Monday, December 31, 2012

Punctuation in a Lifetime: 2012

This time last year I was in Berlin, bewildered and bemused by the incessant fireworks lit in the streets, shooting into the side of buildings, falling and firing at pedestrians, people with handguns firing blank bullets at cars driving past. Although I've always travelled alone, at this point I was lonely, I was exhausted, and facing nothing but uncertainty in my future.

2012 played out as I knew it would, in that nothing turned out as I expected. I've lived in amazing places and shit places simultaneously. Ullapool is such a sanctuary and haven of beautiful wilderness, of birds and flowers and the Arctic wind, but the shared housing that came with the job was not...amazing. Glasgow has ridiculous amounts of cheek and character, but this flat in Calton is bloody horrid.

I've met extraordinary people who have surprised me in both their kindness and the fact that I genuinely desire their company. They're in distant places, in distant countries, and I miss them and prize their presence in my life, however fleeting.

I've worked a shit job - if you prize the use of your arms, don't be a cleaner. I've worked brilliant jobs - freelance editing is wonderful and ghastly, contracting for a publishing house is confidence boosting and I just love reading. I've worked no job at all - despite six years as a public servant in a secure environment no one wants to touch me, not even for filing. Sadly, this does not make my resumé any more impressive.

I've not seen nearly as much of Scotland as I would like. Failing to break into temp work means no travel, no weekend flights to Barcelona, no drives along the west coast. I have explored St Kilda, however, and sailed through the Hebrides on a beautiful tall ship. I have roamed the Faroe Islands, and returned to that most breath-taking country Iceland and enjoyed days and days of live music.

I started the 365 project, and have not taken a photo every day. I did not expect to, and am surprised at what I managed to produce. When this entry is finished I will walk into Glasgow with my camera, and the last photos of 2012 will be taken.

I started writing again. This is perhaps the only thing I wanted of this year.

It cannot be denied that the largest, the most meaningful and profound change to have occurred in my life in the past year has been the presence of J. Have I ever told you of my forecasting? When looking into the future, I have always pictured myself alone. Not sad or bitter, simply flying solo, as I have always done. When I was little and assumed that getting married and having children was inevitable, I would try to picture this future, and in all such imaginings the woman with the husband and children was not me (she was white and had a perm for starters). Even when I was engaged this vision did not change, which should have tipped me off sooner. I kidnapped J, and J kidnapped me, and suddenly we have become a two-headed monster. To find that when I look into the future I can see the two of us getting old and remaining young together is a shock, is still a shock, is something worth struggling and fighting to keep.

Right now, I'm full; of love, excitement and hope. The first quarter of 2013 will be full of adventures and explorations with my partner in crime in places neither of us have ever been before. Then we'll be home, and I know now that yes, Melbourne is my home, my family and friends are my home, gumtrees and magpies are my home. There are babies to meet, weddings to attend, people to hug, and oh yes, future travel plans to be made.

There is so much to look forward to, and there is so much to dance about right here and now.

The sun keeps rising, and I keep breathing, and these terrible, wonderful things drag us on.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Goodwill and Effulgence

I'm not quite in my right mind at the moment; a somewhat blinding headache and broken sleep. We're sitting in a cozy lounge room in Bristol. A rare morning of sunshine is making the mouth-breathing condensed on the window a lovely pattern of luminous elm forest, and gilding the Christmas tree (the Christmas tree!) with silver and faux-warmth. The shag carpet is attached to our socks. There was champagne and croissants, now there is tea and chocolate money. Of the rending of wrapping paper only a few festive scraps give evidence. In the oven a piece of pig is turning into something civilised and delicious.

This is the Post-Christian Melbourne Ex-pats' Christmas Thing. We're not religious, yet Christmas nevertheless has meaning for us. Our families are on the other side of the world and so we've come together and yes, it is Christmas here.

I'm feeling particularly full of love for all. Everyone. Everything! But especially the varied and fascinating people in my life. My skype sessions with my family leave me so happy that my tribe is who and what it is. There are email exchanges with friends back home, friends here in Scotland, friends everywhere! Twitter and FB conversations. Drinks in cities that neither of us live in or call home! Friends who have opened their homes to me across the hemispheres! The world at this moment seems to be full of people who are so much more than just people! I want to name you all, but I am always concerned that someone may not wish to be named on a public blog, but, if I've met you on my travels you are on this list, if I yell at you in my life you are on this list, if you've done me any kindness or laughter you are on this list.

As the SBS man says, "The world is an amazing place." You're a part of the world so you must be amazing too. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Sunday, December 02, 2012

I have not the vocabulary to talk about ice. 

Snow seems a gift. We seek a 'higher' power, we look up for hope, to the sky, the heavens, which hold that which gives us life, be it deity or the sun. That above gives snow as a gift. It comes quiet and soft, and for a little while brings with it the greater gift of newness. Of cleanliness. For a little while, all the traces of your passing are hidden. You can pretend that you, too, are fresh and original. For the soul that has not lived with snow, snow is the closest we will ever come to magic.

Ice is not magic. Ice is not kind. It hides nothing. The frost grows imperceptibly slow. You cannot watch it advance. Frost defines the liminal, highlighting the borders of all things and in doing so reminding you of the presence of the garbage littering the streets that you had long ago stopped seeing. Gum long bonded with the pavement is made a doily, the eternal pothole puddle a post-modern resin work examining the strata of urban filth. The streets themselves now capture and exhibit all evidence of your wake; the roads hold tyre marks, the footpaths keep your footprints. Still the air is full of water, and what you breathe is razors. All those puddles that never cleared congeal into sharp clots, then films and sheafs crystal papers. You step on each puddle cautiously. Most are solid now, and give you nothing, not even friction. Some yet remain with a belly of water, or air, and those you stomp on with glee. Something about that crackle and crunch of ice underfoot. Something so satisfying in that crisp sound, that crisp give. 

I cannot talk about ice. I cannot talk about myself.