Maeve: Hi, I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories. This week Brooke Scobie is a queer Goorie woman, single mum, poetry and prose writer, podcast host and community worker. Born and bred on Bidjigal country, and now living on Darkinjung land, she considers herself first and foremost a creative weirdo. As a writer she is dedicated to telling stories that centre Blak identities, queer love, family, and unpacking some of the issues that can affect First Nations’ communities and countries. Brooke has been published in Overland Journal, Running Dog, Red Room Poetry, SBS and was awarded second place in the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prize.
Brooke: So aside from being a neurodivergent hottie, I’ve got one of the most virgo birth charts I think anyone has ever seen. There are mars, sun, venus and mercury all in Virgo. With a scorpio moon, it’s truly a fucken mess. A mess that I couldn’t really understand until the astrology gays explained it to me with memes.
And now, it’s my favourite excuse to use for being a detail oriented, sometimes critical, and always decisive bitch. Maybe not a full bitch, apparently, I’m also secretly a little bit nice on the inside.
I want to talk to you tonight about my ultra-decisiveness, and how that makes me the queen of break ups. Well except for this one time when I was 19, oh and the best friend break up saga of 2013.
My mum gives pretty decent relationship advice, but only after the fact. The fact being that I had already made the decision to end things, and she- a font of wisdom -would decide now was the best time to tell me ‘The vibes were definitely off chook’. Yeah, thanks mum. My mum was full of protective warnings when I was younger though, not the staunch feminist consent/bodily autonomy warnings that this new generation of mums can provide. But she used her 70s and 80s stoner youth, of Vaseline and panel vans with shag carpet, to regale me with stories of men just generally being terrible.
The first time I broke up with a boy, I was 14 and I think his name was Chris. I’ve dated about 5 Chris’ in my life, so it’s likely a Chris. I can’t remember how he asked me out, though MSN was definitely involved. We hung out down at the then Revesby hot chip shop, long before it became a sushi place we couldn’t afford. I ate chips and gravy, with a side of his friends making fun of me. I think in all we dated for a couple of weeks, we only hung out twice and went to the movies once where he sat in the row behind me. Don’t ask, boys are confusing. We never kissed, never held hands and I decided enough was enough. Shortly after the strange movie date, I broke up with him via text. As you do. Then his brother called me to tell me he was so upset he stabbed an orange (why an orange, I’ve no idea, again boys are confusing), and then the brother threatened to kill me. FUN!
But I moved on, I always did. I had made a decision, thought it over in an ADHD maximum of 15 minutes and any feelings I might have had, dissipated into the 5pm southerly.
As a newly reformed serial monogamist, and comp-het performer in recovery – there were a lot of break ups. And a lot of men. There was the horrible boy with the big dick when I was 16 who pushed me off his lap when I skulled too much goon and needed to be sick. My friend’s older stoner brother who stole someone’s phone (instant ick) at a goth club. A brief pause in breakup queendom, to have my heart broken by 23-year-old wanna-be football player (worry not, my mum promised me in 2 weeks I would be over it – and I was. Good one mum). Then the Balinese surf instructor that I married at 21 who told me he wouldn’t be my friend if we weren’t married. Then a repeat of big dick boy from high school, volume two now with more abuse. The boring but beautiful Serb, whose mother would cry if he cooked for himself. Then finally the Hawaiian guitarist that I accidently had a baby with.
In each of these relationships, over a series of months I would slowly realise that my Autistic view that everyone means what they say, and my professional grade red-flag ignoring weren’t working anymore. And these men, well neither were they. It’d be swift. And mostly in text. I’m a writer baby, my written words are always better. Then I’d never look back, well except for the Hawaiian guitar player because we have a kid together – and we do alright as coparents.
I remember seeing friends after break ups wallowing in blanket forts constructed entirely of old maccas bags and tissues. They’d shut themselves away and lament, “I wish it would’ve worked out, we could have been so good together”. But they weren’t good, and even though some of the friends had initiated the breaking up, still they burritoed themselves and watched Love Actually or some such other casually rapey rom-com on repeat. Not me though. I was free, I moved on, I fucked randoms. And sure, it did take me about 7 goes to get rid of big dick abuser volume two. But I did it in the end and was joyous.
Then came the best friend breakup of 2013. In 2006 she was the first adult friend I’d made on my own, not through school. Turned out we had actually met 13 years earlier at a year 7 party. She was the little punk sitting alone on the stairs, and I was the lanky girl dressed as an alien, whose mum had told her “always seek out the weird kids, they’re the best people”. Another good one, mum. This time though, we met at my local pub The Crown. You could still smoke inside at the point, so my hair stunk like cigarettes from sitting in the pokies.
She walked in and suddenly I remembered her. “Are you Jacinta” I asked her, as memories of long-lost MSN chats came flooding back. And for once, someone remembered me! (Look I was never shy and retiring, I was just a weird kid who happened to be pretty forgettable back then).
“Oh my god yeah, you’re Brooke ay!?” she yelled over the sound of the feature going off on someone’s poker machine. And that was that. We became best friends.
We were both Blakfullas, and secretly I think we needed that of each other most at the time. She taught me to like aussie hip hop, we skinny dipped in my parents’ pool. I did her makeup and she put up with my bad sense of humour. In all, the queers in the room probably know where this is going. I was madly and secretly in love with her. Shock horror, the girl whose teenage bedroom wall was covered in pictures of Angelina Jolie and who may or may not have fooled around with her high school best friend – was again in big gay love with a girl. I could handle that secret though, as long as we were still mates.
In 2009 at the Obese Records Block Party at the Metro, in the middle of the Dialectrix set, she – gut full of vodka – cried and told me I was the best friend she’d ever had and that she loved me. I said “oh Cin, I love you too bro.” Gotta add the bro for effect. A year or so before, Jacinta’s grandmother had suddenly died in New Zealand and she had to fly there to be with family. Her 21st birthday had to be cancelled. So, I planned her a surprise dress up party for when she returned. All her friends came, and we decorated every room with different things she liked. I really commit to the friend thing.
Remember when I said that my Autistic brain has me believing people mean everything they say? Well apparently, they don’t and sometimes they don’t say anything at all (I wouldn’t know what that’s like). Jacinta thought it was a bad idea that I get married at 21 (yes she was right), which she accidentally texted to me instead of our friend Sally. Then when a close friend of hers, who was an acquaintance of mine died in a horrific motorbike accident, she needed me at the funeral. But she didn’t say that. So, I stayed home thinking it wasn’t appropriate for me to the be there. Oh, and those 7 break ups it took for me to escape abuser volume 2? Well apparently, she was sick of it. Sick of me. And she broke up with me in 2013. Via text, as you do.
It was my turn now to build myself a fort of old maccas wrappers and tissues, and I cried for 3 years straight. I cried when she got engaged and I wasn’t there. I cried when she got married and I wasn’t there. And I bawled my guts out when she had her first baby, and I wasn’t there.
In 2017 we reconnected briefly, I invited her to my daughters first birthday. Our babies played together and later she apologised for ‘being a dick back then’. Via text of course. But a week or so afterward she would tell me she ‘wasn’t ready to hang out’. So, we didn’t.
The thing that finally sewed my guts back up though, was when I saw her comment on Thelma Plum’s social media status about being abused by white people, and she said something like “not all white people are bad”. And I was finally done.
So, considering I’m here telling this story and it’s been 9 years, maybe I might not be the queen of break ups, and I think I’m ok with that because the innately relational part of my spirit, the part my ancestors cultivated for me, pushes me ever onward towards human connection.
Maeve: Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to check out Queerstories on Patreon where you can support the project for as little as $1 per month. Follow Queerstories on Facebook for news and event updates and follow me, Maeve Marsden on Twitter and Instagram.