The Train Station

I went to your platform, with a satchel on my back and your music in my head

I was about to board your train

But the signs on the walls held me back. They said

                  No clowns, no criminals, no fun and games, no carving names into seats;

                  Sex, but not sexuality, feeling, but no speaking of it, no honest conversations, nor baggage, no bare feet;

                  No open-mindedness, and no history, everything picked apart and put back together, altered, amended, no wait and see;

(with no thought to how that would change me)

                  No food, no drink, no lying about and wasting the day, no smiles, or glee, and definitely no ten-minute silences for anything lost on the journey;

                  No adventure, no crawling under seats, no looking out of windows or seeking new discoveries, and definitely no ten-minute silences for the freedom we gave up just to see.

 

None of these were my rules. And none of this was me.

As I walked away, I looked back at the train to see how I would feel,

And there it stood,

black and white,

on sheets of your imagination

Its destination as far from me as possible, already taking flight into a place

with little broccoli florets for trees and stick men for humans (what childish uniformity)

 

Your train is not from this world; it was just a dream.

This ticket was never free, and it was never meant for me.

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Why I Won’t Let Go

I am not graceful, but neither are you. I am not together, or cool, or all that interesting. I have not achieved great things, nor made a difference that will go down in the history books. But neither have you. I have not meant every word I have said, I have relied on clichés to see me through, I have never written anything original or life changing, that others have passed on in rapture. I have never loved all that well, or completely. But neither have you.

You wouldn’t let that hold you back. You blunder on through, you push your agenda, you believe whatever you want to believe. Your middle finger is the most elegant thing in your vocabulary.

I have never been completely sure until the moment when I realised that I cannot wait to see you again, and you were already lying right next to me. You were already there and it wasn’t enough. You are like no one I know. You are unimaginable.

These days, I think that I made you up.

I won’t let you go, not because you have made me feel invincible, or infinite, or even just a little special. I won’t let you go because I know that I am all of those things, and I am waiting for you to discover me.

We are simply human, you and I, but I think we can surpass ourselves, surpass our non-achievements and our graceless ways. Together.

Just don’t let go.

Kissing Beneath the Streetlight: Part 2

We stood beneath a streetlight and kissed. There was nothing romantic about it. There was no soft music playing, no moon to catch your face, no gentle breeze to rustle our clothes. I felt light-headed because I had breathed in too much smoke and it tangled itself in my hair until there was nothing else but the reek of bars and disappointed dreams all around me.

You were lovely once.

Buddha said, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gentle you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

I know that you were not meant for me.

I will never be graceful.

Kissing Beneath the Streetlight

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I felt light headed – how different you were. How different you both were, the two men who broke my heart in different ways. Your kiss was unknown, unpractised and uncertain. I wanted much more, I wanted it all right then, but thought that I had all the time in the world. I thought that you would be back. I thought that the unknown would become practised and certain; eventually.

Does it bother you that I am desperate? Does it concern you that I want to fight you, fight for you, battle out your stubbornness, your indecision, this uncertainty. It bothers me. But I am tired of being the person who is strong and dignified. I would give up that strength for a while. I would give up my dignity for a shot at love.

We stood beneath a street light and kissed. I ran my hand down your back and it hurt my senses because I already knew how beautiful you would be naked. I wanted to strip you in the street, just to trace your contours with my eyes. I wanted to gather your skin in my hands and rub it against me. I wanted the sensory explosion of your scent, your face, your hands, your smile.

Does it bother you that I cry when I listen to your music? Does it concern you that it has become my masochistic means of punishing myself, of trying to get over you, while falling for your voice over and over again. The opening chords are enough to deflate me, to push me over the edge. All I want, right now, is to lie at your feet while you play those opening chords again and again, until the edge has come and gone and whatever exists in the abyss has come to claim me.

We stood beneath the street light and kissed. I couldn’t have imagined you would never become part of my life. I never imagined that there would be a price to pay for my hope. I felt like I had been promised something. A soldier next to me, a master, a dreamer, a creator. I thought that if we combined our strengths we would be invincible. Us against them.

But it was you against me.

I don’t know where it all went wrong.

We stood beneath a streetlight and kissed. There is no one like you.

I want to go back. I want to start again.

You Fought Me

You are a radical in all you do

Even in love, it is “at first sight” or not at all

You play guitar in the corners of rooms

And I ran, I ran to you

I found you in a cushioned cocoon

 

Flailing about in my lily white skin

Your skin a decaying artwork of pain

The only manifestation of your burning lungs

Too beautiful, so beautiful

I wanted to trace you with my tongue

 

I held onto your body in the street

As the waves of change came over me

There was happiness in being part of our human collective

But I could not feel nor look at you

Your blue-eyed stare reflective

 

Of what you believed

 

You fought me

You thought you could see all of me

But like others before, you weren’t looking for me

You were looking for you

And for what you believed me to be

 

In the end I still have that seed of me

And my dignity

I had hope

As I sit down to write this letter I realise that it has been a very, very long time since I have written a letter to friends. The truth is, my time was not really my own, not because I have been too busy, but because I have been concentrating almost exclusively on my fledgling relationship. Little did I know that, no matter how much you bend over backwards for someone, not having the grounding of love and passion makes every moment more pointless. So, on Wednesday, after he landed back in South Africa, having been away for two weeks, I did the necessary and long-overdue evil of telling him of all the ways that I have been unhappy. My intention was to express my hope that our relationship would get better, but he saw it as an opportunity to end things. As painful as it is, he had a point. He told me that he has not felt strongly for me and that he feared he never will.

It was a lonely ending, with an agonising lesson – that again, even though I chose this man carefully and gave myself freely to him because I believed him to be wonderful, love is the most difficult thing to find. Relationships require the dedication of both partners. He never let me in. It was easy to be with him, but it was also a lonely experience due to the undercurrent of silence which characterised the time we were together. He never tried to know me and at some point, I stopped trying to talk.

I may have not believed this before, but I see now that for some couples, although there is also choice, there is a whole lot of luck involved in the moment that two people meet and decide to be together. I used to kid myself that I chose to be single (unmarried) for this long, but the truth is that we are always seeking that special person. No one can tell me that they are happy (totally fulfilled) without the love of that someone special. We need that other person to affirm our place in the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t be happy single, because we can, but love is the human condition we seek. Experiencing the death of another relationship (but, in particular, this one) just makes me think that people who find love are so lucky. Making that love work is another thing, but simply finding it in the first place is near impossible. So, my attitude towards this has changed and I hope that everyone who is reading this will go to the person they love and reaffirm their commitment to them. Work on what you have, if you think there is enough love there, and don’t think there is a more perfect other out there. There is no such thing as perfect.

With him, I had to keep reminding myself that I DO have intelligence, that I DO have independence and affectionate friends, and that I AM interesting and loveable. It was a warning to me; not one which I chose to ignore, but which I hoped would not be the be-all and end-all of the relationship. I know from the past that losing recognition of yourself is the worst way to end up and that no relationship is worth that.

It has been a strange and rather abrupt process of lesson-learning. On Saturday I was very happily preparing to go to a gig with no ill-intention. The musician at the gig, a man (boy) that I had met at a music competition a few weeks earlier, suggested we become Facebook friends. Quickly the comparisons began. The young, aspirational muso versus the unloving (but kind) established man. When I saw my kind man two nights later, I barely recognised him. It was as if he had aged during our time away. Even the colour of his eyes seemed paler. This has nothing to do with reality, just the changed perception I had of him. And now, even though it hurt then, I cannot remember a time when we were happy. Nonetheless, I know we were and that there were moments when I simply adored him. He is not different, but I am, because I am back to being me. Friday night I donned by Docs and my short skirt and played pool while watching bands. I told my friend that I felt 24 years old again. Truthfully, I have been trying really hard to grow up and at the same time, trying to be myself, and maybe that means hanging out in grungy bars and wearing Doc Martens.

The lovely friend who introduced us said he felt bad for having done so, but of course I have no regrets. I was the best behaved girlfriend I have ever been. I didn’t even look at other men; that is, until aspirant muso arrived on the scene. It was perhaps the most mature relationship I have ever had – there were no fights, we held hands all the time, we were generous with our compliments and with our time. And that’s the funny part, because on paper it looked like a really healthy relationship. My mom once told me that I must never meet a man in a bar, but even though I met him for the first time in the park, there is more to a relationship that how it all began, and more to a person than what they are not. And there is more to finding love than the intractable hope I have continued to feel and will continue to feel, indefinitely. I don’t know how else to be.

A Place to Lay the Bodies

I guess it is inevitable, that as I get older, the body count will rise. Without the instruction manual for life, what can you really know about the endless little ways in which you learn to live with these cadavers? Right now I feel as if they are weighing me down because I wasn’t close enough to them, or because I didn’t love them, or know them well-enough, or because they have others doing the mourning for them. That doesn’t mean that this loss is not mine to feel. My heart swells with it, bleeds an invisible stream of the darkest blood, rivulets which filter into my veins, travelling on a gruesome journey of reminders. My memories are tainted by this invisible stream of blood that I don’t feel entitled to bleed.

My pain has always been mine alone. I have carried it through a solitary wilderness within me. This is no different.

My apologies to you. Yesterday your life ended so abruptly and all I can think of is how selfish you are to die at this time. I wasn’t doing so well and I made it known. With my face bowed beneath my tears, I forgot to look up to study your face that one last time. I couldn’t find it in me to laugh at your jokes, or ask how you are. You are selfish to have died before I could say sorry. And now? Now you have reminded me, in the most heart-breaking way, how short this life really is. I need to go on living; with and without my cadavers. It will only get worse but I have to do this alone. A solitary wilderness is the best place to preserve the remains of these memories.