The Outsider.



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

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

Dear Maggie

So I have often thought about that whole concept of writing a letter to your younger self, in hopes of warning them about what lay ahead and what not to stress about.

It always seemed a little silly to me, a pointless exercise – for what is done, is done and no amount of wishing it away shall change it so.

I guess the concept stems from some sort of regret that bubbles away underneath us all. How sad this seems to me.

It is that whole ‘youth is wasted on the young’ thing that comes to mind too, I used to be so offended by this phrase when I was younger.

It is only now I see the wisdom in these words.

Well my beautiful Maggie, I have decided instead to make it more worthwhile by writing this letter instead to you.

You and I both know, that you have been told your whole 15 years of life that you are just like your Aunty Emma.

It is true you are, very much so.

I sometimes disagree when I hear someone tell you this, but it’s a weak shake of the head because deep down I know that you are exactly like me in many ways.

At the same time I am wondering how you feel about hearing such a thing?

Is it a good thing or bad thing to be like me?

I (being me), immediately think this must be a bad thing…that’s where you and I do differ, but we will get to that.

I worry you think this then means you will look like me, think like me… fail like me.

I want you to know that although you are strong willed, stubborn, independent, fiery and quick with the jokes…you are just so very much more.

You are everything I wish I was at your age. You are everything I wish I was at my age.

You are so very strong. You have been since you could lift yourself up onto those gorgeous little chubby legs and decide to be done with crawling, it was time to explore the world by walking…you have never looked back.

You have also had to face a lot of things in your 15 years that not many of us do.

You are bright and brave and determined and funny…so funny.

The very bestest best thing though of all – You never let people make you feel small.

You stand up for yourself.

When someone pushes you down you say no, and in your own Maggie way deal with problems head on and move on for the better.

I am in constant awe of watching you handle yourself with confidence, always with confidence.

I know already you are going to move through life with such self assurance and do it spectacularly.

Unlike your Aunty Emma, you will not worry so much about pleasing everybody else around you.

Unlike your Aunty Emma, you will not feel constantly anxious and guilty all the time over everything.

Unlike me, you will not let boys and then men walk all over your heart, stripping you of your confidence.

Unlike me, you will never let people make you feel like you are not good enough. Because you are.

Unlike me you will be brave enough to go to parties and dances and experience all that a teenager can at that age and you will trust yourself and your judgement of any situation you find yourself in.

You will also, unlike me, not ever put up with the bullshit that comes with ingenuine female friendships. You will work out very quickly who is in your corner and who is not.

You will also unlike me, never let people talk down to you or tell you things about yourself you don’t agree with – you will not stay silent if this happens. You will not accept people’s cruel words, judgements or actions or let them affect you.

Oh to be you.

I hope this also extends to people with different, cruel and narrow minded belief systems to you, question them, challenge them but always speak up.

So, even though this old Aunty of yours may feel you are so much more than she ever was, I still think it never hurts to help make this rocket ride to adulthood you are currently on, a little easier.

So my little Maggie – if my former, younger self that you are, needs to hear any advice from someone who did not have it all worked out, then these really are things I would tell my 15 year old self if I ever had the chance.

While I do think you will be unlike me in so many ways, there is no denying the fact remains you do have pieces of me there, so we had better make sure you are prepared just in case.

If I start to sound like a Nike commercial I apologise, I can’t help but get a little cheesy and sentimental when it comes to you.

Don’t ever let anyone yourself tell you, that you are not good enough or talented enough, to do in life what you deep down want to do. I cannot shout it from the roof tops enough – the whole world is there for you – so grasp it firmly with two hands, and if you have the will you will find a way.

Never waste time, ever – I don’t believe in tomorrow always believe in today, right now.

Go to university, ESPECIALLY if you are unsure about what you want to do, go and have a taste of a beautiful life of discovery and meeting people from different backgrounds.. find out who it is you want to be.

Ease up on procrastinating – you can achieve so much more if you just dig in and do the hard work, get the job done. You will get addicted to feeling proud of yourself if you cotton on to this fact early.

Don’t ever make someone a priority when all you ever are to them is an option. This is a huge one.

Learn how to run (OK, this is a Nike commercial). I know you are rolling your eyes at this as I would be too, but seriously if I had my time again I would learn to love to run, it will heighten your life I know it.

Travel the world, I didn’t and I look back and I don’t even have a good reason why – that time wasting thing perhaps, or not realising I could do anything I wanted. Don’t let money deter you, because it is not a good enough reason.

Be a morning person, greet the day loud and big…don’t sleep your way through the best part of the day.

GPs aren’t always right, and medications /pills are not always the only option…food should always be your first medicine.

Health doesn’t really come into it at your age, I get it. The focus is how you look. But when you get to my age it is all about health. That body of yours is the only one you have. You need to feed it beautiful nutrients and constantly keep it moving but also balance that with rest and no stress. You want to live a long full life, you need that body to get you there.

AlWAYS. BUY. THE. SHOES. you will never ever look back with regret buying them, you will only regret the pairs you didn’t buy.

Tell your mum you love her as much as you can, you will regret all the fights you have with her when you are a bit older. I did.

Let your dad tell you all the jokes and stories he knows a million times over, because I promise you one day they will be something to think about when you miss him so much it hurts.

Don’t get a tattoo, that is one thing you will definitely regret one day if you aren’t sure. If you must get one, wait till you are heading towards 25, so you are very, very sure it is what you want to do.

Understand that only these 3 things matter, Family, Health and Happiness. If anything ever jeopardises any of these, remove them from your life.

Always, always be kind.

Oh and never ever buy a brand new car, always second hand. Depriciation, it’s a word you learn as an adult.

There are many many more little tricks I wish someone had told me about along the way, so know they are tucked away ready for a rainy day if you ever need them.

You have been such a gift to my life little Maggie, more then you will ever know. I can still think back to the moment they rolled you in your hospital crib, down the hall towards me.

I was 21 and you were simply the most perfect thing I had ever laid eyes on. By comparison, when we first met I had already made all of the above mistakes and more.

So I guess my final piece of advice is this;

Ignore everything I have just said and work it all out for yourself. Make a deliciously, beautiful full life for yourself and do it all your way, mistakes, heart aches and all.

I am sure whatever you choose to do, in what ever way you chose to do it, you will be magnificent.

And always remember if you do lose your way, I am here for you always..and I won’t tell your mum.

mags and me


Aunty Em