Cracks In Everything

The car is packed for a great adventure. Meals meticulously planned and organised. Clothes washed and folded. Tent, bedding, camping stove, water, towels. A box full of lego. Blank journals and books we’ve been meaning to read. We’re excited. We haven’t been on a road trip since we drove all the way here from the other side of the country.

The trip is a two week voyage down to the beach with the whitest sands in the world, with ten or so friends. The morning we’re set to leave Bee and I wake with fevers. We’re desperate not to call off the trip so I curl up in the passenger seat and Bee pushes on.

It’s just Al in his combi van when we arrive at the first campground. He sees how sick we are and insists we rest in his van. He makes us tea and plays lego with Alba on a rug outside the door. We feel horribly sick, but we figure it’ll pass in a day or so. We’ve been looking forward to this for so long.

Everyone arrives and cooks pizza in a wood fired oven, smoke curling in the sky and the endless stream of happy conversation we’re too sick to take part in. We toss and turn in our tent.

We drive on the next day to a big house by a forest for New Year’s. The bright energy feels so discordant with how dark we feel. We watch our friends climb the hill to watch the last sunset of the year. Our bodies ache to join them.

We crawl into our tent early, the music is too loud and it’s too nice out there. Great webs of fairy lights are strung through the eucalyptus trees and they glitter in the last light. Alba is fast asleep while Bee and I listen to the people counting in the year. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Ecstatic yelps and laughter. How you spend New Year’s is how you’ll spend the next year, my mother once told me.

Someone unzips our tent. Al and Nathan have laid out a picnic rug and strung some lights over the sapling outside. “It’s really not fun without you guys,” they say. We’re wrapped up in blankets watching the stars and I think, maybe this coming year won’t be so bad. We might be sick right now but we are loved always.

I’m writhing with fever in the van the next day when Bee says, “We can’t keep doing this. We have to go home.” My heart breaks. I’d argue with him but I worry that Alba will fall sick too. We pack the car. There isn’t much to pack, most if it is still packed for the adventure we’ll never go on. We say our goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. We drive home mostly in silence.

We spend a week sick in bed. Then one morning our bodies don’t ache. The sun is hot and bright. We go to the beach and dive into the ocean. The water is as crisp as biting into a cold apple. The ocean is like that on the west coast, not like the warm sea that I grew up with on the east. It feels incredible to just be outside and moving and well.

Al has his birthday party on a carpark roof in the middle of the city. The sun sets over the buildings and I am reminded of the roof of the apartment I lived in when I was sixteen. I remember feeling so hopeless and afraid that at times I felt like jumping from the edge. It felt like I’d never escape. It feels strange to remember. Sad. Grateful I did escape.

I get a tattoo of a giant moth across my ribs. It has crescent moons on its wings and a fat furry body. Heather puts Howl’s Moving Castle on for Alba and I melt into the feeling of her needle on my skin. It’s sharp in a way that demands my attention and pulls the focus from my thoughts. I like it.

There are reasons behind my moth. A few days after my little brother died a giant moth with thick furry legs landed on my chest and just sat there. When it finally flew away I felt changed. Like it’d been sent to me.

When I was a child, my father would tell me dreamtime stories. In the dreamtime the wings of moths were as colourful as butterflies, but the land beneath was grey. One day a kind and selfless moth sacrificed her own colours to the land below, so that the flowers and the plants and the earth could be filled with colour. That was always my favourite story.

It’s always strange leaving a home. Our worldly belongings are packed into boxes and suitcases and our home is a shell, soon to be knocked to the earth and rebuilt again. At the last moment we’re sure we’ve found somewhere to go next. An old house by the beach. I ask Bee to pass it one night and I press my palms into the house and I make my plea. “Please be our home. We will love you so well. Please.”

The day before we leave they tell us it is not ours. I’d felt so sure. Our things end up all over, in friend’s garages and family’s spare rooms. First grade is about to begin for Alba and she turns six the day our lease ends. We stay with our friend Jess in the city for a little while. Our children play together and we send them off on their first day of school. My girl is getting so big.

We struggle in the unknown. We’re not sure when we’ll find a place to call home, or where to go next. My relationship with Bee fills with fractures. I lived through a series of fiery relationships before Bee and was so proud of the way we never argued. Now we slip into silly little arguments when Alba isn’t around.

The want for another baby overwhelms me. I see them everywhere I go. I dream of them and wake up holding their ghosts. I think of my little brother, of the hole that is left behind by his absence. I long to give Alba a sibling that will understand her like mine did.

Bee isn’t ready for a baby. We don’t have enough time, enough money and what about our dreams? The state of the world? He’s fuelled by logic and I’m fuelled by instinct. We argue in circles. We say stupid things and push each other away.

Sometimes I look over at Bee and the distance between us is written all over his face and my heart is heavy like it’s filled with water, like my whole body is heavy with water. I want to be close. I reach out my arms and give loving words like white flags of surrender. Then I’m triggered and I take them back and we’re strangers again.

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. I’m curled up in bed reading about babies, about partners who don’t want babies, about sibling age gaps. It strikes me that if I keep holding this against Bee I will lose him. It’s okay that he isn’t ready. Maybe in some ways I feel the same. Having children is often thankless and selfless and hard and I can understand.

He’s fast asleep but I bury my head into his warm body and I breathe out. I let go. I stop bringing up babies. I still dream of them. I still see them everywhere. But I start focusing more on what I do have. The gap between us closes again. Love fills in the cracks.

11 love notes

  1. Hey beautiful soul.
    I remember reading your texts when I was like, what, 13? They always had a feeling of home, of belonging for me. I used to read your powerful words and felt so comfortable and understood. 
    I am 18 now and still come back to your blog to get lost in your stories for a while. You have no idea how special they make me feel.
    I admire you. I truly do. For your honesty, for your words, for the life you built for yourself. 
    I have no idea if you’ll ever read this, but… hank you. Thank you for doing this. 
    Thank you for making me feel like I wasn’t alone in my darkest times. And for teaching me English 🙂 

    All the love to you from 
    Berlin, Germany (you’ll always have a home here.)

  2. Thank you for being vulnerable and real, friend. Life for me is a struggle too, and sometimes it feels like everything that could go wrong does go wrong. And you know what? It’s alright and life is still beatiful.
    Jimena from Spain

  3. I cannot wait for you to write a wonderful book about all your stories. Love to read them and dream away.

  4. Nirrimi…I love that our friendship predates Facebook and I love reading about your life and the lives of Alba and Bee and how everything weaves together. I hurt for your hurts and sing for your Joy’s and celebrate you, a woman of so many gifts and so willing to share them. If I can be an old man for a moment, please let me remind you that there is plenty of time for life to take all your Lego pieces and build just what you want out of it! As always, all my love from Baltimore Maryland USA. Mark

  5. The picture of Alba under the picture of her in the car is amazing, she looks so strong in herself. Amazing blog sweet Nimski ✨🐬✨

  6. Nirrimi, I have been reading your blog for years and since you are nearly my age, it’s been fascinating and inspiring about reading a life so different and yet alike from mine.
    There is just one thing nagging me and I try to be really honest about it. Recently I read about brain breaking which occurs when you are left handed but are accustomed to write with your right hand. It’s just that some of your handwritten notes look like it and that it can make room for feelings like sometimes feeling out of world or in a dream/procrastinating a lot/having lots of very certain feelings and imaginations (though sometimes reality is entirely different)/ living in the past, in dreams which never fulfilled or in alternate realities. That were my traits and I did not see a problem with them! Though after switching my hands for all tasks I experience much more reality and bliss and less hopelessness, sorrow and sudden desperation. I in no means want to critisize you as a person. I love what you do and I read all your blog posts with a warm feeling in my heart. That was just a thought in my head I wanted to get out, because maybe it you have been thinking about this before and then you find new ways to express yourself when living lefthanded.

  7. Nirrimi, I know this is strange, and I know you’ve probably heard this from strangers before, but I seriously love you like we’ve been best friends for years. You have been such a light since I discovered your work on DA as a featured artist more than a decade ago now, and we met very briefly when I ALMOST became your assistant for that Oyster shoot, again, almost a decade ago! 🙂 thank you so much for posting about domestic violence and sharing 1800 RESPECT. I didn’t know of them before, but it was like the universe worked through you to help save my life when I really needed it. I really hope we can meet again one day and be friends. You are such a beautiful, kind, genuine soul, and it’s really helped me keep my path and my vulnerability too. You are an angel. Let’s be friends one day 🙂 and even if that never happens, keep strong. It’s hard for us ladies who have been through so much and feel so many deep, passionate feelings to keep our heads above water in such a seemingly robotic and callous world. Sometimes it just hurts too much to breathe, let alone live. I feel your pain, and I love you for sharing it with me so I can heal some of mine. Thank you for sharing Zake with us. I feel like I knew him just a little too, and I think about him all the time. I’m sure many other people feel the same as me, so thank you for sharing his life and love and struggles and beauty with us. I feel like a better person for having known of him, so please know that your actions shared that love around the hearts of the world in a way no one could possibly even fathom. You’re beautiful, Nirrimi. Love and light to you always 🙂 xxxxx

  8. You’re incredible. I hope all your dreams come true eventually when the time is right.

    Hugs from Sweden

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