The Brisbane Series: Part I

Words by Katia Pase

Published on August 4, 2011

In the lead-up to the launch of our first journal, Home is where, we will each be sharing a piece of writing anchored around our first experiences of Brisbane. This piece comes from Katia, who moved to Brisbane from Melbourne in 2007.

When I moved to Brisbane my Nonna pushed a fifty dollar note into my palm and grabbed my face with both her hands. She kissed me on each cheek; I could feel her moustache and her lips stained my skin with the stench of garlic.

When I moved to Brisbane I had glandular fever. The doctor claimed my tonsils were the biggest he’d seen in thirty years of medical practice. He pulled out his instrument, leaned back in his chair, shook his head and repeated, ‘like golf balls. Like big, pussy golf balls’. I tried to swallow, I tried to breathe.
When I moved to Brisbane I found this place deep in the belly of West End. The front gate dangled in its hinges, the salmon paint was peeling off the walls and the windows had no screens. The furniture was a shambles of pieces taken from discarded theatre sets, things found on other peoples’ front lawns. I moved in to the long room that overlooked the tangled backyard.

When I moved to Brisbane I doused myself in Aerogard before bed every night. I would wake up with bites on the finger, on my feet, on my fucking eyelids.

When I moved to Brisbane my new housemate picked me up from the airport. We drove through streets where flaking houses balanced on towering limbs. We drove along the river. I imagined unpaired thongs, fishing hooks and diamond rings falling to the muddy bottom, but the afternoon sun made the surface sparkle as if a rotting body had never been discovered like the ones pulled from the Yarra.

When I moved to Brisbane I thought they couldn’t even spell the word ‘bus’. Turns out that BUZ is an acronym and that them transport ministers appreciate a good play-on-words just as much as I don’t.

When I moved to Brisbane the mango trees dropped their fruit and the air was thick like molasses and as sickly sweet.

When I moved to Brisbane I lay on my bed with the wide windows open and spent entire afternoons listening to old CDs. The melodies coiled out the window, through branches and into the empty block over the back fence.

When I moved to Brisbane I met a guy who asked me on a first date to Sexpo. He wasn’t joking. It wasn’t funny.

When I moved to Brisbane I sat one afternoon at Orleigh Park. There was this couple walking a beagle that looked just like our family pet and I sat by the river and I wept and wept.

When I moved to Brisbane I went with a friend one Sunday to the Normanby. I never went to the Normanby again.

When I moved to Brisbane I didn’t see my housemate wear a shirt for two months.

When I moved to Brisbane I cycled along the river to uni. I held my breath and pedaled hard past the Paul’s Milk Factory.

When I moved to Brisbane I got a job at this Greek restaurant. I washed all the glasses by hand and got drunk just off the ouzo fumes.

When I moved to Brisbane I sat one night at the Valley train Station. I was on the phone to Nonna, battling the broken English, and some dude in trackies came up to me and hollered, ‘got any pills love? I need some fucking pills’. I told Nonna that Brisbane was lovely and that I would be very happy here.