Yeah right, he says. Yeah right. Nodding his head. Yeah right, he says. Yeah right. Nodding his head. Sure, sometimes. Sure. Yeah. Cool. You’re a bit cute. Yeah. Okay. Yeah right. Yeah right. What? Are you a hockey player? Yeah right. Yeah right. Yeah right. What? A swimmer? Yeah right. Yeah right. Yeah right. What? Should I wear my part in the middle or on the side? Yeah right. Can you give me my hat back. I’m too old for this, hat games. Yeah right. Yeah right. Yeah right. What? Yeah right. You want to go to my place? It’s not far. Not far. Yeah right. We can get there soon. Let’s go now. What? Yeah right. We can get to the fucking now, right? Can’t we just get to the fucking? Isn’t that what we’re doing?
Sometimes I see my reflection in a window and I see what I assume you sometimes see when you read my stories here: a person exposed, caught off guard. When I was younger I used to wonder when all the scaffolding would come down from the buildings, when everything would be complete. Now I know that nothing is ever finished. This morning I wrote an entire post about a breast cancer scare I had earlier this year and I very suddenly realised that this has to end at some point: this curating of my life through stories. So I’m stopping now, at least for a while. This decision made me cry (of course), it made my chest fill with panic (of course); I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. But, what I hope is, that by letting g notes go I can create space for something else.
But where will I share my stories now? Who will share my heartbreak? What will I be without my blog?
Just another writer, trying to write a book.
Love to each and all x
There was a dead rat which I smelled before I saw at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the canal. On the other side of the canal, past the trees, was a small park around which homeless people camped, or I guess lived. In the middle of the grassy area a woman lay out in her bikini. It was a hot day. Sweat ran down my back and legs and the beer I was drinking was turning warm at a rate that would leave it hot before I was half-way done. I’d brought for the man I was meeting an icy-pole, along with a beer, and when he went to open it, the icy-pole, it had already turned liquid sugar. I poured it into the canal and it looked like the last of what comes up after a day of vomiting. It was difficult to concentrate on what the man was saying, it was so hot. He was saying something about his work. Design. Apps. Drum app. CV. New job. Needs one. I said, ‘I’m listening, I’m listening.’ We laughed a bit and smiled into each other’s faces, and his was the face of a 25 year old, but I knew he was 35 because that’s what it says on his Tinder profile. He told me later when I had my hands on his bare back and commented on the softness of his skin that this youthfulness was thanks to his Portuguese and Indian heritage. It’s not the first time I’ve told a man that their skin is the softest I’ve ever felt, nor do I believe it’s the first time this man has responded to this compliment in this way. I saw all the way through to the script, his script. All that we were saying was to create our desired character and we create that character so as to be what we believe is desirable. Which is why when he’d told me earlier that I was cute, I said that I wasn’t and he said, ‘You know you can be strong and independent as well as cute, right’ – and I didn’t even need to look down at my lines, so many times have I played this out. And, really, it was all playing out pretty much the same as most of these things do. Though he was English and we were in Berlin, the world and how we treat sexual possibilities seems mostly always to be the same. And no matter where we are, in our home cities or on a beach in India, we almost always attract the same people into our lives, over and over again. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes you just laugh along because it’s not terrible, it’s just like only ever listening to the same album. And if we were each to be asked, in one of these moments, ‘What is it that you are doing?’, I guess we would both say that we were attempting to manipulate the other so that we could get what we wanted. He wanted to have sex, I wanted someone to hang out with, and then to have sex. But when I was back at his apartment later, after the sun had long gone, and we were kissing, I already knew I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I knew before I met him that I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I’d decided, already, to see what would happen, how that script would play out, if I didn’t sleep with a man, even if I wanted to. So, instead, we kissed and kissed and kissed, pash rash threatening, and I said, ‘I’m leaving now, I’m leaving now’ but never actually left until finally I did. I rode home, my entire body pulsing, my hair a mess. The next day he sent me a text saying, ‘How’s the rash?’, and it wasn’t even the first time I’d received that exact message. A couple of days later we saw a film at the open-air kino in Kreuzburg and I went back to his place afterwards. He’d stripped me down to my underwear and he to his before I could tell him again that I wasn’t having sex with him. I was the piece of meat – some cheap off-cut – dangling in front of the hungry dog, the owner going, ‘You want it, don’t you? You want it? Well, you’re not having it.’ His face crumpled into that of a little boy whose mum had just told him he wasn’t getting ice cream for dessert, making it more or less clear that if nothing conjugal was going to happen it was best if I left. I quickly put my clothes back on and, as I tied my shoelaces, I asked him if he ever did things just for the pleasure of it. He said he didn’t really, not like this. He looked lost. And I realised that I could have had sex with him – there was no danger of him ever hurting me. But I didn’t. I got on my bike and rode home as fast as possible, through the dark, empty streets of my new city, where everything is the same but isn’t.
I caught a glimpse of myself, an outer body view, sitting in a low, squat armchair holding Miranda July’s short story collection in one hand and a pilsner in the other. Music playing (Seekae, a Melbourne band that my friend and I have been following since they first began). Sunshine filtering through a lace curtain. Window open. Wildflowers sitting in a vase on my desk, mostly dead but still beautiful. And I smiled and closed my eyes and sank in. My mind, threatening to be peaceful. German class is terribly difficult, and most of me doesn’t really like it and wants already to declare defeat. It makes me think of the time when I went to a Body Step class in 2006 and the instructor narrowed her gaze and said to me, ‘It’s really not that hard.’ A boxing instructor once told me the same thing. My body and voice and mind are not so much the most naturally coordinated instruments. But the teenage boy in my class, who arrived in Berlin from Syria five days ago, after forty days of driving and walking, makes me smile, in a motherly kind of way. As though I’ve known him forever and I’m so proud of the young man he’s becoming, fluff on upper lip and hair oiled and combed back. He says new words and smiles, makes mistakes and smiles, and tries again and smiles. He brought me to an instant shame the first class. Shame of my ego, of my not trying harder, of my being voice-shy. Shame of the ease of my life. He’s using an old note pad with not many pages left, on which he carefully writes all of the teacher’s notes, and I wonder if it would be okay to buy him a new one, could it be done in a way that wasn’t a do-gooder way, does he even need a new one. I stood in front of the note pads in the shop later, and I couldn’t decide whether or not it would be appropriate. So I bought myself a new pen instead. Life. My neck crunches when I flop my head from shoulder to shoulder, my knees click, my hips don’t move as they probably should, and my shoulders creak. Crunch. Click. Creak. Life. Crunch. Click. Creak. Life. To live and decay at once – how about that. Next summer I want to go camping. I want to buy a tent and pitch it somewhere, and make coffee as the sun comes up. I don’t know where I would go. Near a pretty lake or a forest maybe. The thought of it is so romantic. But I don’t really care if I go alone or with someone. It’s romantic all the same. When I think about camping I think about how it would feel to be alone in a tent, without a door and a lock between me and everything else. It would feel very much like you were sleeping on Earth, rather than sleeping in a bed, in a room, in an apartment, in a building, on a street, on Earth. I guess I would feel uncomfortable at first. Threatened by intruders and the elements. But there are lots of things that make me uncomfortable: looking in the mirror, having my photo taken, telling people about myself, saying any German word, when people say ‘You deserve it’ when talking about any physical possession, having enough money to buy as many note pads and pens as I want. Being seen is what makes me uncomfortable, taking up space on Earth. At the end of class, I noticed that some of my classmates rush off as fast as possible, to girlfriends or to friends or to simply rush off because that’s what we are used to doing: rushing off and then getting home and realising there is nothing and no one there and that that makes you very lonely. You look at your phone, as though it is the answer, and then die a bit, live and decay. I have time so I take it, and my life feels fuller the more time I have. I’m not ashamed of my abundance of time. Learning, writing, working, idling. Not making sense. Taking a shower and noticing how the water feels on my body: feeling. Eating, and tasting. Talking to people, looking in and seeing the human being. That other person with a whole world in their head, like me but different. Luxuriating in time, not wishing it away and not wishing it to rewind. This chair, this moment: they are mine. With nowhere to rush to, and nothing to prove. And nothing to apologise for or feel guilty about. There’s no shame. There’s no shame in being human, for being your imperfect and strange self on this Earth.
We are too much for ourselves because there is far more to us – we feel more – than we can manage. ~ Adam Phillips
Leaving again. Saying goodbye again. Wondering what I’m doing again. Feeling moments of loneliness and exhaustion again. Feeling a bit ridiculous. Feeling all stretched out and had it. Feeling like I’m being squashed in a box and all my flesh is bulging out the sides. Laugh-crying. Saying, I don’t know why I’m crying. HAHAHA! Laughing to stop crying. Laughing hard, laughing a lot. HA!HA!HA!
Leaving again. Saying goodbye again. Wandering what I’m doing again. Riding my bike with tears running down my face, thinking, damn, where is this all coming from. Thinking, damn, that was a long two and a half months. Thinking what even happened these last months.
Had a lot of beautiful times. That’s what happened. Had conversations I’ll never forget. Had hugs I can still feel. Had sex with more strangers. Had fun. Had momentary connection. Had the courage to not cling on. Had no regrets. Had two weddings. Had my friend wed, had my brother wed. Had my parents in the same room for the first time in eleven and a half years. Had many nights alone, bored. Had many nights alone, writing. Writing and writing and writing and thinking I can make something if I want. I can make something if I really want. Thinking damn. Thinking damn I’m tired.
But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But.
Being single is a brave choice – because no matter what the reality feels like it is a choice and will always remain so. Anyone can choose to settle, at any point in their life, whether for love or for companionship or to simply ward off loneliness or societal pressures, but not everyone is prepared to choose to be alone.
Being single means sitting with and observing yourself for long periods of time, often when all you want, or believe you need, is to be told that you are beautiful, strong, unique, or whatever. It means getting to know yourself in ways that scare you and then fronting up to the world the next day as though doing so is the easiest, most natural thing. It means looking at yourself in the mirror on days that you feel emotional and ugly and worthless and telling yourself that you are beautiful and strong, and also believing it to be true.
The dream of solitude sponsors the hope of creative liberation ~~ [I wrote this quote down at some point; I’d like to think that I wrote it myself but I’m sure I didn’t but I’m not sure who did.]
A time ago, back when I was living in my Brunswick one-bedder, I was down on my hands and knees looking for a baking ingredient at the far-reaches of my kitchen cupboard, merely ginormous not necessarily well stocked, when I found a pot that I’d stashed in there a couple of months earlier. I grabbed the handle, sat back on my haunches and inspected its contents: rice was crusted, thick and black, to its bottom. I was momentarily confused before its history came back to me: I’d flung the pot into the cupboard when I was expecting company of a male nature and hadn’t had the time, nor desire, to clean it. It had been there ever since; I obviously had not missed the pot. I shook my head in disappointed disbelief.
I glimpse the white of my face and the wet red of my lips in the bathroom mirror and I know I only have tens of minutes to get home before every cell in my body starts to bleed the black death of a hangover made severer for the $6.50 red wines I’d been drinking with a friend at the Brunswick Green the night before, and really, that’s when it all should have ended, when I walked her to the spot at which she was going to turn and head off on her bike and I was going to turn and go directly home. But there was this man I was texting and it was leading to the suggestion of having a late-night drink (sex) and lately I’ve been all like yeah whatever why not like it’s 2009. But it’s not, is it. Still, I say yeah sure let’s have a drink and he says he’s going to roll out of bed and meet me at Longplay, which happens to be not far from his house. What’s a $17 cab fare on a May night feeling so full of jovial promise, right? Continue reading