A Letter To An Old Friend

Hi there.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Is it sad that I can remember the exact day when we last spoke? I guess not because you’ve always made a habit of hanging around in my mind, even when you weren’t wanted.

I’ve been wanting to write this for such a fucking long time, you have no idea. Things were never the same after you told me about you and her. When you actually admitted that you had lied to me. When you promised that you were happy and nothing would change, and the opportunities were endless.

We had such a whirlwind friendship. So close, then so far apart, and in love, then out of love. Holding hands and touching toes, secrets mumbled in the dark. Discussing everything and anything that we knew no one else would really understand.

Sleeping in til 1pm and dragging ourselves out for hot chips and gravy. Sprawling on the grass discussing the meaning of happiness, and if we would ever get there.

Unanswered texts and ignored calls, making my heart sink a little more each time. It’s just a phase, I would tell myself, you do this, but soon enough, you’ll find your way back to me again. I spent so long convincing myself that you were a good friend, my best friend and that despite all your flaws we were soulmates. Not in that way, of course, but in the way that we always knew we belonged to each other, and would just be there.

There were signs before, of course there were. Like that time you didn’t want me to come over because you felt like having a quiet night (meanwhile I could hear your music blasting from across the suburb) and I had to beg you to let me visit, because dark thoughts were clouding my head.

We rarely had the answers the other needed, and often were lost for words when it counted the most, but that didn’t really matter. We had each other, no matter what, and that always kept me going.

I’ve thought about messaging you so many times, to let bygones be bygones and all that shit, just so I could have someone to seriously discuss music with. After all, we had simply drifted apart, there was no reason I couldn’t reach out and strengthen our bonds once again.

But I haven’t. I’ve been strong, and have held my ground and didn’t come begging this time, because if you really wanted to be my friend then you would be. It’s as simple as that. I can’t pretend I’m perfect, life gets busy and the weeks blur by, but I always made time for you. Because that’s what you do. You make time for the people you care for.

I don’t know if this is coming off as angry or just downright pathetic, but it feels good to let it out and know that you’ll probably never see it (unless of course, one of our charming mutual friends decides to spread it around). You were my life raft for so long, but slowly drifted out of sight, and now, out of the sheer need to survive, I can swim on my own.

Ah yes, there’s a lot of water metaphors going on here. But isn’t that one of the reasons we loved Youngbloods so much? They just got it. They got us. Damaged souls trying to navigate the world, dreaming of big things whilst being stranded in a small town.

At least you had your beachside escape. You were my escape, and when you were gone things became a little harder, but hey, I adapted.

 

Cover image by Joel Birch.

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The Beauty of the Polaroid

Growing up, Polaroid cameras were something of the past. A token at every cool party in every cool 90’s movie, and those funny pictures you’d find online that had the white textured borders around them. 

The smartphone was up and running and somewhat affordable, so everyone who was anyone had one. Gone were the days of lugging around digital cameras and filling up memory cards with cheesy group photos (ala Friends) and action shots of just about anything. You no longer had to fight your siblings for a chance to use the computer, only to spend hours uploading and editing and posting and tagging and haphazardly filing them away into ‘My Pictures’.

Now, our phones, hell, even our iPods, had convenient little cameras which meant documenting was a whole lot easier and “in the moment”. However, somewhere along the way, we became obsessed with said documentation. We all remember the phase when instagramming your lunch was actually a thing, and hashtags and emojis became their own language. 

As the instant photography trend took off, the variety of editing apps not only tripled but became affordable (if they weren’t already free, that is). Suddenly, we were all amateur photographers, with all the tools we needed at our fingertips to create the perfectly contrasted snap. And of course, there was the magical benefit of taking multiple photos in one hit, for all of us who “didn’t like the angle of my face in that pic”. 

Suddenly, capturing moments was no longer about capturing moments and freezing time – it revolved around good lighting and effortless cool poses (you know the ones I’m talking about) and getting the most likes. Sure, we were sharing our lives more than ever, but only the curated version – the only that took 28 shots to be deemed worthy of sharing. 

In the midst of this chaos, in came the savior we all needed, but didn’t necessarily want, returned (think: Batman at the end of The Dark Knight). Slowly, these beautiful, vibrant pictures with the vaguely familiar white borders started popping up in my feeds. Sometimes the faces were too bright, or the scenery a little washed out, but man were they something. 

I had already begun dabbling in film photography, but I was drawn to the Polaroid 300 instant camera for its user-friendly design and intriguing results. I adored how you couldn’t tell if a picture worked until after it was developed and until you’d used that precious piece of film. How film was not cheap, so it was important to cherish the photos you actually took.

At the beginning, I would get so disappointed if a Polaroid didn’t turn out. Even after doing everything right, sometimes they just wouldn’t develop how I imagined. But I made the rule to never throw a Polaroid out – even if the colours were distorted and the people next to unidentifiable. There was just something so dreamy about having that moment physically captured in my hands.

I used to have them arranged neatly on my bedroom wall, but soon the collection grew too vast for that, and I had to do something I’d dreaded from the start – hiding them away in an album. To me, photo albums were the photography equivalent of a rusty old filing cabinet, and my pictures were far too special to go in one of those! But, I reasoned, they would be protected and easier to transport and had a lesser chance of being chewed by a cat or small visitor. 

After 4 years I’ve filled 6 and a half albums (not to mention the ones I’ve got on display/given away) which work out to be a little over 400 Polaroids in my possession. I’ve never counted it before, so wow, that really is a lot. Over 400 physical reminders of the past, all gathered neatly into books small enough to fit into my handbag. 

I still can’t explain exactly why I’m so drawn to them, but it’s pretty cool that I’m still passionate about it after 4 years. I love teaching people how to use them (especially little kids) and continue to be stern with those who try to shake them or hold them face up whilst they’re developing (please don’t be that irresponsible!). I’ve seen a lot of people keep them in their wallets or on the fridge, and now that it’s become trendy again there is a whole range of official Instax accessories to complete your collection, so that’s neat. 

As for me, I’m still pretty old school. I treat them like they’re special, because they are. I use my camera for all sorts of occasions and events, and sometimes for no other reason than to get a cute pic with James, and I always make sure there’s a spare film pack stashed for such times. 

Polaroids will always remind me of fun and magical times, because it’s easy enough nowadays to whip out your phone and take a picture or video (hell, you don’t even have to unlock it anymore) but using the Polaroid, for me anyway, means it’s a time that I genuinely cherish and want to document. 

Sure, it’s not the cheapest hobby, but it’s one that will connect you to a physical object, and one that you can look to as often as you’d like. I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with this post and of course, I could try and convince you to test one out, but chances are you already have. And if you have, well, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

Home Is…

Curled up in your arms, watching something and trying not to fall asleep.

A trundle bed on my little brother’s floor.

A space filled with art prints and knick knacks and well preserved books.

A comfy chair in a lovely smelling bookstore.

A makeshift “bed” on the floor of my best mate’s hotel room.

A blow up mattress in a spare room in Brisbane.

A seat on a plane taking me to somewhere new.

A beach – any beach, any where, as long as I can smell the sea.

A slope on a hill at the most eastern point of Australia. 

Being in the front row of my favourite band.

Dancing in the rain with a friend I’ve just met.

Holding hands with you as we walk to get pizza.

Cuddling my baby brother, and watching as he experiences everything for the first time.

The driver’s seat on a long road trip.

The streets of New York – all of them.

Falling asleep listening to the rain at my parents’ house.

Sitting on a barstool as you make me a cup of tea.

The beach house.

Any gig that involves Amity.

Laying on the floor listening to a record for the first time.

Writing on a long bus commute.

In the crowd at a festival.

Pulling on my docs after not wearing them for months.

Jumpers that aren’t mine.

Sitting next to you as you try to teach me about computer games.

Being anywhere and watching 500 Days of Summer.

On top of a mountain filled with snow.

In an apartment overlooking a lake.

The back veranda of my grandparents’ place.

A mental bench on a barge heading to an island.

The sweet scent of a summer storm.

 

Home is wherever or whatever makes your heart full.

 

 

*This piece was inspired by one of my favourite songs “Home Is” by Trophy Eyes. It’s really quite beautiful and is one for all the wanderers. 

What Makes A Relationship “A Relationship”?

So you’re probably thinking: “Jeez, Vivienne, how the hell am I supposed to answer that?” 

Well friend, I don’t expect you to. Or at least not in the same way that I would, or your parents would, or a shrink would.  Hell, even googling the definition of the word relationship came up with multiple different meanings; my favourite being:

Relationship (noun): the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

Which is quite sweet, when you put it that way, but also very practical, because relationships do in fact connect people. Human beings thrive on connection, we always have, and yet, after hundreds of thousands of years, we still struggle to define the relationships we share with certain people. 

Of course they aren’t always so complicated. Sometimes a friend is just a friend, or you have that rare distant cousin that you actually like, or a partner that you have been married to forever. There are lots of relationships in our lives that are uncomplicated, and for the most part, shall remain so. You know the ones – like the cashier at your local post office, or the nice girl at your favourite takeaway shop. It’s easy, simple, straightforward. You say a quick hello and thank them before hauling your ass home to open your new clothing/highly anticipated chicken stir fry.

But, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I’m not talking about those relationships. Those are easy. They don’t cause us to lay awake at night, obsessively going over every interaction you’ve had that past week, or questioning if they’re mad at you because they didn’t add a smiley face to the end of that text or if that girl in those tagged Facebook photos is really  just a friend of a friend. Yeah, we’ve all been there. It fucking sucks. We have all of this technology that’s supposed to help us feel “connected” and here we are, hiding behind screens too petrified to just march over and ask “what the hell is going on between us?!” 

It’s a strange concept, and one I’ve found myself pondering over quite often. I’m lucky enough now to be in a relationship where everything is completely transparent – we know how we feel about each other and what the other one wants, and that we make each other happy. Hell, sometimes I still pinch myself over how good I’ve got it. But it wasn’t always this way.

For a good 8 months, I was one of those people in limbo. I used to look for signs in everything – a text, a conversation, a look, a touch, a gesture. Anything that could potentially shine a bit of light as to how the heck he felt towards me.

Now, I’m not trying to group boys together here, but I do have a little bit of sympathy for them. The majority of the ones I know were raised by fathers who taught them not to be weak, and as helpful a trait as that may be, it also means that it makes it that much fucking harder for us girls to get a meaningful or personal answer out of them. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard “I don’t know” I would be living in a trendy warehouse loft in Brooklyn by now. I can’t complain too much, because with a lot of prodding and patience we managed to talk things out, but boy was it exhausting.

I hate to be the one who pulls this card, but movies and books do NOT help you in these circumstances. All the good YA books most definitely are fiction, because things don’t happen like they do in those novels! My god, I wish they did. The genre should be changed to ‘Never Happening To You’ because that’s kind of how I felt reading them during that period of my life. Don’t get me wrong, they are dreamy and romantic and whimsical and oh so cool, but c’mon! They’re helping set our expectations stupidly high and putting a little voice in our heads that reminds us at every possible moment how our lover/partner could be being more romantic/spontaneous at that moment.

I’m not even going to get started on rom-com’s. It’s my own fault for liking them. I know what I’m getting myself into. And yet, I watch them over and over again, gaping at how sweet they are and chiding my inner voice that maybe there are people out there who still act like that. But there’s clearly none in Cairns.

I’m not writing this post to say that I’m unhappy – quite the opposite in fact. I’m scarily happy with James, but it took a long time for us to get to this point. And that long time involved a lot of texting and phone calls and scheduling around work rosters and late night conversations that finally led to me asking if we could just properly be together already. Lucky for me, the answer was yes. But I know for a lot of people it isn’t. And that’s what breaks my heart the most. When we go through all of this bullshit and chasing and deciphering and interpreting and crying and lying on the floor, not knowing how to handle these situations in this technology-shielded world. That although, yes, we are infinitely blessed with our lives and the access we have, but at the same time, how is has created a pixelated void that fate and chance meetings used to once fill.

As a girl in her 20’s, I am terrified of dating in this world; which again, only makes me that much more grateful that I reunited with someone instead of having to start all over again. I know it can be fun and exciting and interesting, but it’s also incredibly exhausting too. Especially when you think everything is going well and you have a really good connection and then you finally find the courage to ask “what are we doing?” or the real big one: “are we in a relationship?” and it turns out that you’re just not the right girl for them or they’re not looking for anything serious at the moment. Ugh. 

As usual, this post strayed from it’s original concept, but that’s just how the brain works, I suppose. It’s actually pretty fascinating how six words have sparked such a deep and opinionated piece from myself, but I stand by what I’ve written nonetheless. 

What brought all this on was initially wondering “how do we define a romantic relationship between two people? Like, what actually takes it from being ‘just a thing’ to a full blown relationship? Is it a question, or a verbal agreement, or an unspoken understanding that you are together and that’s that? Is there some sort of checklist we can tick off to ensure that a possible relationship meets the offical criteria?” Well, the short answer is: no, of course not, silly. But it’s a nice idea.

Something I have learnt pretty quickly over the last 9 months is that every relationship is different. Sounds cliched and completely obvious, I know, but it really is something we overlook when we start comparing milestones and behaviours. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of seeing a friend being really happy with their partner and subconsciously noting how your relationship sizes up to theirs. I’m sorry, but no matter how cute their situation may be – yours is never going to be the same. It’s just biologically impossible. We are all individual human beings, with unique thoughts and feelings and reactions, so how can we expect that any two relationships will be exactly the same? 

Once I stopped comparing I realised how much easier it was to be grateful for what I have, and stop worrying about what I didn’t have yet. The best thing I’ve learnt from being with James is to have faith and to have patience, and yes, they have absolutely paid off. 

So I guess if you take anything from this long and extremely rambly post, take that: have faith, and have patience, and if you don’t think it’s worth it, take a break and cut communication for a while. After a couple of weeks you’ll either start missing them like crazy or feel content with your choice.

 

Sending you good vibes in this crazy age,

Viv  x

The Power of You

An ode to all of those boys who’ve captured our hearts – and don’t quite realise what that means.

 

This post is a little different. The idea came to me approximately five minutes ago, in that weird state between being awake and having a nap where your brain is gliding between 17 different trains of thought. Honestly, now that I’m fully awake, I don’t  know where that track was taking me, but I knew I had to get the idea down before I lost it forever (an unfortunately regular occurrence).

So, “The Power of You” – a title we usually see on the cover of self-help or meditative books, promising that through self-love and being in touch with ourselves we will become happier people. Well, that’s the plan anyway. But this post is for the other ‘you’. The ‘you’ that we think of when we hear a cute song lyric, or read a Beau Taplin poem or wish to be spooning us at night. We’ve all got one of those ‘you’s. Some people are lucky enough to see theirs everyday; others occasionally, and some not at all. Some are torn apart by seas, or families or maybe their ‘you’ is a famous music producer (yes, Flume, I’m looking at YOU – I’m yours when you want me). Whatever the case, there’s always someone that drifts into your mind when you least expect it. Or maybe you’re purposely thinking of them. Or maybe you hear and feel these things and dream about a person you haven’t met yet.

What a wonderful thought, to know that your soul mate is still out there, dreaming you up in their fantasies.

I guess, the point of this is to say, to you, to be gentle with me. With all of us, if you know how we feel. It’s a tough world out there, and liking someone is anything from easy these days, so I think it’s important (incase we are someone’s ‘you’) to be kind and appreciate when someone does something nice for us. I feel like I am rambling, but it’s hard to get a feeling out and expressed via a laptop. I should be better at it since my brain never shuts up, but I’m not. Apparently, boys are even worse at communicating their feelings so good luck to us all!

I’m sure that half the people reading this will think it’s a load of whinging girl bullshit (you’re not far off there, dude) but to the others – you know what I’m talking about. It’s crazy how you can go from being completely content and satisfied with your life, to meeting someone who flips the whole universe upside down. Suddenly, everything can be looked at from a different angle. Songs appeal to you differently. Days seem brighter, or darker, depending on how things are between you both. You find yourself reminiscing on conversations had the night before, and secrets and memories shared in the early hours of a Tuesday morning.

It’s totally fine not having – or wanting – someone, but when you do… gee, there’s nothing quite like it. Every time I see the word ‘you’ now; in a poem, in a song or in a book; written by the author to their ‘you’, well, I think of you. Every. Single. Time. And then there are the times when I write with you in my mind. I paint with my water colours and dream up cute little phrases or search for lyrics to communicate all of these bubbling thoughts in my head. I wish I was a better writer so that I could fully capture how you make me feel. Yes, I love you. No, you don’t love me back. But we still see each other, and have a nice time. And that’s okay. Not everyone gets a perfect textbook relationship. This is the real world, after all. I’m just learning to practice my gratitude towards our situation.

Because there sure is a helluva lot to be grateful for.

 

 

This…. didn’t go where I was expecting it to. I wanted to write almost a letter, to all of those ‘you’s out there, but I kind of got caught up thinking about… you.

So maybe this post makes complete and perfect sense after all. Because when I planned to write something completely different and advice-like, I ended up writing about you. Go figure.

 

P.P.S. I wrote this post over two months ago, on a day quite like today. I was hesitant to publish it because it’s a lot more personal and a little more deep than my regular content, but I hope you enjoyed all the same. x