I did a Matthew, and Matthew was nothing but Jesus-meets-Van Halen and a bible in bed, so God knows I can do Josh.

Why now? Because Halsey’s new album, Badlands, and the song Strange Love.

Everybody wants to know
If we fucked on the bathroom sink
How your hands felt in my hair
If we were high on amphetamines

And everybody wants to hear
How we chainsmoked until three
And how you laughed when you said my name
And how you gripped my hips so mean

Josh was, and still is, an absolute alien. Six foot eight, double mohawk, metal in face. He used to do fashion design, and was fucking good at it. Made all his own clothes, and worked for some solid rave and alternative brands. I met him drunk. It was me and Andy, a Wednesday night just days after my long-term relationship was officially over. We went to see strippers, had drinks. I still love the skirt I was wearing that night, still love the top too. Andy wasn’t allowed in the club, and I was left to go in alone – which was an excellent reversion to my first weeks in Melbourne. Unexpectedly, my mini old crowd was there and I crashed about, heart-to-hearts and dancing and drinks, and I crashed myself down to Josh’s little table and who knows what I even said but it wasn’t a “hello” or “nice to meet you”, it was probably “I’m drunk as shit, do you have a lighter, I just gave a stripper a sponge bath across the road”. Numbers were exchanged, I buggered off to Sydney for a few days, came back and met at Ponyfish, hopped to E55, then to his.

What Josh always liked about me is that I did not give a single shit about his hair or scars or history or whatever. He was incredibly funny, I was incredibly comfortable with him, and we bizarrely but absolutely clicked. We liked hardstyle and soft drugs; I liked Roxy, his spruced up Ford, and sitting in the front seat of his white van, ; we liked eating chicken nuggets after a night out; Adventure Time on his on-the-floor mattress, bong in hand. That time we found a suitcase behind Rats and I got in it, Steve in his dinosaur onesie, and Josh letting me lick speed out of the crooks of his elbows. He liked that I was bleached blonde and floral, gave off ultimate good-girl vibes, “angelic” he called me.

They think I’m insane, they think my lover is strange
But I don’t have to fucking tell them anything, anything
And I’m gonna write it all down, and I’m gonna sing it on stage
But I don’t have to fucking tell you anything, anything

My ex thought I was insane. He thought I was insane anyway, and clinically yes yes I’m sure he was right, but with Josh – I remember his reaction on seeing the first photo of us together. It was surprise, but it turned dark very quickly. Hoping for the worst, finishing with the nastiest shit I have ever read. I kept that for a long time, occasionally rereading it to remind myself what a horrific person I was, that I would always deserve the worst. Usual darkness.

And everybody wants to know ’bout how it felt to hear you scream
They know you walk like you’re a god, they can’t believe I made you weak

These days I can’t seem to get along with anyone
Get by with anyone
These days I can’t seem to make this right
Well, is this fine? Will it be alright?

I had so much fun. I was such a mess. A man-made, self-proclaimed mess, and this was the boy who bought me a lemon slice whilst he sat in the ER trying to make me laugh; held my hands as they stitched me back up. I’d met him maybe three times, tops, and he was the only one I knew I could call. You know this story – that’s this story, he was my savior. I was baked and he carried me to bed laughing; I made him a care package when P emotionally shat on him and had banned him from seeing me, brought him KFC from work and a box of dried food. He was living in a shed then.

Maybe I had found religion. My references to God, to Jesus-lookalikes, my personal heroes and saviours. But that’s a different Halsey song. That’s Coming Down.

I found God
I found him in a lover
When his hair falls in his face
And his hands so cold they shake

I found the Devil
I found him in a lover
And his lips like tangerines
And his color coded speak

I’ve got a lover
A love like religion
I’m such a fool for sacrifice
It’s coming down, down, coming down

Same applies. Did I love him? Yes, I think I must’ve. I cared so deeply, wished only for good things, for him to find something to anchor him down, and to find something real and tangible. Outside of the record deals and the features, outside of the fascinated girls and stares and that huge camo coat, smashing bottles on the sidewalk. Never official, though he asked. Never properly together, but I don’t think I quite ever let him go. It’s funny really, probably a little creepy to anyone else, but I check up and check in sometimes. I’ll see what he’s up to, and though I’ve always been rubbish, like next-level rubbish, at feeling happy for people, he’s someone who I could never not be happy for: everything good that’s in his life, I’m grateful for. Even though we haven’t spoken in a while, and maybe we don’t dream about each other anymore, but I’d like to think he looks me up every now and then too. I’d never heard of so much bad happening to one person before, and for them to still be alive at the end of it, and not just alive and dead behind the eyes, but alive and fucking things up and kicking, hard. That’s amazing. How could you not smile when you see they’re happy and, at face[book] value, they’ve found someone who keeps them going. The boy scraped me off the ground, and maybe that flicked a switch, but I could never be jealous, never be bitter.

I think Josh played a huge role in my “no regrets about Melbourne” shit that I spout. To a degree it’s true, it’s just some parts are more redeemable than others. And Josh could always be redeemed. I never had anything to forgive him for, he never owed me an apology or did me any kind of wrong. I miss him, again in a funny way – the way maybe you miss a character from a favourite book that you haven’t reread in a while. I’d like to give him a bear hug and to know he’s doing good, and then I’d be happy to retreat and observe. He never needed me, and I always knew that and never needed to consciously accept it, so there was nothing to get over, nothing to let go of. I don’t know how to end this, because I could reminisce for days and just share story after story quite happily, vary from the illicit to the sweet. But I won’t, I’ll find something in poem form instead x


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