Monday, September 30, 2013

Real Talk

I can't write when I'm unhappy. Generally speaking my words are always twisted by my own hands into a shape I want the world to see. Rainbows and lollypops and grace dancing on a couch. I detest negativity and negative people. I abhor depression in all its forms, culminating in my dislike for winter.

So little accustomed to not soaring amongst the clouds of lala land, I don't know how to be when my wings are clipped a little, when gravity is hugging me a little too tight, when I am descending. I fight it, I hate it, I push against it. In short, I refuse to be unhappy.

This doesn't work out for me so well. I forget to recognise that anxiety and sadness and confusion have their uses too. I miss out on the meaning of these moods because all I want to feel is good. And blind to all things golden I don't realise that unhappiness is not A Bad Thing.

It's okay to wake up some days and not be bursting with smiles and good mornings. I'm allowed to be down, as obvious as that sounds. I have to remind myself of all of this. I shouldn't have to apologise for not burning up with my usual inferno of loud mouthed laughter. I don't need permission to be conflicted. It's okay to be a little sooky sometimes.

I have to write this down because otherwise I won't believe myself. Everybody has to give themselves permission to be wholly who they are, every shade and point on the spectrum. Even the tones they'd rather not be aired live. The not-for-sale face that is reserved for days you do not leave the house. The way you are when nobody else is around.

The truth is that sometimes I'm unhappy. Sometimes I am stalked by doubt and insecurity. Sometimes I can't get to bed for hours because there's an angry mob of unhappy thoughts that swarm my sleep. Sometimes I blindfold myself just so I won't have to see the natural dark around me. Sometimes I get a little crazy, a little sad, a little unhappy. And that's okay. It's fine. It's allowed. I'll allow it. 

Friday, September 27, 2013


You and I run in one season
songs sung in the same keys
out of tune and out of time
rock and roll was never you and me

we rock, we roll, we roll, we roll
kids spinning in cocoons down a hill
because the world would be too real
if we dare stand up, stand still

spring is our season
that of greedy youth
where everything must be
christmas time new
even though the tingles
and midnight wakes stopped
too many decembers ago

it is the time to bottle butterflies
and other uncatchable pretty things
putting your ceaseless want into a jar
and wondering what it means

winter autumn summer are nothing
but the sleepy dream of spring
where the days deal in do-overs
where the clock strikes lightning
where the night is held at arms-length
as if to say no, not yet
we're not ready for you

spring is the real purgatory
the invention and rebirth of us
you and I, into a million different wrongs
trial and error, try it and err or

maybe tomorrow
when we have grown into our resignation
maybe tomorrow
when we wake bleary eyed from the lethargy
of too many dreams

maybe then will come
the end of this eternal spring
when we will know what we want
when we will want what we know
when we will have what we want
or want what we have

maybe then our want will
blister first in the sun
and wither then in the cold
and perhaps at last, at last
we'll have got what we want
and have grown old

grown old of being young
and tired of forever spring
got over rolling down hills
without seeing anything

Sunday, September 15, 2013


"You are only free when you realise you belong no place - you belong every place - no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great."- Maya Angelou

What I would do to fly home for the weekend to see my friends and family. To talk loudly in restaurants and over each other, the stories tearing out of me and bouncing off the walls. What I would do to be able to sit at all our favourite haunts and be those people that are there long after the food is gone, the people who are nestled together in an impenetrable barrier of noise, the people who the waiters have to eyeball and give the check to so they know they'll have to move the conversation elsewhere. I want to be part of those people again. My kind of people.

And then I would fly back home, well, my other home - here. To settle back into my routine, to see all fifty or so of my kids again, to walk by my senora that sells juice, to chat to my milkshake lady, to open the gate to my house which is guarded by the dumbest (and I write that somewhat affectionately) german shepherd you will ever meet.

Or maybe I would go and visit all of my other people. The ones I met here and in Spain and travelling and back home. My people who are still a whole hand stretch away on the world map, who are equally as far in all directions away from where I am. Friends whom I haven't seen for years, the first flat mates I ever had in Spain who made me bloody marys and cracked open my mind, other students from France and Germany and Poland, we'd gather in a tiny tapas bar and converse in stilted, accented Spanish. Friends who I only met a few months, weeks ago and for whom the missing had already started before they'd really left, back to LA or Sydney or Philadelphia or New York. People who left me with the stiff resolution that, beg borrow or steal, I would get to see their faces again somehow. And other people who don't fit neatly into any box I draw, they're the overlapping shaded part of the venn diagram. All my kind of people from random encounters that couldn't have turned out better if they were planned.

I already know, without having to visit, that it would be like home. That they'd quickly show me where they live and what they're doing now and it'd be as if somehow time stopped and we were immediately back in that space, wherever it was, when we met and became friends.

Being home and away just means your chest has a steady, slow throb for everyplace and no place at all. For all the places your people are, all the places you met, all the places they are now and are going to go. Just like time, geography means my head and heart are often so divided - my skype dates and emails and facebook inboxes are exchanges between Europe, Australia, the States, Asia and those who are scattered amongst South America too.

Sometimes you have to carve out a home for yourself, whittle away at the unfamiliar until you have something you made yourself. Other times home forms itself around you, sticking to your clothes like the smell of a bonfire after a night of making smores. Mostly it's to do with people, your kind of people in your kind of place that nod their heads at you affirmatively in a way that says 'you belong here'. As long as you've got your people you'll always belong somewhere, even if that is everywhere and no one place forever.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

It seemed like yesterday my cousin was leaving to live in Barcelona, my best friend was graduating with me in Sydney, my friends and I were reminiscing about that time we lived in Spain. Today my cousin is back home after over a year away, my best friend is living indefinitely in Shanghai and my friends are in between coming and leaving Sydney for Thailand and New Zealand and Spain once again.

And me? I'm here in Cocha, really being here in Cocha, not on buses every weekend or plans on plans to go somewhere where I am not. Occasionally though I find myself slipping between the portals of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I think about the past because it was and is so golden. I get to scrap book images in my mind, culling the tiresome moments and framing all the too good to be true times. The what happened then sucks you in because it is a sure thing, you make it a solid wall to lean against when the confusion of the future or the frustation of the now has you wavering and unbalanced. The past won't let you down. You reconstruct it with all the nostalgia you can muster, the magic photo-shop brush of your imagination and the conjuring of all the places and people that are no longer. The past is all the nights you stayed out dancing until your eyeliner ran and the sun rose, the conversations and connections with strangers and friends whose words stay with you and echo in your mind and all the travels that made dots on a map come to fleshy, breathing life. Yesterday never looked so good.

Then there's tomorrow, the promise, the great perhaps of calendar days soaring past. I fall a little in love with the future too, mostly because I imagine it bigger and grander than the past. While yesterday is comforting glory, the future is pure adrenaline, thrilling and limitless possibility. In the future I can speak to my parents in their native tongue, I speak spanish still and maybe Portugese or Arabic too, I talk about my job with eyes lit up and work like there's a fire lit under my ass, I've lived in the Philippines and all over Australia and perhaps again in Latin America, I have fabulous dinner parties in a small but awesome apartment that is decorated with souvenirs I've bought from India and Bolivia and Mongolia. I can afford expensive imported Chilean wine and treat myself to fancy eco-hotels when I travel, I have a garden where things don't die, I know how to cook in the way that means you don't follow a recipe and I have a room with wall-to-wall shelves full of books that make me feel smarter than I am. It's all my ambition and dreams melting together. The future couldn't get any better.

Though as good as being a tourist in Yesterday and Tomorrow is I've made peace with where and when I am, today. Here, now, today in Cochabamba where I divide my time between children who teach me more than I teach them, where I roll balls of bread while I listen to music in the bakery, where it is almost watermelon season and the end of papaya season, where I am trying to make time to finish my online course in Community Development and where there is always a shared dinner, a new volunteer, an old one leaving and my heart that is constantly being tested and told to open up, again. Today where I am in Yesterday's Tomorrow and Tomorrow's Yesterday. Today where I am as equally far away from where I used to be and where I want to be. Today where I am exactly where I need to be. There's nothing more real than now. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All of the Good Byes

When you live in a place where people come to volunteer or travel or visit sometimes it feels like all you ever do is say good bye. Every good bye turns into a 'see you later', a softer parting full of hope that wipes away the cynical thought that maybe you'll never see each other again. Though the possibility is still there, maybe you'll never see each other again. Even the dim wish of a few years time can feel like never. So you just give thanks because that's all you can do. That's all you should do, and remember that despite the odds it's never 'adios', always 'hasta luego'.

Part of me thinks that I should
freeze the way you make me feel
and store it up for when it's no longer in season
When I can't find it in the produce section
in the supermarket and
when I'm choking on the foreign
air of a distant city

Part of me thinks that I should
freeze the way you make me feel but
will I be preserving anything more
than the taste of a ticking clock?

I want you
and your impossible, rare flavour
I have made a lover of planning
I resent the word 'time'
(Now that it is preceded by: we just
met at the wrong)

Don't you
You and your impossible, rare flavour
find it interesting that,
after a lifetime of timing
your hand found my waist
and my watch stopped?

from here