Marmalade

Marmalade was different. It was made on a Saturday after I’d said farewell to nine people and while I waited for others to finish packing so we could watch tv together for the last time.

The citrus fruit had been sitting in a plastic bag for a few days waiting to be used. I was meant to cook the maramalade with friends but that didn’t work out because packing up to leave takes longer than expected.

So I worked on it by myself as my flatmates came in and out of the kitchen to distract me. And I guess that’s alright. These friends will in my life even when they can’t be there in person.

I suppose marmalade is a pretty transparent metaphor. A jam but not quite, given a different name because it’s a slightly different thing. The people who I called flatmates I now call my friends. Because there’ll be just a slight difference.

Jam

When you don’t want to say good bye you say farewell, hug, wave one last time and then make jam at 4am with all the people who also can’t process the emotions caused by someone’s absence.

We started with strawberry jam, and then started to make a mixed berry jam. We were in for the long haul. Not ready to go back to bed. While waiting for the fruit to simmer I noticed the baileys sitting a top the fridge with a bow around its neck. As if it was a gift saying ‘drink me’. And what was the harm, I was drowning in sorrow anyway, why not add a drink?

I added three. Baileys, Prosecco and Limoncello make an interesting combination. Not enough to get me drunk but enough to make me warm and soft. Less hard edges to cut other people with.

And the alcohol made one friend more confident. Sharing what she usually only says to one person with the whole room. I love looking after my friends and looking after drunk friends is no exception.

There a certain honesty in the kind of drunk someone gets when they’re melancholy. A certain way people reveal what is truly important and valuable to them.

And at 6am with a few drinks, some preserves and some good friends who were also trying to say goodbye a few hours after our friend had gone I knew that what I value is their presence in my life.

Unconditionally and with no limit of if they’re there in person or simply through messages and postcards. Because we’re never saying goodbye. We’re always going to be saying farewell over jam.

Home?

I got a very cheap box of 100 postcards so I can keep in touch with my friends all over the world for less than 10pence per card. I’ve now got homes all over the world and people I need to stay in touch with. I have lots of post cards and the design on the front of the card always influences what I write.

When I picked out a card with a merry go round of shoes with mirrors and lights I thought about my sisters old walk in wardrobe. So I wrote to Sarah.

I told her about how my room here feels like home. It’s my space, decorated with as many knick knacks as I could get for free. My pin board has some lovely cards on it, the fairy lights give off a lovely soft yellow light and I have craft supplies on the shelf.

I told her I’m looking forward to decorating a new room when I get back to Australia because I get to make a new space my own and thats something I’ve become very good at.

Our family has moved house so many times that I’ve lost track of where we’ve lived and when. I can pack up my bedroom in an hour but I always put more time and effort into setting up a new room. I enjoy the ritual of going through memories and deciding where they belong.

I don’t let go of things easily, I have artwork I did when I was three, class work from year five, the first history report I ever wrote, every swimming certificate I have ever earned, netball trophies spanning seven years, birthday and christmas cards from my whole life, my first pair of shoes, art I did in year seven, a harmonica that doesn’t work. And all because they hold memories.

Sarah remembers everything, almost down to the hour that it happened. She describes things in vivid detail and is always ready with a joke or reference to something we did years ago. My brain isn’t good at memories, I have blank spots spanning entire weeks and months. I didn’t tell Sarah that because I didn’t know how to explain it to her when I’m so jealous of her ability to remember things.

The only time my memory works well is when it’s connected to a place. I make a space my own so I can remember what happens in it. I have photographs of my old rooms that I can look at when I want to remember something that happened there. Home is in those photos and in my year six maths book and the 70 paper cranes I folded during a literature class in year 11 and these things are memories I cart from house to house in boxes so I can put a part of home into every new house. Because Home to me is just a familiar memory, and I have so few of those.

First Post

The first post card I ever recieved was from Nanna Mac. It was written in beautiful flowing cursive which my mum and dad had to help me decipher; I was eight and still using a pencil to write block letters.

The card was from Bunderburg and Nanna had written about her trip to the brewery, how suger can is harvested and the average rainfall whilst she had been there. I still learn more about average rainfall from Nanna than I do from the news. She visits Queensland every winter and I always look forward to a post card.

Nannas post cards always teach me something about the history of a place. I always wanted to learn from Nanna, and she was always a wonderful teacher. She taught me how to read music, play piano, knit, mend a button hole and replace a button, bake scones and sponge cakes, to put sugar on top of my strawberries, and how to drive. And she taught me that all of these skills and hobbies are also a way to communicate.

A way to say ‘I love you’ without words. Nanna is not bad with words she’s just better at playing music, baking, knitting, sewing, leafing through photo albums and hugging. She has told me to be careful, get home safe, do well in school, be on time, stay warm, eat well, take a breath, listen, move, resist, recover, rest, soften and communicate without uttering a word. Some things don’t need to be said allowed to be important.

But even knowing this I still constantly have words in mind. Ready to say because I’ve overthought and rehearsed plenty of interactions. And when the words are too much I write them all down so that maybe I’ll have a chance to sleep.

And sometimes I write them all down on postcards. Sometimes I write down things that I’d never say in person. Sometimes I address the postcard before I write on it, sometimes I only know where to send it after its written. I am still trying to figure out why that is but the mystery doesn’t bother me enough to stop the words.

So I write. I write to friends and family and my partner, I write to the post officer, I write to buildings with strangers, I write to have something to do on the train, I write to get those messages on facebook saying “i just got your post card and it made my day”, I write so that someone can hide my words away and just look at the picture, I write to show people that I may be incredibly unwell but I’m still holding the pen.

I write the words and decide to send them away, always taking a photo because the words can leave my head but I still want a way to show they’re mine.  They are a journal entries that I’m scattering around the world.

I write to say thank you to Nanna for teaching me about words.

I know they aren’t the only way to communicate but I still want to be good at them. If thats possible.