Plummetted Back to 1987

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

I have been soaking some bedding in the laundry trough. The plug is the right size for the sink, but still the water slowly leaches out the plughole, leaving only enough water to kick up a stink if I do not attend to it within the required couple of days. Which I do not. Instead I go to Horsham for a few days and when I return, the smell has stunk out my bathroom, that funny mouldy musty smell that takes me right back to 1987.

I was 16 impossibly young years old. Me and Jacqui had moved into a flat together. I cannot remember if there was a particular incident of mouldy wet washing that impaled the take-back into my brain. Maybe we had a continuous round of wet towels going on in our flat's bathroom. That flat is probably called an apartment now and asking 300 bucks a week rent, but back then it was just a run of the mill flat whose owner saw fit to rent it out to a couple of kids.

Obviously our parents must have co-signed. A photo of the time has my mother standing in the doorway on her first visit. She is wearing a green sleeveless cotton summer dress and looking pretty. She was the same age then as I am now, 38. She is thin-lipped, unsmiling. She must have lay awake worrying about her wayward, impetuous, wilful 16 year old daughter.

I was only a year older than my friend's daughter. Mein Gott, the horror doesn't really hit you until afterwards, how young you were. Of course, I was as independent then as I am now. More fearless. Reckless even. I look from my position of more calculated risk-taking and shudder. I shudder but I am envious too of the freshness, the fearlessness. Although necessarily accompanied by the rampant stupidity of a know-it-all who would not be told (hence my mother's thin-lippedness) there is a certain sort of a fondness for the me that was then. She was in a lot of pain, that girl. Dealing with some big stuff. Just a big kid, really, wanting to be loved, the way all sullen wounded teenagers want to be loved but do not have the words to ask, their pride standing between them and wiser adults like a giant rock. But geez, for all of that pain and youth, I can see even then the desire to know, to understand, myself and the world.

When our boyfriends came to stay (which was often) they would sit with us on the round plastic tub chairs that had been gifted to me by Auntie Dawn and Uncle Alec. Born to be my Baby by Bon Jovi is playing in my head as I write this. We must have been playing Slippery When Wet on high rotation on the stereo that crackled so badly when you turned up the volume. Bon Jovi and mouldy smells all mixed together today as I think about the time I lived with Jacqui, not even lasting the six month lease before I returned home once again. Such little fragments remembered of the whole time, but still, the feel of the whole time all coming back to me in a rush with that yukky bathroom smell.


  1. I'm still stuck on you getting a flat when you were 16. Wow. You must have driven your parents batshit crazy.

    OK so yeah, I love how smells and sounds can transport us. Sometimes to not so good places, but often to things that are nice to remember.

    When I was small we lived in Texas, in a brand new housing development. It was built on a swamp, and they hadn't perfected the drainage was right behind our house, and it was usually off in the trees, but when it rained a lot it would flood our backyard.

    Anyhow, I still vividly remember the stagnant water smell that permeated everything, and am periodically reminded of that time by any similar smell.

  2. i'm with erin...stuck at the 16 own daughter is 16 yikes!!! i breathed a sigh of relief that the lease did not last and you moved back home.

    smells and sounds, yes, they do indeed transport us back in time. i had my own experience of "16" a couple of days ago...the post "transported in time" :-)


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