Normality

 

I’ve started writing again. That’s been one of the changes. Last weekend I told myself to sit down and write for an hour. And not to write something new, but to continue on something I already started.

I did. Then carried on for 20 minutes on the Monday night. And then I did another hour today.

For a bit I’ve felt empty, like I’ve run out of things to say, at least on social media. And that’s okay, maybe, if I’m writing other things.

Now I am. It’s sci-fi fantasy and involves a compilation of works, but the characters are already twisting the story to what they want, and I’m 5000 words in, so that’s a good sign that they are doing that. I just want to write and write and see what comes out of it. I’m hoping for a solid mess of 200,000 words or so. An epic.

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I love my Zelda games. The Great Cataclysm could be about 10 different events in the Legend of Zelda games.

The other night I decided to buy face moisturiser. I’ve rarely used it, and I’ve failed to see the need to put more chemicals in my body. But my budget allows me to buy something for hygiene each week, and I wasn’t really needing much food, so I decided to get it.

I tried it yesterday. My face stung a bit like it was sunburned, and then in the evening, something happened.

On the side of my face, next to my right eye, was a white spot. It became noticeable near the end of my Peru trip, and it was a sure sign of my age. I’ve been troubled by it more, and I’ve been touching it a lot, when I’m thinking.

Anyway, the white spot fell off after using the moisturiser.

 

The same night I went shopping, I bought a muffin tin for apple and cinnamon muffins I’m going to bake for my colleagues tomorrow, at Woolworths, and a work shirt from a clothes store. There’s a cute girl who works there, and I know she’s friendly because it helps her sell clothes, but her interest does seem genuine, like she wants to talk. I joined up a membership the last time we spoke, and she got my birth date, and she seemed so surprised. “That’s my age!” she said.

This time around, we talked about life, and our car troubles, and how she was borrowing her parents’ car. And then she dropped in, “I had to pick my son up.” And I hope I hid my surprise, and I hope it didn’t mean I failed some sort of test.

Girls used to drop in “my boyfriend and I” into the conversation somewhere, if there showed some attraction from either us. Then it got more subtle, and more of the usage of “we” when she did something or went somewhere.

But since coming back to Australia, the women my age who are single also happen to be mothers, and they mention their child. I guess it doesn’t bother me, I don’t want kids for a while, but I suppose then there’s a fear that I need to know exactly what I want. I need to know if I’m going to integrate into another family’s life, and if I don’t, then I should stay out. The time for certainty is now. Or before, perhaps. I’m unsure about when the certainty needs to come into play.

 

I was driving this afternoon for a short while, and even though the car is still making odd noises, after I took it to the mechanic – who discovered a wrecked head gasket – I feel happy, like I’m getting ahead. I live in a nice place, and I’m able to save a bit of each pay. It wasn’t obvious at first, but my work is paying off for me, financially.

Last night I went to Dan Murphy’s, where there was a Chilean brand of wine I liked to drink in Peru, called Casillero del Diablo. I swear it wasn’t as good when I drank the bottle last night, but I still had a good time. There were times I was holed up in my room in Peru, and I’d drink a bottle, and reach out to everyone I could think of.

I tried not to do that this time.

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Let’s say  there is a map with life, all with its big battles. You can take on these battles in any order, and travel any direction. You can find the tools to help you, and the tool you find in the dark time might exactly be what you need for that battle. Maybe. Or maybe I just needed an excuse to use another Zelda pic cause I have nothing else.

I’m working on getting more clothes. Most of the shirts I wear to work were the best shirts I couldn’t bear to throw away when I left for overseas. They were for races and rodeos, and so are a bit expensive to wear out. A pink shirt I wore to work for years, before continuing to wear in Peru, is getting shabby and sun worn. I threw it out today.

It’s funny. Things. You get attached to them.

 

I went to the races with a work friend last weekend. It was the first races I had been to since before Peru. We got drunk slowly and gambled on horses, and I won the first race at odds of 7/1. We met a couple who recently moved to the area, and they met in Iceland. He was Australian but lived in various places overseas for four years, and she was from the Czech Republic. It was a long story but after a year of being friends, they tried to make it work, and she moved to Australia. But all the loopholes they have to jump through, the stress, the difficulty, it seemed to me like it was hard.

And to me, the longer I was with them, the more I felt an underlining tension.

 

Work is okay. I’m finding ways to be more efficient and reduce my anxiety. One good way I found was to try to reduce my talking to everyone, and just work quietly. I don’t need to have a presence, or know everything, or have an opinion about what’s going on.

And I’ve found, by doing that, that I worry less about if I’ve said something wrong, or not doing the right thing.

Another thing I did was I bought a news subscription. When I wake up for work (at 7am, formerly at 7.40am) I switch on the TV to ABC, and then read my news subscription’s email which is sent every morning. It gives me the highlights. By the time I come to work, and I have a news meeting, I feel mentally prepared to know what the agenda of the day is. I’m not spending an hour or two trying to play catch up.

 

I love a good Zelda game. Nintendo released a classic from 1992. A Link to the Past. Geez, it’s good. And hard. And brings in the best elements of legit Zelda gameplay.

 

I guess I’m starting to feel like I’m not playing catch up.

I’m beginning to feel how I used to feel.

 

Argentina and fitting in and whatever

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I’VE found a song on Youtube I’m listening to on repeat.

Song – Nada fue un error

Tengo una mala noticia  
No fue de casualidad 
Yo quería que nos pasara, y tu, y tu 

I don’t know most of the words but it sounds beautiful, and it’s uplifting, and I like the core message that I get out of it. And the second singer, this wavy haired woman with innocent eyes, and a growling husky Spanish tone, charms me. The lead might be Andres Calamaro, an Argentinian who is possibly my favourite singer at the moment anyway, and he  has a cool laid back long haired vibe. I want to be like him, that guy on centre stage singing in Spanish. But I can’t play a guitar, I can’t sing, I can’t speak Spanish. That’s okay. I listen and every time I grab at another word and I try to sing what I do know at the same time they do.

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There was a Rotary Book Fair on the weekend. I went there with a soon-to-be housemate and colleague. I found three books, with one about police corruption in Qld in the 70s which it turns out I’ve already read, some book called Unpardonable Crime, and…a 2004 Lonely Planet guide for Argentina.

I wanted my next travel destination to be Chile. But after I bought Argentina’s guide and flicked through it I became more excited. This was a challenge! The land is massive, a whole new section of a massive amount of land that is monstrous in comparison to Peru. And having traveled Peru I had a context of the size of Argentina. And there was music, and a new history, and a new culture for me to navigate! I met Argentinas when I left Machu Picchu and they were really nice.

Yesss, Argentina. But the guide said I would need six weeks to three months to circuit Argentina. I believe it. So I think this is a trip that could wait after I quit this job, years from now.

Lo dejaste pasar 
No quiero que me perdones  
Y no me pidas perdón 
No me niegues que me buscaste 

I have an airfares price-watch set on Santiago, Chile. Qantas has just come through with a bunch of specials including a return flight next year, which is when I could go on holidays. It’s only $1000 return. I want to go. I’m ready to do so. I just don’t have the money in my pocket to book it. Just yet. I’ll still do Chile. Maybe fly into Peru and say hello to friends and former students, and then bus it south down the border. Or maybe into Bolivia. I still don’t know.

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There is a boxing troupe that travels in certain places. Fred Brophy runs this boxing tent, and he pitched it last weekend. The locals get drunk and then volunteer to take on his boxers. I’ve been in there once.

As I watched Fred, a true old school Aussie, drawl out for challengers to take on his boxers, and as we screamed in the tent for the next blow, “finish him!” I may have screamed at one point, as some of the lads shook the lights at the top of the tent to make the fighters hurry up. I left the tent and drove home, but happy. It felt good to be back, this tent came to where I used to live before I moved to Peru for 18 months.

Tinder hasn’t gone well. I’m a bit confused by that. One time I thought to myself it was a bit like “how to lose a Tinder match in three messages (without using a dick pic).” My soon-to-be colleague says he goes through the same thing.

For a bit when I came back I just wanted to be single, or be a fuckboy for an ego boost, and when that didn’t eventuate, and as time went on I realised I didn’t have the energy to be with a girl who’d even accept that.

I’m okay being single. I guess I just want to be accepted for who I am. I can be myself and loved for it. I want to vent, and I want to be heard. I had that in a relationship. I’m not sure  I get it when people aren’t invested enough.

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My new car!

I feel like something is still missing. Every week I felt that, I guess, but every week I either got a job or moved, or bought new things for the unit, or connected to NBN. This might be the  first week I don’t need anything new. So what’s new?

Los errores no se eligen 
Para bien o para mal  
No fallé cuando viniste, y tu, y tu 
No quisiste fallar
Aprendí

Peru has become a punchline with my colleagues, probably because I talk about it so much. It’s not meant to be cruel, and it isn’t, but it makes me feel a wall is there. I sit at my desk. And the joke is that I want to keep travelling even though I’m happy where I am.

Today a colleague asked me about music, and to give her a list of what she could listen to. And I did. Happily.

Nada fue un error.

Argentina. That idea. Of being on the road. And being exciting to people again

 

 

Bank loans? Stability? What?!

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Three kangaroos talk to each other while my mum and I visit the zoo.

I’ve been fortunate. Already I have found a job, signed a contract, and am ready to start being a journalist again.

And yet I find myself, for the fourth time in a month, staying in yet another house, belonging to a friend or family member. I have to do this until I get paid. In an hour I’ll look at a nanny flat in the new town that I’ll call my home.

It’s a beautiful sunny place. It’s a stone’s throw away from the town I finished high school. Everyone including the electricians in the street will say “hello cobber” and even respond to your response. Automatically I wonder what they want from me. It’s a sign of the emotional defence I’ve had to put up in the 17 months abroad. The defense can go down now.

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The main park in town.

 

I start work in two days. Routine will begin, but for now I have no car and I wonder how I’m going to survive the basic needs for the next week while at the same time making a good impression at my new job.

I’ve survived on a lot of good will in almost a month, from friends and family. It made me wonder how I can get away with doing this again, travelling overseas and coming back with nothing. And with that thought I wondered about my options; credit cards, or a bank loan. From that thought and brief research it made me wonder about the feasibility of a car loan, and an interest rate, and the physical dynamics of it all.

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Eating Tim Tams. I did miss those in Peru.

There were these questions, and I never used to want to know the answers to them, but now I kind of feel helpless not knowing the answers. I look around and see everyone and wonder when they started looking old. When did everyone seem so distant? Did this happen when I was in Peru, or did this happen long before? Did I somehow get through my 20s not bothering to learn the practicalities?

And as I dig into these answers, Peru feels far off behind me. It’s only the people I met there that I miss.

 

 

 

When there was no house to go to…

I wrote this while rather scared in Starbucks last Saturday:

The six month lease on the apartment ended today, and I don’t exactly have a long term plan to stay anywhere. 

I woke with a hangover at 5am, and helped clear the last of the house.  Housemate Adriaan left first (to a hostel nearby), and then Amy left clutching a pot and looking tearful. Nicola and I shared a cab to her new place in Trujillo because the mall was nearby. And that’s where I am now, trying to write with dodgy internet.

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Our cheesy and almost awkward snapshot together. We have lived and worked and even studied together for eight months.

In the taxi I found 200 soles I forgot that I had, which I had put with my passport. What a win! When I left the taxi on an unusually sunny day, I walked with a backpack, my wallet, phone (with no credit), and passport. That is all. My suitcase is in my girlfriend’s room, so the sense of freedom or insecurity right now is only an illusion. I still have to go to work on Monday, and I still have relationships here. But it occurred to me that I could go anywhere I want right now. There’s a big part of me that thinks, ‘why not?’

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Party drinks at a hostel in Huanchaco that we call ‘the cheap hostel’. We used to go here a lot when we first moved here. It is now run by a French and Irish couple.

The apartment and the job has kept me grounded for six months. It’s the apartment mostly. When we first moved in I breathed a sigh of relief and in the seclusion of my room next to the garage at the back I had a place to call my own – the first moments of privacy I’d had for two months in a foreign country. We had a lounge room to watch Netflix and our kitchen. I had my own bathroom. And regular commitments to paying rent.

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My ‘Peruvian sisters have a drink.

I need the job to make money so I can live. But at some point the job took over. It became everything. I have obsessed over it teaching about world wars, the Incan Empire, and Peruvian presidents. I have tried to be the best at this job and find myself in meetings with parents, and disciplining teenagers.

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When we did our TEFL course eight months ago in Zorritos we played a game called Bullshit. Another name for it is ‘cheat’. It is about lies and deception and trying to catch others in doing it. The Joker card is the ‘wildcard’. It can really mess with a good lie detector.

What am I doing? Why am I doing it?

For  friendship. Supongo.

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“This photo sums up our friendship. You annoying the hell out of me.”