October Diary

The time has come now when I have to write something new, not because I’ve been on some new adventure, but because the words are habit now and I’ve found them to outlive everything I’ve ever done in the flesh. When people compliment me on my blog these days, I am embarrassed. I don’t know when I am going to post next, because I don’t know when I’ll do something interesting enough to justify the process of sharing. There are no longer means, but the thirst still rages. It’s not hunger, though. Hunger is something you need, a signal your body puts out for sustenance, and I think that’s a good starting point for everyone here to agree on. But I’ve always thought of thirst as more of a wanting kind of deal. Although it has no scientific basis. Although I know that if tomorrow I were cast out into the desert without being able to drink, I’d die.

If thirst is wanting then words are water. And so, in my last month of 20, I start listening to The National. I mean, I’ve always listened to The National. But this is different. More obsessive. I pluck one song from a list of YouTube suggestions and listen to it on repeat for weeks, far beyond any natural rhythm of discovering a track then discarding it like a half eaten lollipop. Roughly one week after this happens, I have dinner with a friend and he mentions the same album by chance. Says it’s had him in a headlock recently. I’ve been sick, so sick that I drop everything in my life like it’s shatter-proof, and he’s been reading up on things I’ve written in the past like I’ve always hoped someone would. We drag our heels down Grenfell Street on the way to some underground bar, and it’s hot, and I’m trying not to drink as much these days, but I want to show him how the rooms are lined with mirrors and the entrance is disguised as a wall unless you know where to push. As we walk, I keep humming the one line that won’t go away, the line that’s been playing in a neat little loop since the moment I first heard it.

Am I the one you think about when you’re sitting in your fainting chair drinking Pink Rabbits?

I have to Google what Pink Rabbits are. This happens a few days earlier. It’s probably a weekday, and I’m probably meant to be at Uni, but probably, I’m not. Anyway, the internet says it’s a drink with milk, strawberry syrup and tequila. Something I could easily see myself sinking into liking when I’m a little older and can’t be bothered with gutsy drinks anymore. Soon after I read this, I realise that almost all songs are love songs. I mean, of course I’ve always known. Just like I’ve always listened to The National. But I didn’t know in the way I do now, almost twenty-something and, for what feels like the first time, in a completely neutral State of Heart. Not in love, unless you count that blinding love of everything and anything that taps me on the shoulder some days. Not heartbroken, unless you count the way I sometimes mourn past and future versions of myself for days on end. But mostly – and this is perhaps the most significant point – with no overwhelming desire to be either.

This means that when I listen to these songs now, they’re short stories instead of autobiographies. And I find them easier to sit with that way. When my birthday comes spring comes too, the combination of which leaves me running around the city all night again. G has a birthday the day before, so we spend what seems like three solid days together, mostly drinking, talking, dancing, stealing in pieces of sleep whenever we can. The people we love join us. Our names are written on a blackboard somewhere and I am pleasantly surprised. The constant stream of celebratory shots ruins me far too early. I suppose it feels similar to all the other birthdays, except this time when people ask me if I feel different, I tell them I do. And strangely enough, it’s the truth.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is that I still can’t hold my liquor. Much like some 16 year-old me, I stay up for the sunrise. The side alleys shrug themselves awake as I goodbye my friends into taxis when they pass, if they pass at this invisible hour at all. Some weeks I am more than I am others. But I still can’t do too much of it. The drinking, the dancing. The late late nights cracked open into early mornings into late mornings into I still haven’t slept yet and the day is ripe. During the holidays my only real achievement is to drink every day for two weeks, three weeks, even – and properly (red wine over books, pint after pint at someone’s else’s knock offs, dark ale in the sun). Fast forward a few weeks and I am 21 in the passenger seat of some car again. It’s the same friend, the same album. We listen to it three times before midnight. I’d sent him an ambiguous text and he didn’t even need to ask why, knew instinctively that the cure for everything isn’t always salt water and green smoothies and three sessions of Bikram fucking yoga a week. Sometimes it’s a half eaten box of popcorn. The way Adelaide sparkles below you in jewel tones from the hills, our little city, reminding you with pinprick lights that maybe you haven’t ended up in the worst corner of the world after all.     

If wanting is thirst then words are water. But you don’t need your passion to live, that kind of whimsy is bullshit. When artists give advice to aspiring souls in their craft they always say “only take photos if you need to, only sing songs if you need to, only write if you’d die were you told you couldn’t”. But the death they are talking about isn’t literal. It’s what makes some people seem radiant when you look them straight in the eyes, and others, glazed over. To follow either religion or philosophy, it would seem that there’s either one divine path your life could take, or an infinite number of equally feasible and meaningful options. This argument is old, and dazzling. I discovered Sartre late and so recently, in a wave of essays and half-finished books, I’ve aligned myself (perhaps to satisfy some wanky, puritanical world view) with the existentialist side of the chasm. Yet – in typical Libran polarity – I can never really make up my mind between the two.

You don’t need passion to live. But regardless, I put bookends on all my days and try to do right by that all-encompassing thing that lives beneath my pulse and wants, and wants, and wants so terribly. So long as I remind myself that it’s a choice. We are just as capable of blocking out everything good and frightening and important as we are of deciding, for whatever reason, to listen.

I need reminding more often than others. So to the world I would say, mould me into whatever you can salvage from these sandpaper bones. Save the best bits. Discard those that don’t serve me. Let all my disappointments come with disclaimers: let them cry out “I am a necessary occurrence so that you may come into yourself”. Make the typeface bold. I need small signs to wake up to. I need omens, so that I might thread my life around them the way stars sometimes lasso around the moon. Straighten my spine. If I can build my foundations in that, then other areas are allowed to be messy. Things you will forgive: my room, my lecture notes, my hair. They are unruly, and speak of something savage beneath all that pastel-coloured lacquer. The time has come to write something new, not because I’ve been on some new adventure. But when the day comes to call me again – not if, but when – this time I’m going to be ready.


  1. The concept of being sure is frightening to me, I don't want to know. Only then can life be truly exciting and I need that reason to go on living.