Track marks

I love hearing the train thunder and roar along the tracks, its lonely horn tooting a sad little cry as it storms along the edge of town, briefly blocking the silhouettes of gum trees and powerlines, while sharp glints of moonlight glance off the top of carriages and tarp-covered freight cars.

I lay in the dark, my arms folded behind my head, eyes closed, ears open to the thunking rhythm and squealing energy. My heart races as the sound takes me back to late, dark nights in dank, drippy train stations across suburbs and cities and identities.

I like these country trains best. The silent fields, native animals and weary truck drivers the only witnesses to its journey,as the train thunders through towns and cities, villages and nowheres, mostly, around here, while the moon looks down upon it.

As I lay in the dark, I envy that train, getting to see the trees and the fields where the clouds part long enough to allow the moon to expose them.

If I wasn’t terrified of serial killers, I would get my licence just so I could go and hang out, alone, in the bush, staring at trees and bugs and dirt, and not having to explain myself to the people who want to know why?

There is no why. I just really like staring at shit.

Unfortunately, there’s that whole thing about me having the very worst sense of direction in the history of mankind, so going out in the bush, alone, is probably the very worst thing I could do, unless my goal was to: probably break my ankle and then get eaten alive by ants.

Which it is not.

Of course, I digress, and thus take you back to trains:

Toot toot, motherfuckers.

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Today is made up of unicorns galloping on rainbows.

Today is my RDO – my fortnightly paid day off, that I look forward to every single work day.

It’s that shining beacon of hope when my alarm goes off at 7am, that comforting hug when I’m shivering in our office, and that happy place I go to when I’m cursing the world for not allowing me to go to work in my pyjamas.

I don’t get dressed on my RDO until the very last possible minute.

I schedule my day around all the things I can get away with doing in my pyjamas. Sitting in front of the computer, trawling the internet ranks highest among those tasks and often leaves my To Do list roughly… ignored.

I am not quite sure what today will bring. It is only 8:45am, and I have until midday to have this morning’s dishes washed.

That leaves a significant amount of ps3 time before the shower calls my name with its wet, seductive whisper.

Time to go mage-burn the shit out of some Giant Spiders.

Homes and houses

Today is Saturday.

A planned No-Plans Day, where I intend to do as close to nothing as possible.

The ground is wet with morning dew and the air feels like snowman breath, but the places the light has touched are already drying, drips running down grass blades and being sucked into the earth.

It smells fresh, out there.

I still prefer it in here, in the spare room, with the heater humming beneath the desk, and the curtains closed. My little refuge at home.

As a child, I remember feeling anxious at my grandparents house, whenever someone would leave either of the doors open that led into the lounge room. I felt exposed by the open door, despite it only opening into the kitchen or the hallway.

Oddly enough, my own home was fully open-plan.

At the age of 10, with the birth of my brother, I moved into what was essentially the attic; a room within a room, it was a box suspended above the downstairs lounge room, and my bedroom balcony suspended over part of my sister’s bedroom.

My bedroom doesn’t have doors. It just has a steep staircase that leads up to the top of the house, where your head hits the roof – most of my friends have to hunch over to get into my room.

From there, you turn around and the roof slopes upwards as you approach the bedroom wall that faces the upstairs living room. That wall is only waist high. My bedroom being at the highest level of the house means that when you look into it from that upstairs living room, all you can see is a foot of the room – where the ceiling and back wall meet.

If, however, I go and stand against that wall that faces the upstairs living room, you can see everything from the waist up – which is why my bedroom has a balcony off it which overhangs part of my sister’s room, where I used to get dressed. That room also has a waist-high wall, and when my sister was being a jerk, I would occasionally throw deodorant cans at her while she was in bed.

Despite how open it was, I was never uncomfortable in that house.

Home really was my sanctuary, growing up. Very much the one place I felt safe enough to be myself, without fear of judgement or isolation. It was a warm place, filled with warm people.

… and when you leave it, as an intrepid, know-it-all 18 year old, you assume it is going to be your home, forever. That everywhere you live now that you’re on your own will always come second place to that house you grew up in, that house full of family.

And it does, while you’re away. While your voice is so far from theirs, coming through a telephone instead of being shouted from your balcony bedroom. Your new little apartment feels like the temporary place it is – you like it, but it’s just so.. foreign. You can’t wait to go home to visit.

It feels wonderful pulling back into that driveway, hearing the familiar creak of the doorknob as it turns, knowing which tile on which step is the one you need to avoid. Immediately, you are home.

But the next morning, you are helping your mother unpack the dishwasher, and each time you go to put a dish away, you discover something different in the cupboard.

“Oh, they’re kept over here now”, mum says.

Such a small, trivial, insignificant little thing; the place you put the saucepans.

And yet I remember the way that my world seemed to shake inside me, crumbling a little with the sudden and complete realisation that even this refuge changes, and nothing stays the same forever.

In that moment, home stopped being home, and instead became my family’s home. It is now collectively known as “mum and dad’s” because all three of us have flown the nest.

Now, when I visit, it feels like home again. Mum and Dad’s home. My old home. My anytime-I-need-them home.

Also, my place-where-I-will-always-find-food home.
Thanks for the leftover roast dinner I stole for lunch the other day, guys.

Self-medication of a very different kind

You know when you were a kid going on holidays, in the back seat of the car, your dad’s doing 120km down the highway, your brother and sister are fighting next to you, your mum’s about to cry from exasperation and you decide it would be awesome to wind the window down and stick your head right out into all that air that is rushing against the car?

You know how it gets all inside your mouth with such force that you can’t breathe?

And you know that moment where you miss a step, and your body jolts and your feet tingle and you feel that fear that starts in your bones and seeps out into all your skin and your heartmeat and your sweat?

That’s what today’s anxiety feels are made up of.

Missed steps and suffocation.

And how have we elected to medicate? By doing house work on my lunch break.

..  I’m sure this tactic isn’t going to work forever, but I’m taking advantage of it while it is!

WASH ALL THE DISHES! CLEAN ALL THE CLOTHES!

FORGET WHERE YOU PUT THE SPRAY N WIPE THE LAST TIME YOU USED IT!

Winter Warmers

Outside, the ground is slick with overflowing, wobbly puddles that are edging ever closer to the doorway with each drop of rain that falls.

It has been a steady curtain, falling, pattering, schirring against tin and glass and and concrete for most of the day. The pleasant soundtrack of that violent, splattering burst of water being torn to pieces as it overflows from the gutter and gets swept to the ground by the giant, battering force of gravity.

The rain brings with it a sweet kind of freshness, where everything goes that one shade darker than itself, until night swallows colour and light shines from the grass and anything deep enough to allow water to pool. 

It also brings electric blankets, cups of tea, books and bed.

Winter is here.