Moving On!

Well folks, it has been quite an amazing few years and have so much to be appreciative of and excited for!

This is a bit of an announcement, to advise that I have made the decision to finish the Till She Sings blog, this will be it’s final post.

I have felt for a while now a lot of my inspiration and creativeness has been a bit stifled within the walls of this blog … like when you were a kid and you outgrow your first bed and your feet dangle over the end…I just want to sprawl around in a new bigger grown ups bed!.. and so it is time to fold it all up and keep it somewhere safe, and move on.

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I feel that I have well and truly outgrown my initial mission/ concept (and cringe-worthy original posts way back when), and matured in my writing and where I want to go next.

The good news is, I have been flexing my web design muscles for a good while now and have created a new improved blog for us all to explore together!

You will still find the same Emma-ry posts, but with a more professional look and feel!

Having had my work published in some pretty exciting spaces recently, has pushed me to make the change and hit the refresh button completely.

I have decided to transfer many of my posts from Till She Sings, to the new blog where they are all will be archived, so you will see familiar posts when you explore the new space.

So, the new space!

Introducing….

The Emma Kate Collection

http://theemmakatecollection.com

Please click on the link when you can and subscribe to my new adventure.

I have loved and have been so thankful for all of your support, in reading my work and reaching out to me over the years and would very much be brokenhearted if we didn’t continue on together.

I hope to see you over at The Emma Kate Collection really soon!

All my love and thanks forever,

Em xoxo

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Hidden.

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Through the upstairs bathroom window, the late afternoon light streams.

The kind of light that catches all of the tiny particles in the air, as they gently float around.

Specks of dust drifting; eventually falling.

The room feels like a warm cocoon, despite the cold tiled floors and the flat slabs of Caesar stone, glass and porcelain. My naked skin, in a rare moment feels comfortable, at ease..in no rush to bundle itself up to chase warmth and hide again.

In front of me, rows of bottles and boxes of medication are lined up across the vanity. A collection, I had no say in acquiring. I have visitors coming so scooped into the top drawer they will all be pushed. Hidden.

Take two with meals, take one before eating, take one of a night, take one of a morning and two of a night. Take before bedtime; lay down for an hour after insertion. Side effects may include mood swings, hot flushes, vomiting and diarrhea; side effects may include migraines, cold sweats at night, heart palpitations and dizziness. Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not take on an empty stomach. Do not mix with alcohol. Do try to hold down a full time job and progress your career, run a house hold, keep a happy marriage, keep friendships in tact; socialise. Take care of family. Keep that smile always on your face. Keep standing up every time BAM! you get pushed over and left behind.

I can’t help but let out a sigh. So imprisoned and disappointed by this, my new normal. So disappointed by my answer now when asked how many medications I am on. It used to be zero, now it is about 7. So very disappointed with my own skin. The failure of everything inside of it. This lump of clay I have tried hard to mold and do the things I want, a lifetime of worry and doubt hidden under layers of clothes, and smiles and conversation.

I study myself closely. It is difficult, with hot breath fogging against the cool glass, like the hazy way that I have always tried to see myself really.

My face, my hair and every inch of my body under a critical microscope.

The bruises and the redness from hundreds of needles jabbing my soft middle. It used to be flat and strong, now pudgy and sad. My face full of lines and bumps and sun spots and beginnings of wrinkles. It used to be so dewy and youthful, pretty; stealing kisses, with crushes on warm summer nights. My legs used to be smooth, creamy, strong. Leaping and bounding and swinging and gripping on to life, all with a mischievous look in my eye, drunk on the prospects of ‘forever’. They are bumpy and lumpy now. They fail to move as fast as I want them to.

I used to be a fun, sunny girl. Why did she leave so casually, without even a goodbye?

So used to bundling it all up so quickly, with robotic consistency, that I have failed to ever let myself breath, let myself be open and free.

When I was a kid we would visit my Nan and Pop’s house every Sunday after church. In the romance of memory, I loved every minute of my time with them. Picking mandarins from their trees in winter time and strawberries from their patch in summer. Nan telling stories of when she was a little girl and pop making me giggle with delight with all his jokes and elaborate magic tricks. They were strict grandparents though and very much believed children should be seen and not heard; not that it was a rule to conform to, just one I was often reminded of, whenever I would gripe or annoy my mother in their presence. I didn’t really mind this though, it was possibly my earliest lesson in respecting others and biting my tongue, no matter how much I wanted to speak my hot tempered mind, when life wasn’t fair.

I guess they were my earliest teachers in a diplomacy of sorts, but unfortunately, also in becoming invisible, disappearing into myself, hiding my feelings deep down and smiling, always smiling.

IVF is hard and it is scary but it is even harder to talk about openly and share because of how closely it is all tied to failure, disappointment, not getting hopes up and pressure; immense pressure for your body to perform, to do its magic tricks and pull the rabbit out of the hat everyone around you is waiting for.

I just want to move past the shame of it all and the insecurity. I want to move past it all completely and live the life that everyone around me has.

To be a mum, something I have wanted to be since I was cradling my doll Lucy, I got for Christmas when I was around 7. She could talk and I would feed her and change her nappy and I was blissfully happy, even though in the months begging for her, (after watching an afternoon ad on TV) I had actually conjured up in my over-imaginative mind, a real baby showing up under the tree that day.

To say out loud that I want it, and I want it so desperately is scary. But I do.

I don’t know what life is without such a want. I don’t think I am ready to face the prospect. So, invisible I remain, hoping that works.

I start to get dressed as the nausea has returned, maybe from the tablets I have just taken, maybe from the reflection in the mirror.

The day of my Frozen Egg Transfer is the most incredible few hours of my life, picturing my little embryo nestling in, warm and cocooned, looking for somewhere to nuzzle and remain. How could this not work? By morning though, I have convinced myself I have failed again and how could this possibly ever happen?

Even worse, as I push the rest of the packets into the drawer, side effects of the drugs also cruelly mimic early signs of pregnancy, cramping, spotting, sore breasts.

I tell no one though, I keep all my fears and my doubts to myself. Hidden.

Feeling like one of the tiny particles of dust catching in the sunlight, as it spins and tumbles through the air trying to find somewhere soft to land.

Em xoxo

 

The Outsider.

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I have always been an outsider; a greaser, a Soda Pop.

A spectator. Never really fitting in, never really getting there.

A moth, butting its’ tiny head against a light bulbs hot glow, over and over again.

It has a lot to do with where I sat in the family unit, I suppose. The last one; the littlest, 6 years behind everyone else. Always trying to catch up, to join in, to feel included.

Making myself as invisible as I could, at the long Christmas table, before I was discovered and exiled to the kids card table in the corner, away from the murmuring, adult magic.

Completely cocooned by inclusion; What a moment that must be.

I want my voice heard, my personality accepted; my skin, my bones, in uniform with others around me.

At school I was sidelined a lot of the time. ON the edge of a giant stretch.  A bright, rolling green lawn, scattered with lunch tables and ball games. A petri dish to observe; girls under my microscope laughing together, bonding, adoring each other; from class room letters and invites to sleep overs. I never considered myself one of them.

Growing older it became parties. The first taste of drugs and alcohol and sex and breaking of curfews, we were all cementing friendships and bonds even further.  For some reason it felt like it was all without me. I was a bystander. I had no idea why and it hurt every spot in my body, my joints creaking like Tin Man with no oil, if I only had.. a place to fit.

What was so wrong with me? I didn’t lament this tragic state of woe in a pathetic way, more so it was a genuine question filled with curiosity….why?

Why could I not bask in the hot glow of light-bulbed connections.

Standing on the outside looking in, is how it always seems to go.  Gnawing at my brain matter.

How lucky to be part of such a close tribe, with inside jokes and team mate pokes.

I have had it fleetingly in my time here and there, flecks of gold amongst the rocky pools. I was sometimes able to turn my pink lady leather collar up, cigarette dangling.

I think it has been harder still with the type of work I have found myself doing. The life of a contractor. Flinging from one office to the other, like a pinball. Watching everyone else connect while I look on, studying them with my binoculars as if they were some rare bird.

Working hard at a job I loved, with people I adored; feeling like my gang, my team. Until I am suddenly tossed aside and not spoken to again, reminding me to sit in the stands where I belong and not join the pack on the field. Collecting bruises and feathers along the way.

On Christmas cards sent to our family of 6, I was always the very last name on the sentiment. It always bothered.

When picking sides for games, I was the last one usually selected. My skin would always turn a prickly, burning red.

I notice I am the last on an email list always, my ideas are always plan b or c, no one ever fights over who gets to sit next to me and no one has asked if we can take a photo together, wide smiles, arms around each other connected.

Boys pushing me away after the chase, I have no idea why. Why did they pick the next girl and not me?

People talk over me, around me, behind me and not often to me. It slaps and slaps gently, like the tide finally reaching the shore; tiny grains of sand;  underneath eroding.

It all sounds so sad doesn’t it, every inch of me has always felt this way. I don’t think it is anyone, though, intentionally causing this anymore. I think it is all me and how I see myself; judge myself.

When I forget this though I can be so mad at life, picking me last for all of the giant stuff too; travel, love, wedding bells and pregnant bellies.

Did I do something wrong? Am I somehow missing something that everyone else signed up for without me realising?

I remember once I was on a school excursion, the cool kids of course all wrapped up in each other excitedly as the bus roared down the Oxley Highway knocking us from left to right. I recall studying the kids at the front of the bus. I knew I didn’t belong with them and it made me angry that I had no control, no choice in it at all, that’s where I was dumped. It was the sparkling group at the back of the bus I wanted in on and I intently watched them; trying to join in as best as I could craning my neck to the truth or dare game being played. Patience paying off as I was finally invited to play before realising it was only because I had become the dare, a kiss on my lips a mortifying punishment to the boy with the green eyes and tanned skin. What hope did I have, as I trudged back to the front of the bus where I apparently belonged.

We all sit on our porches and view the same sunset at the end of the day, are we really so different.

I somehow find myself on the edge once again, at the front, looking towards the back where the cool kids have gathered. Although I am now bobbing up and down on a boat at high tide and not a bus side to side. A new job, with new team mates, at a new Christmas table. They are all sitting together and I have never felt more out of place, wishing I could jump overboard and swim back to shore where I now belong; to people that I have managed to collect along the way, eventually.  Who, actually think I am worth choosing first, who find me funny and lovely and a good friend with interesting stories.

Oh, to walk past the cool girls at the Christmas table, at the back of the boat, bobbing up and down as they giggle and dance and leave me out of it all so easily. To be able to finally shout at the top of my lungs that none of it actually bothers me at all anymore.

To whack a big smooch on one of their lips.

To stride past them all, as I take a flying leap off port side, grabbing the life ring as I go.

Yelling over my shoulder as I hit the water, ‘Stay Gold, Pony Boy, Stay Gold.’…more to myself than to anyone else.

Em xoxo

Tides.

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My father often looked at my mother, like no one else in the world existed.

Their eyes would connect and it was as if they were communicating so much, silently, beyond anything we kids could have understood.

So many times it must have gone over our heads.

Perhaps it was simply a difference in height. Perhaps we were all too preoccupied with moving and growing beneath them as they would lock eyes on each other.

Time stopping only for the two of them, so briefly.

On summer holidays especially, I would sometimes look up and notice this rare magic between them.

I guess because indelibly, everything somehow managed to slow down. The full stretch of the Aussie golden sun over us, as we migrated to the beach, had such a relaxing effect on us all, how could it not.

One beach adventure, in particular, I can think about now like it was yesterday.

I was 8.

Hot bitumen scorched our bare feet as we piled out of the old fiat; hopping from the melted tar onto the hot peppered sand; leaving mum and dad behind, arms loaded with striped beach umbrellas, towels, hats and sunscreen.

Racing ahead only to stop and turn back around whenever Dad would yell ‘slow down.’ I can still see them walking along the track behind us; Dad, kissing mum’s forehead and reaching for her hand. The look he gave her. I didn’t think too much of it then and would only view it as a chance to take off again.

It was never the nearest beach we ventured to either, it was always some out of the way unprotected spot Dad had heard about, usually when he went to get the morning paper at first light. It was predictably one that required a good half hour of trekking through a rainforest to get to, avoiding scrub turkeys and bashing sticks together to ward off brown snakes.

This adventure was no different.

We never swam between the flags as kids. The crowds and the flags were always tiny ants to us, behind a hazy wall of heat billowing off the sand, as we set ourselves up as far away as possible.

We much preferred being kings of our beach.

Lone wolves, with plenty of space to lay down lazily beside each other. We would build castles and forts while adults read books and tanned topless. Balls were kicked to squealing happy kids, fighting to be the one to kick it back.

In this faded memory one thing sticks out; Mum and Dad took the opportunity, with aunties and uncles to watch over us, to head off and walk hand in hand along the shore. Laughing, as they goaded each other; stepping into the frothy white bubbles, from bright green rolls of the saltwater waves.

I sat on my towel, waiting for the sun to dry up the hundreds of droplets on my wet skin. Watching them intently; muscles burning, from fighting against waves moments before, dumping me against sandbars. Muscles, now burning even more, as I sat there. Fighting the urge to jump up and join them.

This was such a unique creature to study. Mum and Dad gazing into each other’s eyes as they laced fingers and walked along the water’s edge. I was so used to them being our adults; our sometimes stressed and cranky adults. They were supposed to function for us and then find all their joy in us too.  It was strange watching them like this and almost made me feel uneasy, that they could be so happy without us.

I watched, until they were ants too. Willing them to hurry up, for their shapes to grow bigger and bigger as they finally returned to me.

I was thinking about that sun ray filled morning as I rested my head against the cool of the concrete wall of the hospital corridor.

The day I found out dad had cancer. I was 35.

I found out before mum did. We all had.

‘Don’t tell your mother, until you all get here,’ we had all been told over the phone.

‘I don’t want her to know until she has you all here to help her through it.’

That was the longest 5-hour drive of my life, one I also never wanted to get to the end of at the same time.

Dad had been in a hospital bed for 3 days. He had been admitted because he had a chronic pain in his side. We thought at worst, it was a gall bladder needing to come out.
But it wasn’t his gall.
It was all over his spine and the pain he felt on his side was from a tumour rubbing against a nerve that stretched from his spine to his stomach.
Suddenly somehow,  4 months have passed by since that day and here I sit, ready to say goodbye to my dad; forever.
Instead of holding hands while splashing and wading into barrels of aqua green; my parents are sitting quietly holding hands amongst the grey and the tubes. This strange creature has me feeling more than uneasy.

We have sat in cold, sterile corridors of 3 different hospitals in the 4 months since he was first admitted.
We continue to fail at really understanding any of it.
My mother especially.
I have noticed, as much as their fingers are often laced; entwined; welded tight around each others, over the past 4 months and my mother has completely fallen into the role of caring for my father; they fail to really look at each other.

To look into each other’s eyes like they had so magically before.

I know though, mum is too scared to. Keeping her head down, busily fussing over the sheets and the meals and the bruises on dad’s legs he can no longer feel. This keeps it all from being anywhere near truth and so this also keeps dad’s anxiety at bay too.

Even today. His final day, we still believed there was hope. He could improve; get better; come back to us. His shape would move closer and closer. We foolishly did not consider any other option, despite how close the tide lapped at our feet.
I was so angry with how fast it all happened. How unfair it was that no matter what piece of hope and positivity we landed on, we were cruelly robbed of it bit by bit.

Once cancer was diagnosed, we went to the place everyone does.

‘We will fight it, you will be fine Dad and you will be up and home in no time’.

Then it was his legs, the brutal cruelness of him being told he may never walk again.

‘We can work it out Dad, as long as we get through this. Who cares about a wheelchair, we just want you to survive.’

Then, when it had reached his lungs within months and life support became another wave that dumped upon me in the story. We begged for him to make it through the night, to just get through one night. ‘Fine’ we said to whoever was listening, ‘we will take 5 more years, even 3…just please let him wake up.’

When he did wake up, we were told he was too weak and there was nothing more they could do unless he got stronger and fought and improved some.

‘OK’, we said indignantly, ‘can we move him to palliative care, so he is comfortable’.

“It is too late for that,” they quietly replied a few days later, no eye contact, heads down.

We settled on the only thing we could do for my dad, with the tiny piece of hope left; as tiny as a sea shell. We would buy him a quilt to brighten his room and make what was happening as cosy as possible, for us more than him, I now see.

So while I hurled myself down the aisle of the bedding shop so sure if I just picked the right quilt everything was going to be OK, my phone rang.

I was told to come back to the hospital, the time had come.

The universe took the last trace of hope and there was nothing left but to face what was happening. It stole it all from us and dumped us with it over and over again as we thrashed around in the nightmare that was this undertow, turning us upside down as we tried so hard to swim to the top and gasp for air.

I sit while we wait.

He now has no machines to assist him and we have to watch him like a wounded bird with rattling breath as he slowly fades before us. Cheeks no longer rosy pink.

He has been given morphine to make it as peaceful and painless as possible, but even this seems to have been robbed from us, as he struggles and fights more than he should be right now. I worry they have not given the correct dose. I worry nothing will ever be right again.

It is the hardest thing my eyes have ever had to see.  What concurrently is happening in this room, in this surreal space, is also the most beautiful.

Because once again my parents are looking at each other as if they were the only 2 people to ever exist. For the hours that drifted that day away from us, dad had his eyes locked only on my mother.

As she moved around his hospital room, his gaze did not waiver.

My Dad slowly left us, in that room, that day. Before he did though, their eyes connected, their fingers of each hand welded tight, a whisper from each other’s faces. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Not only our whole lives and memories filling my head, but my parents and their definition here before me of true, complete love.

Eyes locked, mum was there with him as much as she could be; her gaze slowly softening the fear in his desperate eyes until they finally were no longer.

I like to think in that moment, they were both on that sparkling warm beach again.

Dad taking mums hand and kissing her on her forehead.

Waves, gently kissing their feet.

Their children’s giggles echoing behind them.

Eyes only for each other, always.

Em xx

Them and Me.

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What they all must have been thinking, as that tiny single engined plane hit the dusty runway on the outskirts of our small country town?

It was a sunny September day; a slight chill in the air. Winter still lingering.

Dad along with our grandparents, my brother David, 12, my eldest sister Lisa 11 and the youngest of the group, Trish who was 6.

They were all huddled together waiting to catch a glimpse of my mum, who they hadn’t seen for over a week. While my older siblings had enjoyed the fish and chips with Dad for dinner and later than normal bedtimes…everyone silently agreed it was time for mum to come home.

I often wonder, how they must have felt when I came home from the hospital that day.

I had entered their world with some complications so was quickly whizzed off in a plane to soar above the bright city lights of ’78, without getting to meet any of them. Despite all of this and my grand arrival via sky, into their tight-knit family unit, I was immediately one of the tribe and I took my position no questions asked; the baby of the family.

SO being the baby, I actually ended up with 3 mothers.

Well sort of.

I had my mum of course; the one who birthed me (and thank goodness that happened), raised, nurtured and loved me. But, she also recruited 2 offsiders, 2 cadets, 2 right hand men.

My sisters.

Those 2 had a lot of input in my upbringing; shaping my sense of identity, where I fit in the world, my sense of humour and any lingering neurosis. They also taught me all about go fish, elastics, roller-skates, slip and slide detergent ratios and what was going on with Boy George. They taught me how much better a trampoline could be with a sprinkler underneath it, how you could even make it more interesting by putting it up on its side and running and jumping on to the mat swinging it down with a thud. They were the main cause of laughter when we were kids, and a main source of tears.

I was forever trying to be one of them, to catch up to them, and they were always up to something, some adventure or bright idea. I followed them gleefully everywhere, wanting to be part of it all, willing my bones to grow so I was not left behind.

It was so hard when I was 4, watching helplessly as they would all march off to school together excited for their day ahead. I would stand at the gate and cry and then head back there at the end of the day, by the old galvanized fence covered in jasmine until they finally returned, dumping their school bags at the door along with my loneliness.

I got my first pair of roller-skates when I was 5 and I attached each one to my feet in seconds. Realising this meant I could now join their pack with the other neighbourhood kids as they skated down to the end of the street, to the ice cream truck and back again.

As soon as I heard that familiar ice creamy music wafting down the road and through our window to find us all, I was up and ready to join them. ‘You don’t want to come with us’ my eldest sister Lisa casually stated, ‘Mr Whippy doesn’t like little kids, he has big fangs and fiery red eyes and big claws’ and with that off they rolled laughing down the street.

I didn’t sleep for weeks, and I hid every time I heard that ice-cream truck tune from then on.

Once I could finally join their school uniformed march to school, they often had to babysit and look after me on the school bus which they hated. They scolded me like little mothers if I didn’t do what they told me to. I would always yell defiantly, ‘you’re not the boss of me’ as they gave me a good chinese arm burn to prove just how wrong I was.

My sisters also had a list of tactics when mum and dad weren’t around. One loved to terrorize me by putting on scary ‘I’m going to kill you’ faces and then switching off the lights, as I screamed with half delight / half fear for my life, as she chased me around the house. The other liked to wrestle me to the ground and pin me so I couldn’t move from the big long string of saliva she had skilfully spat towards my face before sucking it back up again, over and over.

On days when they decided to let me live, we would learn the words of songs together and record our duets on a little tape recorder in my sister’s room. We would include sound effects and jokes and lay across our polly pocket bed spreads and laugh till tears came. When my sister felt she had the directors gig in the bag, she broadened her repertoire, challenging herself to write and direct little plays for us and our cousins to perform together for the adults. She came up with pearlers like Lucy Licks Lollipops ( I was Lucy) and The Moon Men ( I had to be a moon man).

When they had grown bored of impressing the adults, on one particular hot summer day in our back yard; they directed their attention to me. Before I knew what was what, I was told to chew a whole 2 packets of Hubba Bubba bubble-gum – so like 10 pieces were encouraged into my 8-year-old gob and then handed over so we could join each fat, sticky wad together, stretching it to see how long we could get it. That thing went across the back yard and into the paddock next door. We were stoked! I then tried to impress them further by blowing huge grape bubbles, which didn’t go down too well with mum, who ended up cutting it out of my hair. It was worth the warm glow of my sister’s attention though, heating my skin like the sun above us.

There was of course, as with all sisters, major clothes fights too. Mum tried her best to be a UN Ambassador and work a peace treaty but usually ended up siding with me, the baby – which resulted in my teenage sister Trish and I in matching outfits. I was so very happy, my sister was so very not. Things got so bad sharing a room with Trish when she was around 15, she ended up putting a line down the middle of our bedroom from the A-Ha poster to the gold sparkled knobs on our dresser draws; my rainbow bright and care bears and I were not allowed to cross her line and tough sanctions were to be adhered to. I still look back at our bedroom and it sums us both up indubitably; chalk and cheese. She was chalk..and I was cheese. She was neat as a pin, nothing out of place..and well..I was cheese. Trish crossed her line eventually, to braid my hair and sing along to our new Wham record. Soon the line faded and we were a peaceful United States. On nights when I was scared of the wind howling outside, she would come over to my side, get into bed with me and read Dr Seuss to me until I fell asleep.

Despite our bond, the age difference sometimes got to poor Trish especially (being the closest in age to me). I was the pesky little sister, cramping her style. That poor burgeoning, hormonal tween even got given a barbie Ferrari for Christmas at aged 12, just so I would have someone to play barbies with…she was ready to hitch hike it out of that family and boy do I remember her clearly telling me just that. She actually did calm down and end up playing with me though. We sat together for hours doing Barbie hair do’s while she taught me how to spell my first words. Granted it took a while. ‘Trish, what does GRFQP spell?’

‘Nothing, it spells nothing.’

‘What about RFGDSCEI?’

They were and still are the best sisters I could have hoped for.

…despite them telling me all the time I was actually adopted. They used to love telling me the old gigantically fat lady down the road with no teeth, who smacked her kids with a cane rod and who couldn’t walk on account of her being so fat, was my real mother.

 

They are pretty good though. My sisters; my little mother hens who are still looking after me. There are 2 people I call when things get tough or if something needs to be celebrated. They are the first…even sometimes ahead of my husband and mum..the real one.

I went through a very bad day a few months ago and told a close friend, how I had called only one person, my sister. I was in a fetal position ready to give up on everything. My friend frowned and said ‘I wish I had of known and you called me when you were so upset.’ I smiled, warmly, at her kindness but explained, ‘I can’t help but call my sisters.’

They have been my refuge since the beginning. They are who I crawled under the covers with when the storms rolled in, they are the ones who held my hand all through the night if I couldn’t sleep. They were also the ones who I hid behind as we walked past the rough kids at the bus stop opposite ours..

I still find myself trying to catch up to them, to be an adult just like them. When they talk to each other at the kitchen table and give each other advice, I still notice I take on the role of the baby sister, whingeing to pay attention to me, whining that they ignore me still..

To be honest I don’t really mind all that much now, as being the baby sister comes with a lot of perks. It means mum usually still sides with me…which means I also get out of the washing up 99% of the time too.

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Em xoxo

Torn (in a Natalie Imbruglia kinda way).

I came across some old journals at the back of my closet the other day. The kind from my 20’s that had me shuddering in horror and turning bright red. Once I finished reading them I hugged them none-the-less, and carefully placed them back, like an offering to an ancient shrine.

It took me back to a time I hadn’t given a second thought to in many years. Back to someone from my past, who I used to spend a lot of my early 20’s thinking about obsessively, naively….

The first time I shrugged his irritating hand from my shoulder I was on a crowded dance floor; under flashes of coloured light. Black dress; eyes sparkling; head spinning.

A brief hostile connection, in the middle of a grungy, underground pub. What a dive.

Paint had peeled off the cracked, yellow, smoked stained walls and feet stuck to the once bright red carpet, now melted black from drunken shoes scuffing their way around sweaty, lithe bodies.

I was in my third year living in the city I had moved to.

My first year of having a job, selling travel. On my own trip of power, with a head set, red lips and dark bangs.

I don’t even know where the anger came from that night.

It felt exactly the way I imagine pots must feel as they boil.

It launched at the base and slowly bubbled its way up to my throat, before I could do nothing but glare at him with detestation and the dark bangs. I remember it as I do, because of how confused I felt with my reaction. I actually liked him a lot, maybe too much. More than I could handle.

We first met in a parallel setting months before. On a crowded dance floor; summer heat radiating off the walls and the floors. Bodies sticky with sweat once again. My girlfriend and I had taken haven under a giant industrial fan, as we sipped our drinks and checked our red lips. I didn’t even notice him approach me before he had. Suddenly he was just there.  Smiling wide, shirt loud, voice soft.

The Hawaiian Palm Trees on his shirt and the effects of the drink in my hand, had me feeling brave enough to say what did I have to lose? I ignored my girlfriend’s eyes rolling all around, upset that he had dared talk to us. I could do nothing but focus on his warm eyes and smile at his certitude. He told me he had been watching me from afar for a while. I had been noticed; admired. He had a crush, just like the movies.

The rest, as they say is history.

Not quite.

That first night ended in him throwing tiny rocks at my bedroom window yes, but our time together over the following years ended with him throwing gigantic rocks at my heart, just as determinedly.

The weeks after the window, he serenaded me with a guitar and song. He showed up in odd moonlit places, on shoes with retractable tiny wheels, like skates..not quite.

Every word, every smile, every tap on my shoulder; It was clear, he was falling. My inexperience and fear had me fighting against the magic of it all. So I pulled away. I did what all 13 year old’s trapped inside 20 year old’s bodies do.

I ran for the hills and I hid. I told him ‘no’ a million times over, while inside I was screaming ‘yes’.

I didn’t understand the complex feelings and sensations burning through my body.

The way it sizzled under my skin.

The world faded away, blurred almost whenever he appeared; like a drug. There had been other boys, but nothing quite like this.

The way I would always watch for him to enter a crowded room. It was more than just a dull butterfly’s flutter; it was electric and intense and without my headset and supervisors badge, I had no idea how to control it.

That is why suddenly, in the middle of a grungy dance floor, black dress and dark bangs.. despite wanting to yell at the top of my lungs that I wanted to run away with him and live happily ever after. I instead flicked his hand away and yelled at him to leave my shoulder and my heart alone.

Despite this latest display of my indignant efforts, inevitably, we would always end up somewhere, intertwined. A chemical reaction I could never douse.

Until, it was all gone, just as suddenly. He stopped tapping my shoulder; stopped making my skin burn.

The initial game grew mundane for him. The chase was over. The rabbit caught.

He was suddenly too busy for a relationship; too focused on work. Having me whenever he wanted me, he was able to insist on casual connections. He went from being him, to being me, and I went from being me…to being him in a cat and mouse state. The only difference being he wasn’t confused, he knew what he wanted now and it wasn’t a love story with me. I also wasn’t confused, I knew what I wanted now..and it was the love story with him.

I persisted.

I forced it to last years beyond it’s shelf life; confident I could change his mind. The game of it all consumed me and the drug of his love the ultimate reward. I tapped much harder on his shoulder each time. I longed to feel it all again and I regretted every moment I had pushed it all off the dancefloor. I was happy to take whatever scraps he wanted to throw my way…dignity dropped on the floor as quickly as our clothes.

It is such a funny thing to look back on now. How young. How foolish. How desperately in love I thought I was. I have pages and pages of Dear Diary’s to prove it.

To me it was the complete turning of the world on its axis, that I was suddenly doing all the hard yards; the chasing. I know that is so clearly what I got caught up in.

He wasn’t magic. He was smoke and mirrors.

I don’t even know why I have chosen to remember it all as I have, as I am sure it was all uglier than I now recall some 15 years later.

Oh what a lucky girl I am to have ended up here. I could still be out there roaming the streets on my matching skates searching for him, thinking I loved him.

Begging him to tap me on my shoulder in a crowded room, if I promised not to snap at his fingers.

Real romance was discovered eventually of course, as the story often goes. A complete explosion of chemistry and fireworks and happily ever after, smiles and deep love in front of fans, and on sweaty dance floors, skating around the streets holding hands. Red lipped still (always) but now drunk on proper love. The kind that gives back a million times over. With blue sparkly eyes, and a smile that melts me still.

To think back now on what I thought I knew.

If only I could see what was on it’s way, to know that a spectacular, fulfilled love life was ahead of me.

I don’t actually regret a single thing at all, as I am sure you wouldn’t either. Well ..maybe I do.

I wish I had of let things go when it was time to. Dignity still in tact.

Maybe I also wish I had of spent more time on dance floors with girlfriends; instead of under gigantic fans checking my makeup, talking to no-hopers in Hawaiian shirts.

Windmill arms and Destiny’s Child mandatory.

Em xoxo

The Runaway.

I could stare at that image all day; a woman; a night swimmer barely making a splash as she quietly moves through the water of a hotel pool in LA.

Alone, moving through a sea of murky blue into the thrill of the darkness beyond.

I wonder what she is swimming from and what she is swimming to? I love it so much I am going to have it on my wall one day. At the end of a long hall. Giant, imposing. Knocking my bones when I need it.

She is me. I knew it from the first time I laid eyes on her. Floating.

How I long to take a run-up, followed by a flying leap.

To land within it when things get too much.

I did actually try running away from home once, I forget the reason why. I had convinced myself, though, I was better off without them all. I had spun up the stairs to my room and made plans to thumb it to Africa or Spain, the specific details would have to wait. I pushed several essential items into an old school bag, bursting at the seams and off I went. Head bursting at the seams too.

I made it to the end of our street, thoughts rolling, teeth chattering. Right on dusk before the coldness hit me like a million cold bricks. Under the street light flickering with Moths, shivering in unison with angry leaves on dark limbs of  trees. There must not have been too much actual despair forcing me along, as that was all it took for me to turn back around and run home.

I was gone for a whole 20 minutes.

No one had even noticed I had left.

I can still clearly remember that feeling. Hot tears, skin burning in anger. The most scared I had ever been in my life. I was about to step off a ledge…and not a hug of relief nor a kiss on the head to follow.

I think I even got asked to hurry up and fetch my school water bottle and lunch box so mum could get it ready for school the next day. There I was in the midst of a dire, soap opera drama at the age of 11 and no one had even raised an eyebrow. I feel like everything about me is all wrapped up in this one moment in time. Feeling too much, overly; and expecting too much, constantly.

Smallest of things spinning me downstairs and knocking my bones.

I get up, all the time. Believe me, I do. But sometimes I grow tired.

I always take notice of how pink the late afternoon sky is in September; how perfectly green the trees can be against a crisp October blue sky. I feel it all a million times over. Taking it all in and still, it does me no good.

Big things never working out. Being chewed up and always spat out. Tendons being knawed and cracked.

Building up dreams and ideas in my head, things I can never touch; only for it all to come crashing down every time.

I want to be her when things get tricky. To head towards a syrupy liquor of dark sea green.

To hit the water and swim my way to Africa or Spain. Maybe hitch a ride on a boat or big giant ship…the specific details though will have to wait.

Em xo

She.

imagesM0KTOKRS

 

Thinking about it all, every last drop of it.

She kind of died in a way, without actually ceasing to exist.

Without a funeral. Without a kiss goodbye.

Not a black dress in sight.

Instead, a slow heartbreaking realisation she wasn’t who she once was and never would be again. Dead, at least to me.

She sits somewhere now and it isn’t here as we always had thought it would be. 

I am sure she still has her same kind heart, but it is faded and jaded and tucked underneath.

No baby bumps growing big together, no children to play hide and seek, no sitting on a veranda side by side as the sun sets.

No matter how hard I would beat my fists against it all in defiance. No matter how much convincing, telling her she could be anything she wanted to be, if she would just try.

Sleepless nights tossing and turning waiting for the phone call. I finally swung it all down in a thump and broke the last piece of sinewy tendon that had kept our fractured friendship together. Walking ahead and not looking back until I was in the clear. Consumed by guilt for not going back and carrying a broken, wounded bird.

To be someone breathing, while she lay crumpled, heaving.

Thick, suffocating smoke from a fire, I had to leave behind.

We were best friends at a time in my life when I needed one. Two peas in a pod. I had never been so close to a female friend. She rescued me definitely, in so many ways. When it really mattered.

In our 20’s we were everything to each other. She scooped me up time after time when the boy I thought I loved threw rocks at my heart.

I was the wounded bird first.

I would lay in bed with her of a night as she would stop the tears and make me laugh till tears came again. We told each other everything the way all good cliché best friends do. Our hopes and our dreams, our fears and our doubts.

She always stopped me on my way out the door and filled my ears with sparkly compliments, from head to toe. Her way of giving me a suit of armour to face the day. It was more than I could stand but it secretly built me up strong, to handle the rocks being thrown from the boy down the road.

We spent every minute of every day we could together. Time in the sunshine, excited to grab life by both hands and shake it upside down. There were early signs for sure, but they were more like quirks I told myself and I shrugged them away as quickly as they came.

I sometimes close my eyes and imagine what life would be like if she had still stayed as she was.

If she didn’t have demons passed down from mother to daughter. If her head didn’t grow heavy from all the schizophrenically grey thoughts consumed. If she didn’t seek some kind of peace in denial through drug addiction. If she still had her long, wavy black hair and her loud booming laugh.

She loved to laugh before she had no choice but to cry.

If only I could have drawn an outline of her then, with a magic marker.

Happy.

I still reach out to clasp at ghosts, to hear her voice. But I know now it is not her who shows up anymore, it is someone else – an intense stranger with painful emptiness behind those eyes.

The worst part is I know deep down she realises it too.

That little feeling you get like you have forgotten to do something or you need to be filled up by something…a piece of your tummy is missing, that is her and I ache for the hole to be plugged up and shut tight and be OK again.

I guess that’s what happens though when someone you love dies.

She didn’t mean to make the splash created. She didn’t mean to get me wet when she stepped off the ledge and fell in.

Sinew severed forever.

A good friend left behind.

So missed though, every day.

Em xx

The Wait.

I once had to sit quietly, in the heat and the dust and the hot wind and wait a long time for a train.

My mum and sister were passengers and they had been away for about 3 weeks.

To an 8-year-old, 3 weeks felt like forever.

A tiny train station with a tiny platform, on the outskirts of our tiny dirt road town.

Its main purpose was for long, brown coal trains – loaded up with sparkly, black coal to be switched from one rail track to the next as they clickety clacked their way through the village in the dead of the night, shaking all the houses in their rows.

The small yellow bricked train station was also sparingly used as a lightning fast whistle stop, for locals to hurl themselves and their weathered possessions on or off the incoming or outgoing train as fast as they could, before it churned itself along to bigger towns and bigger platforms.

So there I sat on a late Saturday afternoon, pressing the bright blue pleats of my skirt down with my hands; pushing away the crinkles that my Dad had not been able to iron out..not the same way mum would have anyway.

Squinting and straining as far as my eyes could manage, hoping to catch a glimmer of the train as it snaked its way towards me. My hands were sticky and hot, legs dangling over the edge of the deserted platform. I craned my neck till it ached.

The heat caused a mirage of water across the melting tracks the further I looked, yearning to see my mum after being so hard done by and missing out on a trip to Sydney with them. Waiting to hug and kiss her and pull her home hurriedly to make up for all the bad dinners Dad had cooked in her absence.

Waiting until everything was normal and ok again.

I sat there for almost 2 hours – sucking on a sticky, sweet lolly I spent 5c on at the corner shop. I mooed back at the cows across the field, I played hopscotch with imaginary squares and I picked paper daisies growing in the cracks of the cement, dodging green ants skillfully as I played.

Finally, the glimmer of steel approached and the ground vibrated and the wait was over.

Mum was home.

It was hard though and it was hot and it stretched me further than I had ever been stretched before. Longing for something so strongly, burning for my mother to be back home again. Back where I could curl up with my head resting in her lap, cosy in my flannel pyjamas as she stroked my hair. Listening to her cup of tea gurgle it’s lovely, warm way around her tummy as I felt her chest gently fall and rise to her breaths. I would slowly drift off to sleep – wait over, happy, safe, loved. Content.

All of that waiting and destitution of a hard done by 8 year old and it didn’t come close to the waiting I have had to somehow navigate through the past few months.

I had always prepared myself, once we decided to take the plunge into IVF, knowing that it was going to be tough.  I knew it was not going to be a magical, instant solution to a heart stretching problem. I knew it was going to be a lot. Daily blood tests and nightly injections, awful side effects and mood swings. I knew about the surgeries and the terminology like a second language they used when discussing every single iota of this process and I was ready for it all, eyes wide open.

What I wasn’t prepared for at all, was the torture of constantly waiting.

Waiting for a sign, waiting for a stimulation to work and move us to the next stage, waiting for my follicles to do what they were supposed to – months and months of it all, crammed up in my head for me to swish around over and over again like a bunch of odd socks in a clunky dryer.

Trying so hard to push away any over-excited thoughts of what pram to buy and baby names and little feet and hands. I was simply not someone who could allow myself to day dream so foolishly until the wait was over.

It has been hard and hot and it has stretched me further than I had ever been stretched before.

Waiting. Constantly in a holding pattern.

It became everything and nothing and everything again each and every day. It didn’t leave my head for one moment. I wanted to scream at people going about their day not knowing the fear surging through my body. Not getting what a huge deal this all was under my smile, my clothes, my skin.

I wanted to push over anybody who decided to fan awful advice and empty sentiments my way. Weeks felt like years until our little dot on the screen happened just like that. Wishing with all of our might for it to stay with us forever. Willing for our beautiful, perfect and healthy embryo to attach itself physically and chemically and with every sticky cell it could manage.

I have again somehow, made it through another two weeks.

The wait at a train station 30 years earlier, now a total a walk in the park.

Too scared to move; to go to the toilet; to eat anything that would risk its attachment to me. Not wanting to scare it away.

Not wanting to attach myself to it either, just yet.

I have done nothing but wish and pace and day dream and cry and sigh and be very quiet and still and wish some more.

To finally lift my head and get to the end and be told, we have some good news and bad news.

Ectopic pregnancy. Our little embryo is fighting its way out of me. Hearing words like abortion drugs, surgery, potential permanent infertility, suddenly it all feels like the roar of the coal train with time running out and I am going to miss my stop. I want to hurl out our bags and leap off.

I have never been great at sharing any of this. The shame; the guilt; the worry; the stress.

The Failure.

I do now though because all of this waiting is very lonely and tiring and I wish it ended with my mum gently running her fingers over my hair and telling me everything was going to be alright.

For now, I cradle my little embryo inside and I whisper to it. I tell it to stay warm and still and sorry it will never be.

Then more waiting comes.

I wonder if I am the only one or are others in a holding pattern too, constantly waiting for things to be OK?

I also wonder while I wait, what I would have done if my mum and sister didn’t arrive on that train that day? If they decided to spend another night, or two or three, away from me?

I dare say I would have probably thrown a tantrum, pouting at poor Dad. Telling him his lumpy, mashed potato stunk.

But I am not 8 anymore, so will have to do the only thing I really can.

Wait.

Em xoxo

The Bottom of the Hill.

Hills and more hills as far as the eye can see.

On the outskirts of town, they ebb and they flow. Looking like a far off distant land you could easily explore and conquer like a Burke and Wills expedition.

Why is it you feel like screaming and crying and dying as you walk up a hill, wanting to stop every breath, every step, but as soon as you stretch your whole body and reach the top, you feel like a queen; an athlete; a champion! Adrenalin pumping through all of the pulsing, hilly veins inside. Wanting to feel this way forever. Hooked.

When my mum was my age, she had birthed and mothered four children. She was in the midst of a life running a household containing a 15-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old.

She had at 37, already lived in a shack my parents had built with their own hands as newlyweds, on the side of a hill, in the middle of nowhere.

Their first year of marriage and they had no electricity, no indoor toilet a new baby and snakes and spiders to contend with. She was 21. On the side of a hill.

They then went on and raised the rest of their brood, on a huge, flat, dusty property with a long, long dirt driveway. She handled it all bravely. The kids, the cows, the dust, the wheat crops and dad..worrying about the rain, the drought and making ends meet. Despite the flatness there she could still look out across the plains and see hills on the horizon, warily keeping an eye on them – closer then she wanted them to be. She was focused on staying strong and keeping a household running, she had no time to enjoy ups or wallow in downs so she kept charging on and planted her life firmly where it was flat.

I have wondered lately how she coped with it all? She did not have cafe dates with girlfriends, cocktails or book clubs, hiking or wine tasting weekends…or the freedom to throw a tantrum and hurl herself under a mountain of doona to Netflix and chill.

So it is her that I think about now, on the edge of that hill of hers. Her and that incredible strong will, as I face plant my bed and give up.

As I dig my way through all of my hills and tell them to all go to hell.

I am sick of the climb, sick of hurting as I scrape my skin from my legs – only getting half way up before I slide down again in the rubble and rocks and muck, sore from straining my neck to look up and see where I long to be.

I have had enough, so today I quit. I give up, resigning myself to the fact it is too hard to reach the top.

I am sick of the injections, the nausea, the headaches, the cramps, the negatives, the scans, people mourning, dying, leaving my job and trying to stay positive; more scans, more injections, turning around and pregnant bellies and newborn babies everywhere swirling around me, not knowing who I am or where I should be; up the hill, down the hill, round the hill? I am sick of the waiting. Waiting until I am suddenly told I am over the hill and it is too late.

So today I am going to just quit and surround myself with soft hills of pillows and bedding filled with feathers. Diving into doonas, hugging hot water bottles and a call to my mum today because the hill is shitty and she will tell me what to do.

Maybe next week I will feel like I can strap my hiking boots back on ready to go forth again. Maybe I will be surprised by how light those heavy boots suddenly feel.

Maybe by then I will look out across the Autumn afternoon and feel OK when I see those hills on the horizon.

Thinking about how at least I am not on the side of one of them, doing a wee in the dark.

 

Em xoxo