The internet loves cats, right? Well, this story I wrote has a cat in it. It is also about shame and motherhood and burger phones - and it’s been published online by the brilliant Seizure journal. I’d be chuffed if you read it.
I had bought the jeggings quite by accident. This is what happens when you shop online: you think you’re buying jeans, and then when they arrive, they’re clearly marked as jeggings on the tag. Oh, how embarrassing, I thought, I can’t wear jeggings! But then I tried them on and they made my arse look incredible, and with a belt to disguise the elasticated waistband, no one knew my secret. They looked just like jeans.
But, karma will find you. Wear jeggings on the plane ride to your holiday in tropical paradise and the airline will lose your luggage. On a Sunday in Samoa everything is shut and you’ll count yourself lucky when you finally track down a sarong and a t-shirt at a convenience store, sweating in the humid heat.
All our plans had revolved around water, but with our bikinis in our luggage, lost between Auckland and Apia, my sister and I had to settle for less. Let’s get a massage, she suggested. As is customary they played new age relaxation music over the speakers, but my masseuse was wearing headphones and listening to his own music. Every time he leant in close I could hear it: Pony by Ginuine, ON REPEAT, for the whole hour. This is was as unsettling as you can imagine.
We walked around directionless, passing churches that tempted us with their choirs but not going in on account of our scrappy travel clothes. Taxi drivers slowed to offer us rides, and when we said “No thanks” they’d yell out “I love you” or, on one occasion, “blonde hair blue eyes”.
Our luggage arrived at midnight that second night, and I unpacked like a child unwrapping her birthday presents.
The To Sua Ocean Trench was my motivation for visiting Samoa, and there it was in front of me, deep and glorious and quite unbelievable. You can lie on your back in the water there and the rim of the earth sits where you expect the sky would be; the sky is far higher now than you ever realised.
On our way home we went and disobeyed TLC.
The speed limit across much of Samoa is 40 km/hr (25mph) and the driving culture so courteous, so lacking in the competitiveness that we’re used to in Sydney. The cars slow to let you in, beep to let you know they’re passing. Driving is a great guilty pleasure of mine - my favourite type of drive is a long and directionless one, polluting all the way. As you pass people on foot, they all wave, and smile an honest smile - if I drove around Upolu enough times, I might have waved at everyone on the island.
My hair was also on holiday, the humidity bringing it to new heights.
Jump off enough waterfalls and eventually your older sister will proclaim that you are braver than her. I stored this compliment away with the other ones that mean more to me than I care to admit.
We caught a ferry across to the other main island, Savaii. My sister napped on my shoulder. We took a taxi out to the lava fields, where a village and a church had been trapped in a lava flow early last century, the hot liquid earth only stopping when it reached the sea.
We rose early on our last day - 3am - to go to the airport for our plane home; at the airport, 4am, we learned our flight had been cancelled, we weren’t going anywhere until the next day. We were ropable. But the airline put us up in a hotel where we went back to bed and under the air-conditioning we slept the best sleep we’d had the whole time we were there. We went to a resort for lunch and snuck into their pool, sat in their deck chairs and drank cocktails in the shade, reading books, soon giggling and confessing to one another that this had somehow become our favourite day of the whole trip.
Spurn a man and he’ll find a way to hate you. Spurn a woman and she’ll find a way to hate herself.
Tonight what feels important is this: we saw a female kudu this afternoon—you can tell the females from the males by their lack of horns—running back and forth across the savannah, frenzied, while the rest of the kudus around her stood still. We laughed, and found her behavior odd but amusing. But what she was actually doing was teaching her month-old children how to leap.
Shakily, they started to follow her until they managed a few leaps of their own. Only then did she finally stop, exhausted from the effort.
It is easy to dismiss a woman because you don’t understand her behavior, but she may in fact be doing something so vital and selfless that you cannot even recognize or conceive of it.
I have a poem in The Suburban Review Volume 3. It’s about octopus sex, of course.
Me: “I mean, I am resilient.”
Me: “Yeah, I think I am.”
Sarah: “I’m quite surprised by that.”
Me: “That I’m resilient?”
Sarah: “Oh! I thought you said Brazilian!”
1. A friend rang me the other day, dispensed with small talk, and asked “Amelia, what does self worth look like?” Straight out, just like that.
2. One of my dearest friends is about to get a hip replacement, her second – no, she isn’t 84, she’s 24 – and will be out of action for six weeks. In seeking a bright side to this situation, I have settled on this: bed bound, she will be my ideal companion. I will read to her and cook for her and she will be the blazing light in my life that she always is, but now immobile and all mine. I have never seen Misery and only know the basic plot, I hope I am not skirting too close to it.
3. If you are going to go on another date with the most handsome man you’ve ever looked directly at, take him to the most scenic bar in the city before surprising him with free tickets to see Sisqo. Yes that Sisqo, Thong Song Sisqo. It won’t work out between you two – you barely speak the same language – but you will have the most fun you’ve ever had, and he will miss the last ferry home.
4. “Dunbar’s number” is the hypothesis that there is pre-set limit to the number of friends you can keep in your mind and heart. You can only maintain 150 meaningful relationships, the theory goes. All our slots are probably filled, at this stage it’s one in, one out. So I am working on the depth of the friendship, the intimacy, the being-there.
5. An unforeseen joy in my life: mentoring younger colleagues. I have realized that most of my advice for news reading is extrapolated from all my years of yoga practice i.e. breathe deep, be present, seek out the meaning. Who am I kidding – this is the advice I give for everything. That, and “dump him”, “set boundaries” and “closure is a myth”.
6. In ten days I will be on a beach in Samoa, cocktail in hand, my sister by my side. Solo travel is my favourite but travel with family comes in a close second. Giving a speech at my 21st, my Dad said that one of his favourite things about me was how great a travel companion I am, a good conversationalist he said, but also good at the silences. It remains one of the most wonderful things anyone has ever said about me.