I feel a lot like I am beginning to find my feet again. In truth, although I have been happier enough in the past few months, I haven’t made any progressive decisions and have chosen rather to avoid confrontation as opposed to facing it head-on as is necessary. I’ve been wanting to find myself and my interests as an individual for a while now and it would be a lie to say I haven’t felt the pressure of wanting to define myself. Yet, I am so much happier now because I have finally learnt that as individuals we needn’t be bound by limitations and of interests. It might have come as something of a revelation, but here I now realise that it is perfectly acceptable—and normal, no less, to never know exactly who you are and where you want to go. It is fine to listen to both pop and punk and in fact, we should be encouraged to explore all areas of the creative arts! I do not owe any apologies for wanting to be a surgeon today and a ballet dancer the next. We are still so frightfully young and it seems the world is so eager to want to put us in context and trap us there for the rest of our adult lives.
The world frowns upon the Dreamer now and we are made to feel that we are wasting time, wasting money and saddest of all, wasting potential. But, I pose to you, is it really such a waste to send our children on adventures that both broaden the mind and strengthen the soul? You will hear them complain about their ‘drifter’ niece and you should make sure to pay particular attention to the scorn in their voice at this point. Is it still considered ‘drifting’ when our youth seek knowledge overseas? Will you welcome them home with open arms when they return home from a year on an aid camp? I grant you that their purses will undoubtedly be lighter, but I would challenge anyone to prove me wrong when I say that the children of today will come home with a far heavier heart.
The world is old. It can teach us things that you will not find in the pages of textbooks. We spend so much of our childhood weighed down with the stress of examinations and the pressure to mature the quickest that we forget to remind our children that it is perfectly okay to be soft. We forget to tell them that leaving behind fairy-tales is not a necessary requirement of growing up. We forget to tell them that learning is not constrained to just the classroom.
Opportunity is all around us. We must move to seize it.
It seems to me that we always doubt the power of our words. God be damned if something I said has hurt you! I didn’t mean it. I swear. More fool me if something you’ve said has hurt me. Perhaps the lesson is not to surrender to silence, but to cease to underestimate words time and time again. They dare to prove us wrong. Here is spite! Here is anger! Here is our end!
We might not understand at the time that when we’re saying ‘I was trying to get away from you’ we are really saying that we are running from all that they are, that we have exhausted ourselves doing so, that we were trying not to love them.
Of course, this is never what we truly mean—but what we mean and what we say will never be mutually exclusive.
Ask yourself this: does he realise that when he tells you ‘I will love you forever’ he is really saying that he will love you for this year, for this hour, until he meets the other ‘one’, the ‘one’ he’s ‘been searching for all this time’? Does he realise that when you shiver it is not out of love but out of fear?
You know what is coming, but you choose to ignore it. You nod and you smile. You tell him you will love him forever, too. This is not what you mean.
You see, it is not what we mean but what we say that is important. Why is it that we are surprised when someone runs from us and even more so when they cry? Why is that we are surprised when our partners leave us, never to return, when two weeks ago things were still so ‘perfect’?
“We were so happy, I don’t get it,” he will say, shaking his head in denial. “She said she’d love me ‘til the end of time, for gods sake!” He’ll shout and punch his fist in the air.
“Are you sure she meant it?” she will ask tentatively, placing her hand atop of his.
“Of course she bloody meant it! We had no secrets! I would have known! Are you really that stupid?” he will shout, snatching back his hand.
The girl is stung. She will turn away. She will wipe her tears.
Somedays, it feels like I’m being strangled and I’ve no-one to call for help. I can’t help the way I feel and I cannot go on pretending that I’m content with all that we are. It’s the wrong way to live and to love.
If I were to meet the younger me, I would tell her that it’s okay to love multiple people at one time. I’d pat her head and tell her that it was okay not to choose, that it was brave to love this many people at once when there was no guarantee of love returned. I’d abolish the idea that it was reckless, for reckless implied it was bad, and explain in stead that it demonstrated great charity to want to share the heart. I’d encourage her to love fully. I’d tell her to dive right in and never come up for air. Sink into love.
I’d tell her that it’s okay to wake up at three in the morning with a man, naked to the waist, and still feel overcome with loneliness. I’d tell her to revel in it, get used to it. You’ll feel this way again. I’d tell her not to be afraid when she washes up in an empty alley late at night, tired and weary to the bone. I’d tell her to ditch the whiskey just shy of the motorway and not to be persuaded to sit at a steering wheel until at least sunrise. I’d tell her not to smoke that joint, even if the boy with the grey eyes dares her to. I’d tell her not to sleep with the boy with the grey eyes, especially not if his shirt is torn and there’s a cut on his lip that makes her knees quiver. I’d make sure she squashed it. There will always be others.
Alternatively, I’d tell her to get wasted, practice the pipe, sleep with the grey-eyed boy. I’d tell her to make sure she drowns.
“Every kiss provokes another. Ah, in those earliest days of love how naturally the kisses spring into life. How closely, in their abundance, are they pressed one against another; until lovers would find it as hard to count the kisses exchanged in an hour, as to count the flowers in a meadow in May.”—Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust
“You’re destroying me.
You’re good for me.
I like you.
I like you.
How slow all of a sudden.
Please, devour me.
Deform me to the point of ugliness.
I beg of you.”—Marguerite Duras
I am selfish with a friend. I love her dearly and she has only ever dealt me a good hand. Yet, she writes better than I and I am jealous. I swore I would never be jealous of another, for we are ultimately all one and the same, but in this case I can’t help it. It rises up in me every time I am asked my opinion, for hell should be so kind as to weigh it with value. She believes me a good writer, but she is mocking. I am not a writer. I never have been. What I am I do not know, but I am certainly not a writer. She writes so easily. I see her. For her, writing is something that brings her lightness. She writes of joy and of truths. She writes often. I, on the other hand, rarely write at all. It is not easy for me. It brings me no joy. Still, I have not given up. Writing to me is like a damned lover who brings only bitterness but whom is vital to my survival. I yearn for it, but it never quite satisfies. Writing is a constant fight. No happiness can be found together, but no relief can be salvaged apart. In stead, we must stick together. We will grow old and resentful. We will never grow to appreciate each other. We will starve until our time is up.
There are times when I will dote upon him, but each time I am told it is too hard, too much, too violent. I do not have her light touch. I was never taught that to stare was impolite. I was direct. I never bothered to glance. I dove in, tore apart his heart, wrenched out his organs, bled into him. He could have been screaming and still I would not know how to stop. We were no good. Still, together we died.
“I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.”—Jeanette Winterson,Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?