by Grace Hall
1. You were born a month and a week before me. Sometimes I wonder what you did – and where I was while you did it. I was unborn at this stage, but we would come to do everything together – so what did you do without me? As soon as I met you, I wanted to know about the old man you saw, smiling, at the train station, the friend you made on the street and how nothing is the same as the food in your village.
2. Before we knew what we know now, we loved Leonard Cohen. Under yellow lights in your bedroom, we read about,
a noble young woman who unfastened her jeans
in the front seat of [Leonard Cohen’s] jeep,
but we didn’t see how it could be us. Or did we? This book of his, the book of longing, makes me feel uneasy because there are so many women who I want to ask, did you know he was taking that photo? Just with his eyes, but still – now it’s a song.
3. When I was nine, my mother told me that if she could, she would be my best friend. And by that she meant that if we were both the same age at the same time ours would be a friendship like no other. There would be no tears or betrayals. Like cloning, this is all hypothetical but not impossible.
4. Before you, I didn’t really understand what an anarchist was. You taught me things because you told me some of your memories in cold quiet. We said the things we didn’t want to say to anyone else. We ran down the same streets, the same block, but it looked different every time. We found joy in the domestic (I took out the recycling, you took the general waste).
5. You went home with someone we’d both known for six months. Afterwards, there was dinner parties
which made places for him to hide: in the kitchen, big garden and forth bedroom.
6. Before him, there were reasons to believe that volunteering at a not-for-profit makes a good person; or that he would be one of those truth telling journalists, or that the women before you were listened to. You went to them, one by one and dug out the secrets.
Some friends disappeared under blankets to make a good vibe cubby house where if you block your ears and shut your eyes you can pretend that everything is good.
7. I went home with someone I didn’t know, and it was close. I don’t think I told you how close it was. When my, I need to go home, fell on the floor – I pushed back. It felt good to push back
(between a man and a car is not a good place to be)
The next day was foggy shame. Why do we have to carry that around, the luggage that we don’t own?
8. Before I met you, I was walking long distances in shoes that didn’t fit me. I scraped my car on a post and managed to erase it.
Anxiety was a disorder that I didn’t have.
When I came out and people asked me if I loved you first, I was confused – didn’t they know a friendship like this?
9. The boy and the girl in the movie must love each other because if we don’t know about love we don’t know anything. And when the girl and the girl love each other, people will take it upon themselves to uncrack the code:
Queer platonic love is confusing.
If you’re scared.
10. At the pub one night there was a little person talking about Zeus while his dad smiled at him like he was the wisest person on the planet. The little person wasn’t just talking – knowing. You told them how to find the cave and the books he should read. That was when I saw that you needed to go home. And that I needed to learn to live without you.
11. I see you now in videos and photos. Sometimes I want to be there with you. But most of the time I smile at the memory of how staunchly we loved each other, under those yellow lights, around the block, and back again.
Grace Hall is a queer, crip writer and disability support worker based in Naarm (Melbourne). Her writing explores the joys and pitfalls of growing up queer in rural Victoria. She is fueled (almost) entirely by potato and existential dread and currently reads a lot of non-fiction. Grace’s work has been published by Bramble Journal, Paper Road Magazine and Writers Victoria. In 2022, Grace was a participant in Toolkits Lite: Non-Fiction program.