It has been an hour since dinner. Two nights since I was last on a plane from Darwin – where I had been only just wearing a sundress. A week since I stopped trying to text Ben. A fortnight since Singapore. Five weeks since I last saw his face. Six since he decided to end the marriage.
I chart time because it gives me perspective. It reminds me to consider how slowly or quickly things do change, how short or long it takes for the consequences of our actions to have impact, and how near or far we travel in order to understand ourselves. It reminds me to be gentle to myself.
It feels like the marriage was a lifetime ago now. And yet – it has only been six weeks. How quickly can one be made to feel like a stranger?
I now know that I was deeply depressed for the last six months or so. I was grieving many things: the loss of my home and sanctuary in being nomadic for over a year; spending all those months living apart from Ben last year and finding ourselves less and less of a team; the exhaustion from making schedules and flights work to fit trips to Berlin to see Ben amongst my creative pursuits, practice and day job – whilst trying to establish regular income so that the financial dynamics in the relationship can finally change; my grandmother’s death – and the subsequent, amplified grief for a parallel life where I had dinner with my blood family every weekend.
At the end of the long-distance stint,
we – I resumed some strange sense of normal when nothing was normal about my circumstances. We found a house – but it was not my home.
I watched myself spiral – and instead of meeting my sadness and vulnerability with kindness and generosity – I watched spiral upon spiral of weight and darkness accumulate and compound, until the line cut off. The world closed in, and I was snowed under. And in spite of deep love, fear won this round. And I lost my best friend.
At the turn of the new year, I was sitting by a fire in the backyard of my dearest friends. Heart warmed and nourished by friendship, later on, I wrote:
Fire, bubbles, friends. 2017 can be characterised by movement and momentum; I distilled and found clarity in my goals, and when I thought I was doing less, the more life landed for me. This year, I’ve had more moments with my family in sg, I’ve spent more time in new places, I’ve had really significant gigs, and I’ve become good friends with really good people. And though Ben and I spent most of it apart, and home was mostly elusive, what grounded me were a few key things: good food, good company, and a lot of rest. And letting my heart hurt, and having a good cry when I needed it. I never make resolutions, and I like surprises – so 2018 can bring all it may. But one thing each year has revealed to me – is how ambitious I actually am, far more than I think, or present myself to be – in my work, relationships, and wellbeing. I have big dreams and a no-plan-plan, as I have had for all my life. I am idealistic and optimistic, but measured and practical – maximum return for minimum output – sustainability is found in efficiency. And I am driven. And with that, 2018, I am equipped for what’s coming.
I have to say – I am clearly getting what I asked for.
I chart time also because it helps shape the narratives I’d rather believe in. In my practice of writing autobiographical stories, I am constantly reminded of my early research – that our memories are really only the memory of the last memory, and never of the thing/event itself. And in this continual act of remembering – we are liable to forgetting. We are liable to fiction.
But facts do not a story tell. Simultaneously, it is entirely possible to participate in the continual act of rewriting our stories – we can determine the narratives we tell ourselves. We can determine the truths we choose to hold on to.
And I want to hold on to what is true.
At the start of 2014, after a very trying first few years of our marriage, I started writing my first solo work, Saltwater. In 2015, it premiered at Theatre Works and toured to Brisbane Festival, and Bleach* Festival in 2016, and even had an adapted iteration back at Metro Arts, where I had been given massive support to develop the work from the beginning.
I’m sharing the score now because writing that story gave me so much depth and perspective to empathise and understand my marriage, to accept and recognise change and growth, and to find resolution in the vows I wrote and made. But every story has a lifespan – in fact, I would never have performed it again without a complete rewrite after that last season.
So in favour of time as dramaturgical device – while I hold on to the embers of this last story, I wait quietly for the next narrative to unravel itself.
It is time to listen.