27 Today

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Dear Chloe,
Hey you, what’s going on? You’re not meant to be ageing still. Time is only a mortal thing. I guess that’s alright for you but for me, it’s just weird. Because if you’re left to remain twenty-five years, seven months and seven days old forever, well that’d mean one day, that I’ll be older than you. That’s not right, no. Why?! I’ll give you why: because you’re my big sister and I’m your Little Babe and it doesn’t work the other way around, you duffer.
Well, I suppose it could be that you’re not any age at all anymore. I’d feel better with that. Because if you’re ageless, then we won’t have a problem once I’m twenty-five years, seven months and eight days old, will we? No, because that’ll just mean I will have lived longer than you… but that’s still sad… I don’t know how to make it not sad, it just is.
But I don’t cry so much anymore. I can think of you and be happy, nice memories and such. But there are still days where I sit, staring at the woodgrain of the floorboards letting the concept that we’ll never be physically together again baffle me. See, it’s just too beyond comprehension, this foreverness.
Well anyway, I bought you a cake. I remember that one time, six years ago to the night, when we were camping in Noosa and you, Mum and I all realised we should get a cake for your 21st, last minute. I believe it must’ve been in the back of my mind. I surely could never forget about timely dessert. But with those trusty supermarket mud cakes, you can never go wrong! Except, of course, when you don’t have any plates or cutlery about… but didn’t that make it so fucking funny? Man, I swear the fact that we were cacking ourselves over having to gouge handfuls out of this cake, sitting on a picnic blanket outside the tent in darkness, but for the salvation of a dim battery lantern, made it taste even sweeter. And then I think about how I don’t really remember a time in your adult life where you got much healthier than you were then and yet, you were still in pain. It also makes me think about how now, I’m that age, and yet you seemed so much older than I feel now, back when I was fifteen…
People think there’s a limit to grief. Like it’s on some timer and once it runs out, that’s it, it doesn’t affect you anymore. All the people who seem to think that have a different assumption of how long that timer’s set for too. Prime example on The Bachelorette the other night –it just came on, I swear, I’m not avidly watching it, okay?— well, they decided they’d add a bit in, to trivialise death because trivialising love isn’t enough already. So this guy was opening up about his mum dying and how it made him fear pursuing other relationships that could end, and stupid bogan mouth, Sophie Monk goes and says, “Why do ya think that is, d’ya think you still haven’t gotten over it?”
Ha! Safe to say I had a good hard scoff at her and changed the channel. Can you believe people would think you just build a bridge and then it’s all fine again? You would die if you heard— oh, well, turn in your grave— or tousle about in a frenzy of ash in the sea, if you heard the crap people come out with.
The grief of a death doesn’t just end. It just gets more manageable. And I wish I could tell more people stories about you and them not get uncomfortable over even the happiest memory, just because they know you’re dead now. I love you Chlo, and I wish I’d told you that more. No matter how much you age, or don’t age, or whatever, you’ll always be the older one. Though you left early, you got here before me. So happy birthday, you old fart and it’s okay; I can eat your share of cake too, so don’t worry.

Lots of love,
Kaela xx

Bay of Byron, Beckoning

Wrote this one last week while the weather was typically awful and I was feeling nostalgic. Then I did a drawing because pictures just make everything way better.21979429_1786273251401213_464085556_n Byron Lighthouse (2017) pencil, ink and acrylic on paper.

Five months of inclemency in this southern place
where choosing a hoodless overcoat is risky business.
A bold move, brave move. To think you can assume the weather.
Umbrellas with patterns, colours and trims. Charming accessories,
they are not. Burden under bigger burden.
Cumbersome, wet and space claiming instead.
Winter is dead but its spirit weighs heavily on Spring.

I love you, Melbourne, but your greyness clouds my heart too long.

Bring me back to my birth place:
Bohemian sun land at the far-most edge of East.
Air that asks for hearty breathing,
filling lungs, filling mind, fill whole body full of life.
And gold is how it feels; magic, star-born gold.
Waves swell. Heart swells.
Clarity in purest form, let me soak you in.

Where’d he go? To Wategos. To be with the bottle-nosed.
The lighthouse shows the sailors home until the sunrise greets it.
The rocks the seals claimed long ago, unbothered by the lashing sea.
Faraway icon of faraway world. Different realm. Unbiased peace.
I embrace all and it accepts me, lest inky-glopped jellies say differently.

Nearby Cabarita, may your sea cradle my sister.
Ash in rock pool, swept away.
In the water, twirl and sway, to the flow.
Here, found beauty in debris and
air gives balance to ocean and land.

The crab knows her path, only walks it differently so,
I’ll take my beginner steps, once more, at The Pass,
by the small lagoon shore, toes curled in sand, I stand, I say,
I am, for you are, Universe. Maker and upholder. Upholder of me.
We are each other’s. I am of you.  A force to counter gravity.

Oh, Byron, you’ve left your mark.

Mockingbird

Thanks to Jim Burton at Base 9 Tattoos, Moonee Ponds.

Tattooed on my skin for threatening its permanence would be to sin.

*****

I want to be the mockingbird and sing the melody. The music not to raise alarm, forever never meaning harm, the sweetest sounds in one.

She sung the song of sixty. Pray, I hope it fixed thee the same as I, at sixteen where empathy was taboo. Dear Boo, I understand you better. No one ever need be fettered for their peaceful, unique soul. I confess I chain myself at times for love that seems too whole.

But with love I won’t grow tight. Send my heart into flight. I want the mockingbird’s height, however small her body be. Be she free so humbly.

I will be the mockingbird of grace and good example. For hate’s the world’s worst fever and intolerance, too ample.

I want the will of Atticus; to see with Scout’s compassion;
to learn Jem’s gentle patience; feel with Dill’s whole heart for life.

Send your song out, little bird, so love like this may fill me. I never once fell for a story more. Fell for words with magic in them, wished to forge my passage with them. I too, could inspire.

So oh, dear mockingbird, give me power on the page. Let my sentences be sage and full of heart for that’s what made me start hoping that one day, possibly, I might write as strongly as Ms Lee.

For Trying

I wanted to upload a video but my plan doesn’t do videos and I don’t want to upgrade yet so I went and made a sneaky YouTube channel specifically for it, which I kind of didn’t want to do until I got better at music but there you go. Watch it here so my writing makes more sense.
TRIGGER WARNING: This post does briefly make broad and gentle mention to suicide, grief, and mental illness. But this is, believe it or not, a positive piece about growth, strength and the pursuit of happiness.

I can’t do all the fancy finger work like Dallas Green yet. I couldn’t work out the end so I just varied it slightly from the rest of the song. I don’t have the best singing voice and this is the only song I’ve managed to sing to while playing, without it being awful but it doesn’t matter. This isn’t really about my musicality. It’s about trying and being brave.

This guitar is, to me, the most stunning instrument there could ever be. It was one of Chloe’s – my late sister, who left us on her own terms. It seems odd to call her late for she was always at least 30 minutes early to everything. Death seems rather uncharacteristic of a person you once only ever knew to have a pulse though too, so I suppose she does a few things differently now.
She was the strongest person I knew but even the fiercest of us have limits; an end of a tether.
Since her death, I’ve struggled. Naturally. In trying to carry on, I watched my relationship of two years, eight months break down. I got caught in a brief but scarring psychologically and sexually abusive dating relationship. I gave too much of my heart to someone who decided too late that he couldn’t give me his. All the while, I grieved with an emptiness that was only temporarily filled by others. The truest fulfillment has come from making art and nurturing myself.
Mum thinks I have depression but I don’t. If I went to get a diagnosis, maybe they’d say I do but I believe doctors are too fast to make that call these days and people listen to doctors. If you say it enough, it also makes it easier to become it. Engrain it. Solidify the hurt. Make concrete of cement.
Personally, I don’t feel like giving pain a greater sense of glory or control with a heftier name is going to help me. This is no disease of the mind. I still think too optimistically for that. I have felt depressed. Little has seemed easy for a long time but depression is not a possession of mine.
I will confess instead, that I’ve been dealing with a lot of unresolved pain and lately, I’ve felt particularly awful. It’s been as if I built a dam of sticks and mud and resilience and someone came along with a hatchet and ripped holes in it. It’s caused all I’ve withheld over the last fifteen months to flood out, all for me to deal with at once. I haven’t known what to trust. I’d just started feeling good, at least despite exterior situations. I hadn’t felt more securely aware of myself since a brief while when I was seventeen. My self-care was paying off. But while you can control what you do for yourself, you can’t always control what happens around you or the effect it has.
I sing this song to no one but myself. Because though I’ve been trying hard to stay focused, there are always other things that are going to get in the way, get me down, make me crash. I’m sorry for every time I neglect myself. I’m sorry I did it for so long.

Upon my most recent resignation to defeat, I started to feel almost hopeless –almost because I’m unsure I could ever be totally bereft of hope. Life of late seemed largely full of disappointments. I’ve cried a lot. I figured I should stop expecting any good thing to remain good. That I shouldn’t get so excited about anything and then I won’t be so let down. That I shouldn’t invest so much in anyone because it hurts too much when one after the other, they leave or inspire such unhappiness that I leave. It seems that apathy can be contagious. If I’d let that rule me for longer, I could see that being depression.
But that’s just not me.
On Thursday, a bunch of guys at uni I’ve been wanting to befriend all year showed me a kindness in asking me to join them after class. It brightened my whole outlook. A tram assistance officer made friendly conversation with me on the way home just to reinforce that even strangers can care. On Friday, two people made effort to get to know me. One of them even introduced me as a friend when encountering others he knew.
It’s not in my nature to lack enthusiasm for life for very long, nor is it to miss the good to be valued in others. There is beauty to be found, right down to the way a person speaks. Just talking to someone, even briefly, can have such an effect. Kindness breeds joy. It certainly did for me. So, I’m not going to give into loneliness and ill-faith. I have too much love to give for that.
Some people don’t deserve that love but it isn’t about them. It’s about finding the ones who do and I need to be one of those people for myself. Always. Because when it comes down to it, the most solid thing you can know in this world is yourself and we’ve all got to be our own strongest person.