Kaleidoscopes and Bicyles

on space and being seen

Kaleidoscope. It’s one of my favourite words. It’s been used to describe me three times now as an introduction, at one of my favourite poetry events when the host calls “Give me three words that start with K!”. My life, too, feels not unlike a kaleidoscope. All these little coloured moments that I shake up to form a new picture from time to time.

A kaleidoscope is different to a puzzle, hey? The pieces compliment each other but they don’t fit perfectly together. Some days they don’t even feel contained and I carry a homesickness not for a place, but some togetherness. Ideally, I’d go and collect all the things I love and ever loved, like sifting through the grass to find the scattered beads of a broken bracelet and thread them along with something that collects them all together. Preferably on one side of the world so I didn’t always have to miss something when I moved.

Today is the first day I remembered the feeling of knowing I would be ok if I just rented a share house with a gum tree in the backyard, a reasonable but possible drive away from my herd, studied writing, worked part-time in something, played with decorating my own room with the intention of being there for a while, was ok with the fact a lot of my life is spent alone, and when not, with the friends that feel like my favourite blue running shoes with rainbow curly laces. (P.s I was devastated when Mum threw them out. I actually cried. I should probably note in case she’s reading this, that incidents like that are those Mum fuck-ups you never forget but easily forgive. You were forgiven a long time ago, I just don’t forget for the stories).

Today I feel homesick, scattered, anonymous, small and bland. I know there is nothing about these feelings that makes me an original human being, nor having a unique experience.

Some days I feel invisible but without the magic of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. I felt it in Melbourne too, usually in periods walking from the train to my classes. It’s the city. People say they love the anonymity of big cities. Is that just a heroic way of saying they recognise they can be entirely unseen by others despite living alongside so many other humans? I wonder if invisibility/anonymity can be confused for freedom? I feel my physical presence dwindling. I can’t answer the phone consistently, I’m behind in writing a million people at home an update on where I’m at and I’m struggling to prioritize where to put my money wisely.

Guess what? I bought a bike today. It’s old and white, and I’m proud of the fact I have proof it’s not pilfered. It’s even got a basket. Yep, I bought a bike. Before I’ve even made any determinate move that secures my future like a bicycle is all you need now to legally register your existence.

Buying a bike seemed like a sensible move to combat the fact I’m trapped. Escape the fact that I feel like the inside doesn’t match the outside (yet). A fact perceived as real by a feeling. A feeling that there is no way I can expand myself in the ways I wish to grow naturally here. I feel like there is no avenue I can take that means I can shape my life around building on interests I am already involved in and passionate about. I’m panicking about scrapping it all and starting again because I can’t erase the love for things I enjoy that are less accessible to me here. And it makes me sad because despite being loved, I am not loved for the person that I want to be loved for. I’m not even the ‘me’ I know myself as, and I wonder, who do you love then? Who do you love, when in the act of navigating oceans, it makes things that excite my mind harder to find, harder to save to pay for, harder to find in English or harder to imagine accomplishing without the resources I’ve accrued over the years? Who is being loved if it is not the person I know myself to be? I digress.

But you know what? That bike hey. I rode it home through a dark park with a broken light and heaps of people yelled at me that it wasn’t working. If you want to feel seen in Germany, just try and ride your bike without a light or on the wrong side of the street. I was outside for the first snow of the year (4th of December). Just the added speed made me feel like I knew which direction I was headed. I thought “fuck I love being outside” despite freezing temperatures. I got home without having to wait for a train, and the snowflakes and fairy lights and the smoke of a freshly lit bonfire from a Christmas tree merchant made me smile. That chilly ride, over the bridge in the snow globe cityscape, I had a brief feeling that I made my world a little bigger today. I had the typical metaphor of the uniqueness of snowflakes reassure me of my unnecessary obligation to conform. I got excited for Christmas like a little child. I asked myself “Have you ever truly not been alright?” and “So what is the problem right now?” and couldn’t fabricate a decent answer to either question.

I’ve published this with a few days of which I’ve made an effort to stop myself dwindling into limited self-expression. In hindsight the only thing I really need to match the inside from the outside is;

a) courage, to firstly unfold and create myself from the inside out, instead of the outside in


b) contact from the perceived outer to each other’s inner, by finding places where I can be seen and recognised by who I feel I am. And then sometimes for what I’m not.

The thing about being seen is, you need to allow yourself the freedom to take up space somewhere, first.

Perhaps there is a reason things don’t fit neatly together like a puzzle. There needs to be space for the parts of ourselves that will never fit perfectly but still form a beautiful part of the picture.

I called Mum this morning. She asked how my week has been.

“Oh you know, Kaleidoscopes and bicycles…”

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