I was what is colloquially referred to as “an accident”. I like to think – in my lower moments; when drifting aimlessly along and writing twitter updates about my insecurities seems like a viable life plan – that this set the tone for the rest of my life to follow. As if Monique, my birth mother, had held her hands over her swelling stomach and fetal child and just chanted: “You’re not here on purpose. We had no choice. You’re not on purpose,” over and over like a spell, and maybe adding in a “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?” every now and then, for good measure.
Funnily enough – not funny “haha”, but funny “weird” – I’m staunchly pro-choice. My mother once turned on me when I expressed how ‘okay’ I was with abortion, snapping: “you could’ve been aborted, but you weren’t! Think of all the things you wouldn’t have been able to do!”
I don’t remember what my answer was, but I’m fairly certain it would’ve been: “I wouldn’t have had experienced anything, pre-abortion, not even crying and shitting and drinking breast milk, so I wouldn’t know any better. I reckon I’d have been okay with it, given the embryonic circumstances.” But this is quickly becoming a feticidal think piece, which isn’t what I want, so I’ll abort this topic now. Or at least strafe away from the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
I think, when you boil it down, that teenage ennui is essentially this: “I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN!” Preferably yelled from the top of a staircase through a tortured visage, and mascara that’s running more than the speaker ever has at dreaded high school ‘sports days’. It’s… histrionic, certainly, but not without a grain of truth.
Maybe that’s my true calling: in twenty years time I’ll cycle out of theatre to invent a range of time machines like The Magic School-Bus that’ll allow prospective parents to skip forward eighteen years into the future, sit their kid down and ask them, face to face: “It’s a pretty fucked world we live in. You sure you wanna commit to it?”
If their kid says no, they don’t, then it’s easy – the parents return back to the present timeline and refrain from fucking each other for, say, a month. Problem solved. Go spend the thousands (hundreds of thousands?) you would’ve spent on the child to relocate to somewhere fabulous around the world every few years. Make sure you fly everything first class to use the same amount of greenhouse gases your child would’ve produced, though.
It’s coming up to my ten year high school reunion, and I’m pretty unsure how to feel about it, honestly. How have the ravages of age and cynicism affected us all? Who really cares? I didn’t attend my five-year reunion: I was working in the industry that night. Like, not as a FOH or bar person, but legitimately, produced and as a playwright. That took place of pride in my mind.
I did attend my one year reunion – because my school thought that was necessary, like we couldn’t possibly go a whole twelve months without having those wounds reopened. I went because I’d lost about twenty-five kilograms in the intervening year, and thought I deserved to show it off – especially when I’d been relentlessly mocked for my curvaceous figure in years previous. Not to show myself off, or anything – though objectively, my self-esteem had improved, I held no desire to fuck anyone who attended that school, not even the dudebro straight guy jock of the school who I’d harboured a misguided crush on for some reason years previous, before I’d learnt what ‘self respect’ was. I attended, really, in the petty hopes that one (or two, or three) of the aggressive boys who’d beaten the snot out me for my weight problems would be there, and I’d… what?
One of them was there, and I kept an intense awareness of his presence the entire night as I threw myself into the provided alcohol. We finally came eye to eye towards the end of the night at the toilet door, him exiting, me entering. He looked at me, and I at him, and… I did nothing. Afterwards, of course, a million witty and cutting things I could’ve said flashed through my skull, but in the moment I was gone, part of me drunk and thin and objectively sexy (not that it mattered to this straight bully, or to me), and part of me was 16 and fat and on the concrete of St. Leonard’s College with that thug of a child standing over me, eyes full of hatred and neck-vein pulsing, ready to strike.
I haven’t thought about this incident in years, but I’ve thought about it a lot recently as the Australian Government have consequently done everything they can to squash or delay the equal marriage movement, or force a plebiscite onto the unsuspecting public. I don’t even want to get married, though I think that homosexuals should have the same fucking right as straight people to make as many stupid mistakes as they make.
So, I went to my one year, and didn’t attend my five year, but I always imagined I’d attend the ten year reunion, because, why not? Romy and Michelle did, and if they’re not role models, then who the fuck is? I also used to think, pettily: Five years isn’t enough for someone to really fuck their lives up, but ten is. Enough for someone to get fat, get a drug addiction, get pregnant (which are all basically the same thing.)
Now I don’t even care to go to look at the freak show.
Now, I don’t even think there’ll be a freak show – it’s just going to be a collection of people with whom I have nothing at all in common except for the fact we all went to the same shitty, overpriced school.
I’ve recently been diagnosed with something called ‘adjustment disorder’. When I say ‘recently’ I mean about six months ago, but time is a relative, and also an illusion, right?
My psych diagnosed me as exhibiting: anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adjustment disorder. All of this aside from the ABI, of course. In a way, I’m thankful. Being able to name each symptom, each nasty, paranoid thought that worms its way into my skull and snakes around my throat and my chest, is actually an amazing power. Adjustment disorder really stuck out to me, though, simply because I didn’t know what it meant. My psych described it as such:
“You know how in war movies the grizzled old one-eyed veteran will say: I’ve seen some stuff, man. It’s basically that. Everyone’s going around living their twenties and enjoying everything without the knowledge that bad things can happen, but you’re not. You know bad things can happen. You didn’t go out on that night expecting to almost die, but you almost did. Because that’s the way the world works. And everyone seems ‘behind you’, in a way, because they haven’t cottoned on to the fact that life really is just that random, and just that unfair.”
I suppose the ‘adjustment’ that’s being disordered is my adjustment back to regular life. Makes sense to me. Shit can happen, and bad shit can happen, but, what: I’m gonna live my life worrying about it? Waiting for some magical anvil to drop from the sky and take my life, properly this time? No. It seems dramaturgically unsound, though: like, “your life is missing a defined and proper conflict in act two, you need to make sure you develop one. Also, all of life is fucked and we’re all going to die one day. Probably not all at once, but maybe one day soon. Maybe you.”
The other day I saw on Twitter: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GETTING MARRIED, HAVING BABIES AND BUYING HOUSES, AND I’M JUST OVER HERE USING THE INTERNET AS A POOR FORM OF INTIMACY.
I think about that tweet a lot.