Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling oddly ghostly

I've let the blog do that thing where I keep promising myself that as soon as strange and wonderful things stop happening for a day I'll update it. And meanwhile so many things keep happening.

I'm blogging now, not as a report on what I've been doing but because I wanted to remember this:

I'm in Sydney right now. Tomorrow, Amanda and friends and I are taking over Australia Day at the Opera House. I was sitting in the little apartment room the Festival gave us working on the thing I hope to finish and read tomorrow night, when my computer screen turned off. I realised the computer was unplugged, and that Amanda (who was back at the Opera House doing press) had borrowed the Australian adapter plug (we had more, but left them behind us as we travelled).

So I went out to buy a couple of new adapters, so I'd have one, and so I could leave her another spare one when I left.

I wandered past sushi shops and backpacker places and Thai takeways and tobacconists in the hot Sydney summer evening sun. Last night Amanda (who is vastly amused by my complete lack of hooker recognition skills) had pointed out the hookers to me, and I saw a couple of the ladies she had pointed out to me coming on duty, looking wary in the daylight.

There were a couple - a man and a woman, both in their twenties at a guess, both shorter than I am and dark-haired, looking into a shop window, with their backs to me. The woman had a tattoo on her shoulderblade - writing - and because I cannot pass writing without reading it, I glanced at it. Part of the writing was covered by a strap.

But I could still read it. And I knew what the words covered by the strap were.

The tattoo was a lot like this (which is to say, the same content, and similar typeface, but probably not the same person. I'm already trying to remember if it was the left or the right shoulderblade):

(I took that photo from here.)(Thank you Google Image Search)

I read the tattoo, read words I had written to try and exorcise my own small demons eighteen years ago, and I felt like a ghost. As if, for a moment, under the hot Sydney sun, I was only an idea of a person and not a real person at all.

I didn't introduce myself to her or say anything (it didn't even occur to me to say hello, in all honesty). I just walked home, through a world that felt flimsier and infinitely stranger than it had that morning.

I don't know why it affected me like that. But it did.

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