The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest: my post! So many memories…

In the third stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting on Rebecca Enzor’s blog about revising after contradictory beta reader feedback. Make sure you check it out!

And in the fourth stop, I’ve been interviewed by Bailey Kelsey over at Bailey is Writing! She’s got some awesome questions so make sure you drop by and read it!

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As you probably know by now, I’m holding a blogfest called ‘The Year I Turned 18’ to celebrate the release of my debut new adult novel, The Big Smoke (in which the two main characters both turn 18). Posts can be about anything from that year – something momentous that happened, what your hopes and dreams were at that time, diary entries, anything that comes to mind. 

And this is MY post for the blogfest, all about the year I turned 18.

With my dad at my year 12 formal on the night after my last day of high school.

In preparation for this post, I pulled out my diary from 2001, excited to take a trip down memory lane. Unfortunately, I discovered that the vast majority of my diary is totally boring! I’m not quite sure why I decided to record monotonous events in such ridiculous detail, but I did. I shan’t bore you with those parts! Here’s a quote from early in the year while I was still waiting to find out which university I’d be getting into:

‘Sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether dreaming is that great if it sets you up for a fall. But I can’t possibly think that, because so much of my life is taken up by dreaming. But the dream world of mine and reality are so different. Will they ever be similar? Probably not, but I’ll still keep dreaming. Something’s got to keep me going, doesn’t it?

Why can’t I just be satisfied? Why?? I have so much which I probably take for granted, but on the inside my emotions are constantly see-sawing. Can’t you just balance, please? I don’t even know what I’m bloody complaining about. But maybe that’s part of the problem. I DON’T KNOW.’ 

How’s that for turbulent teenage hormones? 😉 And here’s a bit more:

‘Life just isn’t what dreams are made of. At least, not my dreams. The one thing that really scares me is, what if Billy [ex-boyfriend] is the best thing I’m going to get in life? What if it’s all down hill from here?’

Cheery, wasn’t I?!

A bit later after those entries, I discovered that I’d got into the course that I’d been dreaming of – drama at QUT. Unfortunately, I didn’t really write about it because I was too busy writing page after page about this random boy I obsessed over for two weeks. Teenagers! 😉

But getting into QUT meant a move away from my country home town to Brisbane (sound familiar?!). Here’s a diary excerpt from the day before I moved:

‘Kate [a close friend] just left. She slept over last night. We both cried today because it will be the last sleep over we ever have here, like this. It’s really just starting to hit me now. I’m moving out of home tomorrow. TOMORROW. As of tomorrow I’m supposed to be responsible and mature enough to look after myself. No more Mum and Dad to remind me when I’ve forgotten something. If I’m going to eat healthily, it’s up to me to buy myself fruit and vegetables. If I want to have clean clothes, I have to wash them myself…

It’s weird, I can’t wait to do it [move out], but then in other ways I don’t want to leave at all. I’ve been throwing out all of my old posters, and it just feels like the end of my childhood….’

Here’s the posters I was talking about:

My bedroom wall

My bedroom wall

And here’s me at my new home in Brisbane:

Outside my home in Brisbane

Outside the Brisbane share house

My room in the share house

My room in the Brisbane share house

Sometime later, I wrote this entry about my first trip back home:

‘I really enjoyed going back home to visit. It was really good to see Mum and Dad that night. However, the person that really affected me was Jack [my then seven-year-old brother]. I went down to him in the dirt where the pool used to be. The way his eyes lit up when he saw me almost brought tears to mine. He hugged me so furiously as well. It was really nice to hang out with them on the verandah, like usual. Mum even cooked roast lamb for tea… Jack was mortified that they made me do the dishes. I miss him so much! 

It was fairly cold with the air conditioner on, so I went to get a jumper out of my room. It then hit me that my room no longer held my belongings – they were all in Brisbane. Dad laughed because he realised what I’d gone to do. It made me feel quite sad though, standing in my room with none of my old stuff in it.

Mum and Dad said that in some ways, it felt like someone had died. I know exactly what they meant. It reminded me of when Kerry [a friend] changed schools at the beginning of year seven.  When the rest of us talked at lunch time, I could feel her absence. The conversation seemed to be missing an element that Kerry had provided. When I realised she’d never be back to fill that gap, it truly felt that, in a sense, she had died. 

But I was back. Back listening to Mum and Dad argue, and Jack being told to be quite and sit on his chair… ahh, home! 

A couple of months later, I wrote this poem:

The morning after…

As I sit, waiting for the train
I look through murky eyes
God, I feel like hell today
But I guess that’s no surprise
At a place called Cannon Hill 
Wherever that might be
I don’t really even care
It means sweet nothing to me
The only thing that matters now
Is getting home to bed
Hopefully that will calm
The throbbing in my head

Bits and pieces of the party
Are floating through my mind
People drinking Bourbon and Rum
Or whatever they could find
When I arrived at the party
There were only three people I knew
But as the night progressed
That number slowly grew

Watching a bunch of people 
I’d never met before
I could tell who were friends
And who wanted more
A couple at the party
Were quite saddening to view
She flirted with all his friends
And there was nothing he could do

By the time my accompniants left
I was feeling quite at ease
I’d made friends with everyone
Even the girlfriend tease

Crashing at a bloke’s house 
That I barely even knew
Seemed quite fine and natural
What else was I to do? 

As I awoke the next morning
My stomach let me know
That my fun was definitely over
It was obviously time to go

An expensive taxi trip later
I’ve still got to bus and train
On the wrong side of the city
When even thinking’s a strain!

But despite my current seediness
And having to wait around in the rain
I know that come next weekend
I’ll probably do it all again. 

Towards the end of my first semester at uni, I had a very short romance with a guy I worked with at Eagle Boys Pizza. My diary says this:

‘Well, I broke up with Ben, so that’s over. Somehow, everybody at work found out about us, so we’ve been the topic of constant conversation and jokes ever since. It’s interesting between us though because we’re still friendly, but what happened between us is always present. I’ve actually been dreaming about him recently, but it’s not really him. I mean, it’s him physically, but personality wise, it’s someone else. I guess it’s my made-up Mr Perfect’s personality – someone I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of meeting!…

Mum and Dad have supported me so much lately with all of my uni fears and struggles. A few nights ago, Dad drove all the way to Brisbane and took me home because I just flipped from the stress and thought I was going to drop out of uni. Mum and Dad both totally supported me and allowed me to consider it at home that night. The next day, when I had decided that I at least wanted to finish the semester, they helped me do what I had to do to get back on my feet. 

They also helped me when I slacked off with studying for my only exam and then totally panicked for fear of failing it. They helped me get my head together and study for it. Dad called me every two hours while I was home to see how I was progressing and to keep me motivated. It was so insane though. I just let myself get into a mess and I hid in it because I was so scared and so unprepared to do anything about it. I just wanted the situation to go away and not to deal with it.”

That was the last diary entry I wrote for more than five years. At the end of that first semester, I returned to my country home with my tail between my legs. Although I didn’t realise this at the time, it was a classic case of big fish/small pond to small fish/big pond syndrome. At my country high school, I was the best at drama. In my uni drama course though, everybody had been the best at high school, and now all of a sudden I was only mediocre. Poor little teenage Cally couldn’t handle that!

So I dropped out of acting. Interestingly, I couldn’t go for long without a creative outlet, so I turned to writing instead. And I decided to write a novel based around a lesson that I felt I needed to learn  myself (which you may have picked up on from some of these excerpts). The lesson was this: getting a boyfriend wasn’t the answer to finding happiness; I had to do that on my own. Those first ideas were the seeds that grew into what we now  know as The Big Smoke!

My 18th birthday

My 18th birthday (with my brother, grandma and father also in the photo)

Ready to hit the clubs

Ready to hit the clubs

Before the year was out, I met the guy (at the Pig N’ Whistle pub) who would become my next serious boyfriend. A very cute boy called Mark… who is now my husband of eight years! And to think that 17-year-old Cally was so worried that her most romantic days were behind her! Kind of makes me smile now… 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the roller coaster that was the year I turned 18 (Note: I’ve changed some names from my diary entries to protect the innocent!).

If you’d like to read more posts for the Year I Turned 18 Blogfest, visit the Linky List!

And don’t forget to visit Bailey’s blog and Rebecca’s blog for my interview and guest post!

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13 Comments

Filed under Blogfests, The Big Smoke, Writing

13 responses to “The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest: my post! So many memories…

  1. This was such fun to read, Cally! What a lovely family you have, and how cool that your experience provided the seeds for The Big Smoke. I guess no matter what we write, part of us comes through in it! Even though you thought your diary was boring, it must be great to have. I truly wish I’d kept a diary… I thought I would remember all those details forever because at the time it seemed unimaginable that I could ever forget, but I did…

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it, Susanna. I was worried it might have been a tad self indulgent! I do have a lovely family, we get along so well. It’s definitely great to have my diaries. I’ve started keeping one again the past year or so, but not in quite the same level of detail! 🙂

  2. So many memories! That time of life is so poignant for some many because of all the big changes that happen, and all the things you suddenly learn. I really enjoyed reading this! (I am also enjoying The Big Smoke!)

  3. It is weird to go back home and realize your room is no longer your room. My parents moved right after I graduated college, so then even the room was gone.
    Cool you’ve been with your husband since a young age!

  4. I can’t even imagine going back to that time in my life. Of having everything feel like it could be the end of the world. Nope, not for me.

  5. That is exactly what my bedroom wall looked like at home, only there were a few ponies scattered around it too 😉

  6. This is such a great Blogfest post Cally! I completely love your diary entries. Eighteen was such a great year to hone in on. This is all making me so excited to read The Big Smoke!

  7. Love it! That pic of you and your dad at the dance is great. 🙂

  8. Yes, I did enjoy reading your excerpts! And they took me back to a time BEFORE I was 18 🙂 Yip. Turbulent teenage hormones indeed…

  9. This is fabulous! I loved reading your post and looking at the pictures–what a trip down memory lane. It’s really remarkable the emotions that come up when we remember something from our past. Pictures are particularly evoking for me.

  10. Love the pictures and the actual diary entries! Ah, teenage years, eh? All about the boys.

  11. Jennifer Crow

    What did we do without diaries and poetry? The stuff of childhood. I think they help us move into adulthood, too. Enjoyable post!

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