Mary St / Electric Avenue / Wuthering Heights, Adelaide, 2012 – 2014
Before Jeff there was Jess, and one day the friend-of-a-friend becomes housemate. With two others in tow, we first dub our humble Unley abode ‘Electric Avenue.’ This is the summer of 2012, and though the Mayan-predicted apocalypse fails to befall us, our roof does begin to cave in. So our landlord lovingly band-aids the blasted plaster problem with masking tape. Our house, in the middle of our street.
We squander nine months here in the squalor of beer, bands, boys, and one night, post-party, Bush. Kate Bush. Just, so much Bush. Kate echoes throughout our tumble-down palace on repeat for hours. As our revellers retire to their native environs, I pour myself into bed, first light spilling through the cracks in my cornice. Jess and Aleks stay in the sunroom for some time, wailing in protest of the cold and beseeching to be let in the window of no one in particular. Rooms away, I laugh with and at them. I don’t know that we’re unleashing a monster.
I mean, I do know that we already have an actual ghost. Affectionately I christen him ‘Phil’, for he is a spectre, and from that night he no longer turns on and off my fairy lights. But a proverbial banshee is also born this morn and for her, we re-dub this oft-cursed cottage ‘Wuthering Heights’.
A household of hopeless music obsessives, we could make a mix-tape of all the songs-cum-memes that haunt our home. But Wuthering Heights is the only track that seems intent to weave itself into our daily routine. It fills the gaps between gossip and how-was-your-days; inflates our lungs at bus stops on nights warm and cool; is demanded at the pub to the dismay of the lady hip-hop DJ; and stretches like a homesick bridge across the Pacific all the way to the streets of LA.
One Saturday afternoon in spring, we can find little better to occupy our time than to get deplorably jeffed. That is: tanked, smashed, paro, druuunk; named as such for Jess, who – not unknown for testing the reliability of her liver – mishears the title of a KISS ballad and is never given the opportunity to forget it. But that’s another song… Spitting cider from the gills, we pass a hazy hour in front of the TV, mimicking Kate’s languid limbs, though always two beats behind. Suddenly, the boys are back in house. A chunk of fleshy arms and legs, we flop disgracefully to the floor (though I’ll proclaim to be on the roof to those unsuspecting enough to accept my drunk dials).
En route to my 9-to-5er at the height of a heatwave, Kate takes me by iPod surprise. From her wild and windy moor, her siren’s call rings out a chill, hiding on the backstreets of the Hottest City in the World. The first face in my brain is Jess/ff’s and I want to tell her. I reach for my phone, but it can wait until home, and I have to giggle at clarity’s millisecond strike. Drunken, clumsy, bumbling bloody Jeff: the hipster Heathcliffe to my c—ing Cathy. We don’t really have a lot in common.
Tonight, I know WuthHi is collapsing around us. In the throes of a forty-night washing-up stand-off, statement door slams shake teetering plaster flakes free. Split cabs and quiz night rituals don’t service the home now haunted by passive-aggressive whistling and men’s supermarket body spray. When someone finally makes good on the perennial threat to move out, I wonder if Phil will miss us? It’s February in Adelaide and I’m trying to sleep but, I’m so cold.
© Aimee Knight. Aimee is a filmmaker, cat enthusiast and competitive eater who enjoys writing, collecting Coca Cola merchandise and listing three things. Aimee’s life peaked the night she played guitar on stage with Bruce Springsteen. It’s all downhill from here.