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Unsent Letters and a Three Day Rager

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Unsent Letters and a Three Day Rager

Andrew Ryan

I can’t stop listening to this song on repeat, you know when that happens? It vibrates through me, and I’m still not sick of it.

Unsent letters; I’ve got a few in digital and milk-crate storage. The things I’ve felt over the years, ohhhhh boy do they stack up on top of each other in all of my notebooks. So many threats of paper cuts, so many attempts at origami, splashed in spilt red wine and dusted with cigarette ash.

I heard the song for the first time in years and years and years the other night, when I was catching up with a friend who knows me real well at a bar I rarely go to, and Tame Impala was being played over the sound system a whole bunch of times and so was Radiohead, and I was feeling very, very nostalgic, and sad too, and then this song came on and it was perfect. I googled it when I woke the next morning, hung over for the many-th day in a row, luxuriating in tired melancholy, looking forward to therapy, exhausted from three days of a loud and sweaty and masculine driven music festival at my workplace (they called it a “rager”)- two days/nights of those were very exhausting working times, the last day was a non-working wind-down in the scene of the crime, but with my camera in tow, waiting for the sunglasses to come out, donned in doors at night after more intoxication and more aggressive partying, of which I was taking no part in.

I got a much needed massage today, achey as I have been from the bar work and emotional stress, and as I layed face down on that table in my friend’s bedroom, his hands working gently the muscle around my crooked and twisted spine, I stared sleepily at his carpet and wrote a bunch of little letters I’ll never send to the people that swam through my brain.

On that last day of the Rager, I thought about writing a book about my workplace, about the humans that come in there, that work there, that play there, the situations that make a bouncer quit in rage, the social dynamics and complex community hierarchical structure, all of it with narratives that don’t take long to find if you keep your eyes open long enough before you get too drunk to remember how much fun you had, or didn’t have.

I wonder if I will ever write that book? I think I need to figure out a three-month block of near-solitude somewhere near the desert again, but this time where I don’t have to do any work except write the dang book. These days I’ve found I can’t write in this environment I want to write about, the one where some asshole wearing a patch-covered cutoff denim vest yells at me for not playing The Ramones, the one where people cut their hands and the blood doesn’t get cleaned up for ages, where people stage dive in to bottle bins, where I can play Electric Wizard through the bar speakers and it’s totally acceptable, where some of my favourite Australian musical acts play regularly and I get paid to watch them and serve them booze, all the shit and fun things that come with living on the angry boozey fringes of society.

That book, if I write it, will be another letter, and sending it, well, that’s different.

Before I got the massage, I wrote a letter to someone, an email, but it wasn’t sent. It just sits there in the drafts folder, hoping not to be found again, little wordy head hanging in shame about its shape, its messiness. I wrote the letter the morning after a night of drinking because I tried to start writing the book I mentioned previously, and got stuck at two pages because I fell in to conversation with someone who’s likeness will appear in that story I was struggling to write; I decided to slam the book shut and get more ethnographic on that shit instead.

That’s the story. That’s how I’m telling it now.

Today’s letter was a different story, though it has to do with the book story, in a way. It was a story of my emotions, a garbled collection of old triggers and scars that have been rearing their painful heads in all kinds of ways recently, so it was an attempt to sort through the thousands of pages of scribbles in my heart, hoping for some self-organisation, some resemblance to coherency… but I doubted that would come across to the intended reader, I haven’t had much luck with that so far, so I didn’t send it.

And that’s okay, I think. Unsent letters are sad if you want them to be. But maybe they mean you’re thinking clever too, in that moment that you make the decision to not send. But all of those letters put together would make for interesting reading, one day, for someone. I guess that’ll have to wait.