Press play and repeat.
Australia turns into liquid and runs through my hands. I’m leaving Melbourne and in five sleeps I’ll be on a plane to Kathmandu. As with all goodbyes and transitions, there’s a distinct flavor of bittersweetness. I can feel the pulse of excitement and lust for the road, yet nostalgia sticks to the back of my tongue. This place has been my home. A fleeting home but still, home.
I haven’t published anything on my blog for the past few months. All my creative energy has been harnessed into writing my first memoir and poetry book. What you will read in the next few minutes are remnants of time sprawled through different months. Some excerpts from my personal journals, some from my memories, some written on different mediums, all puzzle pieces and fragments of each month drawn from the past. I’ll start from the first piece, as I draw it from the very beginning.
Journal entry: August 6, 2015
I look outside and it’s perfectly gray. I watch the water droplets streaming down the window as I wait for the line out of the plane. Grabbed my backpack, step out into the icy air and the brisk wind slams on my face. It’s gloomy, the sky is different, it’s freezing cold and I can already feel the buzz of the city. A part of me asks “Why in the flying fuck did you leave Byron?”, and the calmer part of me says, “Everything will be alright. You’re meant to be exactly where you are right now.”
I know that last voice well. It has saved me a number of times so I follow it.
That morning was my last one in Byron Bay. Ziggy the cat was jumping around the studio trying to wake me up at dawn. I get off the bed and the cold pierces through my naked body. I let Ziggy out and go back to sleep. For my last month in Byron I rented a studio from a lovely French girl with an adorable fat cat named Ziggy. She was heading to France to visit her family and friends for a month and I took over her home. The other day I enjoyed Tallows Beach one last time. I’d ride my bike there and coast along the shore, blasting music in my ears and singing as I speed all the way to cove with my left arm spread out to the wind. I made a little sea home out of the little rock pools and pretend to be not human just for a couple minutes. I would have lived in Byron if I could, but I found it hard to look for good work there. My savings were getting closer and closer to two digits so I knew I needed to head to a city to make ends meet. I packed everything, jumped on a bus to the airport and headed straight to Melbourne.
I wish there was a word for that beautiful restless feeling you get when a part of your journey is closing and you’re shifting into a new realm. You’re feeling sentimental and nostalgic because you know that your experience will never be replicated in the exact same way ever again and you’ll miss it when you’re gone, yet you’re looking forward to the people you will meet in the place you’re going to as if you innately know them, feel them, but just haven’t met them. It’s almost like being thrown up in the air and your palms are sweaty and you don’t know what’s to come and who’s catching you or what you’re landing on, just hoping for magic.
Tors picks me up from the airport again. I swear she’s like an godsend angel who shows up exactly when needed. She’s dressed in warm clothes, the complete opposite of when she picked me up at the Gold Coast airport three months ago in her sunny yellow dress. I spot her wild, golden hair from a distance which stood out from the gray blur of concrete. She rushes towards me, beaming with a smile and says “Did you bring warm clothes? It’s going to be freezing here!” It’s dead winter in Australia, and I’m in the coldest part of it. We drive on the freeway and she points to the skyline and says “There she is, your new home.”
She drops me off at my hostel. I was led to the very top floor where I would work for accommodation for a week. The room is dark with clothes and luggages strewn all over the creaky wooden floor. The smell was a mixture of dirty clothes, alcohol, and some men’s perfume. I walk in to two German girls smiling and welcoming me in. Someone from the other side of the room in a bed calls out “Where are you from?” in a Kiwi accent. It’s Nick, a Kiwi-Indian who had also just arrived in Melbourne, also looking for work. He’s comical and reminds me of another version of Schmidt from the New Girl. Tors picks me up from my hostel to take me to a Dawid Bowie exhibition. We have dinner at a Japanese restaurant and run over to the museum straight after. I follow her and look around, struck by fascination in all the glory that is David Bowie. I watch Tors rush through the exhibit in sheer delight, she’s a huge David Bowie fan and she’s in a realm of paradise right about now.
One day I walk around the city and has this strong pull to see the State Library of Victoria for the first time. After seeing it in pictures, I had to go right away. I walk around find myself in the dome. The white walls reached out to the sky as if they were sending me to some sort of book heaven. I automatically think of that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Belle ecstatically swings through the bookshop with a sliding ladder. Since I could remember I have always been a bibliophile. I would always dream of having a room with walls full of books and a little nest for me to read it in. That always sounded just like heaven to me.
I met my friend Naomi one night at our hostel in Pai years ago on my first trip to Thailand. She’s a fellow Californian from Oakland and we’ve managed to keep in touch over the years. When I asked her about Melbourne she messaged me a long list of everything I needed to know and basically sold the city to me. She swore that I’d love Melbourne. I was a bit unsure in the beginning as I’m not much of a city girl but I took my chances. If I hadn’t talked to her, I probably wouldn’t have decided to come. I feel gratitude for our connection and glad that she lured me into the bubble. I saw the back of a tall girl with blonde hair at the book shop in the library and instantly knew that was her. We walk through the city and she takes me through the trams as we were going Fitzroy. I had no idea where we were. “You’ll get everything soon enough, it’s like a little puzzle.” We stop somewhere in the middle and go to this place called Veggie Bar. I fall in love with instantly. It’s buzzing with families, friends, lovers, and all others in one place. They serve the incredible vegetarian food and houses the best vegan chocolate cake I’ve ever had in my life. I’m sold. Completely, soulfully sold. After that we pass by an exhibition where they had a pool of balls and naturally like giddy little girls, we dove in it.
One day I decided to go to Fitzroy to look for a job for the next seven months. I’m strolling around the suburb handing out my resumes and I see “Uscha” written in typewriter font on a wooden block. I’ve seen that before, it was on the online job ad I looked at other day that I saved on my list. I felt the pull to go in so I turned in my resume to this Canadian girl named Sarah. She tells me that they’re looking for someone to replace her who will manage the shop, social media, and photography. She’s a graphic designer/art director who’s worked with Herschel in Vancouver. She’s also here on a work and holiday visa and has been working for Uscha for the past several months. She skims through my resume and says that they’ve been looking for a while, but she thinks I might just be the right fit. Eventually, they hired me. I’m ecstatic because I finally found a job, and I managed to find one I actually love. Working in the shop is calming and the energy lulls me. Barny and Uscha are the owners and they live right on top of the shop with the most adorable baby boy named Louis. Barny is a talented filmmaker/art director/surfer who’s drawn to tides and biking up mountains. Uscha is an incredible interior designer from Amsterdam who I’ve come to know as the big sister I wish I had. I get this inkling that they’ll become like family to me. That inkling became true.
It’s my birthday weekend and I celebrate with my hostelmates. We walk into a room where they build forts over their dorm bed and everyone is sitting on the beds while we drank goon, chatting away and listening to rap music before we headed to a bar to dance. On my actual birthday Caroline and I head out for some rock climbing, which is all that I really wanted to do for my birthday in the city. I met Caroline back when I was in Byron Bay with Val. She’s this goofy, silly, soft-spoken, hilarious, vibrant, life-enthusiast. My kind of woman. We walk up to Hard Rock which is a building made of glass, you could see all the climbers inside like spiders on a wall. Caroline and I act like little kids laughing and goofing around in our harnesses while climbing different routes. It felt good to dust chalk on my hands and climb to the top of things again.
One of my best friends in California tells me she’s having a baby with her love. I burst into a ball of excitement and ramble on about how happy I am for her and how much I wished I was there in that moment. It’s been almost two years since we last saw each other. I remember packing on my last night in San Diego and she came over to say goodbye to me. We wouldn’t have guessed that the next time we would see each other, she would be a mother. My heart explodes out of happiness at the thought of it.
Val, my Austrian sister who I met in Byron came to Melbourne for a few days before she headed back home to Vienna. Caroline and I head to the airport to pick her up and then we drive to the South to sleepover at Caroline’s family home. The next day Val and I go on a road trip to the Great Ocean Road. Val drove ourselves hours away from the city until all the buildings disappeared. Until the city skyline turned into green rolling hills. Until the cars turned into lambs, cows, alpacas and kangaroos. Until concrete structures turned into gum trees with koalas. Until the tides pulled the earth away. And the wide open spaces found us in our own little world again.
One night we went to a new Ethiopian restaurant on Brunswick Street and savored the food. I love eating with my hands. It makes me feel like an animal and makes the food taste ten times better. We go to Naked for Satan and cuddle up on a couch together with some drinks as we laughed and talked about anything to everything. After a few days I had to say goodbye to Val again. I already miss her. Caroline and I head to the airport to drop her off and say our goodbyes. I know I would see her again sometime in the near future. In such a short time, we’ve build a bond stronger than seas, mountains, tides and time and I am infinitely grateful for gaining a new sister. I take a mental picture of her leaving. I blink, then she’s gone.
Sometimes I picture Earth in my head and think of all the people I love and I see them as beams of light emanating from each place. She becomes that. Another light beam moving through the world until we meet again.
Nirrimi is back in Melbourne doing a photography tour and she plans to have a night picnic somewhere in the city. I head to North Fitzroy and meet up with her at an urban mansion in Fitzroy. She opens the gate and gives me a hug as she grins from ear to ear, her hair shorter and beautifully golden at the tips. I met her love, Bee, for the first time. It instantly brought me back to when we were in Sydney together and she was always raving about how incredible he is, her heart bursting at the very thought of him. I hop in the car with them and a lovely girl from New Zealand named Izzie with a fringe, glasses and red lips. Bee drives us away from the city to Kendel’s beautiful humble abode as we stuffed our faces with incredible vegan meals. The terrace is drenched in candles, fairy lights and people are sprawled on couches and cushions around the room. Everyone connects with each other and buzzed into the night. I’m laughing with Nirrimi and Bee in the back as they tell me hilarious scenarios and stories. I look at them together and smile to myself in awe of their love, I couldn’t think of a more perfect match for her. We stuff our faces with vegan brownies until we’re on a sugar high. On our ride home we tell each other things that we’re grateful for like connection, breathing, love, and things falling into place so easily and naturally.
I move to this lovely bohemian house in Coburg, right next to a park. One day I went out with my new housemate Cy and his family. His youngest daughter Sapphire makes pancakes and I sat with them outside for breakfast as we soaked up every ray of sunshine. His friend Will starts talking about the ocean. He talks about the solidity of land and how we always end up going back to water to soothe us. He spoke of a quote that he read somewhere. A sailor says that being out in the middle of the ocean is the closest to death that he will ever be. He said something along the lines that we get a glimpse of the divine in water. The ethereal world, infinity, the formless and everything that exists within and without. Perhaps that’s why we often gravitate towards water. That by touching it or being around it, we’re closer to divinity than we think. The girls are drawing mushrooms and plants on a big sketchbook. They’re being silly and I’m giggling at them. Scarlett is reading a book by her father’s lap, lost in her own world. I listen and observe them thoughtfully in the background while I feel the golden sun seep into my skin and the warmth enveloping my body. Cy shows us videos of murmuring starlings. The birds that coexist with each other, performing at dusk to Earth’s vibrations. They feel the magnetic vibrations of the Earth, creating a symphony of stunning visual movements splattering through the periwinkle sky. They make an ocean out of the sky, forming like ripples and waves in the air as if they had liquidized themselves and turned into water.
We jumped into the car. Sapphire, Scarlett, Cy and I pick up his girlfriend Urmi then we chased the sun to Half Moon Bay. In the car ride Cy would ask things like if you had three wishes, what would you wish for? The answer swirled around more wishes, an orphanage, world peace. “What is world peace?” Cy said. “I think we need much more than that. We need a whole massive wave. A shift in consciousness that will make more people love more and hate less.” We got to Black Rock Beach and it reminds me of the cliffs back where I lived in Carlsbad. There’s a cove where the rocks are a golden yellowy tint. The girls headed straight up the cliffs and started climbing. They tell me to climb with them and I follow them up. At the edge I see a private beach on the other side. A secret little cove that we had all to ourselves.
The waves started calling out my name again and I talk to the sea. I tell her my secrets and and I tell her that I love how she heals me. Salt water really is the cure for everything. I swim and float by the shore, this is when I feel like myself the most. A lot of my favorite moments belong to the ocean, here I am whole.
Days peel like pages. Many times I am my true, authentic nature. The happy, brave, open, vibrant, lively woman that is nourished through the intoxicating blissful presence of a mindful present moment. Yet sometimes that closed off, fearful, worrisome woman of my past comes back to settle. And when she comes back, sometimes I try to kick her to the curb and ask “What the hell are you doing here? How many times have I tried to get rid of you?”
And then she looks at me with humble eyes and says “I’ll keep coming back until you learn how to embrace me.”
She puts out the fire. I sit right next to her and hold her hand. We sit there for some time. Bathing in our thoughts. Then she says, “You have that power to get rid of me, I know that. But don’t ignore me. Feel me. Observe why I’m here and accept me for what I am. I hold the key to your growth. Will you let yourself tarnish in my existence? Or will you lull my presence and hold my hand until I disappear? No matter how or what we feel, we have to let ourselves be human first.”
For the past few months, writing has honestly felt like a chore. There were times when magic was pouring out of me and I was able to write freely with baby elephants and sparkly things exploding out of my brain as if some cosmic benevolent force has taken over my body. But most of the time I felt overwhelmed with all the writing projects I’ve set up for myself. I thought more about the outcome of the book and getting published and if what I was creating would be good enough. I doubted my ability to write my memoir and I was beating myself up over it. I ended up treating it like a chore. I started suffocated my own words and scaring them all way.
I started reading a book called Big Magic by one of my favorite modern day female writers, Elizabeth Gilbert. One of the quotes that stood out to me from the book was this.
“I’ve had to keep defining and defending myself as a writer every single day of my adult life. Constantly reminding and re-reminding my soul and the cosmos that I’m very serious about the business of creative living and that I will never stop creating, no matter what the outcome and no matter how deeps my anxieties and insecurities may be.
All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life- collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand.
It’s a strange line of work admittedly. I cannot think of a better way to pass my days.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
And so I decided to let it it all bleed. No matter how bad it is, I’ll write it. As long as I’m writing something. Through that, I’ve recently revived my love for writing and went back to doing it for the sheer joy and passion it brings into my life. I’ll never stop. Because it bleeds out of my soul. Because I have to write otherwise my own confined words will eat me up if I don’t release it to the wild. Because I refuse to take it with me when my bones turn into ashes.
One day I met up with my friend Kate, a British girl I met back in Laos. We went to Lentils as Anything, a place I always frequent for meals and cloud gazing on the grass. We stuffed our faces with a bowl of veggie goodness and sat on the grass while talking about relationships, meditation, yoga and our love for the great outdoors. When we were on our way back to the bus stop I was telling her about my beautiful experiences in Byron Bay, all the bonfire nights full of music and singing and the cosmos and magic and all the beautiful soul connections made. Then I see a silhouette in the distance coming towards us, and as it comes closer I look up and I see Joe smiling, glowing, beaming standing right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. He came straight from Byron for a Vipassana retreat here in Victoria and he’s serving this time. After a couple days later we met up in Fitzroy and grabbed some Mexican food together. Our conversations dove into depths. We talk about how important it is to be on the same wavelength when having a partner. The difference between not being compatible with someone and being completely different from each other yet still on the same space and frequency. Is there real true chemistry and is it not solely physical attraction or lust? These things are the major components of a true, meaningful relationship with substance and depth. If it’s not like that, then I’d rather be in solitude and not have it. We talk about Vipassana and our practices. The ego and inner self and the battles in between. He understands me when I tell him I’m still learning how to response instead of react to a situation that bothers or irks me. He laughs joyfully in the middle of our conversations. He’s like a playful little child. A happy one full of love and sweetness and all the goodness in the world. He’s one of those people you meet who have warmth in their eyes and it makes you want to be around their energy. Before we part ways I thank him for his insights and for his light.
My friend Ben messages me. He’s still in Byron Bay and he tells me that I need to go to a yoga event called Orange Jam, which as a yoga/meditation/ecstatic dance event that gathers a community of like-minded people from around Australia where they can bliss out together. I was sold. I invited my friends Caroline and Jay and we went.
It was an incredible night of yoga, meditation, eye-gazing, spoken word, drums, contact ecstatic dance with some beautiful souls. It’s always elating to witness strangers unite and create a sacred space that allows people to have the courage to be vulnerable and unleash our true selves without judgment or blindness. Just pure love, acceptance and magic. To be wild and human. It was my kind of Saturday night.
I started writing a poetry book called “Spectrums”. A poem flew right out of me and the journey began.
To look at something or someone and see only one color is a tragic vision.
For all things and all humans are prisms.
Beam your light on me. On him. On her. On it.
And you will see the raw colors. The crevices, depths, valleys and peaks of it.
And you will hear them calling your name into the hidden spectrum of things.
Photographs from my shoot with yogi, Shannon Marconi.
One night. I feel lonely and out of center. I listen to a song. The world is quiet and I close my eyes and it catches me off guard and I sigh because I know something is happening. I’m falling in love with it and the words are slowly making its way through every single cell in my body and I’m saying god damn god damn god damn I can’t, I just can’t be the only one feeling the song like this. I love when a song understands you in that moment, just when you need it.
I left my house early. I’ve been itching to go to Mornington Peninsula for a while and that day seemed like the perfect day to do it. From Coburg I took the train to Flinders, to Frankston, then a two-hour bus ride to the Peninsula. I plug in music in my ears and watch the gorgeous coastal scenes through the window. The color of the sea is noticeably more vibrant. I’m stunned by the clear blue gradients of the ocean and felt like I was in paradise again. There’s still another thirty minutes until I reached Blairgowrie. I got there and the sea looked so brilliant. I walk to the other side of the peninsula and explore the rock pools, look around and I realize have the entire beach to myself. I watch the fog roll in with the tides and my mind gets lost in the ethereal haze of ocean and sky.
End of November
I’ve been feeling a lot these past few weeks. Hell, these past few months. A lot of old patterns, emotions, thoughts have come up and I’ve been struggling on and off with it. Some days I feel like my true self. Happy, grateful, blissful and intoxicated by life itself. Yet the other days I find myself treading through water, battling with my old self in my head, saying that I am not good enough or happy enough or capable enough. I sit there with it and I watch it. The same way a calm person watches a fiery one. Sometimes I feel like I get caught up in the cycle and get buried but it’s not long until my awareness comes back to save me. Then sometimes I wonder if my depression would come back and I will hit rock bottom again, the thing I’m terrified of the most. Yet something inside me always reassures that it won’t. Something so constant and so definite.
I feel like I’m on a brink of another shift. Everything I’ve suppressed from the past is coming back and purging out. Although I know that these are just waves coming and going, I can’t help but get scared when I watch my old patterns bubbling. Sometimes I feel sad and lonely, longing for some sort of romantic intimacy, to be in the arms of someone. But I know I want it for the wrong reasons, so I choose to be alone and spend my time healing in solitude again. I let myself feel every single ripple of emotion. My memories drift back to my time in Vipassana, it was one of the catalysts that pulled out the roots of my subconscious. Everything in the past that I’ve pushed deep under me is rising, desperate to be pulled out. I can feel the fear yet I still find myself diving into my own well again, weeding out the knotted threads of my old self for illumination.
December arrives, bringing warmth to the days and the year’s end is just coming to shore. I can feel summer in the air.
It’s beginning to melt the cracks.