Dudes, Jess totally broke my heart. After five years of drunken make-out sessions, hand holding and fevered promises that one day we would get this relationship right, she was no longer in love. With me, anyway. She had met a girl with green hair, flared jeans and a boyfriend. I was devastated. I got drunk in her backyard and broke her dead grandmother’s favourite teacup. On purpose. I wrote countless letters explaining why we couldn’t hang out and then refused to leave her alone. I cried everyday for six months. I developed an unhealthy obsession with Depeche Mode. The lyrics to DiFranco’s Untouchable Face poured out of my mouth while I poured myself out of late night car windows. Taxi drivers hated me. I was a snotty, puffy, hyperventilating mess. I cried at work, at school, on busses, in bars, and all over anybody unfortunate enough to try and kiss me.
Obviously, I had to get out of the country. Everything in the city reminded me. Of Jess, of her new girlfriend and of how I would never be happy again. All of my most vivid memories from that time happen in the gutter outside of Adelaide’s most notoriously heartbroken bar, The Crown & Anchor. That should tell you something. About me and about the city’s strict “no smoking in bars” laws. The tiny ball of exotic beauty I was living with also had a heart that had recently been subject to awful things. We shared cigarettes and stories of our teacup smashing drunkenness. One night, she packed all her things into a white van and drove to Melbourne.
I decided to leave and never come back. Eventually, Jess would see photos of me on facebook in the arms of someone perfect (with hair that never stands out of place and eyebrows that don’t run at each other like teenagers in a bad romance movie)and she would never get over it. It was a brilliant plan; thank God for tequila and social networking. I had no money though, on account of being a broken hearted alcoholic. Amidst the haze of smoke and drink, I figured out that going on exchange through the university would be the easiest and cheapest way to get my ass out of Australia. Cheap, yes. Easy, not so much. Canada was the place to be because, well, it was the furthest away. Also, I really wanted to see a moose.
To make it happen, I needed a near perfect GPA. Not to mention money. I threw myself unabashedly into schoolwork. This was a new experience for me, having failed my way out of high school five years earlier. While Jess and the Green-haired monster* were making out all over campus, I was studying. I mean, most of the time I was sobbing into textbooks and wondering how much you could hurt someone by pushing them down the stairs, but I was also learning all about the patriarchy and how to write a suspenseful sentence.
All this reading had a strange effect. Somewhere over the next two years, I fell in love with school. It was all I could talk about. I became that annoying girl who starts every sentence with I read this one article… Hell, I still start every sentence that way. I stopped drinking and smoking, started listening to Alix Olson and falling asleep in a bed full of textbooks and kittens. Women’s Studies was my new bff. And she was fucking beautiful. English Lit was my bitch and Creative Writing was my sultry lover who was prone to violent and surprisingly erotic mood swings.
After three years, it was finally time to leave. I know - it took me long enough. In my last 24 hours I went to all my favourite places and didn’t even sit in any gutters. Like an old lesbian couple that had finally broken up after ten years of staying together for the cats, I smiled at my city and wished her all the best. I would miss the cats, of course, but I had to go. Not because I was being suffocated but because I knew I could finally survive outside. Outside of the comfort of Adelaide, outside of my own stupidly broken heart and most importantly, outside of Jess*. At the airport, my heart bashed excitedly (and nervously) against my chest and my brain sensibly told it to stop that nonsense and be quiet. And then I was alone on a plane. You know, aside from the 499 other passengers. And the crew. The whole alone thing is a more of a metaphor. Geez, why do you guys always have to take everything so literally.
*She’s not really a monster. She even stopped dying her hair green because she couldn’t justify the use of chemical products that were probably tested on animals.
*Sorry Jess! I love you! Also, I have nothing against your eyebrows.