And this is where my heart is.
This was the winter that I went back to Melbourne, where the fist in my chest unfurled and everything began to bloom again. I remember these as golden days even though I know I was often angry and heartbroken. But there was so much gold. There was so much light. There were family breakfasts with sloping hills of syrupy waffles, tall cups of coffee and cuddles, long jackets and days when the exhales from your laughter formed fog in the air. There were evenings of playful games, big potluck dinners, taking pictures in parks, warm sweaters and warm smiles.
I came back to Melbourne in a rush. Life bellyflopped so I bought my plane ticket in the morning, left Brisbane in the afternoon, and returned home in the evening. I opened the sliding door to a room full of unfamiliar furniture and very familiar humans who sprung up from their dinner and hugged me close. I was in the centre of a squeezing circle and I was home. Once more in our community that we call the Hive.
Listen: you have to trust even when things don't make sense—when things don't go the way you were expecting. You have to trust yourself but you have to trust other people too. You have to be your own foundation and you have to be prepared to catch yourself every time, but you are not going to be able to do this whole thing on your own. There are times when you should ask for help. You have to be prepared to open your heart and be vulnerable and be seen.
This is what communal living was for me. Being seen and vulnerable and open and learning to ask for help and finding myself caught in loving arms when I stumbled. It was confronting and terrifying and I still worry that I didn't give enough to the people who gave me so much.
It was hard and it was one of the most important parts of my life. Not much has been the same since.
When you live with people—really live with people—not as wary bystanders existing an arm's length apart whose lives never entwine—it feels entirely different. Or else it did for me. I'm an only child, a solo traveller, drifter. Community was not something I was used to or that I ever really sought out, yet discovering it was like I had been given new colours to paint with. I remember during a house meeting one of us started crying because they had been looking for this for so long. Maybe I was too—I just didn't know it.
Sometimes, we were so human and it flowed so beautifully and sometimes, we were so human and it went so badly. Sometimes, we said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing and sometimes, we hurt each other without meaning to.
But we also held each other, comforted when days were sad, laughed when days were happy, shared meals and thoughts and dreams and secrets. We played and danced and sang and gardened and cooked. We were growing and trying and really, really trying. We were trying to love one another well and I think we succeeded far more often than not.
It was a lot everything—a lot of all things. Life and death and good and bad. It was life intimately shared. Or at least that's what it was for me.
Photographs from May 2017 - August 2017.