notes on the ecstatic subject: a private history, part 1 ( juvenelia, drowned girls)
The death mask of an unknown Parisienne, the so called L'Inconnue de la Seine.
I’m about 3 or 4. I am in my parent’s garden. There is a bed of Dutch Irises. Most of them are open, luscious. One of them is tightly closed into a bud. I reach out and gently touch it with my finger, and when I do, it springs into bloom. I run to tell my dad that I did magic on the Iris, that me and her are connected, that I woke her up. He tells me it was a co-incidence. It was not. I’m 4. I’m in my parent’s garden. I am in a white bonds singlet and I have no knickers on. It’s summer. My older brother had the Commundards cover of Don’t Leave Me This Way on vinyl and we had been playing it in our lounge room earlier that day. It was my favourite song. I made him play it again and again and again. We go out the front and I still have the music in me. I start throwing myself around the yard screaming “oooooooOOOOOOOH BABY!!!!” over and over again. I don’t know the rest of the words so I just sing those ones over and over. I am the spirit of Disco. I’m 7. I jerk off for the first time. I am shocked by the sudden shift in my body’s boundaries and capabilities. I want my friend Kara Mukerjee to know about this so I tell her all about it at school the next day, with detailed instructions on how to achieve this state which I would only much, much later know was called an orgasm. I remember telling her “it’s going to feel like you’re peeing your pants after you’ve been holding it for a long time, but you’re not, keep going.” I’m 6. I nearly drown in a hotel swimming pool. I am a confident swimmer- I could swim before I could walk. Given the chance, I would spend 6 hours a day in the water, only getting out for meals. But on this day the water turns on me. My feet lose contact with the bottom, and my head is slipping under the water. It feels like falling.
I’m 8 and I’m dancing in a flouro green leotard to Whitney Huston in my mum’s loungeroom. I Wanna Dance With Somebody was the big hit of that summer. I am also fond of Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling, and play them both on continual alternating rotation until I get yelled at. I’m 6 and i step off our back porch into the snow. It’s deeper than I am tall, my head slips below the surface and everything is white. I’m 9 and I’m friends with someone a few years older than me. She’s into Nirvana (it’s 1993). I hear Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time. I’m about 11. I have to run from the assembly hall to my classroom for some reason. I’m running with my friend Emily, who is small and skinny and a star sprinter on the Athletics team. I’m heavy and sedentry. We are running down the concrete path under the principle’s office and I am a few feet behind her. Something picks up my feet. A mysterious wind. Suddenly, I’m running fast. really really fast. It’s exquisite. Like flying. I overtake my friend by streaks. We get to the classroom and Emily stops a few feet behind me, out of breath and looking at me strangely. She says I should join the Athletics team. I try to recreate that moment- I never will. I have a recurring dream for years afterwards where I run and run and run until my feet begin to leave the ground. I’m 14, 15, 16, 17. I burn myself a lot. I have learned by this point that pain is inevitable. I have learned by this point that pain is a doorway. I am 11. I am in my first play, with the local Youth Theatre. It’s called “Transylvania High” and it’s a musical about a high-school for werewolves, vampires, witches and zombies. It’s written and directed by the Only Gay In The Village, a guy in his late 20’s called Allan Dunk (who for some reason lived in Mittagong by choice). In retrospect Allan was probably pretty Genderqueer though that was not a word that was common usage in regional NSW in 1995. Allan also starred in the play, in drag, as the school’s headmistress, Lucy Fur. I loved Allan because without having words for what I already knew I was, I knew he and I were the same. I was cast in the play as Amazing Grace, a witch who dances herself into frenzies. Little did I know I would be playing that character for the rest of my life. I take my first curtain call. I’m 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. I can’t sleep. Sometimes I go for days without sleeping. Pacing in my room. Watching rage. Sitting alone, rocking back and forth. I have my first hallucinations around this time. I hear and see things and I cannot stem the flow. I am inhabited by these things and as they grow, I shrink, leak, pulse. I am pushed beyond the limits of my skin. I know God. I know the Devil too. I realise that choosing one over the other was never an option. I’m 14 and I’m in my first mosh pit. Blood sweat skin bone gristle spit. Buoyed up and slammed down again by the heaving mass of other bodies. Memories of drowning.