Café lunch of Cappuccino and toasted sandwich; no blues, no clues to getting the creative engine running. Pen and paper guide the wait with fingers attesting the page.
I wait for tiny monuments to sustenance like I had once before, twice before, many times before.
The café culture a gripping rabble of clashing conversations, banging brew baskets, and teaspoon swirls. Arrives the plate by a young blonde - male customer looks on;
is he the same age as my plate bringer?
- young blondes alike,
- two beauties together,
- in a room unweathered;
or was that he checking me,
out with my hair perfectly combed in place,
- little effort;
and confidence in my stroll as I strolled my stroll to a waiting table? I prefer my plate bringer.
I prefer what's on my plate!
Thankfully my toasted sandwich is far better than the imagined.
I wandered the black of last night, around the block of roads and houses lit only by lamp posts and occasional flashes of my cellphone when darkness threatened tripping and stumbling from my feet. Thoughts of family negativity came and went, but didn't last long. The thoughts felt like thoughts without massive amounts of emotion attached to them. I've accepted and moved on from the hurt, though the hurt still manifests in thoughts, but the thoughts never leave me feeling hurt, and that's the important part.
I've rarely felt a sense of stability in my life.
During my youth growing up in the country I moved from house to house, not staying in one for much more than two years until we moved into town and eventually ended up where my parents reside still. Being a country boy in town did not fit in well with the other students, and it was hard to secure any true friendships. Though, my brother and sister didn't (seem to) have the same problem. When genuine friendships manifested, somewhere down the line they fell apart.
This has been the continuing pattern of my adult life as I have travelled from city to city, house to house, flatmate to flatmate, friend to friend. I knew though I could always go home to the same family who I grew up with and have continuously provided financial and emotional support when needed - that has been the only constant as I have moved in and out of depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness; abandonment by people whose lives I thought I was a wanted part of.
I look at my brother and sister and can still see friends that they have kept either from school, or their first lot of flatting experiences - those people outside of family have always been there as part of their travels, through the good times and the bad. I simply have no idea what that must be like. Loss of friends has collapsed any sort of solid ground that I may have stood on at the time and sent me plummeting into deeper depression. Years go by and all I see are faces I once knew...
In 2014 I entered into a relationship that was formed through a mutual activity and developed with us living together across the Summer of 2014/15. The month and a half that we spent together was the most stabilising experience I've ever had. While I was living in her house, sharing in some food costs, I asked nothing of her and she gave me more than I could have ... expected. If I had bothered expecting anything, that is. For once I felt like I had a place to reside where the person I lived with accepted me as I was and wanted to know about me, not just whether or not I had a job yet... As we shared our views, our thoughts on the world, her interest in my novels and music, I felt a sense of contentment that I'd never felt before, confidence in myself, confidence in my partner, a mutual respect that lifted me away from any feelings of self-pity, paranoia, or mental instability that questions what is happening and sets confusion up as a road block that I can't help crashing out of control through as thoughts tumble into panic mode. A part of me felt at home.
It's crazy that I'd let that go. She certainly thought so.
My greatest fear is that I will never experience that kind of stability ever again, that feeling of looking out a window and not thinking about what tomorrow will bring, the sense of being loved by someone who I expected nothing from. It's a fear of being alone. The kind of loneliness that family can't fill.
When I said goodbye, I felt strength. I had been given a great gift that I was letting go of to chase a dream. But I was also letting go because I couldn't love her the way she loved me, and I hated the thought of eventually putting her in the same position that she had been in for the last 15 or so years with her ex - that of not being loved and made to feel like an accessory of sorts. She had risked so much to be with me, the least I could do is leave her with happiness and her own strength still intact rather than disappointment or hurt.
So I moved on. Into my new flat. Into my job. More students to teach, more faces to remember. And then I moved on. Onwards down the country side. Into my new flat. An old dream to pursue. And then I moved on. Into my new flat. An old dream to kill.
I don't see new faces any more. I just see faces I remember. And then I have to try to remember where I remember them from. Over the last two weeks I saw someone twice that was so familiar that I spent the next day trawling through my memories trying to figure out where I knew them from, or even if I did know them at all. After going through teenage memories of neighbours, class mates at school, all the odd jobs I went through in Invercargill, schools I later taught in across New Zealand, I finally realised that the person I recognised was someone I had spoken to at the laundromat prior to moving out of my orchard accommodation (there were massive suspicions of someone in Invercargill following me here...). But the familiarity of the face, not just in terms of it being so close in time (a month or so prior), stretched back into my distant past, which is why I felt the need to go so far back to try to locate it.
I wonder if people who stay in the same place most of their lives still see new faces.
Just hangin' at the flat listening to some Queens of the Stone Age. I'm not a big fan of Like Clockwork, but the song 'I Appear Missing' resonates a lot with me:
It felt contrived and somewhat "poor me", regardless of how true it feels so I didn't publish it on it's own. I feel better about contextualising it here as part of a larger post.
There was a BBQ happening at the flat, but it wasn't suggested as a flat activity, it was just something that my flatmate said: "I might have a BBQ tonight." I read that as "I might have a BBQ tonight" and by the time I realised I was expected to be a part of it with my other flatmate, I was already down the rabbit hole of anxiety and confusion, my brain flipping out about my own stupidity and feeling like an outsider again.
I didn't want to move into a flat with other people, but I am financially unable to live on my own so felt forced into this position. That, I don't hate, nor regret, but there has been a feeling of being uncomfortable around my flatmates, maybe because they are younger than me, maybe because there are things that haven't been said, or that one of them is not expressing, therefore causing me to feel like I have to tip-toe around that particular subject matter because it hasn't been put out in the open. I don't necessarily begrudge the flatmate for not being more communicative on this subject, as I feel it is their right to either talk about it or not, but it has also made me feel like ... I don't belong / am not trusted. This, I don't blame myself or them for, since it is a reflection of the society we live in, but I do feel somewhat out of place nevertheless.
When I first went looking for flats, I found a house with an upstairs that was self-contained, but with house-kitchen downstairs where there were three more rooms and an orchard worker already renting one of the rooms. Upstairs was being rented for about $240 /wk and I was ready to jump on it since I had full-time work, and even on minimum wage I was willing to make sacrifices just to have that personal space to myself. Unfortunately, the house was sold within the week. This flat came along and I snatched it up after a really positive look-in, and although the flatmates are still positive people who I like, I can't help feeling I have little in common with people who do a lot of kayaking, trail biking, snowboarding, and are both skippers during the summer tourist months. And they love watching Rugby (audible groan).
And I like books.
I left music. I wanted no part in chasing something that gave nothing back. I gave everything I had to it, every emotion I felt, every spare piece of time to scrape and sculpt songs out of, but ultimately, I had no way of presenting these songs to the world. At least not without the support of others. That support seemed to come and go but never stuck around to help out in the long run. I just ended up feeling like I was at square one all over again, every time. Most musicians make steps that move their goals forward, but every step I took ended me up right back at the start like I was restarting a race I had already run many times and got nowhere with.
Most of my adult life I've asked myself when do I get to sit down and write my novels? Dirteater of which has been in existence since 1997/8, but has only had notes and an occasional scene written for it, but of which the entire structure, characters, themes and narrative are all worked out; Welcome Home 1998; Deiaul 2001. In 2014 when I had no work but was given the chance to apply for a teaching job I had previously enquired about but hadn't manifested until now, I had begun moving into writing mode with Dim Day and I made a decision to pull my job application knowing I'd never be able to continue writing while teaching full-time (I know what my writing habits are like!). I was told by a family member that I was making a big mistake and would regret not going for the job choosing to work on my next novel instead. I don't regret it at all. I wrote more than I'd ever be able to write working full-time in a job where I had to care about other people's needs over my own. This is the frustrating reality I faced when I did finally take a teaching job in Canterbury during 2015 after my writing had slowed down (at this point I had already moved onto expanding 'The Future Unfolds' into Auralye on a Harp). In 2016 after the new year had started, work had become a minefield of bad communication from management and inadequate support for a Provisionally Registered Teacher who had travelled from job to job with inconsistent evidence of teaching being gathered.
I love the classroom, I love the students, and I love being there for them and encouraging their talents no matter how big or small; but a part of me was dying from not being able to fully express itself, and I couldn't stand seeing Dirteater drift further and further into the distance as the years went by. Do I have to be an old man in retirement before I can sit down and write the novel I planned when I was just 21?
I made a decision. It was the right decision. Whatever poverty I face now is a result of that. I have no more music to give anyway; what exists just needs to be recorded and anyone can do that - it certainly doesn't need to be me!
The isolation isn't a problem. If I could have that, I would take it; it's the non-isolation that financial strain causes that is a problem and having to work around the issues in my head as they converge, conflict, and crash into situations I misunderstand and am misinformed about. It's almost ironic that the orchard work I have been involved in has allowed me to exercise responsibility through confidence in knowing what I'm doing and what is expected of me, and being unafraid to ask questions. But orchard work is coming to an end, and I aim to have time on my hands to write. Even if I'm stuck in this house with these flatmates I don't really relate to, I have to work to make that time to be alone to write.
To write the days and nights away.
Especially the Dim Days.
Some updates to keep me updated.