florets and sauteéd them in olive oil, butter, garlic and chilli. I added lemon juice, pepper and salt, and let the vegetables cook until they were slightly tender.
I mixed the cooked pasta and broccoli together and shaved parmesan over the top, and ate and was amazed at how the ingredients combined together and yet retained their distinct flavours.
Often, sleep is the only thing that stops the pain.
Nevertheless, I drank water, popped Advil and sipped tea, just in case the ache was from caffeine withdrawal. I walked in the sunshine and had lunch, stretched my neck and thought about getting a massage.
My concentration shot, I went home early and slept. Four hours later, I woke up, hair matted to one side, sky darkened, pain dulled, cat still sleeping at the foot of my bed.
The headache returned.
Sleep now, and tomorrow, pseudoephedrine. The pain in my head will relent, and I'll think that I can fly.
I drew pictures for colouring, read stories for imagining and sang songs to be danced to. I was shown everything in the house, and invited to play with every toy in every room.
I was woken up early and my reading was disturbed.
She reminded me that I don't want to have children just yet, at least, not a four and a half year old child. But, she reminded me that I'm good with kids, that I want to be a mother and that it's important to live with a child's enthusiasm.
Today she turned five. That's almost fully grown!
When I walk with my new earrings, the jangle is more jingly to one side and muffled to the other.
In noisy environments, I turn my left side towards people and say, "I can't hear very well using my right ear." They'll shout, and I like to think that they imagine an exciting reason for my partial hearing damage.
How about a science experiment gone horribly, explosively wrong? Or possibly a pistol shot past my head in a bank heist?
They'd never imagine a rock and roll, lovelorn reason.
A girl standing close to the speakers, watching the boy sing.
In the computer pools late at night, another girl answered her mobile.
"They've both collapsed? Or just one?"
I hate to admit it, but when she asked, "What has the president said?" I immediately thought she was talking about the Bush twins, that the big news of the evening was their descent into alcohol induced comas.
I checked websites, and eventually drove home past houses where people slept unaware, while in other houses, televisions flickered blue through the windows.
My housemates and I stayed up, talking, and then went to bed expecting war to break out by the next morning
And glances colliding, confirming a previous conversation. Recognition. And reconnaissance of the room. Casually. Eyes not meeting, but recording the flow of words and personalities that are intercepted.
Working the room before walking home, I am interrupted. Discussion.
And names are presented, country music and literature quickly dissected. Looking directly I am regarded in turn, eager to impress and hopeful, I yearn. But resign knowing that we are already defeated by the dismal odds of space and time.
Walking towards home, I consider my heart, and then confirm the effectiveness of talking about books, looks, and of glances colliding.
We sit on a bench in the park having lunch, and talk about boys and girls, handbags and motorcycle jackets.
I have a crush on your brother. Lately I've been forgetting to conceal my interest.
I eat my first ever pie floater. It's a fancy gourmet number: the pie has real steak in it, and instead of mushy peas, the soup is lentil and bacon. You're eating some pasta your girlfriend cooked for dinner the night before.
I try some and have a revelation: "Almonds? You can add almonds to pasta?"
Which proves that you learn a new thing everyday.
Politely, almost charmingly, yet in a way that prevents refusal, he comes up to you in the street and asks for a cigarette.
Don't give it to him. If he doesn't smoke, he won't die.
His pension disappears on skateboards and expensive clothes. When the money runs out, our parents have no choice but to subsidise his income. There'd be no peace otherwise.
He's been sick since high school.
Smoked too much dope, had visions, cut up his arms and slept all day.
Now he's making progress. He's studying again, wants to get an apprenticeship and dreams of a girlfriend.
You gave me the bonsai as a symbol of friendship, and now it's dead.
When you went away, my heart cracked and I cried. Granted, my grandmother had died that week, so many of the tears I shed were for her. But still, I cried and cried and thought of you.
Two years later I went away, and I asked you to look after the bonsai.
I picked it up today.
Unlike our friendship, I think that the bonsai is dead.
So I say this to you as a friend…
"You bastard! You broke my heart
killed my bonsai!"
I choose gnocchi, lettuce, juice, sweet-chilli sauce, paper-towels, low-lactose milk and yoghurt. I listen to the radio, and as the songs play I make up a storyline to match the soundtrack. Tellingly, all the movies are chick-flicks:
She's a young woman on the brink, her heart torn apart by an intense love affair. But one day, walking past the dairy cabinet in her local supermarket she discovers the man of her dreams considering the merits of organic and biodynamic milk. Immediately she realises the folly of her old love and rides away into the night on her new love's scooter.
I'm walking towards North Adelaide on the way to meet my father when Neil from work pedals over on his bicycle. We talk about my early departure, not because it's sunny it turns out, but because I need to go pick up some furniture. Still I'm glad that I get to walk in the light, because usually the sun is already hidden behind buildings when I leave the office.
Up ahead, opposite the cathedral, there are lights flashing and so many policemen…Interviewing, traffic directing and tarpaulin holding.
I know what that means and yet I still keep on looking back.
I'm not sure whether I'm feeling guilty or not. But I am tired and confused.
I think that maybe I'm looking for the wrong thing… And if I'm looking for the right thing, I'm pretty sure that I'm looking too hard.
So I buy myself flowers: poppies and alstromeria. I'll see the poppies first thing when I wake up tomorrow and light hits through the pink of the alstromeria like cathedral windows in the afternoon sun.
Olivious to the day passing, I fall back into sleep heavily and far too easily. I wake and realise that I have forgotten myself.
I'd forgotten that I wanted to sail the seven seas, to breathe salt air and endlessly rock from side to side. Then I saw images of snow-covered mountains against leaden sky, lamas spinning prayer wheels and fear inspiring cliff paths.
Suddenly I'm dreaming of boats taking me across the sea, imagining hidden treasures of travel and adventure. I'm arriving in a new place, smelling a city and shouldering my pack, sitting cramped on family filled buses and train travelling, moving further inland, away from the sea.
Upwards and towards ragged flags catching against the wind, the prayer horses always running.
Over winter stones become chill and in the few places where warmth radiates, the energy is soon negated, sucked into walls and ground.
But soon enough, the sun visits for longer and there is energy to spare. Flowers are pushed out of the earth to act as beacons for the sun. Sun soaked scent, attracting bees in turn attracting laughter.
Even when the sun falls behind the coast, heat rises up from the pavement below.
It's stupid, but I sometimes doubt whether spring will return. So when warm weather arrives, heralded by kookaburras and sneezes, I laugh, surprised and happy.
Because we knew that it wouldn't last, that true warm weather was still many days ahead, we packed up early and journeyed to the sea. The early departure meant that there was a certain obligation to make the pilgrimage together. We made up a strange company.
We made offerings to the sun: fruit and cream, beer and bread. The heat hit my shoulders, taking a sacrifice of skin.
Although the sun shone, the water would remain chill for months to come and it was too early to swim. So as I made my way home I looked to the future.
I try to concentrate at work, as we go about creating a virtual world and I consider how my efforts will help piece it together. But I'm anticipating then and when I walk lightly clothed through rain, as I share dinner and drink hot chocolate, I anticipate and desire reading books.
Lately the books have been filled with spirits, reminding me that the dead retain some kind of presence that is elemental and all around me and through me. I read, fall still and then lie in bed, aware of many layers of existence overlapping and twisting around each other.
I'm not used to driving anymore. Or passengers.
So when I pick my brother up I'm already tense. We have a trying relationship, but in transit we've always been particularly irritating to each other.
As a jealous three year old I bit each of his baby fingers, one by one, and later wondered if that was why he got sick.
When he was older he would make each family excursion traumatic. Take over the car, banish my mother to the back and keep the window down mid-winter.
So when I picked him up, I was anxious and snapped straight away.
We are notified by mobile phone messages and email. We are briefed to gather for ten minutes.
So we pick up our bags and walk or cycle to the rendezvous. We have no purpose but to use the time and space to make our own event. We look at a pattern picked out from a jumble of words. Hear a cello play. Pick out people we know and discuss our purpose, our days and our plans. Make a pattering of voices.
A firecracker goes off and we jump, unprepared.
Ten minutes are over and we return to our usual programs.
When you go to the market you should be prepared. And I intended to buy only olive oil, tuna, pasta, brown onions and a loaf of bread. I felt organised when I wrote down the list.
I started off strong and narrowly avoided purchasing blood oranges, flowers and cake, and bought the olive oil instead. Yet I surrendered myself to Chinese gooseberries, passionfruit, apples, asparagus, tomatoes, leeks, cantaloupe, celery, pumpkin and gnocchi, and stopped only when my bags were heavy.
Despite the extra purchases, as I walked home I felt like I'd achieved something. Even though I forgot the bread.
I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of managing my grandmother's garden. So I'd garden intermittently, dreamt of how the space could be used, and lay on the lawn instead.
In my new house I'm limited to pots and two tiny garden beds. There's no lawn for me to sunbake on, so instead I've weeded and sown rocket, lettuce, pea, pak-choi and silverbeet seeds. Over the last few days the first leaves have pushed their way to the surface.
Today I pulled away ivy and planted a rose. I'm renting, but hopefully I'll stay long enough to see the first blooms.
Television has been boring me. There are so many terrible shows, but I've also increasingly come to value my free time. After work I usually cook up some dinner and end up reading or writing after eating.
But slowly I'm getting captured by the glow of the box again. On Sunday, I'll catch a song or two from Australian Idol (just enough to keep me up to date), means that on Mondays I end up watching the eviction show. And remain sitting, apart from tea and toilet breaks, for another two hours of entertaining makeovers and Sex and the City.
I've been forgetting to take food to work, and every day I end up blowing money on rather ordinary sandwiches. So this morning I packed up some hummous, fetta and a salad of grated carrot, avocado, sprouts and lettuce to put in a roll. Co-workers commented on the beauty of the sandwich, and it tasted good too.
I know that I should do this every day, as well as yoga and trying to write three pages every morning, but somehow, one day of activity (whether it's lunch, yoga or writing) allows me to justify doing nothing for another fortnight.
After dinner at Mum's I started to do my washing. The second load wasn't finished when I left, but luckily Mum offered to dry it.
I don't yet own a washing machine, though I already know the model that I want to get, as I need a very small, front-loader to fit into the "laundry area" of our bathroom.
It's one of the more mature purchasing decisions I've had to make and because of that I don't want to actually buy the machine until I've turned 25. I'm putting off this year's tax return until after my birthday too.
Initially, I find it difficult to talk with her, so many of the common points of reference have faded. I haven't seen her for over six months, and before that it was over a year since we last caught up. And her face has changed, it's still young, but she there's a childlike aspect to it which which is now missing. That makes sense though, she's not a teenager anymore.
She complained about a friend who didn't catch up last time she visited Melbourne, and I thought, hang on, so often she's come back to town and never even called.
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