I documented my outfits for a week while I visited my small hometown for the first time in a year, post- COVID.
9:32pm (the night before leaving for Tasmania):
Welcome back dear reader! Oh, how I’ve missed you and your weird little head.
Just a heads up, this piece isn’t really about sex. OR IS IT?!
No, it’s not. Allow me to get you up to speed.
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be taking an approximately 45-50 minute plane trip back to my small hometown on the North-West coast of Tasmania. I have been living interstate (or on “the mainland” as us twee Tasmanians embarrassingly call it) for the past two years, after moving to attend university. But due to COVID travel restrictions and border closures, I haven’t been able to come home for almost 12 months- since last Christmas, to be exact.
This is the longest I’ve been away from my family as an adult, and although I hate to admit it- seeing my mother nostrils-first on video chat can only retain its quant charm for so long. I’m desperate to see her and excited about the prospect of coming home. But I’m also nervous as shit.
Hmm. How can I explain this to you?
I love my hometown- I really do. But as the place that has witnessed me blossom from depressed, bushy-haired teen to medicated, sanguine (I Googled synonyms for “optimistic”) adult, it’s also full of memories, the good and the bad. And in recent years, it has felt like a place that has slowly become tinged with associations of anxiety and bad feelings. Particularly if you’re like me and coming home to crash on the fold-out futon in your mum’s spare room has rarely been a sign that your early adult life is exactly progressing with flying colours.
But regardless of circumstance, returning to your hometown does have the potential to be unsettling- as it often is returning to a place that you no longer call home. It simultaneously exaggerates all the ways you’ve changed since leaving, yet makes you regress in some ways too.
The disadvantage of growing up in a small town is that you can’t fucking escape your past anywhere and all the versions of you that come with it. They populate every street corner and back alley like a ghost town, all those early repressed memories and bad decisions. For example, I can’t go anywhere back home without seeing infamous locations from relationships past- first kisses, forgotten declarations, dysfunctional dates and abandonments. I remember the times driving down those streets when I felt the worst I have ever felt, and where the ghosts of my enemies dealt me deadly blows that still haunt me to this day. Humiliation, discomfort and nostalgia- that’s the hometown spirit.
Plus, to add authenticity to the memories of these encounters, all the same people will be there. Seriously. It’s like your life is the subject of a local historical re-enactment society. The advantage of living in a big city is being anonymous. You can go on ten bad dates if you want and live in peace knowing that you will most likely never be forced to absent-mindedly wander past any of those people in the street, let alone sustain a conversation. But back at home, nine times out of ten I will be served in a store by someone I went to high school with. Someone who bore witness to all my embarrassing phases, worst lies and most excruciating haircuts.
Part of the anxiety comes from not knowing which nonsensical figure from your past you will be forced to confront when you walk past the bank or enter a fish and chip shop. I’ve run into people from home whose existence I had entirely forgotten (often for good reason), and suddenly, an awkward 10-minute conversation with them in the supermarket has me spiralling back to a time when they made me cry on sports day or called me a “cunt” while I was reading under a tree at lunchtime.
But it’s more than the odd primary school bully or random old acquaintances- encounters that are easy to laugh off and move on from.
All the people that have hurt me the most come from my hometown. It’s the last place I still share with them, and it makes me not want to return. I dread having to confront seeing physical evidence of them everywhere, even though they still live rent free in my own head. I carry them around every day in there like rude, uninvited guests- like the two heckling old men from The Muppet Show, flinging insults and reminding me of everything that I’m doing wrong. The difference is that when I’m living away from home, it’s easier to avoid triggers that will make them come to the forefront. I can wrap myself up safe in the new adult life I’ve created for myself, supported by new faces and the freedom that starting over in a new place gives you.
But back home, it feels like the equivalent of climbing out of the trenches into no-mans-land, naked and clutching nothing but a wooden spoon in the face of unknown enemy fire. It represents bad habits, dangerous temptations.
I’ve fucked up here before. People here have fucked me over too.
But my mum is there. And my hometown friends. And they’re a delight. They hold the old versions of me in a good way. After all, they met that half-formed, embarrassing person with overgrown bangs, and liked her enough to stick around to see how she turned out. Enough to get a coffee and laugh with her ten years later.
And despite its faults, it’s pretty inarguable that my hometown is where I became the person that I am- where I discovered all the things that would influence me the most (think books, movies, fashion, theatre). In fact, it made some of those things feel more vital, made me love them more vividly. Coming from somewhere relatively remote gives you a unique perspective because your favourite pursuits might not necessarily be easily accessible- you have to seek them out for yourself. And as a result, you tend to covet them more. When someone asks me about myself, I tend to bring up where I’m from way too quickly, like it’s the most important part of my identity (too soon will I be known at my workplace as “the girl from Tasmania”). I’m proud of where I come from, and I genuinely love it- enough to return and look my demons straight in eye as I saunter past in a gold lame dress.
Clothing is my armour and this week, my goal is to be Joan of Arc, leading my own mind into battle against its deadliest foes. I WILL BE FABULOUS OR DIE TRYING.
My plan for my home visit is to keep a daily photo diary of my outfits, so I can share it with you at the end of the week. As well as giving me something positive to focus on, I also like the idea of curating looks that will make me feel excited to get dressed every morning- to wear the clothing that make me feel the most like myself right now.
I used to get a lot of joy wearing fun clothes around my hometown as a teenager, because it gave me an outlet to represent whatever thing I was obsessing over in an outward way- whether it was a thrifted coat that reminded me of Cynthia Lennon or a questionable photo transfer of a favourite TV show on a $6 K-Mart shirt. I like the idea of channelling that dorky energy again.
Not every look will be A LEWK, if you know what I mean. This is still a highly cherished week off for me, so this experiment will frankly not be completed at the expense of comfort or spending any money. So don’t expect any full corseted, avant-garde inspired shenanigans from your girl this time around. I will mostly just be using beloved or newly renovated clothing I already have. But I will talk you through each outfit and all the little secret meanings behind them that make me feel good.
Strength, dammit. See you when I see you.
DAY ONE (03/12/20):
DAY TWO (04/12/20):
DAY THREE (05/12/20):
DAY 4 (06/12/20):
DAY FIVE (07/12/20):
DAY SIX (08/12/20):
MY BIRTHDAY, BABY
DAY SEVEN (9/12/20):
Happy New Year motherfuckers.
Love Eve X
*Dedicated to Darcy, who laughed at me for being embarrassed about writing a sex blog in the first place.