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Naarm Melbourne Australia September 5th 2023 – Come Home Journal #17

A first entry along the journey to tour Dancing Shadows in Ireland, a retrospective of my film works as part of the Come Home project.

Leaving home is a wrench for me, there are more things at home than I care to influence than there are stars in the skies.

A worrisome day of crying at the bank. Weasel words and hiding behind policy. They make me mad until I burst into tears of frustration. I’m leaving tomorrow and the months of organising has got to me. My tears well from a place that is the centre of me. It’s about so much more than the bank. A year of living hell, but still living.

Reminding myself to be grateful in these moments is like when my sister told me to calm down when I was yelling at Fagyn, my adult daughter (she was yelling back). We both rounded on my sister and yelled at her. We were together in that moment, we had a common enemy, my sister Kerry. Sorry Kez, but no one could have calmed down in that moment, nor the few after.

A tear at any mention of Mick’s name, another in the coffee shop, another one in some queue or other. I’m resolved to queue, use it to connect with my fellow humans. But not today Muriel.

We go home to do phone banking. I couldn’t bear another strangers face. We weave time together as we stare at each other over the table as Deb, the bank consultant, plays us a recording of their privacy policy. A strange lack of privacy in a personal space, so public. Any other day we would have laughed at the situation. Any other day, any other year.

We drive to Melbourne, it’s a rush for no good reason. But I am ready. We drop off my bags. Then its three men, a puppy and me meeting for coffee, hot chips and toast in the spitting rain. One man and a puppy make a break for home, Mick and Betty in a quick public goodbye. Then Marsh, the second man leaves too, leavings are contagious. So me and and the last man, Merlyn, my adult son, go inside to finish eating in the warm dry.

We are both railing against the systems of money and data wrangling as he shows me how to install an e-sim with the quiet confidence of the digital native, himself frustrated by tech impositions. Systems seem impossible to climb when patience and the absurd are missing.

Then an evening with Fagyn and Marsh, eating risotto, writing letters, sorting ringtones and, for me, settling into a nervous plateau.

Erin looks into the camera quizzically

Earlier, between gatherings, I have a hairdo that must last the journey. As I leave Natoots, with my pink grey hair and fringe. Looking like myself but not feeling myself. My pink grey hair trimmings are in my nose and mouth and inside and outside my jumper. My lack of style surprises me. Work pants, long sleeved t-shirt, runners. A look I’d never wear in public but here I am. And now I’m itchy too.

I bide my time until needing to be at the airport at 3am. I resolve to not change my clothes, I can’t bear opening my bags again. They are badly packed but all the decisions have been made and I cannot make another. And so I am not the stylish traveller I am in my head, neither the most comfortable.

I’m travelling across the oceans for the first time on my own. And not for the first time I question my worth. Who I am to have this? I have absorbed the patriarchal instructions to make myself smaller. I hope I unfurl in time. And it is again time that will see the makings of me.

Two women hug and look into the camera

Fagyn drives me through the night, clear and calm. The lack of traffic like a disaster movie. The only disaster here though is me. I embrace this me, this disaster, weary but not beaten, reaching into myself and knowing I am there.

I am grateful for the love that surrounds me. My children are broad minded and the kind of clever that is created from reaching into dark places. My beautiful sweet, sometimes sour, love affair with Mick. I miss him. I ask more of him in the hopes he will crack open that beatific smile that lights up his eyes. He has lived through so much already, I hope he can live through my yearnings.

I am loved. I feel that. My work is important, even when I feel sometimes it is without depth, and yet too heavy. Time always tells. This journey to my ancestors with offerings of home will take the time it needs.

Movie title reads Love to Love You Donna Summer

I write this piece on the plane. I have packed all the tech devices I think I will need, but pen and paper are always at hand, and it appears I’ll need them. I switch on my mini tele, amongst the others, and here with love is Donna!

Check a couple more images here – Leaving – Flickr Album


IMAGE CREDIT: North Melbourne Evening by Erin M McCuskey


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