In Times Gone By

We have to move out by April 10th, nine days from now. We don’t have a place yet, we thought we did but it turns out we didn’t though we’ve already given up our place so now we have none. And so it goes.

In Malaga I lived in four different apartments, first with a lesbian couple and their dog Hendrix and their cat Chula. He snored like a truckie and she was every bit the snob her name suggested but you couldn’t blame her, she was a rescue.

Then came the Italian and the Spanish roomies whose lack of english made me dread waking up in the mornings and anxious about going into the kitchen. It was too early to spanish, too early for headaches when the hangovers hadn’t yet subsided. Theirs was the era of Erasmus parties and living out L’Auberge Espagnole 

I left over the Summer and came back to a place a friend had found for me. I was to replace another Aussie, move in with a Canadian tour-guide, an American English tutor and a Spaniard who went every weekend to his pueblo and returned with bottles of farm-fresh olive oil. It was a month before we were unceremoniously booted out of our apartment with a day’s notice. We had a going away party just us. There’s a photo of us dancing on the couch that night. The cops came later and told us to be quiet and I thought what are they going to do, kick us out? 

It was the last apartment that still holds everything real and vivid I remember about living in Spain. The Cuban who I never saw and only heard, whose friend or cousin or unwanted acquaintance of sorts appeared in the kitchen dancing salsa by himself, or rung the door bell at all hours, for hours, until I took the phone off the hook. The french doors that backed onto the alley way. The three level walk up and the beautiful old elevator that didn’t work. The high ceilings, the cold tiles. The man painting the walls when I first moved in who would surprise me with many things and turn out to be the son of my landlord.

That was five years ago.

I was very good at moving then, an expert in picking up and leaving. Onwards and upwards. I sought change like the drug it can be and lived off the novelty of so many first freedoms. I was a force of nature or a natural disaster, depending on where you were standing.

If I was a hurricane before now I am the slow moving creek. Comfort has grown thick around me and made me an unwilling tenant of movement here in Sydney where I just don’t want to budge for laziness. Here with my steady employment and grown-up responsibilities. My fortnightly pay checks and with it the casual disposal of income. On the brink of twenty-six.

I remember dancing with abandon
in a shitty club the size of
a small apartment
with a free shot
on entry

The music was terrible but we screamed
the words every time, loud
loud, everyone was deaf
and never happier
how could we be?

Our days were full and many
so plentiful we didn’t
think they would,
they could, run
out
but they did

One of the last days I sat
in a cafe and cried for time
gone by
A friend wrote
on the receipt, ‘We had
the best fucking
year
of our lives
and our book
hasn’t even started yet’

She was right. She was wrong. We had to move out of that year when it was up and not turn back. Of course we looked back, we looked back so often we got neck cramps but at some point we learned to look forward with the glint of that year tinting everything we could see.

Now I don’t know if I can ever have the best fucking year of my life ever again, not that year anyway. I don’t have the energy or will to move four times in a year. I don’t even want to move once. Sometimes I think Who Am I.. seriously. Before all I wanted was the sun and I was willing to chase it for as long as it would shine. Now all I want is roots; from the kind of plant whose roots have grown so strong and deep that when you try and pull it out you have to take all the land with you.

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