Saturday, November 28, 2015

Check Out

I always said that the last time I partied was in the basement bar of a Brisbane hostel in 2008. We chewed on sugary pink frost and danced among crowds that were familiar, yet eroding each night. We kissed strangers and posed for photographs, mouths wide, arms intertwined. We staggered through the night streets together because he promised that he would show me the most beautiful grand piano in the city. It was in the foyer of a 5-star hotel and when he found the front door was locked, he used a credit card to disengage the latch. It was about 4am when a concierge interrupted his playing and we were asked to leave.

Living and working in a London hostel, I've continued to use that metaphor of the constantly eroding social scene. We have this communal consciousness of our timelines which overlap. At reception, there is a vast collage of photographs, portraits of people we don't recognise, at parties we never attended. They wear bedsheets as togas and hold cans of beer aloft, as if they have won some sort of trophy. We remark on this wall each day and how this place must have held so much significance to them, but now the memory exists as a complete abstraction to us.

This morning, I said goodbye to one of my closest friends and work colleagues here, my other Swedish friend, Malin. Last night, we talked about how we had hoped and wished that these links would be preserved, a Facebook message would be exchanged every so often, a meeting would be arranged in a New York bakery. We agreed that we couldn't know the legacy of this time. We couldn't rely on the idea of enduring friendships that go on to exist well beyond this place. For the sake of my heart though, I imagine it will all last forever.

I write in the knowledge that I will soon need to say goodbye to the most important person here. We try to take advantage of our last nights together. We reconvene each night in the kitchen to drink mugs of cold milk together. He accompanies me on my Epiphone Dot while I sing Tom Petty, Ricky Nelson and George Harrison songs. We rarely venture into the cold London night, but when we do we remark on how odd it is that we have never been on the tube or the bus together.

When Malin decided to leave, she told me how the hostel had become a shrine to memories of an earlier time. Each space seemed to be full of stories of consequence, everywhere represented a connection with someone who had left. She predicted a similar sense of loss and association would occur for me, when what happened seems to overshadow any hope for a future connection. I keep on asking those who have decided to leave whether I will ever really know when it is time to go. They assured me that the desire to go becomes so apparent that it is overwhelming. Obsessive dreams of home seem to overtake anything London has to offer.

I try to take advantage of the moments I have left here, all the while thinking of how I can manage that inevitable, but no less immense sense of loss. There's a part of me that feels that I will stay here and mourn for them forever.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Ricardo would sit across from me when everything was quiet and dark. Everyone in the kitchen had stopped creating their messes, everyone in the lounge room had abandoned their epic film. He would ask me questions about love, lust and attachment, pausing to listen to my theories and then clarifying his own view. There would never be any embarrassment between us, we would merely attempt to describe an irrational attitude.

I would tell him things that I only ever clarified in morning pages, how the great lovers reflect certain passions like music, writing or creative projects, all things that continue to exist within myself. It's a moment that rang out, that second he asked me, "But doesn't it make you angry that they still occupy so much of your heart?" I felt such relief when I responded, "But they don't. They don't occupy any part of me any more."

I don't know when they left me, but I think I accepted that it was absurd to grieve, it was foolish to yearn when the present moment opened up so many more possibilities. They still exist in the ether though, as remorseless yet cowardly ghosts in stories. They are one dimensional figures with detailed and finite tastes and persuasions. I make careless declarations, "Of course I still love them, I will always love them... it's just that I've grown committed to those friends who stay, those who ultimately choose to be with me."