After a break up, it’s become a pattern of mine to think of their mums.
Someone else and now Hanna.
And weirder still, have to fight the urge to gift them fancy footwear post-break-up.
I failed my most recent break-up, and so my phone still beeps with a pair of fluffy brown Ugg-boots every few days. Like a random heart-beat every so often, to say he still thinks of me.
I usually text him one back, my uggs now speckled with blue fabric dye from my last assignment.
” Only one month old and they look the equivalent of 45 in Ugg boot years,” my dad says. “Good job.”
I reply with a look of intensity, “Simon. It was me or the boots. And my hands matched them for at least a week so it’s not like I got off scot-free. There was a price to be paid.”
” Tell that to my credit card,” I think I heard…
It’s almost like making sure they are comfy and warm when I won’t be there anyone, or maybe its because I feel guilty I dumped them….
Either way, today was rather a special day. It was the first day I finished all my assignments and I was free for the holidays.
For the past two months everyday was about finishing an assignment, making mental list after mental list, accounting for every hour, setting deadlines, box-tick box-tick box-tick. And none of it was the least bit satisfying as when you checked one thing off another would be next and then another.
However I did find that once I started the work and got into the swing of it, it became a habit. I didn’t have to give myself a pep talk or do anything nice in the mornings as an incentive. I just did it without thinking. However the nights became longer the more the working habit started to stick. And so 1am bedtime became 3am and one night even 6am.
This new night-time routine made it harder to get out of bed before 11, as my body just wouldn’t let me. I found all my free time or time spent at work would be stressing and making more lists of what to do when I wasn’t asleep or at work.
Sitting down 10 + hours a day sewing also made my body feel like it was no longer mine. Everyday it feels bloated and sluggish.
My healthy eating also went out the window as if you don’t snack on some sugar at 10/11pm you couldn’t fight the tiredness that comes.
So I woke up today and tried to rehabilitate myself back into myself, if that makes any sense. I noticed that having so much clean space in my head felt kind of abrupt and a little too quiet, but I knew this wasn’t forever and everyday I will feel a little bit better.
So, in the spirit of things, I decided to walk home from my uni. Something I loved to do when the mood would strike and time wasn’t a concern.
The tour of my shabby chic neighbourhood starting with the jewel shops. They reminded me of my mother and my brother, who still sleeps with some under his pillow at night.
I found stones carved into hearts and thought of my ex. We had only broken-up a month ago, mid-exams, so I guess it was now kind of hitting me, now that I had the space to think.
I stroked the heart-shaped stone’s soft edges and tried to find one that would resemble my own. A reminded of how mine didn’t behave how I hoped it would.
Looking at them more intensely this time, I also realised I didn’t know what colour or shape mine would be, if it was one of these hearts. After some more digging I carefully put them back.
Next I wondered through the new and old bookshops which sat side-by-side like sisters young and old.
The new one has the best cards and funky notebooks in the front whereas the old one has a cranky hippy sitting at the desk, who is willing to tackle any poor person who doesn’t feel inclined to douse themselves in hand-sanitiser.
The old one is special though as despite the book selection being kind of crap, it has a secret cafe out the back and wine bar, which only opens at the craziest times.
It’s all very atmospheric, mainly outdoors with fairy lights stuck in trees and the walls covered with blue spray graffiti. A fat cat that belongs to the bookshop strolls by and uses people’s feet as a lounges. Making it it’s mission to test each set for different levels of firmness and comfort.
I go to pull up a chair however my body tells me we aren’t dressed properly for the outdoor setting and to head home which is what I do.
On the walk, I pass a few dogs in cute jackets and the weather seems to get colder and colder.
I drop into a plant shop on the way with overpriced succulents which seem to be a Glebe staple. However with so much competition, especially at Glebe’s Saturday markets it’s easy to find great deals which make you forget about that cute $35 succulent in a $5 Kmart pot as another one identical sits and waits for you for only $15.
At home I have already made plans for tonight which means I have an hour before having to leave. It’s so cold and dreary I return to my bed, which now comes with a 2 dog mandatory.
Kevin is my new flatmate’s Groodle so he’s bigger than my Loui, but he looks almost identical. Same colouring and facade of a poodle. Kevin isn’t a typical dog personality. His is more patchy, like a cat x a human. He is friendly to people over dogs. He also makes aggressive sounds which almost sound like pig snorts when deciding to play with others.
And he also needs constant love and affection all the time. So he’ll come up to you and fall at your feet or on his back or nuzzle his way under your arms and position himself as close to your body as possible.
However with other dogs especially like Loui, he hates them and either gets upset or disappears.
In bed I decide to quit my job, as it just so happened to be the right time. I wanted to leave ages ago, I even got another job. However they didn’t give me enough hours so I stayed with this retail one instead.
Today my manager/friend Jess told me she has to give me a job performance review after I had a bad critique which lead to all my shifts I was promised, being cut. I didn’t know exactly what I did that was so wrong other than my break being accidentally 10 mins too long. I apologised for that and I tried a lot harder to sell and we ended on almost double the budget. However I guess that staff member only mentioned the bad part of my shift.
However thinking about it, I realised I was over it. Over the job reviews, over trying and yet if I fuck up a little the trying bit is rubbed out.
Off to the basketball and Bianca and I had a few cheeky wines on the way there. The game was pretty fun with more alcohol, a billion clapping hands ( as it was a state basketball game ) and some eye candy with a hilarious audio guy.
“Heeeeeedddelllooo scotttttttyyyy G- I see you,” the microphone yelled. Whenever the players shot/scored the guy would make it into a burger pun for Hungry Jacks, their sponsors – E.g. when one guy missed one out of two shots he would say, “ Not the patty, just the bun”.
It was weirdly wonderful. Then Bianca lost her phone for a while and this tall and kind of gorgeous blonde guy who sat in front of us came over and asked Bianca who she was going for.
My heart twisted a little.
Suddenly I felt all kinds of insecure, ugly, jealous. I wanted to be happy for her but I had been eyeing him off for a while. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to ruin the moment and besides, it was my issue to deal with.
On the way out Bianca found her phone and that boy found her, calling out with his friends “nice to meet you, see you again”.
I left the feeling behind as we got on a bus to meet a basketball friend.
After waiting an hour in line, we finally were let inside where I was met by a feeling of familiarity.
This was the club me and my old friend would frequent on a Friday night together and have legendary nights for about two years.
With just us, we would kiss almost every boy, have a few special scary jars that we would share, and dance forever. We would also make a tone of drunk gal friends in the bathrooms who we would never see or talk to again. But we got to stretch our extroverted wings so that was nice.
Being here 3 year later didn’t make much sense however it was a one-off and we wanted to dance.
Ironically the same Dj was there, playing the same stupid rock songs which I don’t think today’s generation of 18 yr olds appreciated, past something to kiss to.
He was also still seedy and kind of gross. Jasper, my friend who worked there came to dance with us, and introduced us to some of his friends who we ended up forming a group of 6 with.
His flatmate on the bar wasn’t as short as I expected, and was kind of attractive. When he worked, despite it being a party place he had a serious face. He didn’t flirt with the other staff or smile much. It was an interesting face to bring to a bar, and I wondered if when I went to his housewarming party next week if I should flirt with him or ask him if he needed more staff, or both…
The crowd was the same from what I remembered, just different people. The young fresh-faced 18 year olds were all dressed in similar attire. The guys were dressed in chinos and the girls wore white sneakers and small amounts of fabric here and there. They either exerted a kind of naive fearlessness about them or in contrast, they looked like scared little ducks.
The selection of hot boys in their early 20’s were also the same as I remembered.
There were the young ones who didn’t give off doushe-bag vibes, but were also not interested in girls as they still enjoyed thinking they were kids.
And then there were the clean cut, slightly older boys who looked like they had been dropped off from the closest ivy-league uni. After about an hour they looked defeated as even though they were tall and well dressed, the girls didn’t flock (something they were not use to). They also acted a little older too, like me and my group. Meaning, they looked lightly uncomfortable and not close to being as drunk as everyone else.
The formula for enjoying the club vibe was always be dressed in basically nothing, off your face drunk and dance like you’re on fire.
In saying this, I felt like I was too old before we even got out of the line as a group of 18 year olds told the security guards their whole relationship story out of nowhere, followed by said security guard proceeding to flirt with said 18 year old babies, which made jumping over the barricade for the line even more appetising.
“Leave the children alone!” I wanted to say, but didn’t.
As we were going inside, another security guard asked her where she lives and she told them, down to the number of her house.
But despite this we had a pretty sick time, dancing with some lapses of ‘wtf are we doing here!’
We left at 1:30am, overtired, and my mind was swirling with exhaustion, a light headache and the abyss of nothingness inside.
At home Kevin climbed into bed with me and reminded me that warmth does not have to come from romance or sex. Which my newly single self appreciated.
Bianca sent me a picture right before bed, saying she was trying to find the security guard’s name who she befriended and does her degree and instead found an old pic of me and my old friend.
My heart hurt a little bit, as I drifted into sleep.
It seemed like everything at that place was basically the same as we left it, except we had changed. Grown up.
And I know people change all the time, and it’s part of life. But when it actually happens the ground beneath you moves. Shakes. And when we you think of them it does again.
A kind of reminder that nothing is constant and you’re alone no matter who you meet.
You’re alone and there is nothing you can do about it.