Dear Industrial Area that I call home,
Firstly, thanks for this morning. You know how I like it when you wake me up like that: with the windy whoosh of a car on the distant highway, a screeching chorus of rainbow birds as they fly towards the best view in Freo to hang upside down and flirt, a minuet squeaked on a violin from the neighbouring music school, all slowed down and syncopated in a way that tells me the instrument is small. Warm streams of gold drip light around the grooves of my eye socket and down my chin. I swear I’ll never get curtains, even though I worry that the invisible people who must work at the accountancy next door know more about me than I dare imagine.
I’m writing you this letter, though, because we need to talk. I think you’ve realised by now that I don’t spend those Thursday and Sunday nights at yoga. That, when I return so late at night to your unofficial nature reserves – where barbed wire hems in classical weeds, and holes in fences invite dogs and their walkers to breathe the charged air from the electricity station – my skin does not taste of other peoples’ Bikram sweat. You have probably noticed the smells of trucky intersection fumes in my hair; the tiny bitumen nuggets that tickle the floor as I remove my sneakers. I’m afraid that it is exactly what it sounds like. I’ve been with Freo again. But I can explain. Please please please let me explain.
You’ve got to understand, I was born in that neighbourhood. From the hot day where I entered the world: in the front room, watched by my dog and serenaded by sounds of Play School drifting down the hall. Staying there until my twenty-first year, that place shaped me. If it weren’t for its closeness to everything-I-ever-wanted, by now I might be blowing pay-checks on rego and petrol instead of long, cheap, hungover lunches with friends sharing embarrassing stories.
Despite being bound by the same postcode, the two of you couldn’t be more different. And the differences… well they get to me sometimes. Your quietness, for example. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Michael is fab, and I’ll always be grateful to you for giving me a friendly billionaire next door, whose mineral water lap pool with the window in the side is always there and waiting for the days when housemates are too drunk to drive to the beach. But… it’s kind of weird having only one neighbour. Or maybe that’s just me. I miss the evening chatter across the road from mums, when all the rehabilitating ex-prisoners would come out of their apartment for soup van dinner. I miss waking up at dad’s to noisy, jammy traffic tooting outside, and the walks home from school where cars frequently honked-when-they-were-horny. And you really are too far from the beach… and the cheap fruit and veg… and the free samples from the markets and the movies and the bus stop where you never wait more than five minutes for a three minute ride to the station when it’s raining or I’m late or my ankle’s rolled.
I’m so sorry for not being honest with you up until now. And I hope I haven’t hurt you to a point of no return. But… if I’m going to stay with you, you’re going to have to be okay with me having dinner at my ex’s twice a week. Just dinner, I swear. I do this because I love you. And I want things to work out between us. And for that to happen I can’t just pretend the first twenty-one years of my existence didn’t happen.
I really hope you understand,
And I’m sorry,
And I love you,
Alana White | @mmmmmmalana
Love Letters to Perth Suburbs is inspired by the amazing work of Love Letters Zine. It’s an independent, printed publication dedicated to femme/non-binary people in music. It’s pretty phenomenal, and you can find out more about Love Letters from their Facebook Page or by following Love Letters on Instagram.