I’m walking along the beach, trying to find solitude. The suns at its setting point, I’m gazing out at it questioning all my opportunities, there’s still something missing. Something doesn’t feel right around me, I get a sense of being watched. I turn around to the car park, and see my dad’s old green car parked up, with my mother father sister and brother all asleep inside. They’ve been looking for me. Although in my own head I’ve only been gone for a few hours, it’s been much longer. They look older, worn out. I can see their concern, but like reality, I keep running away from anything and everything that’s good for me. So I don’t stop, I keep walking. Walking to my own yellow car, parked in the next car park a few hundred metres away. As I take each step away from that love, towards the dangerous vicinity of my mind, the sky above me becomes darker and darker. The sun has set now, the light in my life now gone. I can hardly see, but I keep going. I can sense an overwhelming feeling that danger is ahead, but I don’t care. I don’t know where my car is, so I press the unlock button to locate it. There, not far now. Two young men have just finished a surf, they sense my apprehension. They find it amusing. A girl alone in a dark car park, their testosterone starts rising, they want power over me. They laugh, trying to subdue me. It doesn’t work. They sense this, and they do not like this. They want their way with me. I see the anger in their expression so I run to my car, I run for safety from these vicious creatures. They chase. I get in seconds before they reach me, their brutal faces contorting me through the window. I’ve just made it worse. They want to kill me. I can’t move. I can’t drive away. I’m stuck there and I know if I don’t do something soon they will find a way in. Barriers are only barriers, and people can always find a way through. I know I can’t move forward, I can only go back. As I reverse like some hero from an action movie, the two men have now turned into ten. I’m driving backwards barely missing them, I can’t stop. This is all I know. I’m over a curb backwards, and find myself now hidden in a garden. Seconds after I’ve swung my vehicle out of their path, another car comes flying into the car park from an entrance on my left. I’m no longer in the situation, this nightmare, I’m an invisible onlooker, for now anyway. I’m reliving a memory of a drunk driver losing control and hitting a tree. Dead. Just like that. I don’t know how, but the men I was running from somehow had something to do with this. They killed him. I’m stunned. Momentarily. Fuck safe Jess, snap back into reality girl, your life is at stake here. I accelerate onto the road, and the chase continues. I’m racing, life or death is a question of how fast I go. Through red lights, roundabouts, never being able to slow down, even when I try. I’m continuously in 5th gear, my breaks work but they aren’t fast enough. Suburb after suburb, trying to lose the threat close on my tail. Slowly I start to prevail. City beach, through Subiaco, Claremont… I’m now in the city. I ditch my car somewhere, and start the run on foot. It’s morning now. I’m running through, alleyways, corridors, jumping over roofs, not stopping for breath once. If I do, I may not have another. They aren’t physically anywhere near me, but I can still feel the danger, all around me. I find myself riding up an elevator to a set of female toilets. It’s empty. I hide in a cubicle and formulate a plan to escape, to survive. I need a disguise. I need to find my way back home. I’ve got underwear and a skirt, I need something more. Times like these call for desperate measures. Suddenly I’m not alone. Two girls enter the bathroom, they are intimidated by me. In any other situation I would ignore the vibe and walk away, not today. I demand one of the girl’s jackets. She succumbs to my request, and I mumble an apology before I turn away to keep running. She formulate a smile, she understands my situation. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is good in everyone, even total strangers. I hope she can read my mind and know I appreciate it, I don’t have time to verbalise anything. Moving on, no time for past stories. I’m running through the city again. Remember that storm we had? The great storm of Perth? There’s another coming. Worse. I’m running to a find a bus going home. There are people scurrying everywhere, welcome to bedlam. All kinds of people, everywhere, trying to get away from the danger. Why is it that we only come together in times of distress? I’m jumping over hedges towards the bus stop when I see him… some politician. Giggling to myself I remember my bucket list and consider speaking to him in Pig Latin. But there’s no time, there never is. On and on I go. I’m on a bus now, trying to get home, I need to get my family away from here, I need to help them live. I can see the ocean ahead. The driver can’t take the roads, he’s driving straight for the sand, closer to danger. The ocean is pulling the shore out, a tidal wave is coming. And here we are driving parallel to the water. I hate this. Stuck here, not in control, depending on someone else to make the right decision. Finally, he does. We begin driving east, up and away from the towering wall of water chasing us. As we reach the top of a hill surrounded by expensive houses in the process of being built. The water is coming closer and closer, and I hold tight to an unstable pillar amongst all the mess. Here it comes, the water crashing down, only metres in front of me. Rising and climbing, I begin the run again. I run forever, back to the alleys and corridors I was running before. That’s’ when I see him. One of the men chasing me from the start. He has a gun, I’m running. I haven’t stopped. I see a pool of water ahead of me and I do the only thing I see fit to do. Jump in. Swimming through, holding my breath, he shoots at me, and thinks he’s succeeded. There’s a light underwater, I need darkness, I can’t let him see me. I begin punching at it with my fist, but I’m not strong enough. I look around me, still holding my breath. I need to act fast, time is running out. There, in front of me. A pile of bricks, sitting in the water. I grab one and throw it, with all my strength against the light, as everything goes black. I’m safe now, here in the darkness. The man has gone, so I surface from the water. I can breathe again.
Suddenly I’m conscious. Saved by a phone call I’m too wrecked up to answer. Drenched in sweat, I am shaking all over. I can’t breathe, I have to consciously remind myself it was all a dream, I’m alive, I’m safe here. I try and pick myself up to get to the bathroom, find my asthma reliever and skull down litres of water, like I’ve been dehydrated for years. This has been happening every night for weeks now, last night was one of the better occasions.
I went to my place of solitude tonight. I found a new rest stop.
As I write this, I’m sitting 30cm from the edge of a 200m cliff face, pressing buttons to form these words in my phone, later to transfer to my keyboard, reaching the screen you are now looking at. So to whoever it was telling me I’m always surrounded by people, I’m never alone, never in this state of “solitude” I write about so much, this is for you.
Most recent life lessons learnt:
1. If I don’t want it when I have it, I know my mind will change when I don’t.
2. I know now the reasoning behind the decision I am about to make. I am an option to you, not a priority. I don’t believe the words you’re telling me. I judge by actions. Yes, I know I mean something to you, but I don’t doubt not being the only one. When I can’t make you happy, you want a backup who can. And that’s cool. That’s fine. I don’t want to be with you, so I can’t expect you not to see other people, in fact, I encourage it. But don’t expect me to fall for your words when your actions don’t prove them. I’m not a fool. You are. For having the slightest thought that you were actually fooling me.
P.S. If you got that feeling, yeah, that one, the tingles down your arm, something unfamiliar, unnerving your stomach, chances are I wrote this for you.
3. Calm down, dearest. Another word for calm? Settle. I contest to settle. Some people are settling down, some people are settling for second best, some refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies, and others, refuse to settle for even that.
4. This one’s for the ladies. Men aren’t like us. They don’t analyse. They don’t give a shit. They’d rather not tell you they don’t give a shit, so they leave you hanging. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a gender fixation, with the exception of the analysing bit, that is. Often our hearts begin to detect the lies long before our minds begin to process them. Are you a thinker or a feeler? Be both.
5. There are meaningful words, there are pointless words, and there are painful words. “Quack” is a pointless word. Only one will understand that, and I suspect you’re reading this. I know who you are now.
6. The truth at best is a partially told story. So when I hear “it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the moment one area of your life starts going okay, another part of it falls spectacularly to pieces.” I’m guessing that story is coming from someone who is in the above situation. But things change, everything is okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, well… it’s not the end.
I’ve been coughing constantly for two weeks straight. I believe our minds have more control over us than we give credit for because I haven’t coughed once this past hour. Spoke too soon, I can hear the echo of this sickness suppressed inside me, finally escaping. I can hear it, all around me.
♫ Where you come from? Where you going? ♪ White car lights coming towards me, red lights turning away, as you keep on going down the hill, continuing wherever it is you’re going. You can’t take the time to stop, slow down, just for a second, and discover the beauty lying here. What a metaphor for life.
Checking to see if I’ve left anything behind. Apart from my mind. I’ll be back again soon. Back before someone else comes anyway. As I reluctantly start taking baby steps away from this, an overwhelming feeling of disgust clouds me. I’m disgusted at the memory of ever wanting to show you this. Wanting to share this part of me with you. And for what? To try and prove to you, someone I have nothing to prove to, that the past is the past? You will never change. Your sweet bitterness will always win you over when you see the image of me in your mind. Faces start changing in my head, as I try and convince myself that’s the only place they exist in my life these days. But I’m walking away, and already my minds taking over. I promise myself this new years will be spent here alone. I don’t want your memory here.
♪ East side love is living on the west end ♫ Funny, as in it’s actually not that funny, this part of the song should start playing as I turn the ignition to drive west, back “home”.
Tonight I came across something I wrote nearly two years ago. Until now, this is something I have kept to myself. Publishing the whole thing would get me into trouble, so I’ll compromise with an extract.
“No, I can’t make you understand, because this is ineffable. I don’t get it myself. Maybe if you’d never missed your plane that day things would be different. But second guessing and “what ifs” are becoming old. As are you and I.
Want to know the definition of ironic? You used to give me butterflies, now the thought of you makes my stomach sink a little.
We have enough history to write a book, yet what have I got to show for it? Pages of scribble and a bunch of memories. So I’m putting all our pictures in these broken frames to remind me never to fall in love again.”
One line stuck out to me. This won’t make sense to the vast majority of you, maybe one or two. But this has been on my mind all night now, and I know I won’t rest until I release it in some way. So, here we go, here goes nothing. Maybe if you’d never missed your plane that day things would be different.
I then came across a series of old emails I sent to an old friend. Again, I’ll save myself the trouble and stick to some extracts.
“Let him go. Cut off all communication with him, let him miss you. Only then will he understand how amazing you really are. They can’t miss you if you don’t go away. You know yourself you deserve better than him, so why bother? Don’t stay with something because its habit, because it seems to be embedded in your brain. What is it that you really want?
Of course the answer is obvious, it’s what we all want. To be happy. We only differ in how we act to achieve this, by what makes us happy.
People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. We chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues us. The irony is that the only place we ever needed to search was within. I know that when I look within I see the people who really matter to me, first and foremost, you.
If you do as you’ve always done, things will not change. Even if you do manage to win the lottery a year from now, you won’t be as happy as you think. It’s like boiling a frog. Put it near a jar of boiling water, and of course it won’t enter. But if the frog is already in the jar and you gradually increase the water temperature, the frog will just keep adapting and adapting until it boils. We can quickly adapt to new life situations and it’s only when you’re out of them that you can see these experiences as they really are. In simple terms, when it all gets too much, you can only adjust.”
“I wish we could write a book. Perhaps you could. But not I. I’d like to think I’m full of knowledge and wisdom, but reality is, I know nothing. We’re constantly learning. There’s so much out there still to see, I’m nothing but an amateur.
Do you ever think its knowledge that makes us unhappy? We always want more, because we think what we have isn’t enough. And we can never really be satisfied because of this knowledge that there is more out there. Do you think ancient cultures and tribes suffered depression as intensely as our western society does? Our plague isn’t famine, war or disease. It is loneliness. Which do you think is really the worst. Surely having basic needs, or our human rights not being respected is far more important. So why do we make such a deal over having a shitty day? Or not having the latest whatever it is? Look at what we’re doing to ourselves, there’s no one else to blame. It’s like this disease that doctors cannot treat. We contract it on the day we accept that all we see is a mirror and a mirror is all it can be; a reflection of something we are missing.
"The human will never be able to win against itself." Fucking oath love, I’ll drink to that. All good things coming to an end is true, but there will always be something else out there. Another door to open, even if we sometimes spend too long looking at the closed one.
Anyway I’m off now to be a hypocrite and get so drunk tonight that I lose all these brain cells I worked so hard at educating. I love you and miss you dearly.”
It’s like looking into a crystal ball and seeing everything with clarity. If you hadn’t missed your plane that day, sure things would be different, life as I know it wouldn’t exist. But like you once told me, If I could go back in time, I would, without fail, only to live it all over again.