With transit in Saigon and Paris, my flight time reaching Tel Aviv is exactly twenty-four hours.
The transition is not merely countries, but I will be leaving the peaceful safety of my home and into the occupied territories, where armed soldiers freely walk with AK47s and are at liberty to interrogate and take what they want from me, where people are killed by snipers from long distances and where one can be detained without charge. Am I afraid? From the world’s most liveable city to a refugee camp, from the freedom of my life in Australia into the restricted and immobile space where I am at a much higher risk of being killed? Of course I am scared.
It is in moments like this where you are confronted with guilt or with regret, where you find yourself wishing you could have said something that you buried within, or even reminisce on love and all that is beautiful and sad. Who are you and what have you done with your life? Who do you love, your family, friends? We can all imagine ourselves to be as honest as St. Augustine, but the truth is that most of us are – either intentionally or unintentionally – liars, especially when things are comfortable. We sometimes knowingly deceive and try to keep up appearances despite the utter exhaustion and anxiety doing this, and other times we are genuinely unaware of what we or others are doing. The long-haul flight has me thinking about the past, present and future, sometimes the echoes of the pointlessness of my existence and the futility in everything that I do, but mostly I think about what it is that I want in life.
The Past: Erotic Love
As I meander through Ho Chi Minh airport waiting in transit, the endless supply of lollies and souvenirs compelled me to crunch down some freeze-dried durian crisps, despite the empty calories. I am an extreme minimalist although I am a great cook, eating what is necessary as Dozer from The Matrix would approve given the sludge they ate: “It’s a single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. Everything the body needs.” These delicious pieces of dried fruit are not what the body needs neither was the disgusting airline food, so I do feel guilty. I then remind myself that it is a much deserved delight given the next twelve hours will be spent flying into Paris and the anxiety of having to sit in close proximity beside a stranger is too difficult to digest, so let me digest something sweet!
It initiates thoughts leading to this confession. I am not going to deny it, but despite all that I do – from my profession to my creative pursuits, or hiking and travelling – it seems that only one man has occupied my thoughts for a long time. I will admit that over the last three and a half years, I have thought about him everyday and I oscillate between love and anger, hope and hopelessness, the latter becoming more and more ever since he made it abundantly clear when he recently refused to even say hello despite seeing me. I think the reason he never left my thoughts was because my heart was unsettled, because he never allowed me to speak or to retrieve the answers I needed to lay things to rest.
The truth is, I did love him. There, I said it! Although it is completely insane, that is what I felt and I was embarrassed to admit that for a number of reasons, claiming it was brotherly love. It wasn’t. I was compelled by erotic love. Everything about him was wrong, reason and logic told me something completely different because he behaved like a moron and his lifestyle remains far from anything that I would admire or respect, but I still felt something. It was terribly confusing. It is like my intuition spoke to me without words and told me he was the one and that has never happened to me before, not with anyone. It was everything else that was sensible and logical telling me to run the other direction, to push him away and indeed all his wrongdoing created the silly things that occurred between us.
I often asked myself what did he want as I hated all the games and feeling like I needed to lie just to communicate with him – which was why I was compelled to confront him physically as though saying ‘here I am’ with my presence – but then I realised the question I should be asking is what do I want? He once said to me that his girlfriend controls him and he has no idea how, which I guess is not that surprising. I cannot be with a man who doesn’t know what he wants, where I would have to manipulate and indirectly convince him to stay with me. I want a man to want me and for him to clearly articulate that, as an equal, someone who feels a strong desire to be my friend and admires me for what I do and how I think. The question what do I want? was enough to make me stop chasing a ghost and to really think about the value of my own personhood and I guess in some respects I should thank him for that.
I can write about everything wrong about him, but the reality is that I loved him and he doesn’t know neither did he reciprocate any feelings, that I have traditional standards of male/female courting and that I am someone that a man needs to earn and fight for, a challenge he refused. An unrequited love story really, nothing spectacular. It feels great admitting that I really did have feelings for him rather than trying to make excuses or attack him or deny my feelings as I have been doing for quite sometime. I felt something real and it was very powerful.
I have left the possibility of encountering him in public with the hope he may be encouraged to say something to me, I have moved far away and intentionally disconnected from the online forum where his ghost haunted me and what originally compelled me to return. I don’t mind indulging in the hope that he may one day find the courage to sit with me and talk as two adults and two friends, something I would have been deeply grateful for and perhaps the reason for my activities the last year. But sometimes you have no choice but to live with the scar. I smile at my now healthy, plump 59kg body that is no longer starved as I was several years ago, of how I am no longer sad and heartbroken as I was when flying out to Italy in 2015. I am rested, my soul at peace today. My voluptuously athletic womanhood is a testament to the improvement of my mental health and I look forward to meeting someone else who has the courage the person I fell for lacked, to find a man that is not vain and who does not tolerate the things I find intolerable. I am eager to fall in love again as the new me.
The Present: Me
It was only a few hours before I landed in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to pass the horrible time flying for almost twelve hours that I watched Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander who was refreshing for her honest and powerful appearance and I suddenly understood what envy can feel like.
I want adventure!
And here I am on my way to make a documentary. Suddenly, I am overcome by the dread that I will ruin everything because of my lack of experience, especially with audio. As said by George Lucas:
“I feel that sound is half the experience… filmmakers should focus on making sure the soundtracks are really the best they can possibly be because in terms of an investment, sound is where you get the most bang for your buck.”
My thoughts seemed to be occupied by the fear I am going to ruin the whole experience because I am not that confident in my audio skills. I have a Takstar SGC-598 Shotgun Microphone that I will use on a Panasonic GH4 and I have tested it and it works perfectly well. It is directional, however, and in the case of filming groups of people in a room, the audio will clearly need to done more adequately. I could not afford wireless lavalier mics to attach on the main people, although I do have one Rode wired lavalier with an extension cord that I can connect to the DSLR and great for any one person interview I might do. To manage the group thing, I needed a condenser microphone that I could attach to a boom, but the costs of anything good and the weight it would add to my pack made it an issue for me given that I am completely broke. I instead purchased a Tascam DR-40 that I believe works really well in concert environments and any echoes can be removed in post. I may try and attach the Tascam to a boom pole with some duct tape if I have trouble feeding the voices into the inbuilt mics. I wish there were inflatable boom operators slash audio experts I could take with me!
Take a deep breath, I think to myself, and remember this is just something small, something so many others have done before me. I am learning, experiencing, going on an adventure both morally and mentally. And I am excited.
The Future: My Family
I open the window to see the sunrise before we land in Tel Aviv and such is the beauty! The slithers of pastel pink and purple wave over the tidal sky like sand underwater, burnt orange shattering the horizon that blinded me from the screen in front of me that played the pianist Shoshana Michel‘ A Prelude to A Dream, perfect for this moment between me and the stunning sunrise high above the clouds. The contrails left from the planes tear across the skyscape like a sword slicing through fog, the lid of grey mushrooms below was blinded by the glare until suddenly the light came together and awakened the view.
It is nice to stretch the legs after such a long flight where I was trapped in the window isle for twelve hours and I feel dystrophic. This exhaustion is aligned with my somewhat indifference to Paris and I am glad that I am leaving, despite the nationwide celebrations for winning the world cup. I am not a tourist, I like to get lost in cities walking around and visiting strange and quiet places, including gardeans and galleries. While I am happy for the country and intrigued by the politics behind sports that is reminiscent of the Roman Empire, it is not the time to feel like a mouse among millions of drunk people and the garbage they seem to produce.
I think that my attitude is telling of how I am as a person, that while I am happy for others and what they choose to do with their life, I much prefer the quiet solitude of home. A home has always been what I wanted, for someone to actually love me where together we can provide for one another. It is funny, for most people that is normal, a given, but it is something I have never had and that safety and togetherness is what I long for. It is probably the reason why I feel a little glad that I am navigating back to my parents and have begun communication with them, building a new relationship and a new way of living. Despite the difficulties of a past of wrongdoing, my focus is only on the future and only strengthening our bond. To get to know them as they are or the people that they are and not because they are my parents.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
My mother has changed considerably, she is showing more affection and is responsive and happy, something that she never was before. My father has changed too, he is calm and we can have some great conversations about history and politics. He seems to have bonded well with my sister’s husband, Mark, who is American and I think he admires how he treats my sister and their daughter. He told me that I am the only person who he feared to hurt and always wanted my blessing and approval as I would always respond and fight back as a child, leaving home when I was very young because I disapproved of his behaviour toward my mothers, the violence culturally embedded and normalised.
While I admit that it is strange to have started a relationship with my parents, they still remain somewhat alien to me. I am not Turkish, I am not drawn to the culture at all and feel no connection to it. I felt more at home in Tel Aviv then I did trawling through the streets of Istanbul. I feel no emotional love for anything it offers other than the experience a tourist would have. It makes me understand them better and why we never connected or formed a bond. My siblings are a different story, there is still some work that needs to be done with them because they are not excused for their behaviour given that we were raised in the same environment and I was never as cruel as they had become. I was belittled for a considerable amount of time by most of them that I lost the opportunity to learn about my own identity.
My respect is something earned, however if I remove those expectations that I have in others and take a relativistic approach, that if I remove the emotions I feel for a negative history and instead try to understand who they are from a sociological and psychoanalytical method, I can work through the emotions that I feel and I simply love that challenge. It is navigating and creating a better future, a positive one.