the past

Yesterday, I booked tickets to Melbourne. I haven’t been back there since 2004, when I decided that life was supposed to be better than waiting for people to throw flowers on my coffin.

I contracted HIV there, in 1998. I was only 22 at the time, but I had already given up on life.

In today’s world, I can’t quite fathom the person I used to be in my youth. Some of my patterns are the same but the most destructive ones have all but vanished.

I don’t like to drink anymore because really, alcohol makes me feel like shit.

I had been going to drama school at the time I left Melbourne, but at the start of my final and fourth year, I quit to move back home to Rotorua, to go to art school. Although the shift brought about it’s own set of problems, in that I finally had to deal with some of the things I had been avoiding, truly, it was transformative. In the 11 years since I have spun out a fierce creative practice, filled with colour, honesty and integrity. Now I am becoming a Doctor of Philosophy with research that covers a lot of ground including; Indigenous ways of being; Māori creative practices; Transgender social health; HIV stigma and discrimination; and most importantly, the research of getting the fuck real for a change (a good change :)).

And yet, there are still days, months even, when the most basic forms of self-love and appreciation elude me; those are the days when I just cannot get out of bed, or the months when I feel so sad that I have to force myself to eat because food has no flavour.

Unfortunately, the past month has been somewhat awful, although, I am pretty good at recognising when I am unbalanced, or when something or someone has made me feel less than the human I know I am. I have an embodied practice that kicks my subconscious into doing the things that will make me feel healthy again. It’s good to know that art is an embodied form of research; I trust my art practice to teach my head not to drown, or simply float away again, never to return.

I feel proud that I have been getting up every morning, even though it is hella freezing, to go for a run. I feel good that usually, by 9am, I am sitting at my laptop working on my thesis, or whatever other publication I have been procrastinating on. I feel happy that I walk to my village every day around lunchtime, to spend time with my mother. I feel able because whenever anyone asks me for help, I always do what I can. More than anything, I feel fucking fabulous to be learning my language… I tried so many times in the past and it just wouldn’t stay, now though, it has a warm home in my body.

I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne. It’s such a fantastic city and I really cherish the time I spent there, both trying to die and live at the same time. For sure without a doubt, living won.

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