Sunday, 22 May 2016

Follow The Wonderful Ones

I have found myself in a dreamlike state. 
I walk, freshly showered, from my bathroom to my living room where music plays. I have done this many times before, and it is the same, but feels so different now. 
I walk inside a world which doesn't contain your body, where you are not here, at least not in the same form. 
Before you died, I pictured "myself" without you. Though, it was a different world to this one - maybe it was a different corridor I was walking down, into a different living room, with a different mind in a different head. In this fantasy, I was able to cope. We had said goodbye. 
It wasn't THIS life. THIS reality. 

I wasn't even supposed to be there. It was September 10th - I had misplaced my debit card (as I regularly did) and had to rebook my appointment a week earlier. I thought of this often in the following months. Every circumstance, every choice, every wrong turn throughout my life had led me to being there, in that place, and all of his life had led him there to me, too.
Of course, at the time, I hadn't realised the enormity of the moment I was enduring in that costume shop. I was just looking at an attractive, slightly older gentleman with a glint of mischievousness in his eyes, and a smile that felt very familiar. Blue jeans, white shirt. The kind of person that you meet and instantly feel at ease with, "Aah yes, here you are!"
We exchanged pleasantries - both of us people who are interested to know other people. I thought, perhaps, he was an actor. His costume was for a role in a play, he was probably the lead. I would go and see the play, of course. Because I am someone who follows the Wonderful Ones, the people who radiate. As he swished about in his long black tattered coat, I enjoyed watching him. This was a man who loved something about life - I didn't know what, but I wanted to know. This was a man with a story. He watched me, too, as I excitedly searched the aisles of costumes, my hands running through the fabrics and my eyes lit up at the magic I found in it all. We were two people, curious of each other and confident in ourselves, happy with what we each had without the other.

"So, what's your costume for!?" I asked him.
"It's for a Crazy Circus costume ball," he told me, his eyes warm and in a knowing voice. "I hold one every year at the end of summer. What's yours for?"
I told him about my photography workshops, and how I like to create surreal little worlds to hide in. Without prompting, I asked for an invitation to his costume ball - "I need to come to this! It sounds like my kind of night."
He chuckled, telling me I would have to work for him in order to come, since it was a staff party.
"Hire me then!" I said, eyes shining. "I'll do you a good rate for some photography!"
He seemed pleased with this, we were equal in confidence and thirst for new experiences. Who was to say where that Circus Ball would lead? At worst, a fun night meeting new people and £250 quid in my pocket. At best? I didn't contemplate what would eventually come. I thought - a new friend, a firm friend, someone I recognised parts of myself in, someone wonderful. Something wonderful.

I left him my phone number and he went along his way. I went along mine.

Fast forward to May 9th, It's been 10 days. I have spent the day in Manchester with my mum, I hold her hand as we sift through crowds of people who are not grieving. I drop her off at her platform, and hug her goodbye as though it is the last time.
Upon leaving Piccadilly Station, I am faced with two choices. I can walk out of the exit I usually leave from, or I can take the exit I never choose - I don't particularly know where I am going, but I am confident that I will be able to find my way.
Suddenly this pressure accumulates on my mind. All of the choices, however small, that I had EVER made in my life had added up to me meeting him in that costume shop that day.
I feel helpless, unable to make a simple decision. What if it is the wrong one? What is I was supposed to walk out of the other exit, towards another destiny? In choosing one door, all my other possible lives collapse in front of me. The reality of this blows my mind.

I walk through the exit I do not ever choose.

On the drive home, I think about the implications of this. Assuming I don't get wiped out by an untimely asteroid, an untimely bus, or catch something bad, supposedly I will live a long life. That life stretches in front of me endlessly right now, it is a life in which we have no more moments together, no more time together. I can't see how it will ever be as wonderful as the life I have just had ripped away from me.
Yet still, it stretches. And I have choices to make, potential lives to forsake for those choices, other soulmates to miss by seconds, other mistakes and sorrows waiting at the end of choices I make that bring joy.
A man is indicating at a tricky junction, I gently apply my brakes and wave him out. He gives me the biggest smile and wave, I feel a small squeeze of happiness. I see birds hovering, suspended in flight, like they all were when you left. I remember a poem, I watch them. I feel another small squeeze of happiness. Another car drives by, a little boy presses his face against the window, trying to soak all of the world into his eyes. Another squeeze of happiness.

And I think to myself, maybe, just maybe - this is enough.
I will never meet another Him, because there was only one. I might never meet another person so beautifully cut out for me as he was, I might always take the "wrong" exits and miss out on some film-worthy life, but maybe that is OK. Because life is an embroidery stitched out of joy and sorrow, and as long as I allow myself to witness and appreciate those joys - however small - then this long journey will not be a sad one. And as long as I always follow the Wonderful Ones, recognise them, enjoy them for whatever they may bring with no want or expectation, then wherever I end up will always be the Right Place, and will be exactly as it should.

I smiled to myself - I can live with that. I can be happy with that. It is enough.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Strawberry sweets

Your house is full of people
"We have been keeping him alive"
They say, ten hours or so have passed
I am lay in the doorway, dream like, waiting
They are playing you music, it is your medicine
I hear them quietly through the door, the drum
the cry, the strum,
the strings
The First Days of Spring
I have yet to be allowed to touch you,
They are trying to keep your mind alive
I am told.
I ignore them
I am feeding you
Strawberry sweets
Soft on your tongue, you turn
You move again
You look at me,
"These taste awful."
All of my grief alleviates.
"Pass me another."

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Strength: Revised

"I am strong, I can get through this." "You're the strongest person I know." "This will only make you stronger." "Just be strong, it will get better."

Lately I've been thinking a lot about being 'strong' and what it means to me. I've always considered myself a 'strong' person - I'm kind, and make a conscious effort to be. I equate kindness with strength, because I believe it is easier to find reasons to hate - to hate life, to hate people, to hate your circumstances. It is far harder to love, to be gentle and kind. But right now, kindness isn't really doing much to ease the loss and absence I am feeling, that I can't escape from.

So, okay, let's put kindness aside for now. What else do I have? Well, I'm pretty good at avoiding pain. I have built a life for myself away from most things that hurt - I live in a cosy affordable apartment in the countryside, so I don't have to suffer the pain of ever being financially crippled and not being able to cope. I simply avoid the stress of city living, the hustle and bustle of people pushing through the crowds on their way to some destiny, by sitting in the fields miles away from it all, toes stretched and earth under my feet. I'm pleasant to everyone I meet so I don't have to deal with the anxiety that they might not have enjoyed my company, that they might not like me. I listen to my own music instead of the radio, so I can control the mood I'm in when I run my errands for the day. I only take on jobs that I will really enjoy with clients who seem like really decent people, so I can minimize stress and avoid going to bed with a defeated heart and a sense of emptiness.

And this is all working for me, it has worked for me up until now. I created a climate in which I could breathe, I made time for the small pieces of glitter that you catch glinting within all the grey stone. I have walked the sadness out of my shoes many times, run with tears rolling down my cheeks until I couldn't deny the feeling of being alive any longer. I have savoured the taste of the camp fires in the air and I enjoyed every moment I had with you, with myself. I allowed time to pass without trying to hold onto it. I thought I was prepared for this, I thought this had made me strong.

But I sit here, and I remain.
The first time I looked in the mirror that day, I didn't see my reflection. I saw me without you, a person I never wanted to see.

I do not feel strong, I feel carried. Time takes me to the next day, and the next, and the next. I just remain here in my body, powerless to fight it.
If strong is an attitude, then yes, I have moments of strength. But my motivation most days is limited to lying with a white mind, in my white room, on my white sheets, motionless.
When I moved in two years ago, I chose that bedroom because when the evening spring sunlight shines into it, and the soft curtains catch the breeze from the open window, it feels like heaven. And I lie there, in my self created heaven, not feeling much at all.

So I ask myself, how can I avoid this? I usually have all the answers. I could travel to a room bursting with colour down a side street in Morocco, but I don't think this sadness is something I can unpack from my suitcase. I could swallow sweetness and use biology - lift up my wilting mind with dopamine, sugar, a fix. But I think I am too aware of my own bad habits to fool myself any more.
The idea of filling the hole you have left with another is sacrilegious to me, my teeth crumble at the thought. The idea of loving again seems inauthentic, and I am convinced any feelings for another down the line would be a result of loneliness and a need for human contact, because no one will ever compare to you. No, I've had my fill of love for this lifetime. It might not have been for long, but it was enough, a taste was enough.

So I am left with this. This is now my Great Journey, there is just my shadow left walking down our road.
And whilst I do not "feel strong", I do "feel". And though this pain I cannot avoid, I must find a way to work it through my fingers, to add water to it, to turn it into some softness. I must learn to dance with it, to listen to it, to stroke it's hair, to love it. I must learn.

To be continued.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Stage Left

The air thickens
in my lungs
I breathe in water,
under water
salty and seasoned
by some numbness.

I try to take hold of life and shake it
Instead words drop from sentences
like heavy leaves, dead from a branch
And I remain
The sky is blue and high
I feel it all, I see it all
I am free to leave, unlocked
You asked me to leave myself ajar

 But I do not move
I curl into myself
Wishing I was a dying leaf too
That I did not have to live in this humid
you-less place
more a place borne to choke
each breath out
Your absence rings in my ears

For now, I live in the hesitation before the choice
the word you search for on your tongue
but cannot place
that's my home
My hope lies in the leap days that will never happen
Maybe you are waiting there
On some star with some telescope
a thousand years before our births, waiting
to watch us meet again

You call, and temporarily I forget
this headache simply dissolves
Except for this deep bass note, reminder
that every second that passes is hurling me towards your grande exit
Stage left
And there is nothing I can do, but watch
with big eyes and a broken heart

Friday, 15 January 2016


So I've thought quite hard about it, and I've decided there is only one way to not let life eat you up with sorrow. Grief when death slips itself quietly underneath the door, the unspoken mourning when you realise you are never going to be this same person in this same place in your life ever again, when your fragile glass house of comfort and safety crumbles in an instant, like it was only built of sugar all along. The only way I can deal with this furious entropy speeding toward me, is to really notice when I am light, when I am happy, to sing as loudly as I can to the music, to smile as I kiss him, and to notice and be glad for these moments when I really do have it all. And then maybe, when sorrow comes and wraps it's long fingernails around me, perhaps there will be no life left in me for it to squeeze out - for I had soaked it all up, let it evaporate into the past as it should, nothing to yearn for, nothing left to be tainted, nothing that grief can take from me, nothing it can leave within me.

Sunday, 10 January 2016


I have these dreams of a nomad life, on a blowing road. Just me, my feet and some rusty trailer van. Cold nights adjourned with blankets, the chill of loneliness offset only by the warmth of solitude... Oh how these visions bloom inside my head, every time I let my racing mind pause for breath, a spring flower thought blooming out of the mundane frost. I can hear the music, I don't know where it's playing from, some soundtrack to it all - I invite the musicians into my home on wheels, I don't know their names or their stories. And yet they play them for me as though we are long lost friends, bonding over some camp fire, exchanging memories like currency. My cat travels with me, of course - a furry friend to curl up with, another soul to study, a release for my maternal instincts that will go undoubtedly buried.

I pause, and mourn quietly for the loss of the life I grew up supposed to have. My grandmother's hands in soapy water, her voice narrating a husband with hands to wash me, whilst my mind is drifting off into a barn alight with feet, somewhere. I know how to be still, but only when everything around me is in chaos. I know how to move with the wind, let my feet bleed raw, leave the pavement beneath me wanting more... but only when everything around me is stagnating. I do not feel up, nor down, not here, nor there. I remind myself that this - this is the beauty of being. The song changes, and now I am a ballet dancer with all the softness of rain - no, the reflections of rain on a car dashboard, I wouldn't exist without the streetlight... I am unwashed droplets on the windscreen, I look like a thousand stars when another car comes over the horizon. I am nothing without this music, this poetry, this world which taught me how to feel.

I turn onto my back and cover myself in the blankets, each which held lover after lover. Each who held me, broke me, soothed me, healed me, taught me how to heal myself. Taught me how to comfort myself, like a panicked child - to forgive myself, I murmur softly "I know why you thought those terrible things, I understand, I forgive you, I love you, I love you." I exhale my old hopes and dreams, a husband, a home - they had built up like a thick tar in my lungs, slowly choking me and forcing me to learn how to breathe in a different way. I inhale my freedom. I question my sanity. I laugh, because that is all you can do. I smile to myself, because I know so little about who I am - the only thing I know for sure, is that I Am A Traveller.

I Am A Traveller.
I travel at lightning speed through the galaxy, I travel year upon year around the sun.
I travel through the moments of my life, experiencing each day as though it had already been written - as though some omnipotent being has given me one last chance to live it all again - I hold each moment to my chest and let my heart fill with a buttery mixture of sweet joy and sweeter grief, and I cast it aside with the most gentle, soft ruthlessness I can muster as I travel to the next now, and the next, and the next...
I am a traveller. As I lie in my trailer on the side of the road, wrapped in the blankets of my past, all those people I never really knew, and I let them keep me warm. I'm on some hillside, some unknown place again in my mind. But all is home to a traveller. And I am a traveller.

As the song tails off into silence, I lay fixed in my solid bed, in my solid home on solid ground, wheel-less and stationary. I have lived here for nearly two years, and every day I have travelled. To memories I will never experience, to dreams that will never come to be, and yet exist just as beautifully as real life, if only I always allow myself to travel to them. I cannot bring myself to close that door of my soul, it is the only door I have ever known, one I built somewhere deep within myself. I feel it is a part of myself that cannot be given, or sold, or shown.

It seems there is so much talk of letting other people into ourselves, but never is it mentioned of how to let ourselves out.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Out of the Blue

Once, all within a second
I was hit with a flash of blue
Came the thud, the crack, the brace
I awaited my unity with cold metal
Just carbon spilling into carbon
Like long lost friends
Instead, the shattering glass
it rained over me like stars
I had never felt so soft
I felt the weight of the temporary bury itself in my side
The music had gone

I opened my eyes to all colours of life, mine to keep,
if only for a little while more.

And I decided,
a little while is enough.