Our next contributor to the Cabinet of Curiosities this year is Melina Bunting.
Melina Bunting is a writer, editor and creative based in Djillong (Geelong). She was Verandah 34’s Secretary and the Creator of the Cabinet of Curiosities. She has previously been published in Matters, Verandah and Wordly, and currently writes and edits for Deakin University’s Disruptr.
Melina’s written work “Domestic Objects” is a series of vignettes shedding light on what normal life has been during this time of global pandemic. These vignettes take note of being in a privileged position and being able to use self-isolation as an opportunity to pause and take stock of what we are still fortunate to have. Melina notes that while she herself is still living somewhat of a ‘normal life’, many families in Australia and across the world are not as fortunate or lucky.
Domestic Objects by Melina Bunting
Tales sparked by thingamajigs in my home
My closest companion reminds me of calligraphy. There are sharp lines in her wrists and collarbone and the way she pronounces the letter T as its own separate syllable. One winter, I taught myself to knit so I could wrap her elegantly structured frame in squishy wool. Not only would it make her easier to hug, but it would be a physical manifestation of our friendship: we warm each other even on the lowest days. My craftsmanship was abysmal, the attempted scarf a flat rectangle with dropped stitches. I embraced her pointy hugs and warmed her with my words instead.
Who was this creature that had stumbled into my home? I remembered his face, but not much else. I’d forgotten that he wasn’t just a jumble of text and a disembodied voice, but a complete physical presence. I took the seat the furthest away from him, trying not to eat him with my eyes. When did he get so elegant? If I stood too close, I was certain he’d evaporate into the afternoon sun. Later, when he’d gone, it was like putting something precious back in its designated place – somewhere static and behind glass, the better to analyse it.
Wanna be like the fashionable queers on the internet, resplendent in jewels and neon rainbows. Gender-fluid blurs in the middle of a Zoom rave. Wanna be the androgynous protagonist of my dreams, but I’ve worn the same jumper for weeks and I can’t be bothered looking cute for video conferences anymore. Queer identities are glittering caves with countless crevices. Wanna explore them, but I live with my family and how do I explain why I’ve given myself a chic pencil moustache and put my chest on display? My style belongs to me, but now is not the time to experiment.
Public transport was my first link to independence. Weekends were spent at the local arts precinct, between the library, the gallery, and a record store. They were only 10 minutes away from my home by bus. Summers passed on V/Lines and Metros towards a theatre or artsy cinema. PTV has shuttled me to places that have fed my passion for the arts. Each trip was a moment to breathe: once on the way up, in anticipation of what I would see, and again on the way back, to process all I had experienced. I would turn thoughts over in my head, watching the landscape go by.
The fig tree in our backyard was once a place of execution. Dad hung a flytrap from its branches, a clear jar filled with green liquid. It gave off a sickly smell, which the flies found irresistible. At first, you would find two or three floating around in there, drowned. Then there would be five, then ten, then suddenly there would be so many bloated flies crammed into the trap that they were pressed against the sides of the jar. Some of the fresh ones would still be alive, crawling over their fallen kin, unable to get out.