A Cool Change Comes
On the way to my Psychiatrist appointment on Saturday it is forty degrees and from the front passenger seat all the cars on the road look black in summer sun glare. In the distance billows a fat white cloud that is difficult to identify. It looks so beautiful and scary. Later I will read what it actually is: fire. The Bunyip and Licola bush fires are so intense they created their own weather. My psychiatrist tells me i need to get a blood test and for my parents to fill out this survey based on how they remember me as a child. It fills me with anxiety.
Sunday i wake up after a fitful hot night. The heat is overwhelming and I am dizzy. My head hurts and i feel like I may be sick. The count down for the cool change begins. I spend the day hiding in the National Gallery Of Victoria reading a book about trauma. I eat an over priced sandwich in the cafe and listen two two young women catching up together over coffee. I think about how to get my parents to fill out the forms. I don’t want to worry them.
Monday the plumber comes to fix the kitchen taps. He shows me how old the washer is that he has to replace. He seems very excited to show me and I look and exclaim how old it looks. He asks me what I do and when I tell him I am a writer he tells me that that is always something he has wanted to do. He confesses he doesn’t do poetry but short punchy things that make people go ”woah’. He cant think of what that kind of writing is called. I suggest Poetic prose? micro fiction? He is pleased at the descriptions.
Once he leaves I get the tram into the city and then another tram to north carlton. I walk up Rathdown Street. I am going to pick up my dress from the whippet thin stylish old woman who has been altering clothing for over forty years, from the front room of her home. As when I dropped the dress off, I arrive sweaty and tired from the walk in the warm humid afternoon sun. Gina gets me cold water from a chilled glass jug and pours it into a beautiful tall glass that feels like it has history. I try on the dress and she fixes one of my straps as I stand in the dress. I have one shoulder slightly lower than the other. When she is done I stand in front of the mirror and marvel at her handy work. She says I look like a ballerina. I nod with pleasure. A punk rock ballerina I think as I look at the red tartan tulle skirt.
I don’t get the tram straight after leaving Gina’s house. I wander up and down Rathdown street aimlessly like I used to ten years ago when I lived here. I go stand out the front of the very house I once lived in. The house where I had the tiny room and tried to fuck the pain away after my first break up. I don’t see the white van out front and wonder if the owner of that van has finally moved on. There is a ghost of a version of myself that no longer exists in a tangible form on this street. It makes me feel strange and for some reason I cant leave. I just stand there staring at this house stepping back into that person momentarily. Eventually I shake myself out of it and walk to the tram.
Tuesday I have to go to my GP to get another mental health plan. I tell her about my latest writing triumph and as usual she is unsurprised and as usual this surprises me. ”You are going to be so amazing and the only thing I regret is that I wont be able to tell anyone that I know you.” She says. I laugh. ”Yes because of that annoying patient doctor confidentiality.” I say.
Tuesday evening is the night that *Edith gets kicked out of poetry book club. She is not kicked out directly as that would be too awkward. It would not be unkind as I am pretty sure Edith is completely without shame. The plan is hatched after the meeting is over and Edith has left. Someone will simply tell Edith that the book club has been liquidated due to busy schedules and we will make the event page private from now on. It just got too much to put up with all the lack of reciprocity in conversations. Have you ever been around someone who seems to just wait for their turn to speak and not actually ever show understanding or acknowledgement that you have said something? That is what it is like having Edith at poetry book club. At one point she had interrupted me mid sentence to start talking boring nonsense. I had to gather my best caustic and disesteem voice in the one sentence ”I’m not done yet.” Before continuing to the end of my story. After the plan is completed we drink more wine and talk about our week as the sound of the city wafts through the open apartment windows with the cool evening breeze.
Wednesday I finally call my mother and ask her if she and dad can fill out the surveys relating to their memory of me as a child, if I post them to her with a return envelope. My heart is in my throat. She agrees and we chat for a little while. She is in her car on the side of the road. She pulled over before answering the call. My mother tells me she is on her way into town to check her bank balance. I ask her about phone banking and she says that my father has it but she has no interest.
She tells me that my Dad would not mind if all us kids were little again. My mother does not share this sentiment and for good reason:she was around us as little kids far more than my father, who was always working on the farm. My Mother nicknamed him The Phantom. I say I love you before we hang up on each other. Afterwards I take the forms to the post office. It is raining outside and I have to go back inside to get my umbrella. I have a panic attack on the way there and back. Something about cold wind blowing too strongly makes my breath get labored and I think I am going to stop breathing for good. It takes standing still focusing on the rain on my umbrella and breathing slowly to get to a point where I can walk forward instead of hurrying back home.
That evening I go to my friend’s house a short walk away to help with a table read of the final draft of her play before she hands it in to producers. there are six of us sitting around the kitchen table with laptops open to the play document. Hearing professional actors read a play is amazing. The play is about a 35 year old woman who returns to her parent’s rural home and comes to the realization that her white adoptive parents did not prepare her for what it would entail being a Korean adopted by white parents. It is a great play that is so much fun to listen in on. I am not there to read a part I am there to read stage directions, listen and give feedback. Afterwards we eat dinner together and drink wine as we discuss the play.
One of the actors gives me a lift home even though its walking distance its dark. I resent this inability to feel safe walking the short distance home. The actor and I both agree the fault lies with men. I am told a story of a creepy maths teacher that turned out to be a child molester. He also showed up at the house of one of his young female pupils after she had stopped being tutored by him due to feeling uncomfortable in his presence he always wanted to talk to her about boys more than actual school work. The young woman’s Dad was home and told the creepy teacher to go away. This should not be part of a teenage girl’s high school experience.
When I get home it is 10pm. I skull a glass of water and stay up past midnight watching two new episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. There is something so comforting about watching the erratic ups and downs of Rebecca Bunch and her struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. the song she sings in season four episode 13 about her first love The Darkness feeling thats been with her before even puberty and boys. She calls it her first love and names it Tyler whose pet name for her is slut. It is almost too relatable. I would not name my all consuming inner darkness Tyler though. I think I would anoint it as something antiquated and old fashioned like Edward or Nigel and they would not even have an evil pet name for me because its crushing enough the way they whisper my name with such contempt and dissatisfaction as they sit on my heart and make my chest hurt and stomach churn.