I’m on the phone to Centrelink, and I need to poo. I’m not sure what the politics of the situation are. They called me. I made an appointment time online, and they called me. I laughed to myself sitting by the landline phone. Centrelink my lover, Centrelink my beau. I’m on hold, trying to calculate whether or not I could feasibly poo in time before the woman gets back on the line. She seems lovely. That feels like an anomalous experience, to speak to someone so engaging and lovely when all they do all day is talk to people looking for help. Maybe that is rewarding. I hope she finds it rewarding. She seems so lovely. I know if I drop the call and ring back, I’ll have to wait in a queue for ages. I might even have to wait forever to get another appointment. Surely people go to the toilet when they are on the phone to Centrelink all the time. That mustn’t be pleasant to deal with. I don’t want to be one of those people. I consider whether I could leave the bathroom door open to minimise the acoustic differences. Whether I have enough control to avoid embarrassing noises. Whether she’d ever know if I waited til I was off the phone to flush. “Are you there?” “Yes, hello! Still here.”
Postcards from Indonesia:
We step out of Denpasar airport, out of the long hot queue full of people wearing faces of quiet desperation, out of the stern faced man at Immigration who asks if my mother is my grandmother and then apologises profusely, laughing, out of the bag graveyard and into the air. The day smells of clove cigarettes, incense and gasoline, and I breathe in deep. It feels familiar, and I remember the first time I was here. Ten, maybe? Bold and all-knowing in peaked caps and books, bossing my brother about and feeling unsettled by the smell of shit in the air. I scrawl an equation: comfort equals unfamiliarity plus time.