Teenage

Teenage

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Harry; Steph and Fraser, my bedroom, 2016

I’m turning 20 on Sunday. I was talking to a friend the other day about how we can become nostalgic about our own life, and how I already am getting nostalgic about my teen years, like they were long ago. But in reality, they were only a few years ago; this time last year; last week. Anyway, here are some moments I captured of them. They were spent in the sleepy towns and beaches of Tasmania, with friends as special as the sunsets and starry skies surrounding them. They were beautiful and cliche and exciting. And I know my twenties are going to be just the same.

My heart aches when I look at these pictures. Sometimes it’s because I long to be back in those moments, back on the chilly pink-skied beaches that make me feel alive, and the cold winter nights with stars brighter than anywhere on earth. But then I realise I can return to those moments whenever I like, wherever I am, because they are infinite in my memory. And sometimes my heart aches just because I’m so incredibly grateful and astonished that these moments happened.

Now that I’m living in Queensland, I sometimes think about my life in Tasmania and wonder ‘did that actually happen? Was that really my life? What did I do to deserve all of that beauty?’ and I feel like a little old lady daydreaming about her youth. My youth is still here, right in front of me, yet I feel the need to obsessively document it as it slips away.

Maybe it’s because society tells you to savour these days, to ‘live while you’re still young’ as if life stops once you reach a certain age, and all you do from that point on is daydream about the past. Like your life becomes redundant. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that life and beauty and adventure is exclusive to being young. I really don’t. And I really hope I can keep that opinion, even when I’m obsessively documenting my age, my wisdom, and my wrinkles. Because they too slip away, and are beautiful in their own right.

Why is it laughable to say that I don’t want the words “I wish I was that young again,” to ever leave my mouth?

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Bec, Port Sorell, 2015
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Alice, Port Sorell, 2013
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Grace, Launceston, 2016
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Bridport, 2016
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Josie; Em and Keely, Launceston, 2015
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Athalie, Bay of Fires, 2014
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Morgan, Melbourne, 2016
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Athalie and Daniel, Launceston, 2012
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Dylan and Chyene, Lilydale, 2016
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Harry, Launceston, 2016
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Em, Port Sorell, 2015
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Fraser, Launceston, 2016
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Alice, Launceston, 2015
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Kat and Abi, Launceston, 2016
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Self portrait, Launceston, 2016
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Billy & Alice, Launceston, 2015
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Morgan, Melbourne, 2016
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Harry; Jesse; Lucas and Kyle, Launceston, 2015
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Em, Port Sorell, 2015
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My bedroom, Launceston, 2016
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Keely; Em and Bec; Port Sorell, 2015
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My bedroom, 2015
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Lara, Sisters Beach, 2016
Relearning Love

Relearning Love

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love. Last week, on the phone to a close friend we started discussing the difficulty that came along with talking to others about our friendship. “I tell people you’re my girlfriend,” she told me. “nothing else conveys our closeness.” 

It made me laugh. Our love for one another is too intense to be expressed to others as friendship. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how limiting societal understandings of relationships are. Platonic love is so deeply undervalued and misunderstood within our culture. Romantic love is placed above all other loves, and we’re taught to seek it out, to feel incomplete without it. We are taught that there is only one way to correctly participate in romantic love. We are since girlhood waiting our entire lives to be consumed by exclusive romance. We want to be destroyed by it. We want to drown in it. We let men into the center of our lives. We let men become the center of our lives.

Recently I’ve been reading this book called I Love Dick. It was about the author, Chris, and her husband, Sylvère, her infatuation with her husband’s work colleague Dick. And her husband entertains this infatuation, and the pair of them write Dick letters about how much Chris loves him, and Chris tells her husband about how she imagines herself and Dick having sex. In all the reviews I read about the novel, they discuss how perverted this all is, and how dysfunctional this husband-wife dynamic is. But the whole time I was reading it I was struck by how brilliant their relationship was, how secure and in love they must be. I was thinking maybe one day it would be nice if I could grow enough to have a relationship like that. If I could let go of jealousy and possession. I talk about free love and polyamory all the time, and I think it’s beautiful and I think it’s what right. But this was the first time I was really struck by how much I want to be able to have it. I think it’s easier to love girls that way than it is guys, maybe because I haven’t seen representations of how I’m “supposed” to love girls. I don’t have to let go of so many internalised ideas with girls (just all that internalised homophobia…) and so it is easier, free of urgency. But I am going to practice every day. I will practice non-attachment and remind myself that people will always love me, and that if the form of that love changes I am strong enough to teach myself to accept it. I know that what is for me will be for me effortlessly. I will learn to love in such a way that the person I love does not feel stifled by my love. I will learn to love in such a way that they feel free.
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Love is a pure emotion. I know that un-training my brain will opened up a whole new world of intense joy and happiness to me. I can kiss my friends on the mouths as an expression of my love for them. I can share all the love I have inside of me with as many or as few people as I want and I don’t have to feel confined or restrained by anything that society or Hollywood has taught me.  Realising the unnecessary nature of prescribed titles to different kinds of love and relationships is so incredibly freeing.  We don’t need labels or limitations to our loves. We can create our own unique love that manifest in whatever way it wants to.
I can’t claim that I came to this realisation entirely of my own volition. It wasn’t until I was in a space where there was trust and freedom and Real Love that I realised how dysfunctional my past relationships have been, and how confining and screwed up conventional love is. Particularly as women, an exclusive romantic relationship is viewed as some kind of a pinnacle of success. I’ve stayed in relationships that made me feel trapped. I’ve let men convince me that without them, I would crumble apart and dissolve. For a fear of being alone, I’ve let myself be unhappy. No – utterly miserable.
Now I am growing. I love deeply. I try never to forget that the sources of love are plentiful. That there is kinlove and womanlove and friendlove and sisterlove. That these loves are a source of sustenance.
May we keep our centers to ourselves, hold our own hearts in our hands, and cultivate and appreciate love in all of its glorious manifestations.
Ocean Child in a Concrete Jungle

Ocean Child in a Concrete Jungle

I shot these photos of Morgan-Lee in Melbourne during November. I arrived in the city in the afternoon and she said “let me introduce you to Gladys, the Great Mother.” She took me to this huge old oak tree in Albert Park and we danced around in the golden sun and talked about how important things like trees are. Morgan’s a girl from a little seaside town in Tasmania, living in this huge smokey concrete city. We talked about how it’s kinda scary how her salvation is a non-native tree.

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This girl is as sweet as honey. Here is a playlist inspired by her:

 

photography by @tabbyhd

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List

The-Girls.jpgThe Girls by Emma Cline
Have you ever read something and been utterly mesmerised by how flawlessly the author managed to crawl inside your head? My copy of The Girls is filled with wild scrawling notes; “This is so tragically familiar,” I’ve written. “oh, how the lives of 14-year-old girls revolve around the approval of others.”
Set in the summer of 1969, the book follows Evie Boyd, a desperate and lonely teenager who joins a Manson-family-esque cult. This book is captivating. Cline toys with this wonderful idea of something simultaneously grotesque and beautiful. A moving representation of the young female psyche navigating insecurities, rebellion, and curiosities through adolescence.

The Color Purple by Alice Walkerthe-color-purple.jpg
The Color Purple made me rethink my stance on God. Always an atheist, it wasn’t until I read this book that I realised my aversion wasn’t to God or spirituality, but to organised religion. This book talks about God as an it, as everything – including yourself. This book made me realise you don’t have to worship God by sitting in a pew and singing hymns. We worship by Living. By running barefoot through long grass, swimming naked in the sea. Dancing to your favourite song or climbing a tree.
A fair warning – this book is not light and fluffy.The story focuses on the life of African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s. The first page depicts a rape scene and the second illustrates the death of the protagonists’ mother. But it is beautiful, thought-provoking, life-changing. I would recommend it to anyone.41K7TYBGF4L.jpg

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This book is my Favourite Book Ever. Every person I’ve ever forced into reading it has also decided it is their Favourite Book Ever. It will change your life. I read this book in 2 days. All 200,000-something words of it. All 600-something pages of it. Reading this book is like drinking a really great scotch: you keep drinking, having no idea how drunk your getting. Then you try to stand up and the world falls out from under your feet. It enthrals you so, so completely.
I adore the hint of the supernatural. I adore the slow, building tension. I adore Richard and Henry and Bunny and I’m not even going to tell you what the book is about because it is so inexplicable and brilliant and I could never do it justice. Go and buy this book. Immediately.

1d4c4cf8277876b869ff5a4b5452fafbMonkey Grip by Helen Garner
Monkey Grip follows the story of Javo and Nora.  Javo is addicted to hard drugs and Nora is addicted to Javo. Garner’s writing is a rich, lyrical prose that runs off the tongue like honey. It’s poetic and layered and I read this book again as soon as I finished it, just so I could experience it all over again. She has the ability to capture the mood without using over-indulgent language. I’d just moved to Melbourne the first time I read this book and my timing was perfect – I would walk through the streets, nose in book, and realise I was on the same street Nora lived on, or that the place I’d met a friend for coffee the day before was the same place the Javo and Nora went to meet. There is a wonderful sense of familiarity that washes over me when she refers to specific places.

51p7tpu16xlSelf Help by Lorrie Moore
This book contains a collection of short stories by Lorrie Moore, including my favourite short story of all time: How To Be An Other Woman, an incredibly moving piece about, well, how to be a mistress. Moore has a thing for opera singers and women who work in retail, women with cheating men and weird mums. She creates lyrical masterpieces of interconnecting words, meanings, and emotions; stories that are packed tightly with wit and sentiment and tenderness and tragedy and pathos and just about everything that I love in literature. Moore imparts something upon the reader – some deeper wisdom, some change in perspective. I cannot do justice to the amazing, heartbreaking soulfulness that is this book.

Lock-Jaw and Love

Lock-Jaw and Love

It’s the early hours of a Tuesday morning and I haven’t slept since Thursday night. I’m high out of my mind, floating through the universe in a state of pure bliss, dancing in time with the buzzing of my heart in my chest, my twisting body matching that white-hot feeling rippling through my veins. I laugh under the flashing blue lights and shake my head, music bumping loud in the background. Drugs are brilliant. Mind-expanding. Heart opening.

The first time I did drugs I was fifteen. A group of us were camping by a lake, passing the bong in a circle when one of the boys pulled out a bag of obscure little mushrooms. “They’re magical,” he told us, and so we ignored the bitter taste and swallowed them whole. We laid in the reeds and listened the sound to life vibrating, the trees spinning out like kaleidoscopes above us.

I meddled in hallucinogenics for a while. Acid made the world pixelated one trip and cartoon-ified the next. Every time was exciting and different. But eventually I was ready to try something new. My boyfriend, a meth dealer, racked some stuff into a neat little line and showed me how to snort it up. “So you don’t have to wait for the caps to dissolve in your stomach,” he’d said. So I took the purple fiver from him, rolled it into a straw and breathed in hard. The drugs fizzled along in my bloodstream like ice cream and lemonade, and for the first time in my life, I understood euphoria. Everything vibrated. Everything moved and everything flowed and I could feel God in the back of my knees. I could not conjure up sadness.

Every experience I’ve had with drugs has been a positive one. Every Friday night coke-line, every Sunday morning bump of ket, every acid-fuelled camping trip has been beautiful. Every “I love you,” spurred on by MDMA has connected me to another human being, our lives intertwined even for just a glistening moment. Every tab melted onto my tongue has taught me something new about the earth, or shown me how to appreciate the beauty of nature, the wonder of life in a new light.

Everyone is magical when I’m on drugs. I remember meeting this guy and thinking he was an Angel. He glowed and he laughed and he was so alive and full of spontaneity. We would just hold hands and run down the street, feeling cold air rushing against our face, the sensation of Living filling us. Sometimes on drugs you realise you love a person so much that it hurts. Which I suppose is the best kind of pain, really. Sometimes you just wanna kiss someone and your whole body just aches for it. The guy I’m seeing got high with me the other day and we had what was most definitely the best sex of my life. Everything is so intense and you have no inhibitions and all your love, for everyone and everything, is flowing through you, and the universe intertwines with you and you don’t end and you don’t begin and neither do they and you just become this singular entity, moving together in time with the earth, and the whole world feels interconnected.

There’s no gravity when you’re high. You float out into the cosmic abyss and it’s beautiful but also undoubtedly a little terrifying. I’ll admit that. There are times when the fluorescent glow of the street lamps is too bright and the way the trams sway on the tracks isn’t quite right. The MDMA gives you lock-jaw and the K makes you lose time and everything is heightened. But our bodies move like liquid. You can feel bliss running through your veins. I’m not saying drugs are for everyone, I’m not saying they’re never problematic. But sometimes with drugs, your heart gets so full that it hurts in the most brilliant way possible. I guess I can’t see why anyone would condemn that feeling.