I could never talk in riddles like I could with him.
Last night there was a boy I used to know in an alley, a gallery thing, performance artists in glad wrap and my first DJ set in 18 months looming inside, sickly pink, yellow and blue neon lights hanging, and the night was clear and warm. A gentle Sydney summer night, rhomboid patches of sky through the jigsaw skyline of Chippendale.
He and I have always been particularly attuned to performance, to what will sound and look the best when we tell it back, but I sought him out after hearing his name, needing to see his face move after a year of blinding rage at the thought of it. The conversation was not as cautious as it should have been, probably, but with no objective I suppose that’s harder to gauge.
There was no rage last night, just a calm sort of care, a need to reset the meter. We were close in another life, endless weekends curled on Sebastian’s couch watching documentaries while he was at work, but that was so long ago I suppose it barely counts toward this story. It won’t ever be that again, I suppose. I was never good at showing mercy, and there’s no real reason for him to unlearn that now that I am.
I just keep thinking that when we met we had to navigate each other cunningly, both growing, as we were, like vines around Sebastian. Doing the maths on the other one, how much give there was, how much was left to take. We’re both difficult people. It’s been a few months of needing to see the relentlessness of his personality up close again. I could never talk in riddles like I could with him.
My bedroom at 13 was a literal shrine to the kind of culture of which I secretly knew I didn’t understand the intricacies, but appreciated the veneer of, lusted after what it seemed like as much as my best friend lusted after understanding what it all meant. Posters from Musee D’Orsay exhibitions, photographs by Saul Leitman, Rolling Stone photo essays, bus tickets, poems, photographs of my room in morning light, photos of Important Book covers, maps of the London Underground. In that way, I’ve been a secret idiot for most of my life, drawn to high culture for many reasons, mostly aesthetic, mostly adjacent. It was synesthetic, really, the heady kind of half-lidded first love over the way a song sounded like falling asleep felt, or the way a film looked like how a warm, sunny afternoon waiting in the car while your mother ran into the shops sounded, that specific muffled quiet, and that prickle of heat that starts off comforting and just gets woollier and woolier. It was secretly about feeling, and there was something so suspect about that to me. If you didn’t have words for it, if you couldn’t explain it, you didn’t have shit, so you’d better learn to fake it pretty quickly.
The time I asked in french to visit after midnight, I was DJing in a gay bar, Yo Majesty playing, google translating what I didn’t want to say in english. It was my worst time, and you talked me out of my bra but what’s new, I said I always know what you’ll do long before you do, flash back to indonesian diet pills and Thom Yorke killing it, the unbearable weight of an apartment for two with a view of other apartments for two closing in on you, our hearts murmured low for hours and you spoke about the way your life was harmless now and I said if this is harmless wow there’s some karma coming round. I thought we might die, all aflutter up high on your balcony, the Audi factory a gunmetal artwork just across the way, that time was a constant purple dusk, and there was us, and there was nothing else to do so we talked ourselves into love.
If you can try, stand up with your feet either together or slightly apart. Be still, with your hands by your side, and close your eyes. I find it helpful to count my breathing, and even more helpful to count in another language (though that’s just me). Become aware of all the minuscule ways your body corrects itself to stay upright - tiny clenches in your feet muscles, ankles, calves, thighs, butt. Maybe your lower back. Become aware of how much work your body is unconsciously doing to find it’s centre if gravity. Lean into different angles slightly, forward, to one side. Keep breathing. See if, after a while, you can position yourself so that just even for a few seconds your body isn’t correcting, and you are still, you are held in your centre of gravity. Don’t get stressed if you can’t - some days it is literally impossible.
If you do, pay attention to how much like flying, or hovering off the ground that feeling is. It’s really pure, and really overwhelming. It is a sense you come to seek out more and more. I had it last night, in tree pose, looking out over Sydney Park at dusk. Like I might never move a muscle again - strong and passive. But just now, sitting on the stopped bus, sun in my eyes and The 1975s ‘Me’ playing on my headphones, I had it again. I’m not sure why. I don’t know what I was doing, but it was the same feeling of being suspended securely over some great height.