Love, Always  is a collection of stories about how time and distance significantly alters the terrain of family and belonging. In this series, we explore the lives of three individuals on the verge of adulthood, who offer us a deeper glimpse into their struggles and desires.

 

Rani Turner is a 21 year old Anthropology and Psychology student at the University of Western Australia. She spent her childhood in Esperance where she experienced the undeniable sense of community only a small town can evoke. In this interview, she discusses the ways in which she’s grown apart from her parents over the years and articulates her desire for a closer relationship with them.

Click play to listen to Rani’s story, or read her story below.

My name is Rani Turner, I am 20 years old, I’m from Esperance—I’m not from Perth, I live in Perth, and I study psychology and anthropology at UWA, and I’m a third year student.

We live a little bit further away from Esperance, so I went to boarding school for two years, in Esperance, specifically, so I feel like that was probably a big changing factor. In that I kind of, I mean I really just lived independently from my parents, away for two years, so you know we kind of gradually talked less, we hung out less, I didn’t see them as much. So I think, that was a really big changing factor. But even before then, I felt like I wasn’t that close to my parents. I just, I don’t know if it’s just growing up and being old, and you kind of just really don’t wanna—you’ve got all this stuff going on in your head—and you just don’t want to talk to anyone about it, if that makes sense.

Sex, Boys, and Drugs

I think it would be nice to have a really close relationship with my mum. I see some of my friends who are really close to their mum, they talk about—you know, sex, boys, drugs—and I am jealous of that in some regards, but I don’t think a lot of people are like that. I think that’s just a sparse few. So, I guess I’m appreciative of the relationship that I do have with my parents. In that I know that they’re always there for me. Like, if I really needed something, I know that I could ask for it and I know that they love me. But I wish I could be closer on a personal level, I guess.

One of my really good friends, she told her mum about the first time she had sex, and I was just like, “Oh, that’s so weird, I would just never tell my mom that.” Its just such a different thing. And I kind of just got into this headspace where I was like, “Oh maybe I’m not as close with my family as I thought? Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Why can’t I talk about that?” And I guess you start comparing your life to other people’s. But then I’ve got this other friend and she literally tells her parents nothing. And I mean, you know they still love each other, but its just a different relationship. And I feel like you can’t—I mean it sounds stupid, everyone knows it—but you really just can’t compare every relationship to everyone else’s. There’s no right way to have a relationship. Like, you can be a friend to someone else, but obviously you’ve got other friends, and their friendship means something else to another person.

Parents

When I was younger, my dad, he used to read me this story about this green mouse and he literally just like made it up in his head. But me and my sister would look forward to it every single night, because it wasn’t in a storybook or anything—he’d literally just make it up. And there was this lady called Bossy Britches in it, and she wanted to kill the green mouse. And it was like a new episode every night, and it was really the best story ever. Me and my sister would just look forward to that, all the time.

My mum, she’d always make pancakes for us. On a Sunday, she’d always make chocolate chip pancakes and banana milkshakes.

I always remembered looking forward to Sundays, because I knew she was going to be there. And I always remember it being just like a really nice day and her being in a really good mood. So, I guess that was a fond memory of her. I think she’s literally done an amazing job—She’s got such a good job and she makes more than my dad and things like that. And I mean she didn’t work for 12 years or something, just such a long time. And I just think, “Wow I’m so proud of her.” She’s literally just done amazing for herself. When she was my age, 20, my mum had a child. I used to look at 20-year-olds or even 18-year-olds when I was 12, and I’d be like, “Oh my God, they’re so old, they’re so mature. They’ve got their whole lives sorted out. I can’t wait to be that age.” But now that I’m that age, I’m like, “They don’t really know what they’re doing.” And I look at people two years younger than me and I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re such babies. What do they really know?” But yeah, you just realise that no one really knows what they’re doing in life. It’s kind of like a big game of guessing and being what you think you’re supposed to be. Like, what it means to be a mother, “I’ve got to feed my children, I’ve got to do this.” So you kind of start performing that role, I think. When it comes upon you.

The Letter

It [the letter] is really just me saying that I’m so grateful for my parents, even though I wanted to write a nasty—not a nasty letter—but just to kind of say, “Oh this is what you guys did wrong,” but I literally just could not do that. I started writing it and I was like, “I just can’t do this. That’s not who I am, as a person.”

But then it was weird, as soon as I picked up the pen and started to try and write it, I found it so hard. The first night I tried to write it, I made three letters—but I only wrote probably three sentences for each new attempt. And then, I guess when I actually wrote it, I was like, “Okay I’m just going to write what I feel. I’m not going to think about it. I’m just going to write for 30 minutes and whatever comes out, that’s what I’m gonna take.” And so, I guess when I kind of took the pressure off myself—I think because I had the expectation that, “Oh this is going to be a really depressing letter,” it kind of was getting in the way of me writing it. But once I stripped that back, I was able to kind of just go for it a bit better.

“As a child, I thought that adults had it all sorted out. I thought there was nowhere safer in the world than with you guys. That your maternal and paternal roles were contingent on knowing the meaning of life, when it was precisely the opposite.”

When I was writing it, I thought about [giving them the letter]. Because I mean, it’s a nice letter—but I don’t know it just might be weird—I feel like its such a weird thing to do, write a letter to someone. I mean, I think I would if I had to give it to them, but I wouldn’t by choice, no. If they found it, I’m sure they would like it though, I think.

I guess, writing it was really weird, and I was kind of like “Oh this is so cringe,” you know what I mean? But I guess after writing it, it was really cathartic to let it all out in a way that you can kind of see it. It kind of felt really nice afterwards, because all of these emotions obviously bottle up and its hard to express them sometimes. But just to write it out, it was a nice way to release that—as opposed to getting angry and yelling, or just having a big rant.

Small-Town Girl

I lived in Perth till I was eight, and then—since my dad’s a teacher—we got transferred to Esperance. Even at eight I remember it was such a big shock because Esperance has like, I don’t know, 25,000 people in it. And I remember being young and being like “Oh my god, this place is so shit. They don’t even have traffic lights, they don’t have McDonald’s, this is so crap.” But, I think what you really do get in small towns is a real feeling of community. If I walk down the street, I feel like I know everyone and people will say hi to me, and people will know my name. And its kind of like, it’s not a feeling of entitlement, but it’s just really nice—you watch so many people grow up and your neighbours are literally your friends. And then, going to boarding school, I guess it was a big step because I was obviously away from my mum and dad, and just my family.

Copyright © 2019 Rani Turner

This story and corresponding images have been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of this story/image please contact the Centre for Stories.


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© 2019 Centre for Stories / Site by Super Minimal