Greg turns out to be a somewhat volatile housemate. A couple of years ago his wife ran out on him, upping stakes and moving to Queensland. She took his two young sons with her. He misses them all terribly and constantly talks about how things are going to be different when they all get back together.
When he’s been out at the pub all night, though, a very different perspective surfaces. Several times I’ve woken to the sound of the poor guy pacing the house having long – and loud – arguments with his ex. The first time I thought he was on the phone to her, pouring his rage and frustration down the long distance line. It was only on the second occasion when I got up to tell him to keep it down, that I discovered him in the kitchen, reciting his list of grievances at full volume to the empty room.
I understand this kind of torment, the sort that has you howling into the void oblivious to the people around you, seeing only the desert of your grief before you. When he finally spotted me standing there in the kitchen doorway he slumped into a chair and said in a small, broken voice, “I just want the bitch to love me again, you know?” Testify brother.
I sympathise completely with his situation – unnervingly similar to my own – but his unpredictable shell-bursts of aggression repulse me, keeping me at arms length.
Of all my new housemates, David proves the easiest to relate to. He’s lived in group houses most of his adult life and has developed strategies I can see I need to learn too if I’m going to survive here.
While Siobhan is busy getting blitzed in her room and Greg is off getting smashed down at the pub, Dave is making sure that food gets bought and that there’s always a proper meal on offer for those who want to eat. I abstractly admire his determination to make this house a home.
And what am I doing to contribute? Mostly, I sit and I stare at the walls as the events that have brought me here play out again and again before my eyes. I know that I need to participate more, can see that I should be moving forward. But if life’s a river, flowing towards the future, then I’m a statue standing on the bank. I watch it rush past my singular reference point but can no more step into the flow than could any stone on the shore.
Words and image are my own.