There’s this poetry wall in Newtown; prose scribbled onto a concrete fence. It’s the fence to the apartment building, where I lived unaware of its presence for a month. I discovered it on Christmas Eve morning, walking home from cat-sitting for a friend. The walk had been arduous. I had picked up my pace so that tears wouldn’t beat me to the door.
It was soon after my move to Sydney, to which I had arrived broken and insecure. Placing my self-worth in the hands of another had proven to be unwise, and my confidence had hit record lows. I had forgotten my heart on the other side of the world, and without it, I was struggling to get by. I walked with my gaze fixed on the ground, dodging eyes, terrified of meeting that disparaging glare, permanently engraved into the back of my mind.
On that particular day, the sadness was exacerbated by the gloom that hung in the air like unwelcome religious pedlars at the door. “Can you just fucking rain?”, I thought, my anxiety amplified by the fickle climate. I had been stressing about work or lack thereof, and the cost of living in this bustling city, doubting myself for having decided to move at all.
That morning though, for a reason unbeknownst to me at the time, I walked home a different way than usual. Just as I readied myself for engulfment into a sea of self-doubt, a regular occurrence during this stage of my life, I stumbled upon that poetry wall.
The impassioned vandal poets, armed with black Sharpie and racing thoughts, had in this place transcribed their innermost feelings. Urban wordsmiths, who I imagined, were seeking the type of catharsis only attained through the written word. Perhaps they too, needed to pull the words out of their minds and into the ether, to avoid them eating away at their insides.
I looked up in gratitude; the saturated clouds could take no more, and as though in sync, my eyes and the sky both let cleansing droplets fall.
For months, I visited that wall during moments of uncertainty, or on late-night bat-spotting strolls. Every time, no matter how complicated my inner landscape upon arrival, I left feeling like the fucking shepherd from Coelho's 'The Alchemist'. For some unexplained reason, the universe had brought me to this exact place at this exact time. There are no coincidences.
I needed to be here. I needed to rediscover and deepen my yoga practice. I needed to experience Vipassana and other powerful forms of meditation. I needed to find my spirit animal. I needed to part ways with stifling demons and eradicate self-sabotage. I needed to attend Rainbow Serpent and meet selfless, unapologetically real individuals, who inspired me to embrace authenticity. I needed to love people similar to myself, so that I could admire the mirrored qualities that I had historically resented. I needed to get clear about my purpose in this world. I needed to get off my ass and use my voice for good. I needed to become the activist that I had always wanted to be.
On my last day in Sydney, I wrote on that wall and it was the most appropriate punctuation to one of my most defining chapters. I had to leave a mark on that inanimate fixture, that months prior, had assured me that I was right where I needed to be. I think of our first encounter, of how fucking lost I felt, and I barely recognize that timorous, misguided Christmas Eve girl.
So, to Sydney, Newtown, the place and the people who feel like home. Those who brought me back to life. Those who picked up my broken pieces, despite them being scattered like residual powder on dusty mirrors. Those who gave me permission to be the best version of myself, and held space as I found my way back. Those whose hearts were big enough to love me when I couldn’t love myself. The friends who redefined friendship. The men who redefined masculinity. The humans who redefined love. Thank you, I love you, words will never suffice to express my gratitude and admiration. Though I am saddened by this parting of ways, I’ll never be too far; I’ll think of you always, across miles and millennia.
I’m leaving the Southern Hemisphere with an empty wallet but a full heart, and I look the fuck up when I walk now because I know that I am held.
P.S. I won't miss the toilets or the doors, everything and everyone else though, yes.
Newtown Poetry Wall, Sydney, Australia, June 2018.