Grey clouds. Oppressively humid.
A boy with a head completely wrapped in bandages. An old car with a TV aerial mounted on its roof. No-one notices these things.
The high pitched scream of the tram turning. The clatter of the wheels. A jolt.
Being punched in the face on Gertrude Street by a guy twice my size, yelling out and everyone is busy minding their own business.
A cold, clear winter day with warm, golden light on oak leaves.
It’s 8pm and I’m walking home down Collins Street and this drunk guy in the front seat of a taxi yells in a fake Indian voice “I’m Sachin Tendulkar. You love me long time, you suck me off for $5.”
Being held by the first girl I really liked who liked me back.
The patient doesn’t want to talk any more. “Haven’t you got enough from me?”
Catching a lift for free up Johnstone Street with a taxi driver. He is Mongolian and he gives me his number. (I don’t call)
The first girl I ever kissed makes out with 3 people in front of me at The Peel and says “Duh, this is why I’m single. I don’t understand why you’re upset.”
Dead grass in summer.
Turning down a dingy alleyway with two friends and an unobtrusive sign ‘gp’ marks the entrance to the Gin Palace. Inside it is exotic, dark, classy, empty. Like something from a dream.
I’m drunk and I’m screaming at the top of my voice and crying. Again.
He is more than 6 foot tall and 100kg and I am about 40kg. He’s been at my house for a week. We’ve been sleeping together. He’s weird, angry, horribly jealous when I go out without him. I’m in the shower and my heart is pounding and I am convinced he is going to rape me.
I fall asleep in the lecture. I wake up and answer the lecturer’s question correctly and then go back to sleep.
It’s 6pm on a weekday and I’m walking down Flinders Street and a group of guys walk past. One of them says “fucking abo” to me.
I am in microbiology class and the lab tutor doesn’t let me go home sick with the flu?!
I am so drunk I try to get into someone’s car while they’re stopped at the lights and they tell me quite rightly to fuck off.
We’re all dancing and singing at the tops of our voices to “Miss World” in the queue to Q&A.
People avoid your eye contact on public transport.
He turns to me and asks me just how many girls I’ve stolen from their boyfriends. I think about it and say ‘none’. Later she cries outside because of how angry he is sometimes.
I get kicked out of Q&A with a fake ID and get a lecture on how I’m threatening livelihoods but there is no way to get home.
I finally call the cops on the couple upstairs screaming at each other at 2am because I hear crockery being thrown. Friends tell me I should have minded my own business. The next day he comes around to ask if it was me who called. I lie and somehow he believes me.
Years later my friend is banging the bouncer who kicked me out.
The roof has been leaking shower water for weeks and the handyman refuses to fucking get it fixed and that is when I learn about the Tenant’s Union.
He actually stinks but I sleep with him anyway.
I buy a kitten because I am lonely and I feel sorry for him. We live in an expensive 2 bedroom house together. I sleep with him on a single mattress on the floor with my other possessions such as a laptop. I live out of a suitcase.
Lemon scent of eucalyptus.
It is 40 degrees and I hate the feel of sweat on my skin and I do not have air conditioning so I sleep in my underwear with a wet towel on me and the window open.
I find out what he did to her and I am so angry that I punch a brick wall and break a glass bottle but nothing takes away that incredible sorrow and guilt for not having manned up in the first place.
Sometimes I am the only one who listens. But it is too much.
We go out on my birthday, all day and all night. Many friends join me. We smoke a cigar in my room and get so sick we almost vomit.
The wine bar is hidden behind an unmarked door and a narrow stairwell.
I write a story called “Winter in Melbourne” and it references the first girl I slept with but I get it published in a zine anyway.
The sky is pink at night. It’s creepy.
Because the hospital administration where I was an intern is trying to destroy my career I’ve been homeless for 3 months. I’m almost out of money. I’ve been couch-surfing. Living on borrowed good-will and out of a suitcase.
I write 30 songs in 5 years, of which 15 are written in 3 months.
We’ve decided we need to break up. Finally I admit I love her and she does the same. She goes to the bathroom to cry when he calls on my mobile.
It doesn’t matter that my new workplace loves me. I have nightmares where I kill patients through laziness. My whole medical team refuses to speak to me. Everything is a yellowish grey. The creepiest, sleaziest patient has a rotten leg and needs CCU. A woman’s spine is melting from Pott’s. I am preparing a tray of surgical instruments for a vascular case. My pager goes off so many times but I put off seeing patients. Another patient dies.
Drunk as a dog and kissing for the sake of kissing.
My house gets broken into and the contents tossed a day after he shows up uninvited to my brother’s party because I invited her. I tell her on the phone and, with a terrified tone in her voice she tells me that I’m insane for claiming that I’m being stalked. But this is the third time it’s happened.
I get kicked out of a bar because I talked to some girl’s boyfriend in Mordialloc.
My cat hears a noise. I go to the window, it’s a guy being chased down the road by two other guys. It’s 3am. I call the cops. 15 minutes later all these emergency vehicles are there so I go out to ask the paramedics if they need a hand. “Ah, it’s ok, don’t worry, he’s just dead” they say. No-one else called the police. Lucky they caught the guy literally red-handed.
She tells me to just leave her alone because I “call too much”.
A drunk classmate shouts at the top of her voice that I’d be a terrible doctor, that I’m an embarrassment, that she feels sorry for my future patients, that I’m the laziest person she’s ever met. I try and make excuses. Other people agree with her.
From the sky, the city looks like a cancer, spreading tendrils into the vegetation.
She tells me that if that’s how I feel about Australia that I should just fuck right off and that she never wants to speak to me again. So I tell her I need to tell her some things before she does so. We walk side by side and she has tears in her eyes.
At The Lucksmiths concert I run into Tali White and I’m like “it’s you!!” and he’s like “it’s you!!” and we have a laugh. Later I dance with a beautiful girl for song after song.
The look on her face is utterly terrifying when she is angry with him. She could easily strangle him to death and he is petrified of her.
I just can’t shake this awful, awful feeling. That reality isn’t quite real. That I’m being pursued. That my home isn’t my home. That I could get stabbed on public transport. And that’s when I finally apply for that job interstate.
I am sick of other doctors complaining to me about ‘international doctors’.
I turn up to the AVO hearing to lend her a pair of shoes. There he is, leering at me, trying to intimidate any of her friends who show.
So, there’s a party at his place, right, and thankfully I’m not there, and she’s his newish housemate. She gets drunk and passes out in her bedroom with her 2 year old right next to her. This guy who’s ‘friends’ with her goes in, makes her suck him off, goes out and makes a lewd gesture about what he made her do to everyone, and people laugh. But he, he whose place this is, he who I’m dating, he doesn’t say anything. He thinks it’s weird but he doesn’t kick the guy out. He tells me the story the next day. I tell him to encourage her to tell the cops since there were witnesses. She’s obviously completely distraught but not sure how to cope. She doesn’t call the cops. Later he makes excuses for not doing anything. It’s the beginning of the end of our relationship.
An old lady in a shawl who speaks no English offers me a mandarin to eat and smiles broadly. I take it, gratefully and devour it.
It’s first year uni; I get kicked out of Laura Ashley with my friend because we’re making fun of the merchandise for being “too slutty”. Ha ha ha!
It’s just too much. And when I finally touch down at Sydney Airport the weekend before I start work in Sydney, after I leave Melbourne for good, I feel a sudden and immediate sense of relief. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t feel perfect but I start to feel better. It’s the start of things getting better.
I’ve never been happy here.