I go home for my brother’s engagement party. I go home, that means a lot, sometimes doesn’t feel like home but still remains it. My flight is late afternoon, I tend to come home at night, but this time as we drive back from the airport the light is still good, the trees their absolute true colour, I don’t see the familiar lights of machinery across the river, just the smoke. Mid-flight I make the notes significant things again; swimsuit cut, half wet hair, sliced fruit, pin pointed. I also write fate is kind, which is an old note that I keep repeating.
I spend the night with my family, my new almost sister, the windows of the house are open to let in the cold. I can hear the neighbours out front of their place, the three women who sit there almost all day, many cigarettes, (old notes on this—a violent home and couple from there came and fucked in my parent’s front yard + said it was someone else). When I come back here, home, I remember why I started writing notes, those first books, remember I didn’t want a diary but ended up writing like that anyway.
I make the note smell the neighbourhood women next door smoking through the window.
In the morning I go for a long walk in the suburb to find flowers for a project. I can’t find roses, look all over, cut down a half open magnolia, the white kind, carry it careful, between fingers then balanced on my palm. I hardly see anyone on this walk, even though it’s Saturday. I think I know and love this quiet place, but don’t make a note about that. Instead, when I’m home, sweating kind of heavy, it’s teaching me piano in the living room and love you like that, like that as in endless time and from the highway, from the freeway and warm milk warm honey and then she sleeps with her hands above her head all the time now.
I tell my family I couldn’t find the flowers I was looking for, the magnolia is already souring, fast summer. Later, my dad drives me around for an hour looking for different flowers, the afternoon is new and my lower body catches full sun in the car. We pull up at neighbourhood houses and I cut down what I want. I think of a note I made last June heavy bloom or heavy pressure or just good to see you.
As I collect the flowers, I put them under the glovebox, on the floor, out of the sun, out of the heat, watch as light shifts in beams across them, placed the bloomed part towards the back. I keep thinking, this is one of my happiest moments, all is good, all is alright. Maybe this means nothing but it feels significant to me.
I write notes about all of this in order to remember, although almost all of the time I remember everything anyway. But a record is permanent, to me, and I’m conscious of forgetting. Keeping notes is one thing I like about myself. Like a habit, like a compulsion. Making notes about myself is different but something I still do.
Notes this year about me,
Tell me about all the times I’ve cut a thigh across the bed in effort to look right.
Small set of veins on my left hand in the shape of a heart and sometimes I look at it and think this means you love well, and I do, but I know that it being there means nothing like that.
A birthmark I still forget, hemangioma.
I try to remember things plainly and to be accurate, but they are my notes, so if I’ve seen it wrong, then who’s to know, right? Right. And it’s not an intentional act of keeping a diary, sometimes the notes are for fiction, or will become fiction, at least I can say to me it was like that.
Later, my mum tells us that we need to use the flowers from the florist for the project. The ones I cut down are spread on the table surface, I put them in a drinking glass, lukewarm water, read that was good for them. I take a photograph to stabilise the memory, get the colour right.
The good florist roses are too tight and I don’t think they’re right for what we need. I use my hands to make a bigger bloom, touch the centre of the roses, find the small yellow part, feels invasive and intimate and the flowers are cool, almost cold, but they’ve warmed up when I’m done.
I make the note touch the core of the flower, make the note can you come over and cut my hair.
Laura Stortenbeker is a writer and editor. Her work has been published in Overland, Meanjin, Chart Collective and Kill Your Darlings. In 2016 she was the recipient of a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.