photos and the way the past slips away from us.

i’m not really sure what i’d like to write about today, to be honest.

it’s been raining, and the rain has been beautiful. we drove to a cafe, and the hot chocolate i had made me feel slightly sick. it seems to be a gall bladder thing. it’s unnerving and makes me think of the pre-chemo nausea, and i feel frightened.

i don’t feel like i have a lot of words at the moment, or if i do, i shut down after writing them, and i don’t feel like i can post them, after all. i am very tired, and i’m not sure why. it is only a month since i had the surgery. i suppose it’s ok to be tired. and i have cancer. i like pretending that i am healthy. my liver is: a recent ultrasound showed that, remarkably, the bits of my liver that aren’t littered with cancer are in fact, really healthy.

when it rains, all i want to do is go for long drives. especially at night. it reminds me when me and Dom would drive to the coast, late at night, just to see the ocean, and the strange way it glows at night. we would do it for new years, and i would drink and she would smoke a cigar and we would think back to the various disasters and great things behind us. i don’t find new year to be a happy time. and we would just drive, sometimes, for the sake of driving, or for just the sake of not being at home, or not being still. we kept moving and it was safe there, in the car, no matter how slippery the road was, and no matter how much we didn’t know where we were going. we never really knew, to be honest, back then.

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it is hard, now, still, all those monumental occasions. autumn is my favourite season and i don’t know if i’ll see the leaves fall again, or if i will sit back on rainy cool days for much longer. all the glorious things about being alive: while i enjoy them i sometimes sit back and it is a punch to my gut realising that these pleasures are numbered and there are many things i had looked forward to doing again, which now i never will. and you know, that’s not even about cancer, that’s about being alive because we always leave behind things that we can never do again. i’ll never go to the cinema in George Street in brisbane that i worked at briefly and sit in the faded slightly uncomfortable seats and smell that strange wet cement smell and eat a choc top and watch a movie alone, because it’s not a cinema anymore. i’ll never visit lachlan, when he lives five doors away, and watch Degrassi all day while he’s doing something else, before going to the Alibi room for dinner. one of the chefs there used to make me a pasta dish – carrots grated over pasta, with pepper and parmesan cheese. don’t knock it. i’d drink beer and use their free wireless and it would be a warm brisbane summer night. and that, that’s never going to happen again, because i live in canberra and lachlan lives in melbourne and his housemate emily with the DVD’s is on the Gold Coast and the Alibi Room shut down years ago. lachlan and i met at art school, and he is like a brother to me.

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so i kind of feel sad for those lost experiences. the old cinema near where we lived, that you could get into if you climbed up the roof, and clambered across it at 2 am, and went in the door at the front of the building and go through there, on the dark coloured carpet with a torch. one cinema was blue, and the other purple, and i went in once with Jule, and once with Henry. when Jule and i went in there, we ate desserts at this absinth bar a few doors down at some weird hour, and i was slightly drunk because i am scared of heights and i didn’t know how i would go across the roof. we left handprints in the dust of these chairs that hadn’t been touched in years.

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when i first moved to canberra, i used to take my rabbits to the park all the time. they were both trained to walk (hop?) on leads, and never minded having them put on. i had only a few friends at the time, and they were my main company. i’d take them to cafes with me, and i’d have one sit on my lap, and the other at my feet. i realised at one point that other people’s unmuzzled dogs posed a real danger to them, and i was sad, but i realised they were safer at home. but i would sit alone in the damp grass with big bun at my feet, usually trying to eat a leaf rather than the grass, flicking his back leg to the front as he groomed it.

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my apartment in brisbane had two balconies and you could see the water and the bridge from it. i loved that place, and i have memorialised that time in my mind as something sacred and beautiful, almost wearing away the faults, despite the whole time being fractured with my increasingly severe bipolar, and my increasingly destructive behaviour. i lived on cafe food and air, and moving between jobs and booze and not enough sleep and erratic adventures. i look at that picture below and i am incredibly young and incredibly stupid, like the Xiu Xiu song. i got that shirt in a swap with one of my friends in an online knitting community i was a member of. i met her in 2011 in Seattle.

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I went to america in 2011, to meet someone i talked to on the internet for a couple of months. besides this, i also always wanted to drift across the states, aimlessly and vaguely, and i picked out cities randomly. i love big bloated american cities and i love transport. planes and trains and automobiles. i love the smell of plane fuel and the way trains shake when they move fast. i went to Arizona for a week and i was sad, but i loved the place – the dryness, the way the city sprawled out and was surrounded by hills and mountains in every direction and it was a really specific moment in my life and i will never go to america again because i can’t get insurance because, for insurance purposes, i am terminally ill.

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so, these precious things are gone. and that is the way things are. we always move and we always change and so it goes, and so we lose things day by day. and we gain them too as we move still into new places and people and things, and that – that is glorious too.

it is just facing down the methods of my demise scares me. there is pain that morphine can’t touch while keeping you awake and there will be slow hours, boring hours, time where there is nothing other than my life slipping, slipping away as i fade out. i see photos of ‘cancer heroes’ as time passes – those images of people nearing the inevitable end of this disease, and their eyes have a hollowness, and the skin seems to stretch tightly over their faces. i fear, fear, fear this becoming some sort of shadow, but it is where i am going and there is no stopping this. this is where i am going. knowing that this is what i have to look forward to terrifies me. and i know, i know, don’t go down that path, and do not go to that place, but the tumour circumnavigates the left hepatic artery and it will wrap around it tighter and tighter unless it shrinks another centremetre. every time i breath now, i am terrified that i feel my chest tightening around the spots – the … whatever they are in my lungs, that my oncologist has said are gone, but they still show up, just smaller, smaller and i know they won’t go away, no matter what we do.

but i guess the autumn leaves will still fall.

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About elizabeth

various things.
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3 Responses to photos and the way the past slips away from us.

  1. Mani says:

    Thank you for noticing, loving, recalling, these marks made by simple experience. You resuscitate times my careless shittiness misfiled as “insignificant”. This is who we are, and how and why. Wow. ❤ Was v.moved (and awoken) by all you wrote. xxx

  2. I love that from starting out with not being sure what to write about, you wrote a beautiful thing. Hard to read, but beautiful all the same. Cancer still sux so very, very hard xx

  3. greenspace01 says:

    beautiful writing. what marvellous memories.
    it’s probably not the slightest consolation, but you might live five, ten, or fifteen years in reasonable health with the cancer, and then die of something else (an accident; an embolism) before the cancer gets you, and thus avoid the gaunt last weeks of dying of it…

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