When I first started writing this blog post, it was 10pm and I’d just gotten home from work. I was stressed and exhausted. I was too tired to think properly. When I’m stressed and tired I notice things start to slip. I begin to forget names and conversation. I make huge typos. I find it hard to fall asleep and too easy to wake up. I was originally intending to tell you about this dress, but I’ve had quite the month of adventure.
It’s been a really busy time of year at work. For the first time in many years I have worked a 16-hour day, which was surrounded by many similarly long days. I’ve done a lot of travel. I’ve fallen into a routine of wake, work, home, sleep. When work calmed down enough that I had an evening free to catch up with my other commitments, I was scrambling to keep up. In a mad month I presented my History Internship, which has taken many hard hours of my time to finish up. I gave a talk as a woman online surrounded by some brilliant historians. I felt poorly prepared and ‘reactive’ in all these professional areas of my life and I hate it. Worst of all, it’s had a huge impact on my health, and as a result of no resting time, I’m now recovering from being quite sick.
Being single now, I’m spending a lot of my time alone. Usually I can call on my family to support me a bit, but my brother has just held an exhibition for his art. Everyone put a lot into making it happen, and I feel guilty and really disappointed that working so much prevented me from helping. After that, no one really has much time left to give anything extra, because really, we’re all carrying around this stupid, horrible time of year. I hadn’t been to a supermarket in weeks and had to ask my mum and sister if they would mind because I didn’t know how I was going to wash my hair the next day. They weren’t able to. Everyone is just too distracted. My mum has taken time off work to let herself process it all, and I really wish I could join her.
It’s a stupid thing, an anniversary. It just makes everything feel amplified. I have kept telling myself in the months and weeks coming up to this, that it’s just another year. It’s just another month. It’s just another day. But hell! Every minute. Every hour. All of it hurts. Any inch of time that divides me from the last moment I heard my sister’s voice hurts. Being so overloaded with work I haven’t had the downtime to process all of the pain the anniversary is dragging back up. My soul is very sore because of it.
It’s been ten years. That amount of time can be measured like a physical distance. I feel like I’m screaming across a massive, open ocean, knowing my sister, my nephew, and more recently my nan, are all far, far out there. Knowing their names will be smothered by the wind the moment the leave my mouth. Knowing they are long past the horizon. Staring at the last place they were visible in this great expanse, begging the ship I’m on to turn around. Man overboard.
This is grief. This is me screaming into the wind. This is me carrying that burden around with me, finding myself becoming distracted constantly at work as the weight presses onto me. Waking up in the night after my sleeping mind dragged back up the memory of parent’s screams as they found out.
I shouldn’t be spending so much time alone, but I’ve had not many other options. Some of my friends have no idea how lovely they have been. Dear Lynne brought me vegetables. I had a moment to make some frozen meals for myself and right now, a very tired me is eating soup from pumpkins grown in her garden. My mate Jess came round and we drank gin, talked until it was stupidly late and I got to rest properly that night. It’s a small thing, but being alone with grief is really hard and even though Jess didn’t know it, she made such a difference.
My best friends are all out of reach. One is in Melbourne, one in Tasmania, two are on the same team as me at work and are both too exhausted to spend any extra time with other people. My beautiful new bestie Cath has left for a magnificent adventure in South Korea and has been madly packing and preparing to leave.
Such awkward timing for this anniversary has effectively wiped out my entire support network. I will admit to several dinners of 2-minute noodles, and crackers with hummus. Some, I just skipped altogether and went straight to bed. A couple of times I have curled up on the floor in front of the TV with a blanket and watched Adventure Time. When it gets harder, when it’s closer to the date, I’ll get out Howl’s Moving Castle.
I’m lucky I’m eating at all. With so much on, finally my body broke. My mate Jess calls this ‘Post Campaign Immune Deficiency’, which I love. You come to the end, your immune system books a ticket to Paris and leaves you behind. For me this meant a sore throat that turned into tonsillitis rather quickly and before I could do much about it, I was in agony. My whole body was aching, especially anything that resembled a joint or a core muscle. I had fevers and then chills. I had crazy dreams. My energy vanished. I began throwing up. My throat swelled until it was hard to breath through my nose, I couldn’t swallow my own spit and I could barely open my jaw. My mum picked me up (single ladies can’t nurse themselves) and I stayed on her couch until the next day where she took me to hospital.
The hospital staff were fantastic at non verbal communication and mum filled in the blanks. They gave me a cup with 5 pills in it, vowing that would be the last thing I would have to swallow. I downed them, none of them did anything for the pain in my throat, but all my other pains went. I leant on mum while they worked on getting me into the ‘less important’ business end of the emergency room. Once inside, they took blood, connected me to a drip, made me swallow the most disgusting throat numbing gel (which didn’t numb my throat but almost made me vomit) and pumped me full of steroids, fluids and antibiotics. I was exhausted by finally feeling some relief. They asked me to stay, I boldly said no, but regretted it when I discovered I was so ill I had to be taken out to wait for my dad in a wheelchair. The first thing I did when I got in the car was throw up.
So I’m almost better. I’m tired of the sore throat, but I can eat now (and keep it down!). Now I've told you about my adventures. Let's talk about this dress.
I grew up with this dress. Sort of. It was my mother’s. Well, not this exact one. You see, there was one that my sisters and I would try on and run around in. My grandmother pedalled the myth that it had been made by a family member out of a tablecloth. We stopped believing that when one of us noticed a tag on the back. My sister claimed it when she was older and I never had the chance to wear it. Then one day I was wandering through a vintage market and came across another dress exactly the same! It was absolutely brilliant. I waltzed in to see my sister wearing it. She was scandalised and demanded to know when I had stolen it. I took great pride in telling her that it was my dress, and that she could keep the other one forever.
I have wanted to do a shoot with it for ages, and this little spot at the beach seemed so perfectly whimsy, especially for a Flower Crown Friday.
Flower crown: No longer available. Etsy. Previous post.
Photos: Goldfields Girl
Here's to vintage dresses, flower crowns, lost loved ones and good health.