Passing thoughts

city traffic in the sunlight

Bumper sticker: “You can make it if you try.”

What a load of boohockey. It’s never only about trying. Luck—that’s what I need, that’s what everyone else has that I don’t. I’m not untalented, I know that for sure. And it’s not as if I don’t try either. In fact, I try hard. Every day. 

In the morning when pink horizon melds with orange, hope swells within me like a hot air balloon. I gawk at the path ahead of me as a child watching the colourful orb reaching for the skies, and I imagine life becoming easier to tread. Potholes vanish, sticks and stones crumble under callous feet, and entry barriers fall apart. 

When summer scorns through my neon blazer, I cringe my eyes against the rays, sweat dribbling down my temple to drip from my nose, but I hope. Passersby don’t realise how difficult it is. To be a traffic conductor, underpaid, unseen, waved at by dogs and children immature to hold a phone—no one knows what that’s like. To spend almost every waking moment standing. Like a parking ticket, a special-edition vintage, I’m limited-time only. Valid until I have control over my bowels; diabetes will wreck me before it wrecks my life.

So don’t tell me I’m inadequate. You entitled little son of a my-father-paid-for-my-Volkswagen.

Don’t you dare suggest I try harder for a better job, family, friends, or meals.

It’s all I do to stay sane.


Image source: burst.shopify.com
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Shopping mall

Nodding, she mutely accepted the handsome volunteer’s scripted gratitude. A measly $15 donation didn’t warrant his genuine thanks.

Still. More welcoming than the tirade of her alcoholic breadwinner.

Gone are the days

Winter’s almost over in Canberra, and since the start of June, I’ve been entertaining the possibility of a half-rant, half-awe blog post marvelling the mystic that is this season. It was my first winter, and along with everything I expected, it was also every bit as unexpected.

From waking up at 4 am with numb feet, to feeling my innards shivering in the late afternoons, partly in hunger and partly in the unfamiliarity of the nail-biting weather, every day of the last couple of months has been an adventure.

I’d wake up at seven am, and the sun wouldn’t show up until at least ten past. And even before I could get back to the comfort of my insulated, carpeted bedroom, the sun would be gone, shrouded in mist and icy breeze.

Though I was comfortable—with lifesaving heating and miraculous thermal socks—my feet and palms were almost always chilly. As if they were entities separate from the rest of my body. While thermal socks prevented the cold from getting onto my feet, it also arrested the lingering cold, like a shadow unshakeable even in the pitch of darkness.

It didn’t take long for the tiniest of my toes to lose warmth. Unless directly placed under the sun or hot shower, they remained solid and distant. The first few seconds of warm water on my feet would feel cold. It’d take a while for the heat to permeate the blanket of chillness.

That’s when I realised winter’s real power. It was eleven degrees, felt like nine, and yet the UV index was high enough to slow-burn the skin.

Now, though, I awake at 5:30, and there’s light on the horizon. Pinkish shards shoot through the sky, hitting me right in the face as a dart on a target board, paving way for the warm glow of orange morning, elbowing its way past the silver linings, as hopeful soldiers in the border. By the time I set to work, heatwaves pierce through my window, ricocheting ultra-violetness into my messy room, revealing crumbs from dinner and sheared strands of stray hair.

Winter’s gone, and it’s left me rather bittersweet.

Family portrait

If voices had colour,
mum’s would be yellow
for she was mellow
saying hello
at the doorway
chases ma blues away—
school wasn’t easy
being picked on as measly 
yet for me she was there
we had to go nowhere.

If voices had colour,
dad’s would be black
dark, deep, bleeding slack
with a sense of hollow
he’d always wallow
in games after work
and want braised pork
thus well-fed he was
cushioned by his arse
while mum, she’d pass.

Walk by the lake, Canberra

Morning

down the winding road
trees snaking up to the skies
paving peace on path