At midday, I am naked and broken by mistakes.
I came to UQ after a year of mistakes. Often I was so alone that it was painful, and I would find my stomach cramping with anxiety for no reason. I remember my first day at UQ vividly; it smelled of bread rolls and the heat stuck to my upper lip. I was at a sort of crossroads, though neither direction appeared to be meaningful, and so I remained indecisive and instead floated through three years of my undergraduate degree. I came and went from UQ most days, feeling no attachment. I loved the campus, my lectures, my tutorials, the library. But it was unrequited love, and UQ seemed to be refusing to give anything back to me. I tried for three years to make friends; we would exchange phone numbers and chat before and after class. But nothing amounted to anything. For three years I hated all groups and clubs, stiffened at any conversation, and kept my eyes low and my head down. I felt like an outsider, or more, because something must have been desperately wrong with me if I wasn’t at all enjoying the ‘University Social Experience.’
When it is night, I no longer dream in colour.
In my third year I took a poetics course as an elective, wanting to get back into the creative writing I had ignored for so long. The tutorials were intimate and rewarding; I found myself looking forward to them and talking to others before and after class. Eventually emails and phone numbers were exchanged, and I found myself on a picnic with three friends I now hold very dear. UQ had finally rewarded me.
In the morning I shed old feathers, and let the rock salt glow in my stomach.
After my undergraduate degree I began a Master of Arts in Writing, Editing, and Publishing with a friend I had met in that poetics course. It is here, in WEP, that I have felt a sense of community for the first time in my life. Despite age differences, I found myself getting along with nearly everyone and friends were becoming more and more common. Conversations are louder and the knots in my stomach began to unravel.
Taylor-Jayne Wilkshire is a Brisbane based artist and writer whose works are inspired by birds and feelings of displacement. She is currently completing a Master of Arts at UQ.