i spent a semester in australia when i was 20, and it was an absolutely formative experience. i learned for the first time that it was indeed possible – given the right conditions – for a mousy little girl like me to make friends quickly. to spend smoky nights in the quad, shooting the shit with perfect strangers. possible to open up, say yes, ditch class, skip town.
but it was inevitably also a deeply lonely time, and i spent a lot of afternoons wandering alone. i’d walk by the lake near campus, with its denim blue water and tall yellow grass growing along the water’s edge, and always one or two black swans. or i’d walk up and down the avenue of trees that ran through the center of campus – the leaves shimmered like facets: green when i first arrived, yellow by the time i left.
one time i found myself at the museum, roaming from gallery to gallery, scrawling the names and titles of the little paintings i liked into my notebook. that’s how i came across the artist clarice beckett. for the longest time, after i’d already left, i couldn’t remember her name and found no trace of it scrawled in my sketchbook… i knew only the impossibly soft smudges of colors that pushed against each other, how they seemed to capture the very feeling i walked with in that place, the quiet, dreamy sadness of being young and in a beautiful place – completely on my own.
but by the glory of google, i’ve found them again. and it’s a lovely time to see them again, as i’m taking stock of my days, counting up the slow, thoughtful moments and finding them too few.
there’s a little bit of me, buried in my younger years, that i’d like to pull out for just a while, to witness this life i now have.