meine bildungsroman

My Bildungsroman. Coined around 1910, from German Bildungsroman, from Bildung "education, formation, growth" + Roman "novel" - specifically set in the formative years, or the time of spiritual education, of the main character.

I decided to spend some time in Berlin and soon I'll be leaving Melbourne to do just that. This is my documentation of this experience including any written work I publish during this time. This documentation really is for me to look back on because I am a selfish Gen Y twenty something, but, if you find yourself here I hope you have a good time anyway.

  1. Fiction Short Submission April 2014 - “The Unknown”

    Perpetually walking with me is the unknown. He taunts me everyday as I walk the streets and in the dark corners of my mind whilst I fight myself to sleep. A white misty sky with barely a light to see, a crisp cold and stagnant air that sits on your bones like bricks setting in mortar and a wind chill that turns your frame to glass. I can’t help but long for the ignorance of not considering his impact on me.

    This city sleeps divided - a state I muse upon as I feel the city being more transparent about itself than I. Walking the lengthy allee stretch, our laughs echoing through the streets as each familiar mile marker brings a torch song on repeat. Neon gas station signs never looked so perfect to me. This is where the unknown never once walked with me.

    It was the first time I told him no. Good or bad, you are gone. We are on much better terms at a distance. To spend my hours working to have him reveal himself to justify a particular gamble was exhausting. I was constantly reminding myself just how little my blueprints meant - petulant in constantly reconfiguring what could never be constructed, battling with a variable beyond uncertainty. It seems improbable I lived so long amongst the delusion it was up to me.

    It was when he left my side, that she came to me.

    To sow my pleasure now, what sorrow must I reap in the the future? I loathe and yearn the days when our passion existed only in the friction of hips, youthful lust remaining lost to the night.

    Skin incapable of abrasion, lips like fresh roses and eyes like oceans buoying my heart in overdue relief. It’s as if she is made up of colours and words that don’t exist yet. Once again, I am at loggerheads with the unknown. Could the touch of other lovers bring sedatives for hearts about to breach? If these moments make it softer, then how could I complain?

    The impending departure leaves us wide awake in warm embrace.

    On the bus ride home, the unknown sits beside me and whispers in my ear. To quote such remarks would give them unjust weight. I looked over the sea and amongst the ships were white formations I couldn’t quite make out. Not waves though. No, these shapes looked like clouds beneath the surface tension. I readjust my coat and think only of her face. Oceans mean nothing if you can bask freely in the wake.

  2. Everything is different.

    Everything is different. From the man in the traffic lights to the way a cup of coffee is served.

    The air is denser and colder and it holds no smell, it’s too crisp. The M8 tracks along in perfect rhythm and I feel a little jealous of everyone who is surrounded by something familiar - you can’t help missing the comfort of routine and the safety of knowing your environment brings.

    The mustard is tart. The sauce is sweeter. The chips always taste clean. The coffee is always perfect drinking temperature the second you get it. It’s a much more quiet city, but people are warm on approach. Every building is colorful. Every wall has been marked. There is construction everywhere and people seem busy. Apfel means apple. Everything is different.

    I have been told to expect freedom here. Each person I have come across all say the same thing. All nod knowingly when I tell them where I am from and why I am here. I do see it though. No one cares about anyone else’s business here. It’s simple. Questions like: should I say that? Can I leave dressed like this? They become irrelevant. No one cares.

    I can now appreciate the youth of Australia. That in some of the toughest times in recent history we have sat off to the side, dealing with things much differently. But, it all happened here. It’s inescapable. There’s moments when the sky is at its whitest and you look down an empty cobblestone street and across the urban abyss and you can’t help but wonder what it must of been like. The traumas of the city, the despair of the people. The complete chaos that seems impossible in this town. Now, it doesn’t falter. Amongst construction and constant change, services are still provided promptly and swiftly and you needn’t question it.

    Of course, the food. The idea of a snack here is perfection as I live and breathe. Currywurst, bratwurst, soups, stews, breads, Berliners… Also, they love burgers here. Serious love. You can eat fresh and well also. Whatever you please. The water is like the nectar of the gods; clean, crisp, always cold and straight from the tap. The toilet roll holder is vertical, the doors open the wrong way and the windows are a profound mystery for a few days.

    Day four and I have been suffering bouts of adjustment as my body slowly realises: I am not where I have been and I won’t be anytime soon. On the back of my first proper sleep and early rise, I am feeling good and spent the day riding around the entire city. I should mention a friend of my flatmate has kindly lent me her second bike until mine arrives. I rickety old purple womens city rider. I have to say - it’s a tough slog but it’s fun and I am grateful. Firstly, I went down to Ostbahnof for the antique market. I spent a good hour trifling through, finding things to send back home. Next, was my ride to Mauer park for the flea market before heading back across the top of the city home to P-Berg. The market was little busy but I got my first glimpse of the Berlin wall, heard some amazing music and ate some good bratwurst. And, there was waffle on a stick. I am slowly seeing the definitions in the neighbourhoods also. Mitte was oozing with hipster, whereas Prenzlauer Berg seems a little more worker-middle class. Alexanderplatz is very touristy where Kreuzberg leans back to the hipster-grunge-nothing can stop us vibe.

    It’s a city I have a great lust for at this moment. I want to get to know as much of it as I can. I am tired, weary and struggling to adjust but I know a big adventure awaits.

     

  3. Silent War - Act I

    The soldier walked up the banks; eager to end this hour long journey to the top of the mountain that overlooked the dilapidated city. There’s a bench placed atop the desolate and sparse plateau that earmarks the end of the upward journey. On the bench sat a man. A small but robust man. He always sat with a cigarette in his left hand and a brown cup in the other. Contents unknown. He was a friend by default. He was always there. And they always spoke.

    The man looked particularly agitated today. “Look at this. My city. She’s a shell.” he muttered, apathetic. “She has been apart of me my entire life, and look at her. People forget if she isn’t moving then neither are we. Do you understand?”

    The soldier thought for a minute, to no avail. “I dont know. I understand love. I understand devotion. To which scale it compares to the immensity of yours, I do not know.”

    A wry smile bled outwards from the man’s pursed lips and he asked: “What was her name?”

    “It doesn’t matter.”

    “Oh, well. In that case, your devotion was either untrue or undeserved. Which was it?”

    “If it was untrue I deceived myself too.”

    “We become so good at wanting something to be what it can never be. Don’t be ashamed, we are all able to convince ourselves. Was she here through the war?”

    “No. I have been here. Fighting. Fighting for her even. This is her cause more than mine. Her heritage. She went back to her village to care for her sister. who was ill. She was unsettled to be back home. There, in a place she wasn’t comfortable. So, I sent word for her everyday. A story. A simple story. Something for me to do. Something else for me to talk about except this war. I thought it would be nice if she had something to look forward to outside of the monotony of caring for her sister, and her depression. She sent word back everyday, but only ever acknowledged this once. After the third installment. She told me how sweet I was. I was excited, there was 26 more due, and I sent one everyday, but she never said anything about it again. For some reason she started to speak in routine. Like it was a chore she was completing. Yet she remained entirely dependant on my support and I remained entirely submissive to her. It was no longer loving. Me with my bitterness, her with her ignorance. For a long time I didn’t know the difference between love and submission.”

    “And now?”

    “Now, she loves someone else. But, I still went back when her sister died. On a day when word should have been sent, he was silent. So she came to me. She came back to me so he would come back to her. For all her flaws she is manipulative enough to know a narcissist is nothing without an audience. Their love is contrived from the desire to please their own egos - and the show goes on. And so do I.”

    “And now they are together?”

    “No. They remain apart.”

    “By circumstance?”

    “No. There are options.”

    “When people are in love the only option is each other.”

    The air was as idle, as idle as they sat.

    “I believe this too. Perhaps one day she will mourn me?”

    “How could she ever mourn you?  She has no comprehension of what she has lost. It’d serve you well from this day forward to imagine how much you could love a person whose appreciation matched your effort.”

    “She cried when i left but it felt more like an actress taking her final bow in front of her audience - savoring the applause. La vie, L’amour.”

    “You know? It’s empty now but this city will thrive again. The lifeblood will breach the dam and flow through rusted veins. We will be reminded we are alive. Yes, this city will thrive once more; if we can find the courage to rebuild. But, I sit up here, away from the world. If it is courage I seek, I won’t find it there. You’ve waited for her to be courageous and love you back. You won’t find courage there friend. Courage only exists in people capable of loving something more than themselves.”



  4. Discipline

    The cornerstone of any sense of discipline I possess is my youth spent in Karate class. Karate is particularly physical but there is so much emphasis placed on the state of your mind. It is openly discussed that a healthy mind key to your development as a student of martial arts. I learned to respect my body. I learned that I could do things, and do them well, even if I didn’t want to do them. A nice introduction to the state of existence I now call ‘adulthood’. Mo’ adult, mo’ problems.

    Nope.

    I learned that discipline could be choice I made. Seems obvious, but shit, what a revelation when I was the tender age of 11. I realised that when I used discipline in moderation I could considerably influence the success of my life.

    I gave it up eventually - studying and working in equal measure whilst in high school and wanting to focus on athletics and soccer. Despite not practicing consistently since, I have often found myself desirous to return back to the sport. My belief that martial arts is a genuine art in the form of sport aside, I truly believe it is the discipline I crave to cultivate more consistently that calls me back. This is when I am truly grateful for every dollar, every car ride, every sacrifice of precious time my mother made for me to be at training twice a week and attending tournaments, competitions and gradings. You can never quantify the influence  a parent can have on a child’s life by manifesting their love through a commitment to what the child has decided is important to them as an individual.

     

  5. Educate by Existing

    The idea that anyone has to acknowledge or discuss their sexuality or ‘come out’ is repulsive. However, Ellen Page coming out at age 26 reminded me to be a little more mindful of the struggles of LGBTQ people across the world. Fortunate to be surrounded by love and acceptance, I am embarrassed to confess that I had forgotten that we live in a world where kids are dying due to a society that perpetuates oppressive ideas of what love and sexuality should look like. I concede, this forgetfulness is in fact ignorance.

    We tell kids there is no place for them in our society if their sexuality strays from the accepted heterosexual norm. We casually reinforce these ideas with gender role concepts that set men and women on a path of conformity that ultimately leads to immense internal suppression of self, and ultimately unhappiness. In the most extreme cases, death. Yes, people die as a direct result of all of this and we can not afford to lose lights in a dark place.

    It’s not about marriage equality or phasing out casual homophobia. These issues are merely the visible symptoms of a close minded, ideological virus infecting spirit of humanity. The tyrannical injection of personal opinions about who people choose to have a sexual relationship with is not working. It’s not working because people are dying. On the flip side, people who could otherwise be contributing members of this world are spending their time telling someone else what to do. We have the ability to communicate strong opinions without the caveat that those opinions will then be adopted by the person with whom we sharing them with. That is a simple respect and it should be afford to everyone, by everyone. It should be adopted into the fabric of our human condition. As love already is.

    Love is an entirely universal experience. The experience of meeting the person for whom you feel that sickly sweet love, who your colours your world with an existence that sets your heart on fire, re-adjusts your perspective on your own existence  and changes the way you feel about the world is something no human should ever be denied. I will not accept that a person understands love if they genuinely believe they have the right to deny anyone that experience simply based on the idea it conflicts with what gender they believe someone should love.  The very notion that this is at the core of any human renders me wordless; unable to acutely articulate just how much it sickens me to think that for all of our abilities as humans to grow and evolve we still live in a world that allows this deplorable injustice to members of our Earth.

    To phase out this crippling hatred that simmers below a barely functioning society, it is imperative that individuals strive to demonstrate compassion to any person experiencing oppression. It is the cultivation of this compassion that will truly make a change in the world. Your compassion will be witnessed by those you show it to you and by anyone who observes how you live your life. Simply, exist as a visibly accepting person. Allow your actions to speak for your beliefs. This is applicable to any human rights issue. You do not have to be forceful to make a difference.





  6. 'Chattels' - for STILTS Monthlies: 'Backyards'

    You know that feeling when you’re really about to ruin someones day and you’re seconds away from doing it. Sweaty palms, dry mouth and a constant replay of what might happen making your heart beat like the drums on the Lion King soundtrack? I’m feeling it. I take the last drags of my cigarette. The sun provides a perfect hue and the streets a perfect soundtrack as I watch the smoke dance away in the wind. I’ll take a few more seconds.

    It’s been a long week. It started with my great uncle Tom dying. It was sad, but we were all there with him to the end and he was just grateful and I think, ready. The day before he died he began telling me about his brother, James, my other great uncle who died in 1958, one year after my mother was born. He told me the story of James’ life. Hurried off to war at a tender 18, he returned, and was never quite the same. The more I think about the more I realise he was probably suffering post traumatic stress disorder. I realise those diseases existed in these times, but the rules of engagement in society dictated they be hidden from public life. Proving, the less we know the less we understand, as people carried on broken behind closed doors.

    James had an impressive military career which led him to Australia. The land of opportunity proved lucrative and his family moved out also. He was obsessed with his house. Every detail was worked on until perfection was achieved - the 5 cm edging on the grass, the roses right into the cupboards, the contents labelled with precision and purpose. James obsessed over the smallest possessions. A recluse after his wife died and estranged from his children, he only had Tom. Tom told me that James, in his last days, would spend all day in the backyard. Smoking, drinking and burying his belongings. His dying wish to his brother: to be buried in his backyard with his belongings. It makes no sense to me but studying Tom’s face and expression I saw it: How could Tom say no to his brother who’d suffered his whole life and was about to die young and alone?

    There was still a public funeral and no one asked any questions about there being no open casket. All that was needed was some swift talking and sleight of hand and Tom and two mates proceeded to fulfil James’ dying wish. For all his obsessions with perfection James lapsed when it came to his estate. He’d left his house to the children. Who did not attend their father’s funeral. Despite Tom’s contesting of the will, the children won and sold the house without a second thought; completely silencing Tom and never speaking to him again. Tom had given me a small pocketbook - laced with all the details of James, his death and faded photographs. Tom finished with why he was telling me all of this. Tom wanted me to retrieve James’ body and possessions and arrange for him to be buried in the same plot along with Tom and the rest of the family.

    I’m never sure about the origins of my obligations, but I sure know when I feel them kick in. I finally muster the courage and tap three times on the wrought iron security screen. The large door opened and I stared through the security screen at a sinewy, middle aged woman. She was not interested in waiting for me to collect myself and I surrendered to the barrage of words held in my mouth, like a dam about to breach.

    I introduced myself and, with a polite smile cultivated from working in an Australian office environment in the 1980’s, she gently held the door open and asked how she could help me.

    “I have something to tell you about your backyard.”

     

  7. Act I

    Introduction

    Melbourne is a city of wanderers and lost souls all heading in the same direction. Most people come here looking for something more. It is the only place I’ve really been immersed in where individuality means more than conforming. I suppose that’s why I’ve struggled everywhere else. I am from the Gold Coast. Where, the more you step into the likeness of those around you the more you’re applauded - as if the zeitgeist of the city possesses the same self-obsession of it’s inhabitants to only approve of a person or thing exactly in the image of you.

    A question though, do you know how much more fun you have when you’ve accepted who you are entirely and can finally just be? It didn’t just happen overnight - it’s been a slow burn wake that’s forged itself into my character. Melbourne, as it is and the people that live in this fair city, have had the most profound influence on me, and it was freedom like I have never known.

    Dilemma. I can’t draw. It’s a talent I yearn to have and watch others whom possess it with green eyed envy and astonishment. I’m also not much with a camera. Any photographic success has correlated entirely with the beauty or the intrigue of the subject. I do not contribute any such triumph with any sort of skill I could perhaps possess it just simply isn’t there. Further, despite healthy doses of study and consumption I am not much with my words either. Yet. Certainly, it’s the best I’ve got and this portrait of words serves me more than it ever could anyone else. I can define finally the private thoughts that earmark these moments and people, that sit like cognitive bookmarks I’ve decisively placed into my mind forever, not for fear of losing the memory but rather what the memory means to me.

    I’m certain I am writing about my Melbourne because I want to savour every memory it has given me. I will strive to preserve the gifts and lessons of the city, in words or pictures or however I can. It’s when I have the urge to write about something that I know I truly care. That I deeply want to understand the subject and it’s relevance to me. Melbourne confronted my prejudice about so many cultures and exposed me to the merits of them all - through food, art, music and parties. This city taught me how to have fun and to leave myself imposed solitary confinement and finally experience and accept the world around me.

    I leave this city a better person, a more accepting person, a more compassionate person from the lives that have played out in the distance of my life. Sometimes it gets so hot the ground melts, and you can’t walk outside for too long as the heat from the sidewalk will burn up through your shoes. Other times, you need thermal layering to stand the icy, gusting gale that blows right through you, chilling you to the bone. No matter Melbournes moody, menstrual tension lined weather front its heart beats with a fervour you wish for yourself. There is a moment your when heart finally steps into rhythm with this grand city. It’s so true and intimate, as unmistakable as the feeling the first time you tell someone you love them.

    1

    A constant tip-of-the-hat to the bildungsroman of Brunswick that was the establishment of the Italian communities, are the buildings marked with ‘Si, Parla Italiano’, mostly pharmacies and churches. There is a rich presence of religion that is sprawled across Brunswick, landmarked by the numerous churches lining the streets and mosques and places of prayer the further west you travel. My favorite is St Joseph’s. I don’t know who is doing the board writing though it should be noted they are raw talent. Raw bloody talent delivering some true wisdom thick and fast to the passerby’s and idle minded stare bears on the 55 tram. There’s also the old church on the corner of Victoria and Melville. Opposite another staple of Brunswick life: Con’s Deli.

    There is nothing deli about Con’s. They also claim to have the best burgers in town. They don’t. But, they’re pretty bloody good and if Sophie asks you what salt you want you say ‘Chicken’ and rest assured her tenacious seasoning will give you dry mouth for 24-48 hours. To say Con has a fetish for signage is a euphemism at best and a mere three minutes in that busy little shop finds your mind skirmished with every piece of Officeworks generic shop signage, each with a catch cry or pun to further entice the customer. I think that was the logic anyway. But truly, it’s good food that tastes like an Australian childhood and you can’t help but develop a neighbourly bond with Con and Sophie. We often discussed generational issues: the new blood in Brunswick and the ever-changing face of the little suburb they’d spent all their years apart of.

    I listened to their stories and realised quite soon on that it is their world we are moving into. We now decide what remains important to carry on, and what to discard as dated. That is why there is such a ageist debate between the generations. We negotiate away their innovations they came to see as necessary and replace them with things they can’t see a necessity for. We should always ask the other why? Not out if condescension but out of genuine curiosity to understand a logic other than your own. We forget that it all meant something once. Don’t you want your contributions to still mean something in such time? The very act of understanding provides the progression needed for us to truly pay attention to the world around us. That indeed, it was not created for us, but by us and what role we can subsequently play in that. I cant help but find motivation on creating things I do not want my children or the younger generations to discard. We have a duty to the puzzling gift of life to give back. We have a duty to not become a slave to our ego; motivated entirely by your own returns and thus become entirely self focussed. Sophie’s distinct voice cut through my thoughts like a hot knife through butter, “Your foods’ ready, darl. You want a bag?” she asked. With that, off I went.

    I left Brunswick for while, for North Fitzroy, and I never once replicated the experience I had at Con’s. Though, I did value the heavy handed nature of the lady at the chicken shop, seasoning the chips I savoured every hangover. Good work, lady. North Fitzroy surely had its merits. Coming back to Brunswick whipped the same frenzy in me that I get only when I get to go home and sleep in a bed my mother made up for me. I was heading home. Though, as I moved further from my past I became closer to my memories.

    There’s the bench that earmarks the beginning of something. We sat and shared a joint. I noted the minutes falling through my hands like grains of sand through my fingers. I selfishly thought these minutes were as infinite as the grains of sand; that they were as infinite as the possibilities that surrounded our eager minds and restless ambitions. 

    I’d soon find out though the world spins and unfolds and just when we aren’t looking, switches our mundane life into an episodic crisis. Sometimes, in a matter of heartbeats. In that very moment, the sadness that enters my heart when I think about my parents aging envelopes my body, apples lodged in my throat and cloudy stinging eyes. I became painfully aware that mortality had become a reality rather than a concept. It’s an isolating moment. As if you’re completely detached from the minutes that are passing you by. Your only company is a aural static of the TV humming in the background and the white noise of the world living through this crisis gently creeps through the front door. The struggle to muster the strength and wherewithal that is now required of you becomes ever relevant; everything else shifts in priority and until this is over, this is your life. To this day I couldn’t tell you if this was the right decision or not, but I’ll stand by it.

    My great sorrow for others affected much more greatly than my minimal interaction ever could have allowed, the months of 2013 unfolded amongst a myriad of lessons. The kind of clarity that unfolds on long tram tram rides to and from work, where your mind finally produces the perfectly cut vignette to satisfy or justify your interpretation of the past.

    I have learned the patience to accept that any respite from this sometimes wicked world was respite all the same. Regardless of my tyrannical dictation, which was mostly internalised anyway. In the style of a true grand narrative, I swiftly learned it is the smallest things that reveal the biggest parts to a person. Our hearts do get the better of us sometimes, they’re never too far from restoration if we find ourselves realising the truth of a person. Sooner or later, the mask will slip. And there they are; nothing but words that conflict with behaviour. Which hurts. And sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes, people just live in a world with values and concepts you can’t align yourself with. Do them a favour and don’t associate yourself with their ways. Do yourself a favour and don’t be restricted and burdened by something thats just not for you. Have the respect for their way of life to walk away and let them be as, we hope, they will you. I have wanted so badly to unburden myself with the indulgent concept that people should behave to some sort of code I developed for myself. It only revealed my own lack of faith in my own beliefs. I compromised them for fits of anguish and despair; weariness brought about by an internal catastrophic collapse. I learned that often your discomfort with others serves as a mirror to your own flailing gospels. So, as much as enduring the shortcomings of others I have endured my own shortcomings much the same. Much like our heartbreaks, our moments of clarity must float like buoys amid a sea of memories. There is little we can do but continue on. A healing heart is nurtured with much more ease than a heart tortured but what it can not let go.

    I always think back to the last day of innocent hope of 2013. That day, as I left that bench, the sun burned through the dense summer air of Brunswick and I rode home to a song was playing on my iPod; not knowing it was to visit me in the same context in a different world, many months later. The best I have to offer are the cues of La Vie, L’amour:

    "La vie, la vie ça chante dans l’amour.

    L’amour, l’amour ça crie dans la vie.

    La vie, la vie nous donne tout l’amour.

    L’amour, l’amour nous prend toute la vie.

    La vie, la vie ça meurt pour l’amour.

    L’amour, l’amour ça vit pour la vie.

    C’est l’amour et c’est la vie…”

    Or, in ‘translation’ upon my insistence to understand it as best I could:

    "life, life sings in love

    love, love, screams in life

    life, life gives us all of love

    love, love, takes our whole life

    life, life, it dies for love

    love, love lives for life

    it’s love and it’s life…”

    These words echo within me to this very day.

    2

    Amongst the haunts that are Brunswick by nature as much as longstanding citizenship, the lives of Brunswick inhabitants plays out. It seems like there is a bar or cafe on every other corner in Brunswick. For me, my ghost sits at the picnic tables in the outdoor area of The Union; it sits in the single window seat of John Gorilla; the planter table of Lolo and Wren; the communal table at Wide Open Road; stands in the nut section at La Manna; strums the guitars at Volaris; is being measured up for jeans at Du Jour; vandalising the bathroom at The Retreat with dedications of love in the hope she might see it; afternoon sessions at the Penny Black, that bled into slurred words of wisdom over dinner at Tiba’s and kicking a soccer ball against the wall on a Saturday afternoon at Clifton Park.

    The people of Brunswick exist all amongst this. At it’s cognitive leisure, my brain categorizes and analyses and I can’t help but perpetuate my own stereotypes. There’s the Yupple. The Yuppy Couple. They’ve just bought their first place together with a little help from Mum and Dad and have been together for four years and despite all the fights and red flags, just love each other too much and would die without each other. But it’s ok, they cultivated a self indulgent materialism that now means the mark of a successful relationship is based on the amount of things they have. And aren’t they successful? And of course there are always the friendly baristas/waitstaff/bartenders whose existence legitimise my theory that Melbourne life always brings 1) a hospitality professional crush or 2) a public transport crush. They are always so nice and you swear you didn’t order that or that they ‘for sure’ gave you a discount. These are the only times you’ll tip.

    There’s the blue collar families who have inherited the house from Mum and Dad and slave away to give a life to their kids in an unforgiving and fast paced economy; were anything to happen to Dad the children and wife would struggle given the deplorable gender pay gap that would be imposed upon the woman. But they don’t, and we most certainly don’t, want to talk about that. Even under the simplicity of a nuclear, blue collar Aussie family simmers a misinformed, conservative streak shaped by a media with it’s own agenda and subsequently bears witness to such atrocities as Tony Abbott being elected to power. Brunswick, not to be limited by such a families strict definition of family, is considered home to a large LGBTQ community. Which of course means you’ll no doubt be placed next to an intense lesbian couple who have a toy dog any time you’re out for a meal, and you know they’ll break up in six months. I’m not being judgemental. That is far more autobiographical than it is observational.

    Then there’s the artist/photographer/art history major/writer/whatever. You can’t see their work because ‘it’s not finished yet’. In most cases, barely started. For a generation that hates labels we all too quickly assign a professional one  to ourselves without the body of work to back it up. Often finding themselves out of work, holding out for an offer worthy of them. A subconscious rouse to avoid the hard work and dedication that comes with developing as a creator. You know these people. The kind that thinks themselves a blossoming chef for slow cooking some meat and roasting some vegetables; all too quick to impart their secret recipe of 10 or more seasonings and edgy herbs like rosemary and such. Representative of their defining nature: their sense of self importance overrides any sense of self awareness denying themselves any chance of evolving as a human or artist because despite their empty testaments about wanting to learn; cannot comprehend the hard work of doing so and therefore, never will learn. These people soon fade off into lives that allows this existence, maintaining a solid mindset that the world was against them and their ambitions. When all that’s really left are spoken intentions and what could have been. These people usually pair off interculturally: finding one in the same, coming together in a melodramatic chaos (which, is indeed just how it will end), being together (see: dependant) until the dependance on someone so unreliable wears thin, and they mourn for every moment missed in between now and the life that was sold to them with words, not actions.

    There of course is the others. Everyone else. The cacophony of individuals that exist in Brunswick. They don’t just live - they exist. It’s more of these souls than anyone else, and it makes Brunswick what it is. In learning to treasure the municipality and inhabitants of Brunswick, I have learned these are just people and places. People and places. Both are things we can lose all too quickly, our head in our hands questioning why we have nothing when we placed everything in what is now gone. But a person who can find comfort in their own sense of who they are is never not at home. Brunswick was where I learned what home was and I haven’t looked outside of myself for this comfort since.

    3

    Before Brunswick, there was a time when weekly Metro tickets were paper and $27.00. I was living in Footscray. Footscray was African food, Olympic Donuts, Vietnamese sandwiches and running through West Bulldogs’ training oval at 5:52am whilst the sprinklers soaked the grounds because I had to make the 5:58am train. Soaking wet, I’d slip through the doors of the train as they closed. Footscray was skateboarding to do the shopping, running amok in the Savers, skating top to bottom in the Footscray market car park and ice creams from the IGA. Sunday mornings were reserved for housemate hang out time. We’d walk through the heart of Footscray to Seddon for a hang-over breakfast at Seddon Deadly Sins. That place takes ‘concept’ to a new level. A real theatrical dining masterpiece, where seven is compromised for a Seddon pun and satanic iconage is emblazoned on the tables at which you sit. It’s the cafe representation of the woman who was once was told ‘purple was her colour’ and her wardrobe, furnishings and car detailing has since slowly morphed into a wave of purple. Magenta to violet but always, purple. It’s taking an idea and running with it, sprinting emphatically into the fiery, unforgiving pits of bad taste. So, there it was and there we were and it was all as it should have been. I always wanted to ask: are you open Seddon days a week?

    My time in Footscray can really be quantified by a single anecdote about a table. A ping pong table. For my entire existence within the realms of a long-term, intense relationship I was always told what I couldn’t do. Essentially, parts of myself I should suppress to maintain the illusion of being at peace with each other. I went along with it.  When I was told I couldn’t build a table, I just thought well I can’t do it. In most ponderings in the aftermath of this relationship, I discovered I most certainly could and should have built that damn table. Jesus was a carpenter, for fucks sake. Is there seriously not enough material on how to build this simple construction around that I could not get my head around it and create something? My actions were lathered with rage and the cogs turned fast on the reclaiming of my once ambitious self. A person only limited to what they believed in themselves they could do. Armed with supplies and a few innovations, I turned the loungeroom of my two bedroom apartment on Gordon Street into a workshop and and I built a fucking great table. That table went on to live in three separate homes, saw in a New Year, was used as a dining table, served many a round of beer pong and eventually shifted off to a home unknown. In Brunswick, hard trash is an opportunity. One that lasts 45 minutes on average.

    Picking through ones own industrial sized emotional hard rubbish waste bin is never fun, especially in the dawning days of heartache. Trust me, a resourceful neighbour with a spot for a new bookcase is not interested in taking this lot off your hands. You feel empty and indifferent; without love and without hate. It was in the moments I truly felt I lived without love in my life that I was finally gifted the ability to see it all around me. Love, true love, is faith. I realised true love doesn’t discriminate based on the context: romantic, friendships, family.

    You must trust the words of others and be humble enough to address your imperfections in the eyes of others. Make no mistakes, there are a lot. In my case and at this time they were certainly abundant. We must have faith in those we love to do the same. And we must be patient. It must be enough to know that just as it is now is not how it will remain, and have faith that the purity of your love will be the guidepost that brings them back to you. And you, you must wait. It is an immense battle. Often the battlefields simply look too bleak in the unedited rawness of reality. However, and I learned: with what we give we set a standard for what is to be reciprocated. Our compassion for each others paves the path for it to come back to you; and who knows who I’d be without the compassion, faith and love demonstrated to me. The ability to be compassionate brings out your ability to love and to understanding the failings and trials of being a human. At the core of any of that is the ability to be compassionate. This is especially helpful in the face of aggression or the deceptive guise of monsters living in plain sight. Yes, it was an important table to build. That was Footscray though. Lessons layered in micro situations and a hell of a lot of fun.

    4

    People first respond to my moving overseas with the question: are you scared? The short answer is of course, no. I know I could never be as scared as that little girl residing in Footscray, afraid of everyone and everything. It is anguish to live amongst such anxieties. Isolated, I realised: my fears and shortcomings are never related to where I am or who I am with. The exist entirely within me. Address that clusterfuck of confusion and lack of understanding around the superficialities of existence and then most likely, things will fall into place. Well, yes, but no. There’s some basic training in there. You have to survive in the meantime.

    I know it now as just surviving somewhere new. I didn’t even know Flinders Street when I arrived in Melbourne. A testament to any humans ability to do more than they believe possible; to survive. We need to be put through survival training every now and then. Surprise ourselves with our ability to problem solve. Surprise ourselves with our initiative when we really need it. Surprise ourselves by making it through, broken but wiser. Now the time has come to depart these shores and my limited wisdom ensures me I have no reason to fear or another second to waste. That’s Act II. That is Berlin.

    I rest assured. I know it now and I have known it for sometime and to quote a much wiser, fictional figure from that ever-famous film:  I’ll always have Brunswick.

    I’ll always have Brunswick, for broken and wiser.

  8. (Source: fortyseven47)