Breakfast with friends and then hundreds of things to do, but home in time for a nap and a few hours out the back finishing one book and starting the next. I went for a swim, about an hour in, since the heat was too much, even in the Hills, even in the shade.
An early night and the first couple of episodes of Russian Doll. Nadia, my god, I could not love this woman more. What a revelation - brassy and loud, intelligent and confident, flawed and loving and charismatic as hell. And don’t even start me on how good her hair is.
I’ve been thinking about hearts lately, specifically the parts of mine I seem to hold for men I used to love. I am slow with these things, slow and then slower still. Years later I can still feel the pull. I think I probably still love all the people I have ever loved. And really, I don’t even mind. It’s just the shift is hard for me, I can never quite wrap my head around how it goes from blind devotion to nothing, it seems impossible. Improper. It doesn’t do justice to what you had and yet, the living is in the loving - the change is necessary.
I’m wide open these days, no languid pain or fear or hurt, which is nice. The last man I loved is gone and I don’t mind it; he’s wonderful and still not for me. It’s easier being here, and it feels OK to think back to the pain, the moment, the release. And this Rilke.
I have felt what it is to part.
I know it still: a dark, invincible
cruel something, which reveals again
the depth of our bond, and tears it in two.
How unguarded I was as I faced it.
I felt you pulling me and letting me go,
while staying behind, merging with all women,
becoming nothing more than this:
a waving hand, no longer intended for me alone;
a waving that continues and grows indistinct.
Perhaps a blossoming plum tree
from which a bird has just taken flight.
Rainer Maria Rilke
I’ve been coming back to this concept of late (it’s a big one for me). Rattled back to it, really, as I have a habit of losing my footing when things get messy, when things get scary. I spoke with some friends about it at dinner last week, two wines deep, knowing that it’s all fine and well to be calm and happy when I’m eating pastries in Denmark, but what about when real-life comes crashing in. When I’m working two jobs, trying to wrap my head around a third and the pile of readings I have ahead for my PhD, the million creative projects I have my heart set on and still trying and manage a walk or some yoga a few times a week. When washing my hair feels like a chore there’s no way I have the emotional capacity to try for a date.
When things I am working towards get complicated, when I’ve spent three years saving and one year planning to buy a house and along comes a Royal Commission and things change. It gets harder. You can follow the rules, do everything right and still miss out, that shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve known this in relationships, with my work, and now trying to buy feels like it’s just out of reach. Once again, close but not enough.
And really, bigger than the exhaustion and overwhelm is the fact that all of these things are fine. When it comes down to it, life is wonderful and lovely and I am grateful always, just unsettled when it starts to unravel a bit. I know how good I have it, but sometimes it gets you down, and I think that’s probably fine. So EQUANIMITY, balance amongst it all is what I’m trying for. Not buying into the drama and the stress, not worrying too much about what I can’t do, just making the decisions in front of me and trusting that it’ll all come out in the wash.
One of those late-February Adelaide days. I had very dear friends visiting from Sydney, Katie and Dan, women I have at various times and in the same perfect terrace, lived with, happily. Something about friends like that makes it feel more like family, a certain ease and knowing. Their generosity and understanding, and especially all their laughs.
We’d been down to Port Willunga the day before, and wowed by the Fringe and too many wines the night before that. So Sunday was slow. Coffees and fruit up in Stirling, games and races in the pool with my nieces and lunch in the shade at the markets. In the afternoon we wandered around in the cool of the art gallery, slowly, like through honey, not talking much, just taking in the rosy southern cliffs by Horace Trenery, the tightly-bound red of the Shiota and the dappled Ian Fairweather, all texture and mess. We had an afternoon wine at Hellbound which seemed to lift us, because we all sang very loudly and passionately back in the car, Orange Crush and Nothing Compares, both near-perfect songs. Screaming as singing, lots of hand gestures and emotion.
It was golden hour by the time I dropped them at the airport, and met my family for dinner at Parwana. I walked in late to a table full of colourful plates of Afghani food for the nine of us, two half bottles of wine left, and Daisy, who sat on my lap so I could only eat with one hand and I didn’t mind it at all.
A Sunday in Preston at Victoria’s sweet home. Feeling pretty dusty after a big night at Monty’s the night before (good lord I love that bar / always get into trouble when I’m there), but we made it out for breakfast and lovely hangs with Madeleine and Tess, and then a fresh swim at Fitzroy pool. Victoria and I had already been to see The Clock the day before for a few hours, and had wine at Sun Moth which was all that was on my list for Melbourne, so we went home and had a nap and ate the Haighs freckles I’d bought. I read an old New Yorker while she finished some short stories and then we went for beers.
I saw Phoebe Bridgers late that night, at the Croxton. It was the original reason for my trip down and my god she was good. Hers is the album I’ve listened to most this past year, last Christmas especially - it was that and only that for weeks and weeks on end and the time hasn’t touched it. It’s still a dream, and her voice in that small room just soared. Perfect and intimate, not quiet so much as intentional, not a breath wasted. I cried a little, but in a nice, nearly-full-moon, just-emerged-from-an-awful-month but heartened-by-wonderful-friends kind of way. I had to get up at 4 AM on Monday for my flight back to Adelaide, but you know, it was all very much worth it.
The farmers’ markets for pastry and coffee with a new / old friend (by way of Iowa) and then back to bed to read. I just finished Margaret Drabble’s Jerusalem the Golden, on Sophie’s recommendation and it was 100% my bag. English, charming, layered and full of the kind of dialogue that makes my heart flutter. I told Jilly about it, and we got talking about all the old Virago books she used to go in for. Reading it felt like being back on the right path, felt like coming home to what I’ve always known and loved.
I of course had a nap, and found some time to make these, heavy on the nutmeg. Truth be told I got the butter conversion wrong, and they didn’t quite work, but I ate them anyway.
This one is a treasured favourite. Robert is an old friend, or is an old friend’s partner, who I have had the honour to meet a number of times, and have found to be completely wonderful. He is patient, thoughtful, kind and dedicated, a true gentleman. I have Afterimages, which is the collection this poem is in, and his memoir, The Land I Came Through Last.
Reading it makes me miss Sydney, those steamy hot days, tropical storms, the slow, sticky nights that hang - misting up windows and softening the sheets with humidity and sweat. He captures it all and so much more in this beautiful poem.
A still house smudged with lamps, outside there’s rain
Open windows, verandah, TV moon
next door, amongst the dark fronds, the typewriter
sounds of wetness, and bougainvillea,
that’s cruel as wires, trimmed away between
each carved post. Those petals make their clamour
silently, held by heat of the houselight
in high arc, above the steps. There hovers
a red surf, slung from darkness. In the night
the light-pole’s standing as though a fountain;
its cowl run soda-white, as rains thicken.
So indoors once more, my hand now wanders
on books, and I’ve come sidling through the quiet
into the richness, the rot of flowers.
I’d forgotten how long and slow these days feel, the way February can be too much in Adelaide. Always hot, always stuffy. I spent most of the day at the library and emerged for a very intense and sweaty yoga class in the afternoon. I managed to make it about half an hour early, before everyone else crammed in to the narrow space, giving myself lots of quiet time to rest in to poses and relax, to allow the week to catch up with me and sink in before I have to rise up to the one ahead.
After much thought, a few hints, a couple of direct suggestions and about ten minutes of admin, I now have a TINY LETTER.
I think we all saw this coming.
I’ve called it A Month of Sundays. I’ll continue my SUNDAY posts here, and send out a little ‘round up of all those thoughts and pictures by way of a tiny letter each month. A weekly version felt a bit too aggressive, and I like the throw-back to the old saying. And so it all just fell into place.
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