It’s ten to eight on Friday night and I have run out of things to do.
No, I haven’t just completed my to do list – the house is dirty, there is still a pile dishes to wash, and a teetering stack of poorly written shorthand notes sit guiltily astride a sheath of pages to proof for work.
But in terms of enjoyable leisure occupations I’m fresh out.
I fact, as my fun Friday night activities were eating smoked salmon for dinner and watching the latest episode of Glee, it may be more accurate to say I was never in.
I’m just going on fourteen months of living my life’s goal. Not to be a journalist (a last minute decision made during year 12 subject selection so my mother would let me study literature instead of physics), but to be independent. Well, I’m there. Very much so. You’ve heard people describe themselves as “extremely single”? I’m extremely independent. But facing another night of altering 1980s dresses to the soundtrack of Empire Records; it strikes me that a healthy dash of co-dependence might make Friday night more interesting.
I’ve always kind of stuck on my own. I have, and have had since I was five, a bunch of close friends, a net of acquaintances who are only friends in certain pubs and a few love interests thrown in for good measure. But all my favourite pursuits are solo – I read, draw, sew and write; I prefer to walk alone than with a friend; and I forwent team sports for horse riding. As a child I played alone because having someone else there meant I had to explain the story line. I loved nights when my parents, and later flatmates, were out of the house so I could – well, do exactly what I would have done otherwise, but in an empty house. And possibly in my underwear. Now I live alone, a dream since 16, and mostly it’s awesome. I have mastered cooking for one, I’m not subjected to reality TV and it’s no one’s business if the stereo plays Bob Dylan for three weeks straight.
Just recently I have questioned if my life would be different with a little neediness thrown in. I really don’t care if I have no one to talk to, in fact after a busy week I prefer it. Invites to go out for a drink were sighed at and cast aside; social interaction avoided rather than sought out. I don’t even like talking to people at the supermarket. I am what all those experts have warned about – the egocentric professional, living in a community with roots so shallow you could knock them over with a feather.
Leaving Melbourne was hard, is still hard, but since then it seems my life has become entirely transportable. Sure, there are people I’ll miss if I leave Bunbury. Right now there are people I miss all over Australia. It has become a necessary part of adulthood. But like all firsts, nothing will ever be as hard again as that first move west. I could move across the world and never be as far from my roots as I was that first night in Bunbury, sleeping in my boyfriend’s hoody on the floor of an empty flat.
A little co-dependence might have made me reach out more to the people I’ve met since, and call a few numbers that I instead threw away. It might mean I was a less efficient networker, and made friends instead of contacts. It might even mean I had more to do on a Friday night than hemming polyester and an episode of Glee.
Handy facts learnt on a quiet Friday night:
1) I buy more music when I’m happy.
2) Nick Hornby was on to something.
I’m having a bit of a High Fidelity moment. This may be because I fell asleep with the paperback under my pillow last night and absorbed the character, or it may be Holly Throsby’s fault. I fell asleep on the book because I’d had a few quiet drinks while watching the charming Miss Throsby sing over a rowdy Bunbury crowd. I searched through my albums twice trying to find hers, to no avail, then gave up and started surveying CDs at random.
So it’s Holly who can rightly claim catalyst to the carefully tiled CDs that now adorn my living room.
With CDs all over the floor, there was nothing for it but to get my autobiographical classification on.
I have never consciously used music as a barometer or determinate in my personal life, so I settled for stacking it in years of purchase and let the exact sequence go hang.
Lesson 3). Do not attempt any neat organisational task in the same room as a cat; they will not be able to resist the urge to fuck it up.
There’s a lot of Australian indi-rock (Dallas Crane, 67 Special, Sleepy Jackson) in the early years and plenty of Australian hip-hop (The Herd, Astronomy Class, Hilltop Hoods) in the middle. The last two years have been more mellow (Nick Cave, Gypsy and the Cat, Laura Marling).
Some trends are pretty bloody obvious. I bought the most albums in year 12; the optimum point of good tip money and no financial responsibilities.
My influences were, unfortunately, equally obvious. The 2004 Big Day Out line-up features pretty heavily in my year 11 purchases.
There’s not much before year 10 (music-mad sister at home, stole her music where required) and it tapers off in 2006, when I started university. Of course file sharing is illegal and piracy is wrong, though calling someone a pirate is not the world’s best deterrent. But if you were, say, interested in getting your hands on some fresh tunes, and you happened to share a computer network with more than a thousand other people between aged 18 and 25, a few gigabits of stuff could happen. Just saying.
But the most interesting year was 2009, my last year of uni. Shortest stack between 2002 (not a horse, not interested) and 2011 (give me time yet). And it’s all back catalogue or new releases of something previously purchased – an obligation buy, not a new love.
Just going through the motions, that was 2009.
Pre-2006, I knew albums. Hitting shuffle would freak me out because I always anticipated the next song. I could name artist and track in the opening chord – my mate and I made a game out of it, on the bus home from school. Now, I know some songs backwards, and some not at all.
Which brings me to:
4). iTunes killed music.
There’s no Bob Dylan on my floor, though I have 10 albums on my computer. No Belle and Sebastian, no Eagles of Death Metal, no Arctic Monkeys, no Daft Punk. No Paul Kelly even, though I think I lost that one. When I moved into college, we decided who to be friends with based on the music lining their shelves. Strolling through an MP3 player is not the same. Hardrives contain a bit of everything; albums are what you love.
5). I need to go to JB Hi Fi tomorrow.
It’s never nice to hear I told you so.
Even if the person who told you so was, in fact, you.
It doesn’t make it easier to swallow. It gets you coming and going – you are both the smug bastard and the headstrong fool, neither one an attractive hat to wear.
But when I open my wardrobe now, out it comes again.
I told you so.
Perhaps a little backtrack would be useful at this point. A few months ago, I wrote this post about my favourite clothes. It was sparked by a dress, which, if I could afford it, was sure would bump something off to make the top ten. Even if I never had the guts to wear it anywhere but inside my apartment. With the blinds down.
My sister found the dress on sale and gave it to me for Christmas.
It is my new favourite dress. I’ve never worn it out of my apartment.
I told me so.
Much has been said (on Gossip Girl, admittedly) about the therapeutic power of shopping. It was in search of some retail Zen that I found this dress. It was a bad week, I had been living in a sartorial abyss (hello, Bunbury) and I had an afternoon to kill in Melbourne.
I found it at Review. Abhorrence of commercial plugs aside, Review is my favourite label and going in to the store without a pile of cash to burn is always a bad idea. I grabbed a pile of garments to try on; all looked great on and I could think of at least six ways to wear each one. And then I grabbed this dress, just for kicks.
There are a couple of rules I try to stick to when shopping:
1. If you don’t love it instantly, don’t buy it.
2. If you think, “this would look great with the jacket/shoes/waistline that I do not, in fact, have”, don’t buy it.
3. If you can’t afford it, don’t try it on.
A.D (After Dress), I have to amend these rules, with:
4. Don’t go shopping straight after a breakup.
It was tight. It was black. It was strappy. It was one shaped panel away from a tinny singing-card rendition of ‘I will survive’.
I tried a few options to tone it down this weekend, all from the safety of my bedroom. The sister, who so generously bestowed it upon me, said I looked like a stripper.
I love this dress. I wear it all the time. But ask me to wear it out of the house?
Well, just remember I told you so.