Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: The Stories

My name is Christopher and I have moved house 63 times. In this blog I tell a story from every single address. I started in July 2014, and posted the most recent story in September 2017. Here are all the stories, in order!

1. Elliot Street – Christopher’s Bucket Mouth
2. Tirroan Road – Christopher’s Horses
3. Ruby Street – Christopher’s Tricycle
4. Erap Street – Christopher’s Attempted Kidnapping
5. Marion Street – Christopher’s Burglars
6. Miles Street – Christopher’s Escape #1
7. Mulgrave Road – Christopher’s Evil Teacher
8. Edmonton – Christopher’s Unit of Measurement
9. Weipa – Christopher’s Wet Feet
10. Seisia Road – Christopher’s Abandonment Issues
11. Masig Island – Christopher’s Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
12. Thursday Island – Christopher’s Strange Bedfellow
13. Miles Street – Christopher’s Memory Lapse
14. West Street – Christopher’s Electrocution
15A. Abel Smith Parade #1 – Christopher’s Barbra Streisand Feud
15B. Abel Smith Parade #2 – Christopher’s Call to the Police
16. Marlin Way – Christopher’s Popularity with Girls
17. Groper Street – Christopher’s First Fist Fight
18. Osborne Court – Christopher’s Questioned Masculinity
19. Hibiscus Street – Christopher’s Police Academy Obsession
20. Hart Court – Christopher’s Gonna Need a Smaller Boat
21. Hibiscus Street – Christopher’s Disney Re-enactments
22. Leitch Street – Christopher’s Religious Neighbours
23. Proston-Boondooma Road – Christopher’s Survey
24. Short Street – Christopher’s Least Favourite Town
25. Aralia Street – Christopher’s High School
26. Belyando Avenue #1 – Christopher’s Nightmare House #1
27. Grout Street – Christopher’s Terrible Christmas
28. Belyando Avenue #2 – Christopher’s Nightmare House #2: The Snakening
29. Post Office Road – Christopher’s Nightmare House #3: The Misleadening
30. William Street – Christopher’s Escape #2
31. Pennycuick Street – Christopher’s Friends
32. Smith Street – Christopher’s Mum Fights Back
33. Turner Road – Christopher’s First Kiss
34. Cavell Street – Christopher’s Dirty Jock Water
35. Canberra Street – Christoper’s Idyll
36. Weldon Street – Christopher’s Mole
37. Ainsworth Street – Christopher’s Landlord
38. Buxton Street – Christopher’s Almost Stepfather
39. Millsom Street – Christopher’s Felafel in His Hand
40. Upper Lancaster Road – Christopher’s Mansion
41. Liaw Close – Christopher’s Thespianism
42. Handford Road – Christopher’s Second Worst Job
43. Petrie Terrace – Christopher’s Inflatable Armchair
44. Handford Road – Christopher’s Bowling Mother
45. Amelia Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Starts
46. Chalfont Street – Christopher’s Sexuality
47. Ironwood Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Escalates
48. Simpsons Road – Christopher’s Arachnophobia Escalates
49. Upper Lancaster Road – Christopher’s Handsome Coworker
50. Guildford Street – Christopher’s Own Apartment
51. Challis Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Explodes
52. Barwon Street – Christopher’s Teeth Fall Out
53. Onkaparinga Crescent – Christopher’s Radio Career Ends
54. Yuroka Close – Christopher’s Grand Sydney Migration
55. Onkaparinga Crescent – Christopher’s Humble Sydney Escape
56. Brunswick Road – Christopher’s Grand Melbourne Migration
57. Pottery Court – Christopher’s Teeth Go Back In
58. Barkly Street – Christopher’s Happily Ever After
59. Smith Street – Christopher’s Sadly Ever After
60. High Street – Christopher’s Red Room 
61. Konanda Street – Christopher’s Nest Return
62. Gilbert Avenue – Christopher’s Emigration
63. West 136th Street – Christopher’s NYC Rite of Passage

Advertisements

63) April-June 2017. West 136th St, Hamilton Heights NY 10031

Part of me was a little disappointed that I was already 36 by the time I finally moved into New York City. From what I’d gathered from my local friends (not to mention every TV show set in New York that has ever been made), you’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve got at least one “nightmare roommate” anecdote under your belt. But how would I manage this? I’d racked up 18 years experience living with other people; all I had to do was find one or two people roughly my age, with roughly the same level of experience, and everything would be disappointingly uneventful.

If Jurassic Park has taught us anything, it’s that life finds a way.

Stevie became my third housemate roommate (see, I’m assimilating to American life already) one month into my three month sublet in Hamilton Heights.

She was a bad housemate roommate before she’d even moved her shit into the apartment, by making me wait twelve hours to let her in.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #1:
If someone has to be at home to let you in on the day you move, do try to get to your new place 
before 10:20pm on a Sunday.

She was all moved in by 11pm, and we set about the task of bonding as housemates roommates. This was slightly difficult as we’d never met before; I was a sublet tenant and so was she, so our living arrangements had been made by higher powers. But we were both Australians, so half the work was already done.

OR WAS IT? Because the second she found out I’d moved from Melbourne, she deployed one of the most boring, forced and pointless Australian cliches that exists: Sydney-Melbourne rivalry. I shit you not, she literally sniffed, arched her shoulders and spat “OH? YOU’RE FROM MELBOURNE?”

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #2:
When meeting the people with whom you are going to live, it is customary to wait at least 24 hours before being visibly repulsed by them.

To smooth things over, I hastily explained that I’d actually grown up in Queensland, and had lived a little bit of everywhere. Not knowing quite how to carry on the conversation, I tried to finish her half of the Sydney-hates-Melbourne equation:

Me: So, you’re from Sydney?
Stevie: Oh. Well. I mean. Sort of. I guess. It’s actually hard to explain.
Me: 
Stevie: My dad works for an international finance company, so I moved around a bit as a kid.

I MOVED AROUND. A BIT. AS A KID.

First of all, maybe you’ve heard of a little website called Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore?

Photo credit: Bodie Strain

This is literally the face I pulled.

Second of all: that took one sentence to explain. Things that are “hard to explain” take more than seventeen words.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #3:
The people who wash their genitals in the same residence in which you wash your genitals may, in order to be comfortable washing their genitals in the same residence in which you wash your genitals, want to get to know you a bit better. Do try to have the answers to some basic questions prepared.

My relationship with Stevie never recovered. Nor did her relationship with our other housemate roommate, Michael.

Michael was a sweetheart who would ask you if you needed anything “from the outside world” every time he left the apartment. I never asked for anything bigger than an iced coffee, but I suspect I could have asked for a whole meal, or a piece of jewellery, or the still-beating heart of the fairest in the land, and he would have happily complied.

Exclusive footage of Michael being a right gent

The first (and last) time he asked Stevie if she wanted anything “from the outside world”, she asked for a bottle of sparkling water. He went out, ran his errand, and returned to the apartment with the best sparkling water he could find. Not just any soda water. Not a Duane Reade-sourced seltzer. This was some glass-bottled San Pellegrino bullshit. He’d gone all out (well, as all-out as one can go in a three-block radius). He handed the bottle over to Stevie with a cheery “here’s your water!” and without even looking up from her laptop she reached out, snatched it from his hand and continued typing in silence.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #4:
“Please” and “thank you”. Do try to use them. Wow, I did not think I’d have to go quite so far back to basics.

Hey, while I’m on the topic of water, did you know that there are still people in their thirties in the third millennium of the Common Era who don’t know how to put a water jug they retrieved from the fridge back into the said fridge? Remember, this was a Manhattan apartment: the number of steps from the fridge to the counter and back was decidedly finite.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #5:
If something came out of the refrigerator, do try to put it back into the refrigerator. 

Stevie also had a bad habit of locking us out of the bathroom and laundry when she wasn’t home. The bathroom could be accessed from both the main apartment and her bedroom, and in the morning she would lock the main access door and then exit the apartment via her bedroom, meaning we couldn’t get into the bathroom or laundry without going through her private space, which felt rude and intrusive.

Every time it happened, Michael would gently remind her that about the communal nature of the bathroom/laundry, and every day she would lock it again.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #6:
Do try to avoid blocking your roommates’ access to the amenities. Such behaviour may be misconstrued as being unhelpful.

Of course, the “intrusive  and rude” feeling of having to go into Stevie’s room eventually dissipated, especially after I had to go in there to retrieve a stolen item. When I wasn’t home, she had pulled the Australia-to-USA power adaptor off the end of my laptop power cord and plugged it in in her room. On another occasion, after the Missing Australia-to-USA Power Adaptor Incident, Michael found a spare adaptor for me, but when he went to fetch it from where he’d put it, it had disappeared too. And then, as we approached the end of the sublet and Michael prepared to move to Europe, Stevie kept taking Michael’s things from the kitchen and squirrelling them away with her own kitchen items.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #7:
Don’t steal. I mean. Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with you.

By the time the sublet had ended, as sad as I was to leave my gorgeous street in a gorgeous neighbourhood of Manhattan, I was kind of happy to leave the nightmare of Stevie behind. Back out to my “family home” in Pearl River, with the rite of passage of a shitty New York roommate well and truly travailed.

Even if she did ruin it by being Australian.

AND from Sydney.

62) January 2017-March 2017. Pearl River, New York 10965

A tiny house sits halfway up a tiny hill in a tiny town 35 minutes north of Manhattan. It’s definitely a town, because the sign on the main street says the word “town” seventy-five times.

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go: PEARL RIVER TOWN OF FRIENDLY PEOPLE TOWN OF ORANGETOWN

Then again, I come from a state that has a city called Townsville, so who am I to judge?

In a beautiful piece of town history that sounds like a B-plot from The Vicar of Dibley, Pearl River is not the town’s original name—as evidenced by the distinct lack of any river, stream, creek, tributary or canal with the name “Pearl River” nearby. (Then again, I lived in a town called Tin Can Bay, and the bay was always pristine and free of non-perishables, so who am I to judge?) In its early days, the town had actually been called Muddy Creek. But who wants to visit a place called Muddy Creek?

Oh, what could have been (and yes, this does represent the very best of my Photoshop skills. I’m sorry)

And so they set about revamping the community’s PR with a swift name change. Keep in mind, this was hundreds of years before anyone even had a business Instagram account, so for the townspeople to be aware of #branding way back then is some tremendous forward thinking.

So. The tiny house on the tiny hill in the tiny town (of Pearl River formerly Muddy Creek Town of Friendly People Town of Orangetown) is where I first moved when I came to America on January 21st, 2017.

That tree is the perfect paparazzi foil

The tiny house is occupied by Tracey & her fiancé Chris, Tracey’s two kids Dance & Hockey (to maintain the privacy of the underage I am substituting their names for their main hobbies), and the family’s two dogs Big-Eyed Horse and Needy Petulance (the dogs are also underage, so…). And, for three months earlier this year, the house was also occupied by me.

How do five people, one normal-sized dog and one walrus-sized dog fit into a diminutive space? Tessellation, mostly. Oh, and by me living in the basement.

Yes, I got to serve neckbeard internet troll fantasy realness by being a man in his thirties living in the basement of a family home.

It was wonderful.

If you ask Tracey about my basement digs, she’ll immediately start apologising for it. She’ll say it’s too dark, it’s not pretty enough, there isn’t enough nice furniture, it’s too loud, it’s too bright, it’s too quiet, it’s too small, the wall is lumpy, it’s a cavern, a dungeon, a prison, a cellar. She started apologising for my living arrangements back in January and she only just ran out of things to apologise for yesterday.  But honestly, it was a wonderful set up. I had a bed and a couch (okay the bed was also the couch, but I like my furniture like I like my men: versatile), a plush rug, and the family’s spare basement TV. And can I point out? The “spare” “basement” TV is the biggest TV I have ever had the good fortune to sit in front of. The TV is so big I got sunburnt watching Mad Max. The TV is so big I got vertigo playing Uncharted on the PlayStation. The TV is so big my eyes have indeed gone square, just like my mum always threatened they would, but they’re now also the size of iPads.

Regardless, it was in this small underground cinema that I first started navigating life as a resident of New York. The state, if not yet the city.

Step One: Doing that thing all Australians do when they get to the northern hemisphere where they photograph themselves in a scarf and beanie in January with that look of surprise and delight, like “LOOK I’M WEARING A SCARF AND BEANIE IN JANUARY!” (I didn’t say it was inventive, cool or insightful, I just said it’s a thing we do.)

Turns out “starting a new life” is harder than expected. Not because of jetlag, or culture shock, or loneliness, or fear of the unknown, or even having to find a whole new favourite brand of laundry detergent. It’s just real hard to open a bank account.

See, like most Australian kids, I got my first bank account in my first grade of school, and I didn’t even have to do anything. It was 1986, and a very boring man from the Commonwealth Bank came to our class to give us all “Dollarmite Accounts”.

And that was it. We all had bank accounts. For the rest of our lives, opening any other account (or really doing any form of official business anywhere) was a piece of cake because we all had official identities in the finance world thanks to these furry squid-looking bastards.

Turns out “furry squid-looking bastards” don’t carry much clout at JP Morgan Chase.

To open a bank account in the United States I needed a Social Security card, three forms of identification, two different documents that prove my address, a letter from my employer, a lock of hair from an immediate family member, exactly 15 ounces of duck a l’orange, a utility bill, the Orb of Thesulah, the answer to the riddle “what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening?” and at least five dollars.

It took nearly three months, but eventually I amassed enough paperwork to open my first American bank account. Then, and only then, could I finally I start living my life as an official New York resident.

Except then I learnt about “credit ratings”.

61) December 2016-January 2017. Algester, QLD 4115

So this day was always going to come. That I managed to stay in High Street Thornbury for the whole time I was publishing this blog, all through performing the show adaptation, up to almost Christmas 2016 was in and of itself a miracle. Two and a half years I lived there, the second longest amount of time I’ve spent in any one house!

But it’s happened.

Portrait of the artist with all his shit packed up into three bags

Portrait of the artist with all his shit packed up into three bags

I’ve moved again.

Twice!

However the rule of this blog is one story for every address so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One at a time.

In June 2016 I went on a holiday to New York. For the fourth time. Since 2005, I’ve been overseas five times—six if you count New Zealand, but I forgot to buy ingredients for Kiwi Dip to bring home and I didn’t even get jet lag so I’m disqualifying the whole trip—and 80% of those times I’ve been to New York because I’ve loved it so much. People used to scoff at me when I said I was going to New York again. “You know there are other countries in the world, right?” Yes but none of them have General Tso’s chicken so cram it.

tso

By far the best thing about America DO NOT @ ME you know in your heart I’m right PS watch the General Tso’s documentary on Netflix

On this fourth trip to New York, after eleven years of coveting the city quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop), something was different. I was tired of coveting quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop). I was tired of wishing and dreaming. After many long discussions with Tracey, a woman I’ve known since my first trip in 2005 and my dearest NY friend, I made the decision: I was going to move there.

I spent the next six months quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop) planning. Researching visas, talking to an immigration lawyer, working multiple extra jobs to raise money (my record was four jobs at once; I was very tired), ruthlessly culling my belongings. By December, I was ready.

My visa, however, was not.

So I did what any self-respecting adult would do when they find themselves in a brief limbo: I moved in with a parent.

And that’s how I, at 36 years of age, lived with my Dad for the very first time.

Thank you, Google Maps for providing a heavenly nimbus for the last house I ever lived at in Australia.

I wrote on another blog how this was a thing that nearly happened when I was 12, but then didn’t. I won’t rehash it here, because I already wrote it and went to therapy about it, but it’s there to read if you need a recap. Plus I don’t want to bog down in the negativity of why I didn’t live with my Dad until I was 36. I want to be positive and focus on how lucky I am! Not everyone gets a do-over 24 years later!

Okay, so it was only for a month, and for the entire time I was there, two giant suitcases sat in the corner of my bedroom containing all my worldly possessions, giving the whole experience a distinctly surreal quality. But still. It counts.

Dad and Fran have been living in the same house since the early 1990s. This house and my Uncle Ken & Aunty Sharon’s house in Capalaba are the only two houses that have been a constant since my early childhood (and even Ken & Sharon demolished their house and built a new one, so technically it’s only the lawn that has been constant). It was comforting but very odd, after a lifetime of new addresses, to go back to a house that has barely changed since I was 10.

Here’s what I learnt: living with a parent at 36 is not much different from living with a parent as a child. I was fed almost constantly, my clothes were always washed and folded and left on my bed, and on weekends I did jobs out in the yard.

Of course, the whole time I was there, a cloud of uncertainty hung over my head. I had no idea whether or not the visa allowing me to move to New York was going to be approved, so I was stressed and anxious the entire time. It took a physical toll on me: I was not sleeping well at night, so I was napping during the day, and sometimes I was so moody I didn’t speak for hours at a time. I guess for Dad and Fran it was like having a teenager in the house.

And then, on January 18, 2017, I got the news: My visa had been approved, and I was moving to New York. So on January 21, Dad and Fran saw off their adult son as he moved halfway across the world.

Christopher, Dad, Fran

Me, my dad, and my dad’s partner of 20-something years, Fran. Getting the two of them into a photo is like trying to get a photo of the Loch Ness Monster, but clearly the emotional weight of an offspring’s emigration eclipsed their preference for maintaining near-mythological status.

All in all, they’d had the kid version of me, the teen version of me, and the adult version of me. We squeezed the whole experience into 32 days!

(I mean, Fran certainly squeezed a lifetime’s worth of ironing into 32 days? You haven’t lived until you’ve put on a pair of ironed underpants. The only thing of mine she didn’t iron was my shoes, and I bet you a dollar she was thinking about it.)

I’m so glad the last thing I did before I left the country was spend Christmas with my mum, sister, brother, brother-in-law and new baby niece, and then spend a month living with my Dad. It gave me a nice closing chapter before I said goodbye to Australia…

…to start a whole new chapter.

60) 2014-2016. High Street, Thornbury VIC 3071

In May of 2014, I was sitting at work beside Cassie; my supervisor with whom I shared a desk. We were discussing Cassie’s plans to lease a commercial space in Thornbury from which she and her partner of ten years, Paul, could run their film production company, as well as live. They had found a perfect place, but the residence above the studio had one too many bedrooms. Cassie was toying with the idea of taking the place anyway, and getting in a boarder.

I guess you can see where this is heading: I became the boarder.

I gave notice at the Thornbury Crap Museum, and the three of us spent several weekends fixing up the new studio/residence. The shower and hot water system were replaced, leaks in the roof and holes in the floor were filled in, and the glass shop frontage was cleaned. We also ripped up the horrible carpets, polished the floorboards and painted everything. With free range of colours to choose from, I painted my room red.

Carpets, holes, sanding off layers of floor: with the exception of the painting, every task seemed to involve taking off a layer of something to reveal something even grosser underneath.

After nearly a month of DIY work, packing and moving, on the first weekend in July 2014, we were finally ready to move in. By Saturday afternoon, we’d taken up our new residence on High Street.

IMG_5805

My bedroom, before and after.

By Saturday night, Cassie and Paul had broken up.

IMG_9557

Me, at the time. And I assume you, now.

It was at this point that I realised, finally, in my 60th house, that I will never have control over this lifelong habit of moving around and having weird shit happen. So rather than panicking and moving out again, I leaned into it. I continued nesting. I set up The Thornbury Crap Museum II, and I stayed.

IMG_5810

Just so we’re clear: “Crap Museum” doesn’t refer to the quality of the building; it is a specific reference to all the crap I own and nest with.

I’ve now been living here for nearly fourteen months. That makes the Thornbury Crap Museum II third in the list of places I’ve lived the longest. And it is wonderful. Unconventional, but wonderful. Cassie and Paul both still live here; after the break up Cassie moved into what had been, for those first four hours after we moved in, the walk-in pantry. She still lives in that pantry, but now shares it with her new husband, who she married just this month, and who is also called Paul. (As a result of this bizarre coincidence, it is a house rule that I not date anybody called Paul, for fear the confusion would just become too much.) We share this place with a very large old dog who behaves like a cat, and so far it’s working out great. And that’s weird.

If anything, I think the weirdness of our situation has made us all braver. All four of us have taken huge leaps outside our comfort zones since being here. Cassie and I both quit our full time jobs in December last year to pursue our artistic endeavours; Cassie to run the film studio full time, me to pursue acting and writing as a real and proper thing. One Paul dove headfirst into an avalanche of projects, both through his regular job and through the film studio, and is discovering for the first time what parts of film production really yank his chain. And the other Paul is discovering, after years of travelling without any real grounding, what it’s like to put down roots and have a home. This weird, ramshackle box is both a sanctuary and a haven for weird ideas. The situation I currently live in could not be more unconventional, and yet I love it.

It’s also, obviously, impermanent. I mean. I have no intention of going anywhere in the immediate future, but by description alone it is clear this is not the place I’m going to retire and grow old in. There will be at least one more move in my future (and if my track record is anything to go by, probably several). But that doesn’t matter. If anything, it adds to the comfort of living here.

Besides, what better way to end Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore than with a story that is obviously not any kind of end at all?

59) 2013-2014. Smith Street, Thornbury VIC 3071

Moving house as the result of a break up was another first for me. The move to Smith Street happened in a blur of heartbreak, panic and a very real struggle with the “fight or flight” response. Considering that, it’s a wonder I found a place I liked as much as I did. I mean, during that first week I was barely in a position to get up off the floor, let alone look for a place to live: you could have advertised a cardboard box with “THERE ARE NO PAINFUL MEMORIES HERE” written on it and I would have submitted an application to live in it.

All I knew was that I need to live alone. I did not want to inflict my emotional state on anybody else, and besides: it had been nine years since my last solo dwelling, and I was ready to try it again. It was absolutely the right choice.

smith

The Thornbury Crap Museum (I was top right corner): It might not look like much, but to me it was a glorious haven I will always remember fondly.

That said, it was kind of a dump. The kitchen consisted of four different design patterns: the linoleum tiles, the contact on the cupboards, the contact behind the cupboards, and the splashback tiles were all different, and not a single one complemented the other. Nor did a single one of those things complement the rich maroon of the windowsills, so really the whole room was like some kind of complicated eye test you could only hope to fail.

Things didn’t get any better in the bathroom. The water pressure in the shower was comparable with being piddled on by an excited puppy. The only difference between the two is that puppy piddle doesn’t come out the temperature of lava. The only way the hot water could be adjusted was by touching the cold water tap: literally  only touching, like opening an app on a phone, because any greater movement and the water would go ice cold immediately.

Half of the light switches had been pushed inside the switch panel, meaning I tended to use my own lamps, because sticking my finger into a hole in the wall didn’t seem like the safest way to make lights go on.

I also had a weird neighbour who kept a folding chair in a comfortable corner on the far right side of the balcony. The thing is, said comfortable corner was nowhere near his door, but rather very close to both my door and the access point for all the upstairs apartments. This made it weird when he sat there, which he did a lot. Every time I came home, even before I made it to the top of the stairs to my front door, I could feel I was being watched. I started to feel like Atreyu at the Southern Oracle; this neighbour became known as The Sphinx.

first-gate-of-the-southern-oracle

Admittedly, neither the breasts nor the wings of my neighbour were this majestic.

During the warmer months he was there day and night. He would either be reading the paper, or smoking what I can only assume were metre-long joints, judging from all the smoke that wafted in through my lounge room window. Yeah, on top of being a self-appointed weirdo sentry guard for the building, he also hotboxed my apartment for the entire summer.

Not that the flat needed his help being a hotbox: it retained heat like a motherfucker. During the week-long heatwave in January 2014, I discovered it was possible to reduce peanut butter to the consistency of gravy; a discovery as surprising as it was delicious.

So the light switches, the water pressure, the decor, the neighbours and the insulation were all bollocks. And this whole hot mess of bollocks was located twenty metres away from a train line. Sure, this was super convenient for public transport, but the trains crossed each other right outside my flat, and they always, always, always honked hello at each other as they passed. I mean, I was happy they had such a supportive camaraderie in their workplace, but shit.

train in the rain

I took this from my kitchen window. Note the passing train, and my proximity to same.

So yeah, it was a dump. But it was my dump. And just like all my dumps,  it was very satisfying. It didn’t matter that the place was falling apart; hell, I was so close to falling apart, we made an excellent matching set.

And it helped. Having the Thornbury Crap Museum as a sanctuary meant I didn’t let things overwhelm me at work. I resisted the urge to give up on this project and instead I kept writing the stories. I even started doing more theatre. If I’d been falling apart at the beginning, I eventually started putting myself back together.

So why am I not still there in that clearly wizard-like ramshackle cave? Well, there are some people who just shouldn’t live on their own for too long. I didn’t think I was one of those people; I thought I had a disposition that was more than suitable to long-term solitude. But around about the time I found myself trying to use a broadsword to dispose of the spider I’d killed because I didn’t want to get any closer to touching it than I absolutely had to…

image1

Get off your eight knees, you tiny fuck, I’m not trying to knight you. Oh okay fine I DUB THEE SIR LEGSALOT NOW GET THE FUCK IN MY BIN

…was the time I started to realise that maybe I don’t do well without adult human company.

58) 2012-2013. Barkly Street, Carlton VIC 3053

I left Brunswick after 17 months to do two things I’d never done before: 1) live in Carlton 2) with a boyfriend. Tom. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT. I know. It had only taken nearly ten years.

barkly

Cute as a button, right? A cold, brown, weirdly squished button.

The little house in Carlton was perfect for Tom and me. It had a private courtyard, high ceilings, a huge bay window at the front, and an archway at the entrance FILLED with dicks.

wang manor

I meeeeeeean…

We did not notice this when we inspected the property. It was not weighing on our minds when we filled out the application. Nobody mentioned it to us when we signed the lease and picked up the keys. But on the day we moved in, after we’d already moved our third truckload of furniture into the house, our friend Matt, who was helping us move, looked up and immediately exclaimed “HAHA, COCKS.”

And lo, Wang Manor (name #1) was born.

Here’s the thing: the idea for Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore came to life while I was living at Pottery Court, and there were still only 57 addresses. Back at that early stage I had no idea how I was going to finish it. But then I moved to Buckingham Phallus (name #2), and I realised I had the perfect, traditional happy ending: I’d stopped the sharehousing merry-go-round, and I lived in a little home with my partner. Everything was aces, and that’s how I was going to end it: I was chuffed as fuck and twice as smug.

So why would this blog be advertising sixty houses when clearly this is the happy ending and I’ve lived here in fairytale bliss ever since? Let me answer that question with a question: Is this your FIRST time reading this blog? Of course I moved again. Of course everything went sadly, heartbreakingly tits-up. Of course it did.

Ah, breaking up in the digital age: when even your saddest day gets a filtered Instagram photo at the intersection of “brittle” and “twee”. Millennials, am I right?

All the other sad stories in this blog have had, with the benefit of time, an emotional moat built around them. I can tell them in gloriously morbid detail without so much as a twinge. Not so this story: it hinges on something I still find quite sad. However, I am determined not to fall down a sinkhole of blues-heavy navel-gazing, nor do I want to focus on what led, once again, to me moving house because ughhhhhhh I’m not Nicholas Sparks. So I’m going to tell a happy story from my time at the Bitz-Carlton (name #3).

LUCKILY, my clearest memory is also the best. It’s about an activity we invented called “Rubenising”, borne of a habit we got into during the colder months (which, in the Taj Mahard-on [name #4] was all of them).

The bathroom at 10-inch Downing St (name #5) was small and oddly shaped. As a pair of gentlemen who were medium and oddly shaped, this made drying ourselves upon getting out of the shower a challenge. Perhaps the first solution would have been to shower separately, but shut up: it felt romantic. (Also our hot water system was the size of a Thermos, but mostly the romantic thing.)

Eventually we got into the habit of one person dashing to the bedroom, which required running past the gas heater installed in the the converted fireplace. Eventually one of us had the stroke of genius to just stop at the heater and turn it on. And so began a new ritual.

After we showered, we would race to the heater, and dry ourselves there, letting the heat assist the process. Over time, “vigorously drying ourselves in front of the heater” became “half-heartedly drying ourselves in front of the heater”. This in turn became “standing in front of the heater hardly moving at all” and eventually we gave up the pretence of even attempting to dry ourselves: we would simply lay out our towels on the carpet and lie on top of them, butt naked, and let the heater do our drying and warming for us. We became so reliant on this process we started factoring it into our “getting ready” time when we had to leave the house.

On one occasion Tom used the adjective “Rubenesque” to describe our nude, wet resplendence, which led to the verb “Rubenising”. This, in turn, led to the rule that you weren’t allowed to Rubenise unless you sang “Rubeniser, Rubeniser, Rubeniser” while you did it. Was there a melody to this song? OF COURSE THERE WAS.

I will always be a little bit sad that I had to leave The Hanging Gardens of Grab-a-schlong (name #6); not least of all for the reason I had to leave. But the time I spent there was pure joy from start to (just before the) finish, and I’m choosing to focus on that.

And while I was, for a long time, disappointed that I didn’t have the neat ending for this series of stories that I wanted—so much so that I did, for longer than I’m willing to admit, give up the idea of writing them altogether—I did learn a valuable lesson. Simply: you’re never at the end.