sydney sun

I want to be the sort of friends who leaps—who drives miles and miles and writes long letters for every birthday. I want to be the sort of friend who arrives on a plane and gives more than she expects to receive. I want to be there for phone calls and coffee dates, for deep conversations and breathless laughter. I want to talk about how it really does suck so much sometimes and how you've got clouds in your chest and keep coughing up smoke whenever someone gets too close. I want to celebrate when things are so piercingly beautiful. I don't want to hesitate. I want to be a part of the net that catches—a piece of fabric that warms. I want to be the first to say sorry—the first to say let's go somewhere.

"I want you to be happy
Free to run, get dizzy on caffeine
Funny friends that make you laugh
And maybe you're just a little bit dappy"
(Glass Animals)

I went to Sydney to see a friend. It was one of those times when life feels good and sunny and like everything is going to turn out perfectly. Sydney was bright. I had been there once before with a boyfriend and it was special getting to explore it on my own. I walked for miles every day and ate vegan pies by Bondi and felt pretty grateful for everything. I snuck my way to the top of Pylon Lookout on the Harbour Bridge and stayed there for awhile, watching the salty blue waters and darting boats—the glistening city horizon and rows of cars. God, sometimes everything just seems possible, yknow? Like you could eat the sun and hold it shining in your belly.

These days were nice. Max and I rode the ferry to Manly Beach and I leaned over the edge to watch other people leaning over the edge. We followed the water to seaside pools and little jungles rising from the sand. Everything seemed possible. We got drunk in the city. We talked about careers and passions and photography and how wild it is that we're both here. I'm from Vancouver and Max is from California and we met in Seattle and somehow, we had both come to live in Australia for basically the same year. Two kids chasing the world, I guess. Two hungry kids chasing the light. Two kids who want to see it all.

The evening light was magical—the sun a pulsing warm beam.

Everything seemed possible.

Photographs from August 2017.

melbourne winter

And this is where my heart is.

This was the winter that I went back to Melbourne, where the fist in my chest unfurled and everything began to bloom again. I remember these as golden days even though I know I was often angry and heartbroken. But there was so much gold. There was so much light. There were family breakfasts with sloping hills of syrupy waffles, tall cups of coffee and cuddles, long jackets and days when the exhales from your laughter formed fog in the air. There were evenings of playful games, big potluck dinners, taking pictures in parks, warm sweaters and warm smiles.

I came back to Melbourne in a rush. Life bellyflopped so I bought my plane ticket in the morning, left Brisbane in the afternoon, and returned home in the evening. I opened the sliding door to a room full of unfamiliar furniture and very familiar humans who sprung up from their dinner and hugged me close. I was in the center of a squeezing circle and I was home. Once more in our community that we call the Hive.

Listen: you have to trust even when things don't make sense—when things don't go the way you were expecting. You have to trust yourself but you have to trust other people too. You have to be your own foundation and you have to be prepared to catch yourself every time, but you are not going to be able to do this whole thing on your own. There are times when you should ask for help. You have to be prepared to open your heart and be vulnerable and be seen.

This is what communal living was for me. Being seen and vulnerable and open and learning to ask for help and finding myself caught in loving arms when I stumbled. It was confronting and terrifying and I still worry that I didn't give enough to the people who gave me so much.

It was hard and it was one of the most important parts of my life. Not much has been the same since.

When you live with people—really live with people—not as wary bystanders existing an arm's length apart whose lives never entwine—it feels entirely different. Or else it did for me. I'm an only child, a solo traveller, drifter. Community was not something I was used to or that I ever really sought out, yet discovering it was like I had been given new colours to paint with. I remember during a house meeting one of us started crying because they had been looking for this for so long. Maybe I was too—I just didn't know it.

Sometimes, we were so human and it flowed so beautifully and sometimes, we were so human and it went so badly. Sometimes, we said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing and sometimes, we hurt each other without meaning to.

But we also held each other, comforted when days were sad, laughed when days were happy, shared meals and thoughts and dreams and secrets. We played and danced and sang and gardened and cooked. We were growing and trying and really, really trying. We were trying to love one another well and I think we succeeded far more often than not.

It was a lot everything—a lot of all things. Life and death and good and bad. It was life intimately shared. Or at least that's what it was for me.

Photographs from May 2017 - August 2017.