I was homeless last year for several months. I didn’t loll in the gutter with a brown paper bag. I lived a rather more surprising life of ‘secondary homelessness,’ in which I remained employed full time on a good salary, wore beautiful European clothes (collected on a backpacking jaunt) and drove this fabulous and somewhat sporty family-sized beast of a six-cylinder (sunshine yellow) car. In fact, this car was one of the few stable things in my life and for this reason I wanted to commemorate it in this little painting. I felt like my whole being consisted in these four wheels. I was backpacking in my own country, one bag of clothes in my boot, going to wine bars on school nights, learning French on the run and pissing off on weekends to Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Melbourne, anywhere.
I’m extremely grateful to the friends who took me in, despite our brief period of acquaintance, I having only just moved to Canberra. I cobbled together a more or less stable existence staying with an extremely hospitable couple for two months, sharing food, histories, movies, dreams and memories. It must have been a mutually beneficial symbiosis, because on parting they fed us a ‘memory dinner’—a veritable Nepali feast, all the courses, sides and sauces. The remaining weeks I zipped from one end of town to the other, sleeping on an assortment of banana lounges, inflatable mattresses and piles of doonas and towels, dutifully rising each morning and slipping off to work as the sun rose as though nothing was out of the ordinary.
I may be biased when I judge Canberra an inhospitable pothole, a blight on this sunburnt country that has the gall to badge itself the capital. My faith in some people (and in my judgement of character) might have wavered, but my faith in others multiplied. My brief interlope in Canberra taught me to throw yourself in, to ask for what you need, give all you’ve got, and high tail out when it’s not working. So long, Canberra. May we never meet again.