The itch to be social returned, not the fear of missing out so much as a peer pressure. Recall the lift in lockdown some time during the murky middle and how I wanted to stay in my shell like a sad hermit crab. I need to leave now.

An assignment on Medically Supervised Injection Facilities. Zig Zag Labor and Liberal. Bubble anger to think people are put through hell while we just sit around and debate. Limitations of policy, limitations of analysis, the need for direct action.

Dead Dad Club. Would not wish it on anyone. Wonder if I am too hard, too callous. Soft, or weak. Funeral online felt like grief tourism. Find myself revisiting the idea that grief is so incredibly personal and individual and universal in the same breath. Remember all those years ago pulsating with adrenaline. But how could I ever forget. Struggle to be sympathetic rather than empathetic. Freeze and frozen and the tram goes along Hawthorn Road and I cannot accept that the world could move, could flow in this stillness.

Dental work. Felt so glad to sink in that chair and rest.

Approached rehydration too enthusiastically- my laptop keyboard can testify. No concern, I needed an excuse to forgo writing. No Novel this November. Panic over whether I would run out of ideas. Poems and Paperback Bookshop. Midsumma Pathways. Pour over theory of community, restless at the thought of losing institutional library access. Slow moving river a standstill. I just sit and think about the manuscript, wordcount unchanged.

A never-ending formatting nightmare. Printing mistakes. Trips to the post office. A zine distribution.

Home on the farm and I lose the date. Mum put through a mail order for a swimming pool. It sat around getting green. A glorified trough. Szechuan the lamb harvests the remaining broad beans, snow peas and silverbeet bunches with her snacky mouth.  Mum feels invalidated by her cat Pudding who seems to prefer sleeping on my sister’s bed situated in the afternoon sun. Warmth seeping through from the West.

Gran really wanted to bike ride and so Pas and I stood alongside her and all three of us took the bike slowly along the grass holding her arms so tightly we probably left a bruise. She was squealing with joy like a small child.

And outside of the city. Look at the stars and snuggle with siblings watching reruns of whodunnits. Cheers around the kitchen table, a champagne to demarcate a graduation. And post-breakup, post-study, post-lockdown. Fluxus clockwork. So many parts of myself in transition. Clogs unfurled. River debris clears.

Dad’s birthday came around. Desired ritual but got the traditional dysfunction that comes with grief-stricken families.

Driving home to so-called Melbourne. Sink into the car seat. Transfixed just feel the bitumen world flow by. Grandma and I listen to Billie Holiday on repeat for hours because she cannot work out how to operate my phone.

And in the memory room Gran finds another keepsake.

Close the bedroom door. Trace the envelopes. Read the letters.

Young Jim in 1991. Write home to Mum and Don. Off to Europe for a bit of self-realisation- you know the way it goes. Post-graduation and without a clue. And she loves me she loves me not he recounts some kind of psychological fling with Irene. And you were so completely undecided, seesawing future trajectories.

And the grief of carrying the face of my father only to stand in front of my Grandma and remind her of her husband and son. To stand in front of my Mum, Katrina (take that Irene) and remind her of her soulmate.

Trace the envelopes and realised the same circularity in our writing. Twisted similar mannerisms.

Crab from the shell. Currents again.


Jasmine Shirrefs is a zine maker, dog parent, writer and social work student living on Boon Wurrung land. They were a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow 2019 and have work published by Overland Magazine online, Right Now and Lot’s Wife.

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