4-Ever Effed Up Straight From the Heart
by Iryna Byelyayeva
I’ve been living in Australia for ten years now. Geographically, the move from New Zealand to here wasn’t a big one. But emotionally, for a twelve year old girl who was about to become a teen and be plunged into a new country with new friends right when social pressure was about to begin, it was pretty huge. Exactly a year before we moved my parents and I came to Melbourne to have a look around—see if we liked it enough. Anything would have been better than where we were living in New Zealand but Melbourne enchanted us almost instantly. It’s funny now, after a decade, walking through the CBD and seeing all the places I remember being so excited about on that first trip. That purse sculpture on Bourke Street—I don’t take notice of it now. But good golly miss molly did I spend ages looking at in on our trip trying to figure out if it was a purse or a clam.
My parents took me to see Melbourne already certain we were going to move. I came to this new city knowing my fate. I decided I may as well get used to it. If I was going to be a real Aussie, I would have to listen to real Aussie music. And real Aussie music in February 2006 was The Veronicas.
I loved The Veronicas. I thought they were cool, talented, pretty and they rocked! I spent so long trying to decide who I was more like—Jess or Lisa. In Melbourne the first thing I did was go to a big CD shop on Bourke Street (now sadly replaced by Sunglass Hut) and bought The Secret Life Of… (2005). That made me feel grown up because it was a purchase I made with my own saved-up money and was going to make me feel like a cool teen, I hoped. We had brought a laptop with us on our trip because I had insisted that I needed to get some writing done while I was here. That evening my parents asked if I wanted to go for a walk around the city with them. I told them no—I needed to get writing done, gosh. I watched them get ready, intermittently asking them if they had to choose—who was I more like, Jess or Lisa? Once they were gone, I opened up the laptop and got typing. Sitting in an empty hotel room in a new city, it finally dawned on me that I was going to have to leave my life in New Zealand. No matter how well the next year would go, my parents wanted to move away to a bustling city that was more cosmopolitan and artsy than the one we lived in. I sat there writing a speculative fiction story of me and my two Kiwi best friends at eighteen (just a couple of years younger than Lisa and Jess at the time). I painted a realistic portrait of how our personalities would change and how many boyfriends we would have had by that point (I’d like to add that I was right on all accounts but I’m no hero). Then I got sad. We were soon to become teenagers and go to high school and go through all the fun problems teen girls who read Total Girl go through but we wouldn’t be doing it together.
I closed the story and put on The Secret Life of Us… . The Veronicas’ girly angst made me feel better. They sang out lyrics about being young and free and being misunderstood. It all sounded very glamourous. It felt like a sneak preview of what was to come. Lyrics like ‘you thought you knew me but you don’t’ and ‘well I’m not perfect, just all messed up’ pointed to all the times my peers just wouldn’t get me. ‘Come on, baby, we ain’t gonna live forever’ and ‘you can spend all your money on me but still I’ll say no’ alluded to all the times I would be an individual and not let anyone drag me down. I listened to The Veronicas’ debut album, filled with guitars and significant others and having days from hell and dealing with problems, and I felt okay about moving. This was going to be great. I wouldn’t have my girlfriends but I would have hot-pink rock music.
We moved a year later. I turned out to be a very calm teenager—the angstiest things about me in the end were that I refused to wear the girl’s uniform to school because it was too cold and I spent a whole year wearing a stripy hoodie with a pink chook on the back. I was never peer pressured into anything and no one at school really cared about me enough to give me an opportunity to stick it to them. I forgot about The Veronicas. I had a really nice ten years of making new friends and everything going pretty well.
Now Jess and Lisa are 32 and I am 22. They have recently released a new single. I watched them perform it on TV the night and remembered the two women who ushered me into adolescence. The Secret Life of Us… is not an album that I come back to or have a nostalgic passion for. It’s just the soundtrack for a girl on the cusp of going through some big changes (music taste included) but that in itself is very special.
Iryna is a creative lady living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Editor of The Wall Mag and gets published here and there. She can be followed on twitter @irynabyel