‘In the first year of my arts degree, uniforms left behind forever, an older girl in my art history class takes me under her wing, and my life opens up in a way I have longed for, inchoately, for as long as I have known. Summer evenings pass in cheap apartments above shops, playing records on a machine bought at Vinnies and smoking on the roof, or in tiny paved back gardens, sitting on upturned milk crates between the back door and the dunny. I go to a fancy-dress party dressed as Annie Hall and fall in love with a lean, dark-haired boy in the corner, his brown eyes glowing over the light of his cigarette. I leave our conversation to go to the loo, unclipping my father’s borrowed suspenders.
“Absolutely not,” my friend hisses while I’m away. “She’s 17 years old.” But a year later I am half living at his house, waking up lazily and putting the stovetop espresso on while his housemates go to Tabet’s for cheese-and-spinach pies. We watch Betty Blue and play backgammon in the morning, clean up haphazardly, take cups of tea out into the backyard with the newspaper or an old copy of Heat. When his Deleuze reading group comes over, I head out the back and read fashion magazines. I already know my position on Deleuze.
It is here that I read Monkey Grip for the first time, and feel a faint marvel of clairsentience at Helen Garner’s prose. So I haven’t dreamed up this life out of whole cloth; it exists, it has existed before me and without me, and was waiting for me to come and inhabit it, to walk the very same streets I am now walking, and argue over ethics and love and sex, and obsessively write. I curl up on Tom’s ratty old couch with my feet in a pair of his socks, the heels coming up past the back of my ankles, and scrawl poems on the backs of old envelopes as my mind flies far above the plum trees and the washing line.’
Read ‘Walking’, published at Longreads as ‘Walking Through The Past Into New Motherhood’, here.