So, This Is The New Year
I decided to walk to my favourite local independent book store on Sydney road; Brunswick Bound. To purchase a diary. It seems odd that I left this little errand until midway through Febuary but to be honest, I did not think there was all that much I needed reminding of, at the beginning of the year. It did not seem that the year ahead was going to be much more than a medical waiting game.
That all changed with a few plot twists including being invited to be part of an art exhibition and the tentative first steps towards self publishing a book of poetry. Suddenly I had more than specialist appointments and psych appointments to write down. I have creative commitments! So on this particular morning I decided to procrastinate by going to purchase a daily planner. The Frankie magazine daily planner specifically, because it had a lovely olive green coth cover and pretty pages. It also had stickers at the back. The price was also less scary than the price of a Moleskin daily planner, which had plain pages and no stickers at the back.
As I walked out my bedroom door my new housemate Tammy walked out of her bedroom and met me in the hall. ‘You look so lovely, I love that dress.’ She said. I looked down at my red and white checked sun dress and looked back at her smiling and blushing at the compliment.
‘Thank you.’ I said. ‘ I gave it to my youngest sister for a bit until she grew out of it and then I took it back. ‘
I left the house and strolled in the sunshine, feeling pretty. What a joy it was to live in a house full of such lovey and amazing babes. For the past few days, since she had moved in, I have been lucky enough to be greeted in the following manner, ‘’Good morning beautiful Jess.’
On arriving at Brunswick Bound I take a slow pace in order to browse the book shelves and display tables. I fail to see any sign of the Frankie Daily planner. There were plenty of expensive Moleskins though.
I approached the counter where the husband of the husband and wife team that own the store, sat. They sometimes have their teenage off spring attending the counter. This makes me day dream about how much better and intellectually stimulating my childhood would have been had I been born to parents whose life revolved around maintaining a book store intead of a farm. Would I know how lucky I was if my childhood had been around a bookstore? Or would I resent it like I resent the farm upbrining?
I doubt it.
The husband whose name I should know as I come here and loiter often enough, looks up from the computer and smiles at me in greeting.
‘Hi, do you stock the Frankie daily planner?’ I ask.
‘No, we don’t.’
‘Have you ever?’
‘No it’s just not in our interest to do so. Their profit margin for book stores is too small to do us any good.’’ He tells me.
‘But, I thought that mag and the people who run it would be all about assisting independent bookstores.’ I mused aloud.
‘No, they are a facist hipster regime all their own.’ He says with a wry smile.
‘I am so disillusioned!’ I exclaim. I will cancel my subscription post haste.’
He tells me not to do that and bid him farewell until next time. I get the number 19 tram into the city and find what I am looking for in Mag Nation. A bout four piles sit next to one another at about ten deep each pile.
I picked up one from the middle of a pile so that I could purchase one that had not been man handled by hundreds of strangers who may not have washed their hands after going to the toilet or masturbating.
The people who work the counter at Mag Nation on Elizabeth street are beautiful in that they all resemble people who are working here to make money to facilitate their creative endevours such as design or illustration and photography or writing. The guy in balck framed glasses who serves me looks like he must be an writer or an artist; either way he is a mere sentence structure away from stealing my heart.
It is a warm and slightly humid afternoon as I walk to the tram stop clutching my new diary to my chest in anticipation of all the exciting commitments I need to write inside it when I get home.
When the number 19 arrives at the end/ start of the line across from Flinders street station, I wait for all the passengers to get off the tram before I get on. As I am one of the first on board I get my favorite seat at the front to the right. As I walk from the middle entrance of the tram, I pass a man in dark clothes, who is sitting at one of those double seats that faces the isle. I feel his eyes on me as I walk past and I feel them almost scraping up and down the length of my body.
‘’Oh look, it’s a little twelve year old.’’ He says to me in a sing-song voice, much like the way serial killers and rapists sound on bad television movies.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I look down at my Frankie diary sitting serenely on my lap.
‘Where’s your mummy? Where’s your mummy little girl?’’
He repeats this over and over. I turn around and stare at him. I say nothing but simply look at him impassive and filled with hatred.
I look away and hope it all stops soon. I look at the hem of my dress the black lace trim has started to tear and fray away from the red and white checked material. The dress is at least 7 years old.
‘’Oh look at the little seven year old. Where’s your mummy? Where’s your mummy?
I hear people getting on the tram and taking seats. Nobody acknowledges what is transpiring.
‘You should’ve stayed home little girl. Where’s your mummy?’ Where’s your mummy.’’
I no longer feel pretty. I feel sick. The tram moves forward and I find myself hoping he gets off the tram at the next stop.
An old man comes and sits next to me. He is smiling at me and I feel dirty to be even breathing the same air as him. His smile is not a comfort it is as if he is glad that I am feeling so obviously vulnerable. Perhaps here is his meal ticket to tricking me into thinking he is here to save me and not, in actual fact, try and lure me somewhere where he can have his way. This dirty old man thinks I am younger than I am. It has happened before. When I was 17 an old man had sat next to me on a train and told me I was very pretty. He had leant in so so close and ‘Is that man being mean to you?’ He asks me, still smiling. He is speaking to me as if I am seven and it is creeping me out.
‘What did he do?’ The old man asks me.
It becomes abundantly clear that I need to get off this tram and quickly. I am leaning as far from him as I can. I stand up and walk quickly towards the middle automatic doors. I stand there gripping some green piping that helps keep the myki maschines connected to the rail. I stare at the shops and pedestrians rushing up and down.
‘’Where’s your mummy little girl? Should’ve stayed at home. Little seven year old. ‘’
The tram stops I can see Outre Gallery and decide to go in and look around for a bit. Before getting off the tram I turn to the man and spit out. ‘’I am 31 fucking years old, shuttup.’’ As I step down the steps I hear him say.
‘Got a dirty mouth for a little girl.’
I practically run across the road and avoid anyone’s accidental gaze. My hands are shaking and I want to cry but nothing is happening. I walk into Outre and gaze blindly at the framed pictures. I think having a look at my favorite framed Mark Ryden print will calm me down. It is called Jessica’s Hope and shows a red haired girl in a black dress sitting in a little cart that is moving forward by the efforts of a pink rabbit with an impossibly long neck and body. It is on my wish list. I think that if I stare at it for a few moments I will remember how great it is to be alive. Alas when I step up the three steps to get to the slightly higher level of the gallery, I see that the picture has been moved higher up the wall.
It is too far above my eye level for me to see clearly.