Breaking Up & Moving Out

Spaces 3: November 2014

Neil Sedaka was certainly on to something when he said: “Breaking up is hard to do”. But what about breaking up a home, an entire record collection andarray of musical instruments? Really. Freakin’. Hard. My partner Ross and I had woven our lives together over the better part of five years; living together, playing in a band together; but the time came earlier this year to untangle our togetherness as we moved off in different directions, away from the apartment we shared together. The separation was very silent; no big ceremonial “Dividing of the Things”. When I’d return from work at the end of the day I’d see the tracks he’d left: dirty dishes in the sink, a box or two packed, a guitar gone; but I was alone. The love had left. I needed leave that space behind and rebuild a new concept of home for myself.

Much of our furniture returned to where it came from, the side of the road, allowing for its journey to start all over again with a new family. While Ross certainly benefited from the split in a materialistic way (“I could have sworn you gave me that Elliott Smith record for my birthday!”), the lessons I learnt in independence and self-respect have proven invaluable in setting up my new life, including my new space.

A high school buddy, Sam, and his lovely girlfriend Laura, welcomed me into my first true experience of share house living. I was so taken aback at what it was like to live with a healthy, adult couple: you know the kind who cook dinner together and take turns at doing the washing up. Sure it’s not all Brady Bunch times here: living with two people in a solid partnership often leaves me feeling on the outer as I negotiate my way around their collective schedules and moods. But my tiny room up the stairs is my retreat, my escape from the world. And the key word, for the first time in years, is mine. Setting up my own space has allowed me to truly reconnect with my sense of self and work out who I am when I’m not one half of a single unit.

My first purchase as a newly independent, self-respecting woman was my very own bed. Ross and I had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our bedroom/recording studio for the last two years, but the time had come to lift the game. Two trips to Ikea, three loving family members and a good few beers later we had a bed.

Condensing an entire house of stuff into one tiny room is never an easy task, but is near impossible for a borderline hoarder like me. The blessing and curse of being a highly visual person is a constant need to be surrounded by ‘things’. I don’t feel like myself until I’ve plastered my walls with all my collected tidbits (despite our landlord’s aversion to bluetac). It was important when setting up my fresh space that I could hold on to many of my treasured objects (hands off the 70s kitsch koala vase Ross!) while also leaving room for some new memories to be created. Shortly after the split I headed up north, spending a few weeks in remote North-East Arnhem Land. I found this trip incredibly inspiring and upon returning home felt the need to surround myself with as many of my collected treasures as I could fit in this tiny space.

As with my previous home, my bedroom is also my work space, as my creative endeavours evolve through design, music and writing. It’s small in size but its proved to be a productive space, filled entirely with my independent artistic energy. For the first time in years I have a space that is uncompromisingly my own. It’s a work in progress yes, but so am I.