OCTOBER. Nearly November. It’s been a while and I don’t know where to start without it being some sort of massive backstory.
I’ve tried to write about it for a while but I just haven’t felt like writing. How is this the case when I’ve been writing my whole life? What do I do when the core part of my identity no longer feels like me anymore?
JANUARY. I left Bundaberg for the Gold Coast….preparing to study. I found a place in the middle of the middle of it all…in Surfers Paradise. A few streets away from the beach, two streets away from all the nightclubs. It was a risk. The rent was a bit more than I was prepared to pay and far from the uni I would study at. My new housemate was a chef and he helped me with my resume, and so, within a few days, I did find a job at a bar/nightclub near by.
I became a glassie.
I quit Tinder. The best thing I did. I wasn’t looking for anyone or anything. At least on a page.
I couldn’t have picked a better place to move to if I wanted to learn more Spanish. It is everywhere. I hear it on the street twice a day. I can hear the neighbours in their house saying “que pasa?” I work with Spanish speakers. Customers are always from somewhere in the latin world. I met people from Peru and Spain and Colombia and Chile and Paraguay and Argentina. I gravitated to these speakers, fascinated, ready to speak, but I never seemed to fit quite right.
MARCH. I started uni again. It’s weird being in the early 30s and looking like you’re in your early to mid 20s. It doesn’t take long to realise that everyone around you is 18 or 19 or maybe as old as 20. I thought of uni as a place of liberal thinking but it all seemed to be a central place of conformity, everyone fresh from school and still bidden to pleasing the lecturers and tutors for the better marks. People offered opinions in the discussion parts of workshops but it all seemed a trap somehow, the tutors being guides and through their guiding moving the discussions along or phasing out the things they didn’t agree with.
Work was too much on weekends so I cut my subjects from four to three and finally to two…but of course, keeping my spanish subject. Spanish was amazing. I learned so much in months but always going back to the roots of grammar. My spanish colleagues would speak to me and correct me and see some improvement from when I started.
And then APRIL, and MAY, and JUNE, and JULY, and through these times I was having the best social life I’d had, and yet the worst. Those outside of hospitality seemed to disappear and I’d work late on weekends. “What time do you finish?” a girl might ask. “Um,” I’d say. “4am.” And that’s it. The conversation was over. Once a girl got my number but I worked on the weekends and she didn’t want to go out on the week days as she worked the following days. It was physically impossible to hang out. Schedules didn’t allow it. I’d hang out on Monday nights with my hospitality friends and we’d drink at the Irish pub and then finish off at karaoke.
I miss Peru so much. I miss the adventures and wandering around. But over the year I’m talking less about it. My friends all know my obsession.
I woke up one day and was afraid I might have had a fetish for latinas, but I thought it about some more, and realised I didn’t really. I didn’t fit in to the dance and the club scenes, I didn’t fit into the sub-culture of what Gold Coast latin life seemed to be, I tried to learn salsa, and it didn’t feel like me. I thought by being close to it I would be closer to how I felt in South America, but it wasn’t like that at all. I just felt fake by pretending to be someone I wasn’t, by trying too hard on things that weren’t my strengths, and weren’t natural to me. I stepped back, but still missed Peru, my friends overseas, and still missed the travel. And dare I say it, I missed my ex, I ruminated in what I was and who I was and who I still am, and knew that then and in the aftermath in Bundaberg I was a toxic and unhealthy creature, and awareness changed nothing. I was making the same mistakes I thought I learned.
I sent a short story to the uni magazine about that sort of world for it to be edited. I took a month off alcohol and the story was written and when it was done I was bloody proud. It was the best work I felt I’d written in years. The student editor tasked with editing it didn’t seem to get my piece, and as I stressed trying to edit it for him the worse the piece seemed to be. It didn’t feel like my writing anymore. I quit the project. And I didn’t get published.
And I didn’t really care.
SEPTEMBER I burnt out again with the study and the writing failure and work. I finally took mum’s advice and I started using a phone app to meditate. I started telling myself “so what?” If something wasn’t perfect, if I made a mistake, if I wasn’t good enough, “so what?” So what.
And OCTOBER. I got promoted and suddenly I wasn’t a glassie anymore, or a waiter, and I hadn’t really been just that for months. I was behind the bar more, and often surprising myself. I knew the cocktails we served by heart (I made them all at home anyway) and actually doing an okay job at that. I’d make espresso martinis and french martinis and long island ice teas and margaritas and bloody marys. Somehow I had become a new person; I felt like I was disappearing; still the same person too. And so what?