Sydney, Kings Cross
We went down some escalators and into Coles and down some more escalators and into aisle nine.
It felt wild to be holding hands in a place that actually had an aisle nine.
To be together between the ‘frozen desserts/meats section’ and the ‘hyper packaged baby food/toilet amenities section’.
People everywhere: buying things around us and buying things above us.
The first thing we saw were these ‘plastic tubular hangars’ all hanging together, sometimes touching, kind of spooning one another.
And next to them some ‘triangular double adaptors’ that someone had joined together almost in a circle.
The almost-circled ‘triangular double adaptors’ looked like this:
It was kinda like they had all been a family once, or maybe a group of friends, except then maybe Sue or Tom or Linda had plugged into other adaptors/walls and had gone to live somewhere else.
It reminded me of something.
It reminded me of being born and doing things and meeting people and leaving and doing those things no more.
It reminded me of the movies and the world.
Close by was this ‘Organic FRIDA’ coffee sitting all alone between a group of light globes.
The ‘Organic FRIDA coffee’ looked like this:
Olivia said, “How’d you get there, ‘Organic FRIDA coffee’?”
And I wondered how it did get there.
I imagined its journey from somewhere far away, maybe from aisle two, maybe picked up by an overweight man with a t-shirt that said ‘NO MONEY NO HONEY’, and how, maybe, at the last minute before getting some frozen pastry, the overweight man had gone, “Naaaaa”, leaving it sort of crooked between some things it had never seen.
Earlier in the year when I was travelling in Laos and Thailand I cried a lot because of feeling lonely and generally not enjoying the company of anyone around me.
I felt generally depressed because of ‘backpacking’ and ‘backpackers’ and existing within a culture that seemed to me mostly fucked and selfish and exploitative somehow.
In the past, when I was younger, I’d gotten ‘fucked up’ at the hostel every night with kids on their gap year and I’d had, mostly, a great time – except on this trip I realised I didn’t want that.
I wanted something more but I didn’t know what that was or how to find it.
I kept staring at the ‘Organic FRIDA coffee’.
And I realised what I should have done was go to some gigs or to the library or make a Tinder account – not to sleep with people but to meet people, boys and girls and others who lived in the places I was visiting, who could show me around, who could show me their city: places I had never been.
I thought how the ‘Organic FRIDA coffee’ was doing that right now.
And that, maybe, I was looking at growth.
That, maybe, what I was looking at was beautiful.
Olivia was behind me staring at some toilet paper that had dogs marketing the toilet paper.
It seemed like the most #YOLO toilet paper.
Because of the dogs and how dogs are super #YOLO.
The #YOLO toilet paper looked like this:
Several metres away, beneath the less #YOLO toilet paper, it looked like a bunch of trolleys had crashed in a head-on collision.
And I stared at the trolleys and thought: that’s how quick it can happen.
That’s how quick everything can change.
We kept walking.
There were some torches nearby maybe huddling and laughing and playing together.
Like a bunch of puppies.
I stared at the torches and named each one of them.
I named them Steven and Bruce and Skip and Jasmine and Grettle and Pound and Lyla.
And I thought about how insane it was that life could go from huddling and laughing and playing with friends to feeling truly lonely and lost and cold somewhere.
I thought how insane it was that life could go from that to this:
Somewhere, someone yelled, “HORSESHIT.”
And I was like, “Yeah, man.”
Fucking horseshit, right.
The ‘COLES smart buy Beef Lasagne’ looked so cold that I needed to do something.
I wanted to help.
I remembered there was some study done that basically says being alone and depressed can be worse than smoking cigarettes and boozing every night.
So I moved the ‘COLES smart buy Beef Lasagne’ back with his friends and it looked like this:
And I felt good about doing it except I realised I’d just assumed this was the right thing to do.
Like, I hadn’t asked permission.
I’d just been walking around aisle nine and decided to move something from point A to point B.
And I guess in the long term we can never really know if what we do is right or wrong.
But we just have to try.
We just have to be there for each other.
And walking hand-in-hand towards the end of the aisle I saw this ‘GARLIC PRAWN MEAT’ that had a ‘Quick Sale’ sticker on it that said, ‘Still Fresh’.
It looked like this:
It reminded me of this part in Sam Pink’s book Rontel where he sees a microwave on the street with a note stuck to it that says, “I still work”.
And I put my ear on the frozen face of the ‘GARLIC PRAWN MEAT’ and, for a moment, could hear it yelling.
I could hear it yelling, “Guys, I’m still fresh.”
You thought I wasn’t but I still am.
I’m still good.
And I picked it up and held it and could see it was still good.
And I promised I’d write about it.
I promised I’d say, “It’s good, guys, I can see it I promise I promise.”
I promised to do that because when I’m old and bald and wire-y I want people to know that I’m still fresh too.
I want people to know that even if I can’t dance and talk and scream I’m gonna try so hard.
That maybe I won’t be able to do anything but sit in a chair and drool.
But I’m gonna try.
Because inside my organs and hearts and bones there’ll be a fire raging.
And, oh god oh god, I hope that’s true.
I hope that when I’m close to death I’ll still feel something.
And even if I can’t I hope I’ll remember something else.
I hope I’ll remember what it used to feel like.
I hope I’ll remember that sometimes life used to feel something like this:
Oliver Mol is a Sydney-based writer. He has lived in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was the co-winner of the 2013 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and was the recipient of a 2012 Hot Desk Fellowship. His début book, Lion Attack! is out through Scribe Publications.
Illustration by Olivia Claire Chin