Hidden.

dance-movement-photography

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.

outside-2

 

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

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