This is my place in time.
#50 – Somewhere I used to live.
I’ve had a few very tough years in my life. Late 2005/ early 2006 was the worst, 2009 was pretty spectacularly shit, and 2002 was a churning mess of polar opposites and challenges where some really horrible stuff happened. Big move, messy breakup, major family upheaval, job from hell, a death trap car that leaked every time it rained…seriously, I had to sit on bin liners all winter.
Some really fantastic stuff happened that year too, but we’ll get to that later.
In late March 2002, I’d been living solo for a year since splitting with my long term boyfriend, T. I was about to turn 21 and I was a few months into an intense but fledgling relationship with G. It was one of those summers like you see in movies: parties, good friends, discovering new musical tastes (in this instance it was Pink Floyd), reveling in old musical tastes (The Beatles, and Roxette), hanging out by the beach, and spending every waking thought and moment with another person. It was a fast burning, out of control, intense, jealousy ridden, angsty, artistic kind of love.
G still lived at home in the far northern suburbs of Perth. 40km away from me if he was driving. He didn’t have a car, so didn’t often get the opportunity to drive. It was a long trip on public transport back and forth to visit me, but he was a trooper.
I worked slap bang in the middle of the map, about 24km away from home, enduring a rage inducing crawl twice a day along Morley drive.
So, I did the throw the caution to the wind thing. Four months in, I left my family, who I’d been living around the corner from in an awesome big house, left my own group of friends, and moved clear across town to North Beach.
North Beach was (and still is) a fantastic spot. It’s right on the Indian ocean, it’s minutes to one of my favourite places to hang out (Hillarys Boat Harbour), driving distance to one of my (now closed) favourite restaurants, and it was a much less stressful drive to work (not that it had any impact on the stress I’d face at work).
19 Sorrento Street is three rows of flats sharing common walls. It cost me about $120-$140 per week in rent, and I lived in the middle flat of the middle row. Number 13 should have been a sign of what was to come. I loved it though. I had a big concrete birdbath from a friend and the cherub on it had met a grisly beheading when the cat toppled it. Dad caulked it back together and did a really messy job. It was his suggestion to paint the glue red, so I had this bleeding, severed head cherub birdbath in the courtyard. It was so me.
The flat had brand new, royal blue carpet. It had this very retro 70s style buffet shelf/counter suspended from the ceiling. My room at the front of the house had a built in robe. The living area was pretty open plan and had these big lace curtains running around the room. I didn’t have a lot of furniture, but the lounge held a spare bed and my papasan chair.
I shared the flat with my beautiful thug cat, Orion. He was black and white and left hair all over my nice carpet. We would end up being together from 2000 to 2007.
I didn’t make the most of the garden. It sloped upwards and had little steps leading to the next row of flats and up to the car bays and skip. I should have planted something, some relaxing herbs perhaps!
I spent as many evenings as I could sitting by the beach, absorbing the sea air. I liked watching the twilight turn to night and watching the twinkling lights on the water and the lighthouse lanterns shining from Rottnest on a clear night.
Sundays I would hang around the crystal shop and chill out with G’s younger brother (who I loved to bits). He and G worked and lived on an island off the coast, so had to catch the boat to work and back every week or two over the warmer months. We were both into art and enjoyed the movie “Still Crazy”, driving around singing the soundtrack. It was so much fun. There were a couple more parties too, as the group went though a run of everyone turning 18 and 21.
It was late autumn by this stage, so the sea was moody and turbulent.
So was my life. Less than a month later, after signing a 6 month lease, my relationship with G came to its inevitable and very messy end. He had fallen ill with a virus which had developed into Chronic Fatigue. At 21, I was largely doubting and unsympathetic of this illness. Now having a similar illness myself, I can clearly see that I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with my supernova life on top of juggling everything else either.
Oh, and did I mention that all my new close friends were his group of friends? Fantastic. To their credit, a handful did stick it out with me for a few months. Thanks guys.
It was a pretty lonely time. There was a lot of crying, screaming and phenomenonly bad emo poetry. The job from hell became worse, and life wasn’t really worth living.
Well, except for Friday nights. Friday nights were worth living for. That’s when I would drive home and my entire immediate family, and a huge group of our friends would go to the pub. They had covers bands and we would dance until Midnight. Then unless we had a driver, we would walk all the way home from Guildford to West Midland where Mum would feed us pancakes at 1am. Those 1am pancakes beat any I’ve ever had at a restaurant.
Another thing worth living for was the gourmet takeaway around the corner. It was called Gourmet at Large and it was on Flora terrace. This was my pay day treat, and I would visit long after I moved an hour away. It’s long gone now, I wish I knew where.
It really was the best of times and the worst of times.
Luckily, a fortnight or so after the breakup, I started writing to this really lovely guy that I’d met online. We exchanged a lot of emails, and talked a fair bit on the phone. He had never met me, but he was a lifeline at the end of the phone and looked out for me, this silly little very lost girl. A few months later, we met up in the city. We became pretty good friends after that and spent a fair bit of time together. He lived about 50km away from me, but that’s okay, he really liked driving. When my living arrangements fell through, he even put up the bond for me to find a new place to live.
He was the best friend I could ever have asked for, and he stuck by me through the worst of it all. In time, life was much crueler to him than he ever deserved, and I did my clumsy best to return the favour.
This month we have been together for eleven years, and are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary.
I can’t recall exactly when I left North Beach, and if it was before or after Jason and I hooked up (I think it was before). The landlord decided he wanted the place back so he could move in with his girlfriend. I was ready to move on, so we came to an arrangement. I’m a bit wistful, as I never got the chance to live by the beach during summer. I don’t know if I will ever get that opportunity again. I sure hope so, because it’s bound to be a much nicer experience. I’m dreaming of the hammock right now.
These photographs were taken as part of the “My place in time” challenge. You can find out more about the challenge here.