The Love That Heals

April 2015 

I’m in Perth and it’s the last place on earth I want to be. The only person I know here is the one person I can’t see. I’m supposed to be letting go of this love but where is it supposed to disappear to? I have been carrying it for most of the past year now, growing used to the weight.

I am sleeping on stranger’s couches where I wake from nightmares forgetting what city or whose house I’m in. I’m going through the motions of life without really feeling any of it. Alba’s Papa has moved to this isolated city now. I will too, for Alba, but I feel so far away from everything and everyone I know.

I go to the sea. As I dive into the waves I am stripped of all weight. I am nothing but now. I remember what it is to feel whole, to not be sad. I swim out far enough that no one can hear me. “Why the hell are you being like this?” I demand of myself, “There is so much more to life than him. Look at how incredible this world is. You’re alive and healthy and tomorrow you’ll see Alba. Stop wasting life being sad when there’s so much to be happy about.”

I’m wrapped in a towel watching dolphins jump through the same waters that had just held me. There are birds in the trees above drowning the world in song. Everything is bathed in the pink, orange and purple of the setting sun. This city doesn’t seem so bad right now. For the afternoon, everything is just fine.

I wake up to a hopelessness so great I can hardly leave the bed. I don’t want to feel like this but the misery seems so much bigger than I am. I am supposed to meet this landscape photographer, Chris Beecroft, for ice cream today. I found him on instagram when a photographer I follow posted that he was Perth’s hidden gem and I knew he had to be special. But I cancel and say I’m too heartbroken. He offers to cheer me up but he’s a stranger to me and I just want to be alone.

When I was a child I used to do spells. Just little rituals I made up. I write down my wish to feel happy again and for my heart to heal. I burn it along with a sacrifice; a special page from my journal.

I am sitting in the backyard and the wind is throwing the trees to and fro. The paper is slowly eaten up by the fire. It feels like something immense is happening. My gut tells me it will take 3 days to work. 3 is my lucky number.

My skepticism battles with the faith I’ve put in the spell but my faith wins because it feels better to believe something might change. The heaviness has lifted. And besides, could I be miserable when Alba is the most brilliant little girl I’ve ever known? Not in the way that I am her Mama and I have to think so, but genuinely. She tells stories all day long, lost in imaginary worlds. Even when she’s wild I have to admire her spirit.

Then the third day comes to a close uneventfully and I realise I’ve been naive to think something would happen. That my heartache would just magically disappear because I’ve burned some paper. I feel like an idiot. A child discovering magic isn’t real after all. As the shadows threaten to close in on me again I say to the girls I am staying with, “Let’s do something. Let’s go somewhere.” I am running away before I’m swallowed up again.

We catch the bus to a place called Little Creatures. We get dinner and drink cider. Alba is playing with her newfound friends and I’m smiling as she coerces them into playing animals on the floor. I’m forgetting all about my heart beating broken in my chest or the spell I burned days ago, in fact it all seems rather dramatic and silly now.

I check my phone and I have a message from Chris (I’ll call him Bee from here-on in, it became his nickname in the beginning and it’s how I know him). I barely know anything about him but I have the sudden urge to meet him. I figure I should make friends here if I’m going to call this city home. He says he’ll come. My friends are going to the city to play a gig and they leave as he arrives.

So often it’s the unexpected beauty that hits me the hardest. Like watching a black bird lift its wings to take flight and seeing the brightest red feathers flash beneath them, or seeing a single flower growing amongst tangles of weeds, or glancing up at a glittering night sky in the middle of nowhere after months of blank city skies.

This is what happens when I see Bee. His beauty doesn’t seem suddenly or conventionally obvious but it does hit me. There is this brightness in his eyes, this wild and curious spark that says the child inside him has never grown up. He has messy blonde hair to his shoulders and he dresses like no one I’ve ever met. His voice is deep, part Australian and a little British.

He asks me a million questions. The kind of questions your best friend asks you at 2am. Questions ordinary people don’t bother with. He listens to each of my answers like I am the only person in the world. Then he speaks about his projects just like I do, fervently, like every word can’t come soon enough.

Alba’s sleepy and so I say I’d better get home to put her to bed. Bee walks me to the bus stop while I carry her. I tell him about my heartbreak quite seriously and the moment he makes me laugh about the whole sorry situation I think, who the heck is this boy that can make me laugh more in one night than I have in weeks? We are talking and laughing so much we miss the street and then my bus.

“Let me drive you home,” Bee says. There’s a carseat in his car that belongs to his nephew. He speaks about him so affectionately it has my thoughts running away from me. While we drive I get a text from the girl I am staying with letting me know I can’t stay the next night. It’s our last night in Perth before we visit family in Sydney. I’m worried and I say so and Bee says, “Stay with me, I live in a big house with two sweet Jazz musicians, you will love them. I’ll set up a room for you and Alba.”

When I get home and tuck Alba into bed I am glowing. That is the only word for it. I can’t stop smiling. This connection seems so sudden and unexpected. No one in my life makes me feel the way he does and I barely know him yet. I fall asleep as day three comes to a close and I don’t even realise that my wish has been answered. Coincidence or not.

His house is old with wooden floorboards and a big botanical illustration on the wall. He’s borrowed a box of toys for Alba to play with and we all make music together. I think about how if it wasn’t for missing that bus the night before I wouldn’t be here. How so many little things lead to big things.

Bee speaks like he is caught in the wrong decade. All ‘shall’ and ‘nonsense’ and ‘rather’ and words I’ve never heard anyone say aloud before. His roots are in England but he’s spent half of his life here. I keep watching him when he isn’t looking. He’s got a red mark across his nose where it’s broken and his cheeks flush in the cold. I think he’s beautiful.

Bee has a big collection of film cameras and when Alba sees them her eyes light up. She announces to us all that she has a camera shop. Bee’s friends come over and she sells each of us cameras. She calls herself the camera lady and she is very serious about her business. Everyone is laughing.

I put Alba to bed and we all play board games. Midnight arrives and they leave. I sit on his couch feeling small. I am longing to know how warm his skin is, what he smells like, what goes through his mind late at night. I want to hear all of his stories, even the terrible ones. I like him, but I’m not sure if he likes me. I worry that maybe he’s just friendly or maybe he won’t think of me like that because I am a mama.

I am quiet, just sitting there, but my mind is frantic because it’s getting late and if I don’t say something soon the moment will be lost. I’m not usually this nervous. Then he’s going to bed and my moment is gone. I’m about to leave too when he asks me where I’d like to sleep and I know just what he means and I play it cool but oh, inside I am grinning like a maniac.

One side of his room is just keyboards and music equipment. It smells like my favourite incense. He has lots of plants. Being close to him like this must be the best thing there is. His eyes hold little blue galaxies and his smile reaches the edges of his face. He makes me laugh so much I have to laugh into the pillow so I don’t wake his housemates. I feel so lucky to be there, hearing him whisper into the dark, feeling his fingers draw across my skin.

He tells me about the time he made animations every day as a child, the time he made his living playing drums in a cover band, the time he studied architecture, the time he made a business out of drawing chalk murals and how he funds his photography adventures with odd jobs like delivering pizzas and graphic design. I tell him I’ll never see pizza boys the same way. He tells me a story about the time he almost died on the peak of a snowy mountain in New Zealand because he hiked up wearing very little and I tell him he’s stupid but I’m laughing.

I kiss his eyelids, his broken nose, his cheeks and then he holds my face and kisses me back. An ocean rolls over me. The sun begins to rise. I crawl into bed with Alba. In my journal I write: “I want a lifetime of sleepless nights with you. Yesterday you were a stranger, tonight you were my world.”

He takes Alba & I out for gelato before our flight. Alba picks flowers as we walk, as she often does. She hands one to me and one to Bee. He’s different with her than people normally are. He doesn’t treat her like a child or try to make her like him, he treats her like a friend.

When we’re walking through the airport I imagine we are actually going somewhere exciting together rather than parting ways just hours after connecting like this. It feels unfair but I don’t say so, I don’t know yet if this is anything more than just a night.

I replay last night over and over during our flight and our train trip. My niece picks us up from the station. It’s a steep, rocky drive through the bush and I like being thrown around. We get out at her house at the top of the hill and it is so peaceful. The air is so clean I could drink it. Around us is green forest, a miniature city and an ocean disappearing off the edge of the world.

Every night in this peaceful place is the same. Alba falls asleep to me reading to her and I slide out of bed into the cold night, slip on my jacket and make my way out the back door. I stand on the dewy grass of the hill outside, under the stars so sharp and bright out here in the bush, and I call Bee. Those first few rings always drip with anticipation. “Good evening Nirrimi Joy,” he says, in the loveliest voice I’ve ever heard and I disappear for hours.

We ask each other question after question as though we’re studying one another. The more I learn about this boy, the harder I fall for him. This distance and the taste of our one night together makes our connection seem almost unreal.

“I think I might have a crush on you,” I eventually tell him, holding my breath.
“Well I have a crush on you too.” he laughs, as though it doesn’t need to be said at all. My heart skips like highschool all over again.

Bee is driving north to a place called the Bungle Bungles. The journey will take him weeks and for many days at a time he won’t have reception. We talk all through the night before he goes, both of us already feeling the weight of the silent days to come.

Alba spends most of her day playing with her second cousin Seth and I’m editing image after image by the fire. The tour and campaign left me with mountains of editing work and tight deadlines. Sometimes I look at my to-do list and feel ill. When I finally finish I scoop Alba up into the air and we dance in celebration.

We visit a waterfall and Alba sits on my lap as we watch. It is the same water that fills her bath each night. We see ponies in a nearby field and she reaches out a timid hand to stroke their noses. Every day she reminds me that the world is still full of wonder.

My family talk about building a cabin up here where me and Alba can live and I’m touched by their love. But our home is already decided. I watch the flames dancing in the bonfire late at night and my soul is still, more still than I can remember. I can feel all the good to come and it fills me up with hope. Heartbreak feels distant now.

41 love notes

  1. When I first started reading your words I was eleven maybe twelve. You made me believe in true love, love for the world we are living in and love for boys. But boys, I’ve never believed this love stories would be true. But now I’m reading how you met your Bee, I can only think of the boy who took me on his rooftop, who spent nights together with me and who made me feel like that being naked with him is the best dress. 
    Thank you for making me believe in such a love story and recognize it when it hits me.

    Love

  2. Dearest Nirrimi,
    I can’t even begin to describe to you how much your words have touched me over the short week and a half since I first stumbled across your blog. I feel as if, in some strange way, and despite the fact that I am sure there are plenty of pieces of you yet to be discussed on your blog, I know you in a way that I don’t know some of my closest friends. I have never come across writing and photographs so honest and raw. Somehow you manage to catch the essence of life at its most vulnerable, yet you do it with such ease and authentic passion it appears as effortless as breathing. 
     And so, with that said, I am going to try my absolute best at opening my heart to you right now. Because just as I mentioned above, I feel like I know you on some eerily beautiful level despite the fact that you have no idea who I am and may never end up reading this. But I guess I have needed someone to talk to for a while and was yet to find anyone who might understand or relate to the whirlwind of thoughts constantly circling in my head. That is, until I found your blog. 
    So well, here it goes. 
    My breath catches in my throat at the thought of travelling the world one day. Enveloping myself in other cultures and worlds. I am so anxious to finally be in control of my own life. But I am only seventeen, and although I know there are many wonderful years to come, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that my life is passing by far too quickly and without enough substance. Or perhaps there is more than enough substance and I simply do not know how to embrace it. 
    In fact, now that I put more thought to it, I am sure that is exactly the problem.
     I have no doubt that five or ten years from now, I will look back on my days as a teenager with longing. I will miss having the time to spend hours in my room writing and reading. I will regret not spending more moments laughing and talking in the living room with my parents. I will ache for the days of decorating Christmas trees and baking cookies at midnight. And yet despite knowing this, I still constantly find myself looking forward rather than admiring the here and now. And although the future fills me with wonder and excitement (a feeling I hope will never fade), I wish I knew how to live day to day, moment to moment.  Because if I don’t master this now, will I continue searching for the next great thing while ignoring the one right in front of me those ten years from now? Will I ever truly be able to experience other people and places in the way that I so desperately wish to? 
    These are the thoughts that wake me up in the dead of night. The thoughts that create a chaos inside my head when the rest of the world is silent. And so maybe opening up to you is exactly what I need right now. Maybe your words are an intentional stepping stone gifted to me from the universe in some strange way. Because I genuinely believe that in order to be free from the cage that my mind too often creates, I have to lay my soul out to someone, to anyone, who might listen. After all, life is such a beautiful thing, and I simply wish to start living it. 
    So thank you again, Nirrimi. Your words have woken something inside me that I have always known was there but could never quite reach. And although I am clearly still struggling to wholly and completely grab hold of that thing, I know I someday will.
    I appreciate your work in ways you could never imagine. 
    With love,
    Lily

  3. I always dive into your world when I read your texts, it is so magic. I am in love.
    lovely greetings from germany, Toni 🙂 ♥

  4. Beautiful. Your story is so powerful. I have gone through something similar (separation,now being w single mama), firstly broken, then, suddenly, positive and full of joy, now, unfortunately- just paralysed inside (and that is kind of the worst, not to feel). I know only by doing and trying we can make things work, but still- your words heal and give hope. Thank you, endlessly.

  5. This story makes me really sad actually. I’ve never felt this kind of love, I’ve never felt love and reading this tears me up because I can’t way to feel like this one day, and be a mom. I always wanted to be a mom, a young one. The idea of creating a person, a new one makes me happy. Give all the love that I have in a human. But it seems so impossible, and so far away from me.

    Maybe someday! I should do some magic stuff. I send you, lots of love from France, like every time. I can’t wait to meet you ! (I am sure it will happen someday)! <3

  6. Nirrimi…. I’ve been reading your blog since I was young. I’ve been following your journey alongside my own life journey. I always save your posts with anticipation and excitement, because I know they will leave me feeling inspired and revived. this one was no different, infact it was one of my favourites. I never comment or talk to you because I make the assumption my post will get lost in thousands, or maybe you wont read it, but i’ve changed my mind. My intention in m life in so many areas is now to connect and keep on connecting… I’ve been on an epic journey this year, i’ve been living on the road for a year, traveling to transformation festivals and living in community and making music. I’ve always been passionate about photography, but it was only through this journey and from creating the space in my life to really follow my passions, hat I finally did it. I opened up and I began to follow my dreams and I worked with everyone I could while living on the road. I wanted to tell you this because without you knowing, you have been present in my heart and my thoughts throughout this whole life changing journey. You are one of my biggest photographer and story teller inspirations and have also inspired me to tell the story of the magic I have experienced and witnessed too. I hope I can share it with some people and with you. My new intention is to keep commenting and sharing my thoughts from now on and not make the assumption that they wont be seen. anyway, thank you for being open and inspiring me to be open too, so that one day I can maybe inspire others too, as you have inspired me 🙂

  7. I am quite a lot older than you, but thought you might like to know that your words often strike meaning in my heart (whether they remind me of long ago joy or pain). Thank you for sharing.

  8. Nirrimi, I’ve been following your steps as a photographer and as a person for a while and it made me feel heartbroke. At the beggining and then utterly happy and faithful at the end. Always cheering for you! ❤

  9. Youve always feed my soul with your inpiring stories and photos since iv found your blog sometime ago..back then i still live in Singapore..now that weve recently moved to Sydney, i cant stop thinking how would it feel meeting you in person one of these days , randomnly or attend your workshops ..its a bucket list to check really.. Thanks Nirrimi for doing what you love doing and being so much real at living, thriving and loving your life. 😘 

  10. Oh, Nirrimi, I am so happy for you! Your words fill me with hope I can’t really explain, but I’ll try.

    Recently, my own husband and I separated. I haven’t even been in my new place a month yet. We have three children together and it really does feel like I will be all alone forever and ever. People say I am a strong woman (and maybe I am), but I am not meant to be alone romantically. It feels as if I am living a half-life, like all the dreams are complete and done at my young age of 30. I find I am still loving my children’s father and I wonder if that will be always and if it will always hurt so very much.

    Thank you for reminding me that things happen as they are meant to, and often unexpectedly. An end is also a beginning. Thank you. 

  11. Wow! This is simply breathtaking.

    It feels me with great Joy knowing you have found true love and has reminded me to be eternally thankful for the love that I have in my life.

    Thank you! x

  12. Over a year ago, I had to part ways with somebody I was deeply in love with. I was broken and I hated everything including myself. That was about the time I discovered your blog. I think it was meant to be that I did for your words and your light have been something very special to me and has helped me a lot in this journey to heal, to try and try to love again – whether it is to love people around me, finding beauty in every single person I meet, or just to fall in love over and over again with this wonderful thing that is life. I thank you truly. I wish you all the joy in the world 🙂 

  13. As soon as we stop holding our breath it seems as though the universe breathes for us, blowing a dandelion kiss for us to fall in love with. Thank you for sharing intimate soul moments, they make so many people happy. You make so many people happy. You are the universe, stars and sky and when someone else finds you to be the most magnificent night view, that is bliss. 

  14. I love how you met Bee at the unexpected close of that day. This post made me feel warm inside. I know how being a single mama can be and how men may perceive us because we have a kid. But I am so glad you have found your love, Nirrimi.

    Looking forward to more of your stories.

    Iris (Earth Love Skin)

  15. Magical story.. You re such a beautiful soul 
    I sometimes get the rollercoaster feelings you have too and i hope you keep finding happiness after the blue days..  
    Much love for you and alba

  16. Your posts always make my heart melt, but this one particularly talks to me in a really special way. My last real love story ended almost three years ago, and lately I’ve been really feeling alone. Alone yet surrounded by people, family and friends. Last week I surprised myself crying in the middle of the night, at the thought that maybe I would never find love again and that maybe I already received all the amount of love that is reserved for me. That maybe this is my destiny and that I should accept it in order to stop being deceived each time I think that I interest nobody or that I’m not pretty enough to be noticed. Today your words gave me hope. Even if I know that my biggest challenge is to fall in love with myself first, deeply and unconditionally, before looking for someone else’s love.

  17. made me so giddy, couldn’t stop smiling while i read it!

    so so happy for you and bee and alba! excited for your new stories and adventures!

    lots of love, xxxx

  18.  Nirrimi
    Your writing and pictures are so beautiful!! Your stories sometimes begin with sadness, but always end with hope, which very special 🙂 My cousin is in Perth right now working odd jobs and creating art with anything, anywhere! When you go back you should definitely meet him, I think you would get along very well. Here is his art page on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/StrangeBrewz
    Thank you for inspiring me to see beauty everywhere 💜

  19. Every single time I see a new blog post from you pop on my feed, I am instantly filled with excitement. I never dare read it before I find a quiet corner and can play some score music, only then do I dive into your world of beautiful imagery and words. Nirrimi, please write a book! You are a storyteller at heart and are equally talented with both words and photographs. 

    Thank you!!! x

  20. It is magical indeed. I am so happy you have met such a wonderful soul as Bee is. you will have great moments all three together 🙂 

  21. Your writings touch me every time. You write it so beautifully. That’s magic right there. Your blogposts are the only ones I always fully read and they make me so happy each time. Even if they are sad, the beauty of your words drown me in another world. Keep it up, beautiful girl. I hope to meet you one day. You are truly a magical inspiration. <3 

  22. You make my heart break and heal with every story of yours. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make others brave, and I hope you feel braver from the thought.

  23. Thank you Nirrimi, for being so deeply real. It doesn’t matter how miserable I am, there is always smile on my face and I feel the sun shining and energy of life flowing after reading your texts. You are miracle and I am so so happy for you.

    World needs more people like you, you spread goodness and beauty around you.  

    Be loved <3 

  24. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh Nirrimi!!! Your writing feeds my soul.  You were always a lovely writer, but this piece shows your growth as a person, as a writer, and is humbling in its magnificence.

    Really, I am humbled.  You have given me lots to think about.

    All my love,
    Melissa

  25. This is the first piece of writing of yours that I have read (apart from on Facebook) and it is so beautiful. I went to your picnic and talk meet-up in Perth the other week and you seem like such a lovely person and you left me feeling inspired. I smiled whilst reading this and I like the words that you used to explain the world around you, appreciating the beauty of the world. x

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