sitting next to me on my first international flight to the land down under was a very well dressed business man from LA. we chatted, he ordered me a drink, touched my leg. he slid his credit card through the phone on the seat in front of me and asked softly as he passed it over to me 'who do you want to call baby?' i remember thinking, nobody. warm red wine in miniature bottles. i closed my eyes feeling glamorous. arriving in LA i had a 5 hour layover and was waiting outside when he casually walked out into the light smog of los angeles, into the humidity, into the arms of a beautiful woman... who was presumably his wife considering she had 30 grand on her hand. the man that was laughing and flirting with me not 30 mins before now looked back over his broad armani clad shoulder, right through me. i lit a smoke.
we flew for almost 2 endless days with stopovers and awful delays....by the time we touched down on australian soil i was exhausted to the point of being delirious. was it day or night? the passengers anxious and blurred, the noises distorted and far off, i felt numb and gave in letting the flow of people carry me along like a current towards the baggage carousel. as my backpack rolled by me on the conveyer belt it occurred to me albiet briefly where i was and exactly what i'd done. i had just flown around the globe on a whim. an angry prideful whim.
outside the wind was warm and it was night. my feet ached and were thankful for the firm ground finally underneath them. a taxi took me to a hostel in kings cross which is the last place you want to be in downtown sydney at 3am unless your a shit faced university student who's lost his way, a crack dealer or a hooker. i curled up into the thin sheet on the lower half of an old wooden bunk bed, my backpack against the wall behind me. images flying through my head. excited and scared.
the next morning when i woke up i realized it wasn't a dream. i felt hungover without having drank. in my pocket 200$ and an email address of an australian boy D i had met in canmore. if it wasn't for this particular family taking me in while i found somewhere to work/rent i can't imagine what would have happened to me. the mom S was funny and strong willed and curious, wondering what the hell i was up too. the 2 younger brothers R &A shy and handsome. their father an indian man (dot not feather) was arrogant and outspoken. i shouldn't complain even 12 years later as i was technically nothing more than a squatter in my sleeping bag on the floor of his small office. D played guitar and was... and still is handsome beyond your wildest imagining. eyes and voice absolutely dreamy. i stayed 10 days watching him, eating with his family, contemplating my next move. maybe longer. i remember the dad telling me over supper one night that i ate like a horse and did all girls from canada eat with such an appetite? then excusing myself to go and throw up in their bathroom. i was so angry. watching the water spin the opposite way down the drain, i felt all the rage and shame i had ran from. had i gone so far away to feel exactly the same?
i found work at a tiny beach cafe wearing hideous flower shirts and serving coffee in flip flops. the boss yelled at me and spit at my feet saying i was a fucking worthless sheila. i took night shifts in a fine dining restaurant with white linens and polished silverware. one night an elderly lady drank so much wine and as she teetered to the front i asked her if she was alright...she smiled politely and putting her head slowly down began to vomit. instinctively i put my hands forward. standing there with two cupped hands full of old lady puke, my second day on the job. other than that particular experience the dining room was quite elegant. i rented a room in a small apartment shared with a chubby girl who had a pet rat that she let it sleep in her shirt at night. she didn't like me very much but needed the rent. the bathtub a light chipped porcelain pink. she hid her food. i looked in underwear drawer once and she had huge lacy dark costumes. goth. we avoided each other out of respect. on days off i'd walk down past the morning market's when the vendors were just putting out their fruit. melons and papay's and mango's. small winding paths around the oceans edge, kids with surf boards running down the esplanade. waves salty and crashing. the air heavy with humidity. a spot in the warm sand. cronulla. i liked not knowing anything about the place. i loved that no one knew anything about me.
it didn't take long to lock eyes with one of the cook's over an order of lobster ready to be taken out. tall, dark hair, sly grin. a surfer boy named L. we became close right away. after shift we would sit on the big rock's at the edge of the ocean. drink warm red wine till we couldn't stand, eat stale bread bread that we had tucked away into our pockets, laugh about people. we made our plans out-loud. he felt dangerous with open ends, like me going nowhere fast. living in his apartment...i think we fell in love. i fell in something anyways. he also played guitar but not at all like D, his guitar wasn't soft and instrumental...L's guitar was your neighbor fucking hates you aggressive and loud. drugs. ectasy, mushrooms, dope. nothing too crazy. a bit of cocaine. one hangover blended into another and months went by like this. lighting incense. listening to beth orton. thinking about the food we couldn't afford because we drank it. a period of intense forgetting. one night we unknowingly arrived home into a domestic scene caused by his not so long ago ex who had ripped all his (my) belongings into shreds. a crazed drunken screaming woman is a fascinating thing unless she's after you. she was older than me and much more worn. she had broken cd's, town picture's, ripped clothing. withing seconds both her hands around my neck choking me against the side of the apartment i no longer felt was mine. i can still feel her long fake nails in my skin. she ran as police arrived. i sat there across from 2 cops looking up at L thinking my surfer dude was perhaps not so 'chill' after all. the one thing she yelled at me as she left was repeating over and over in my mind.... 'don't trust him...don't trust him'
L and i traveled hours north by train to surfer's paradise along with his roomate N to work at a catering company for the FX games. we somehow found an abandoned crack house/pot grow op and i suppose he paid somebody something to sleep there and maintain the plants. it was an absolute leaking stinking shithole. 2 huge barking dogs outside belonging to nobody. peeling paint. no hot water. dirty shag carpet. we had no money and no food. stealing from work to survive. cigarette's go last and i chain smoked sitting on a sofa i was certain somebody had died on, and probably not that long ago either. tiny lizards clung onto the moisture of the walls and cockroaches scurried across the floor. i turned 19. the job at the catering company fell through getting us only a week or two of pay. we found a flat of generic grape pop which quieted our rumbling stomach's. molded bread and fruit. i desperatley got hired at some ritzy asshole place in town called 'cairo'. a few shifts in i was already showing up late and tired. not because i was hungover. not because i wasn't eating or because i was high. but because i was pregnant. almost 3 months pregnant. i found out the same day they fired me.
what comes up must come down my friend...but the higher the thing is, the longer it takes to do so... and the clouds were still far far beneath my dirty tanned feet until i woke up one morning inside the house alone. my life inside the backpack propped up against the wall. the driveway empty. a scribbled note saying 'i can't take this anymore' he had left me.