Wednesday, 18 October 2017

secret: new parts, hidden under old parts

4 July 2017

It’s cold today, and dry where I live, on the top of a mountain range. I keep chewing at my dry lips, peeling off their skin with my teeth – there are smooth new lips underneath, I know it, I just have to keep peeling til I get there. 

Once I get there, with my new lips, maybe I will be ready to find someone to kiss. Maybe then I’ll be a smooth-lipped clever-mouthed lover-in-waiting.

Maybe then.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

treasure: writing my grief

Today, I wore makeup for the first time since I heard you had died. My bare face was intended as a symbol of grief, but nobody has noticed. My mascara was not waterproof, in any case; impractical. I decided to trust myself not to cry unexpectedly; I hoped the majority of tears had been wrung out of me by now. 

There’s not a way to write an ode to you, Daniel. Each word you’re over my shoulder, knowing a better way to make a sentence sing. Your ghost is a literary monster shadow, and the thorough way I resent you for this is what I’d love to capture in words. 

I’ve made you laugh out loud with things I’ve written, your laugh inflating my ego every time. I’ve laughed at and loved your work, right before your eyes (or almost - you hid while I read and returned for the compliments, your cigarette smoked). 

I’m so tired. There’s only one night I can chalk up to sleepless grief, and that’s the night we had the news. Just so you know, I still don’t believe it. It takes the breath out of me and makes me wish to sleep a thousand years. I’m tired of feeling so very out of control - a whole planet, out of orbit. 

Today is a day I’ve been floating through; bumping into small parts sadness and distraction. I don’t know how to miss you. I don’t know what’s right - what you’d think made sense and what you’d scoff at.

Today is a day built on the fragility of our skin and bones. 

I’ve made a point of telling a story of my tears, to admit that most days lately I’ve cried the very tears I’m trying to manipulate into comic effect, somehow. I want to see how far I push this before they stop believing or responding. 

I wanted to tell the short story of us, to frame some of my sorrow in justification - see, we were close, he meant something - but also I mostly want very keenly to keep this close to my heart. I keep trying to take it out to look at it, to build some perspective, but my eyes beg to slide past it to focus on the middle distance. When does it go from being raw to being something to use? I’m trying to use it now, and getting nowhere.

The thing nobody tells you about grief is how quiet it is. It lays itself in your bones so they’re just a little more dense than they were before. It lines the pockets of your clothes; it rests just a little heavy on your tongue.

The thing nobody tells you about grief is how you’re alone with it so much of the time, because of the way people forget. The way people forget is sort of important too, to keep the world moving. 

The thing nobody tells you about grief is how it slaps you in the face; sucks the air from your lungs; drops you from a great height. It’s also nothing shocking - there, tucked underneath other piles of loose papers until the stone weighing it all down is shifted and it’s away.

The thing nobody tells you about grief is how it makes you look. Today, I wore makeup for the first time since I heard you had died. My face has been a mask plenty of other ways since then, but I have allowed space for the tears to fall away.

Monday, 21 August 2017

treasure: Stuart Lind Taylor, 30 year old person


I forgot your birthday card, but I hadn't written it yet, so it's ok. This way I get an extended word limit.

Stuart Lind Taylor. It’s your 30th birthday today, and I have known you since before I remember. You (I imagine) were the first person to help me to realise there were other people in the world as important as I was. You burst that only child bubble I lived in, in (most likely) the best possible way, and forced me to grow up and be better, to lead you and boss you into shape, to defend and protect someone else.

I like to imagine once I got over the shock of you, I boasted about you constantly; an extension of me after all, and between the two of us a force to be reckoned with. There’s actual video footage of me not sharing my toys with your curious hands - now, I choose to spin that into a valuable life lesson about pushing hard for what you want, because in the end you did have that one wooden block in your determined grasp. While it’s strange to imagine a world without our third part, Hugh Lind Taylor, that time did exist, and you (probably) taught me some of the most important things about loving someone without wanting anything from them. About good company that comes guaranteed, free of charge.

We’re so glad for Hugh - I'm sure that his arrival taught you the same things you taught me. This short love story I’m telling is almost as much about Hugh and me as is it about you, Stu, because we’re all different bits of the same thing.

We grew up and learned ways to stretch each other’s arms, legs and imaginations - where I bossed you into reading, your bravery forced me onto bikes down hills with no hands, and up trees without thinking about what girls were meant to do. We produced short films and dramatic recreations of Titanic, and you willingly obeyed my direction on countless weekends. You and Hugh were my favourite people to boss.

When I try to remember you as a teenager I honestly mostly draw a blank - that was the time I was facing inwards, and taking for granted you’d appear at the dinner table every night. I’m sure we were both cause for the other’s eye-rolls on more than one occasion, but I’m also sure we co-existed (mostly) pleasantly. With my fiery self, I’m sure this peace was down to you, because it’s the peace we all still find in your company; the peace that holds power, and acceptance, and patience.

Stu Taylor, you sort of amaze me. You’re always there, even when you’re 12 hours deep in night shift, or on the other side of the world on adventures. You’re there with us, talking shit and building the base from which your two (slightly less peaceful) siblings can launch into whichever rant we choose. You let us be exactly who we are, and you love us for exactly that. You allow us to celebrate all the victories you’ve arrived at. We get to hear your stories, to know more and more about you, and it’s treasured knowledge.

I’m biased, but you’re golden, and I won’t be challenged on that point. I keep learning things from you, and when I’m not quite sure about anything, there you are. Setting the earth straight.

Stu Lind Taylor. All three of us share that middle name, the one that used to embarrass me to explain or say out loud. I love that we all have it now - you and Hugh are my best friends and the ones most likely to be held up in the shape of an example by which the rest of the human race are measured.

I really can’t hope for more than for you to know how well loved and admired you are - by me, forever, and by everyone who’s lucky enough to know you. I hope you know, Stu, and feel that love as the world turns to wish you a happy 30th birthday.

If this is what you can do with 30 years, I can’t wait to be there with you for the next 30.

Lots of love for all the days

Helen Lind Taylor

Saturday, 15 July 2017

treasure: writing from when I was learning to write

A collection of notebooks left carefully in storage was recently returned to me, including a workbook from a creative writing subject I took in Semester 1, 2006. I thought it would be cringy and pretentious but I actually don't hate Past Helen's work. Thought I'd share.

A self portrait, 7 March 2006

a cactus and prickles
body full of smooth pebbles
head's got two bricks in it keep grating together
in cotton wool (and snot and nausea)
just a little bit like a hidden corner
eyes rolling over each other not working together
marbles make a heavy forehead greasy lips
clunk clunk 2 year old playing piano
the slow drip of glue without a lid on
limbs held together by rubber bands and prayers
edges of the smile flattened down by the weight of tired cheeks
lips full of lies
unpolished eyes

a body and a self almost less than the next self
achy doughy weighted
head out from and observing body
see the way my thighs cling together
for emotional support.