The crackle at the other end of the line
told me that he was still there,
despite the dead silence.
The click at the back of his teeth,
and the sudden sharp uncontrolled intake of breath,
Impatient at the rising pitch of my voice,
wavering perilously close to tears.
Tremulous and shaky,
for the third phone call this month.
I am stricken by the irritation in his voice,
and struggle to make amends.
I apologize for being irritable,
for being a bore, for being predictable
and for the lack of sparkle in our conversation.
I dredge out the same dull things each time.
The worry in my thoughts
translate to a crease in between my eyebrows,
turning into a ceaseless litany of woe on the phone.
I can imagine the mouse
hovering over a link in red
and the impatience perched at the corner of his absent smile.
I hang up feeling stupid.
That evening sitting with work,
with cats lolling on the floor,
and stray roommates behind closed doors,
I remember my grandmother,
and us children rolling our eyes, every time her voice would start to rise
about my dead grandfather,
about money, and the servants.
The crack was coming, we knew it
because it came so often.
Impatience, and irritation.
‘I love her, but why can’t she just keep her misery to herself?’
I did not think those thoughts,
I did not vocalize them,
not even to myself.
Am I a bad person,
I wonder.
Don’t think so much,
a friend told me over the phone.
Isn’t it exhausting,
she asked, bewildered, frustrated.
Yes, I said.
But not giving shape to the thought in your head,
doesn’t un-make it.
But I am a fool,
who thinks too much, and sleeps too little, and gets confused,
and cries on the phone.
Offering apologies, swallowing the knot in my stomach.
So I keep my feelings to myself,
and try to take up littler space.
I will not intrude in your world.
I will back away one half footfall at a time,
and you will not hear me leave.
You will not care.
And I will make a mental note to myself,
to be kinder to my grandmother
when she tries not to cry.

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Let us say Goodbye

Let us say goodbye then,

You and I.

Let’s walk away, and begin to forget.

The kisses, of course,

And the remembering -of firsts and quirks, a handful of dates.

Let us put behind us our secret knowledge,

And all those times you dropped a kiss on the tip of my

nose.

The first time I ever wrote a love letter, I titled it ‘This is not a love letter’

And put it in caps, to emphasize how much it was not a love letter.

Let us obliterate the memory of that;

Leave it to the impersonal web of pixels and circuitry,

And the people who will stumble upon it one slow afternoon at work.

Let us erase the last traces of

That feeling in my chest when you laugh,

And how you call me ‘bitch’ with great affection.

Let’s rub away at the kisses

Till their last vestiges are wiped off the corners of our lips.

Let us kiss strangers till their tongues take away the electric of

Your tongue on my lips

And my lips on your fingers,

And your fingers playing a riff

In the dark.

Let’s forget the time you kissed my damp eyelashes (surprising yourself),

And pulled out the sting.

The world will not cease to turn,

And nothing will have been lost.

Except- a few brief hours

Where my hand on your chest was yours.

Nothing except laughing hysterically as we plotted murder,

and talked over each other, trying to win.

Nothing but staring at pixelated smudges on screens

Till our heads ached.

Nothing except the wind on our backs as we ambled home,

A happy tangle of limbs.

So you see it would be easy.

Let’s not make a fuss now.

Let’s not ascribe this affair undue importance

So the stars did not align for us

(They don’t align for anyone, you fool.)

The gods did not send any angels our way

(We never prayed for them, you see.)

Everything fades after a while,

Even memories, even pain, even something that came very close to being

Love.

Willy Wonka almost-fiction

I love you, I love you, I love you.

I will whisper it into the pages of a book, and sigh it into the crook of my arm as I slip my hand underneath my neck at night. Curled up in the fetal position I will sleep. Dreaming is a distant land whose stories I can barely remember when I wake. The sun creeps in through the blinds at my temporary window, the wind howls and moans at night. It wails about things I think I’ve heard before, but long forgotten. It threatens to spill over, and reach right in and snatch me away into the night.

Somewhere in the world there is a lanky boy with unruly hair and a wicked grin. As he ambles about his day, he leaves footprints in my heart. There’s a pitter-patter, and if you squint you can almost see the tracks before they disappear.

Tuni bulb evening

So I’ll always be a little bit crazy just like you’ll always be a little bit dog-eared. It’s an unlikely meeting of sorts but stranger things have happened. This coming year I vow not to wallow in unproductiveness, and I vow to do things, and say things, and feel things without feeling ashamed about them. I’ve been making progress this year, mostly as a sort of fuck it, what-the-hell response to any shred of embarrassment or cringing that happens. It’s yielded mostly good results, but this coming year I’m going to stop feeling less valid. Whatever is not a reasonable response to life, your face is not a reasonable response to life, but I’m glad it exists. Just taking a breather and putting my hat on at an angle and setting forth without a care, with a “we’ll see”, and genuinely not thinking about it anymore has never been my style. I mean it’s been my style in general with adventuring and things, but life’s too goddamn important, y’know? Only this is life too, all the adventuring and whynot and it all wraps up together, not neat but all lumpy.

What I’m saying is, there’s a new year coming. It’s going to be full of new people, and new places, and new feelings and discoveries. I’m a little scared, to be honest. I’m a little less rootless than you said. I’ve always been a wanderin’ but I’ve always been searching for somewhere to – what I’m saying is I’ve been sinking my roots into people. You’re wrong, y’know; the tendrils slowly creeping around your ankles say so.

I read a cummings the other day, and I spoke to someone from the past the other day. It was all just a little strange, just a little familiar, just a little life.

Look, here is what I’m grateful for: a song, the memory of an eye, shots of milk and airmail-borne-understanding. The best things are not always the most obvious.

What I’m saying is, I’ll probably always be a little bit confused, but I’m a little less confused this year, and one of the things is gratitude. I found a piece of writing the other day from earlier this year and it was bursting to the seams with urgency and realness but I couldn’t remember this thing I’d written about. I looked beneath my collarbone, and there it was, a black dot, but I’d thought that was you. Perhaps I’d confused you and me, perhaps I’d dipped too far in and made a mess and couldn’t separate anymore. Bits of you trailing out and seeping in and making new colours.

I read an old email the other day. It wasn’t from you, it was another you at another time, and another me, only half-present. I was worshipped then, but the words ‘love of my life’ do not roll off the tongue easy. They sound untrue and make one uncomfortable. Life isn’t fair, and it moves on, and has a laugh. Look, I’m laughing. Look, I’m here. Look you’re here too. I hope you’ve come to stay.

Sometimes you don’t need anything or anyone else to be happy. Sometimes happiness has nothing to do with your future prospects, or the boy in your head, or those nights out you had. Sometimes happiness is just you walking home alone in the dark, with a warm apple cider in your hands and music in your ears at the end of an exhausting week. It’s the feeling that makes your heart skip for no reason at all as you step through piles of fall leaves, and feel the tip of your nose grow cold, as you breathe in the crisp cool air, and feel your cheeks get flushed. Sometimes happiness is just walking, tipping your head back to get the last few drops of your sweet sticky drink, and finding yourself looking up at a blue velvet sky full of stars. Sometimes happiness is deciding on a whim to walk around town and find that brilliant shawarma place you went to once, because you finally have time to waste, and because your legs want to keep moving.

Sometimes all you need to be happy is yourself. These times don’t come very often, but when they do, you think to yourself that this moment right here, is what I’ll remember about this term. You try to pin down content, but you don’t really, because contentment is when you feel like you’re floating high up there with the stars, like you’re enough. 

 

So what do you …

So what do you do when you’ve grown up watching two people who came together after ten years of companionship, and camaraderie and romance, who came together finally- in the face of much opposition- in marriage? When you watched these people slowly fall apart over the years, first like slipping off a cliff, so surreal that you can’t believe that it’s happening, and then in slow motion, and then quick, all of a sudden, freefalling, and then a plateau of dullness. Two people suddenly realizing with dismay, how horribly irreconcilably different they really are. Realizing that you don’t really know someone till you live with them, and have to live with them and their quirks, and fancies, and their adorable absentmindedness day in and day out. You have to take the short temper, and the conventionality, and sink its roots down somewhere tangled up with the frivolousness and nature-loving.

What you do is this: In your own relationships with men, in relationships that appear to be terrifyingly real, you throw your worst self at them. Here, you retort, take my crazy, and my ugly, and my batshit insane and deal with it! When they do, you’re surprised, but not convinced. So you let go even more and let yourself unravel on them. You deliberately air out your morbidity, and your anxiety and the panic attacks, and cling on to them for air, drawing in deep lungfuls. You expect them to recoil, to want space, to slay you with a shrug of indifference. When they don’t, you’re a little bemused. Still you wait. Sooner or later, you’ll push it too far, and they’ll leave you. It’ll suck, and you’ll hurt and bleed, because this is the real-est it’s ever gotten, but deep down, you’ll be vindicated. You were expecting it, of course. You knew. 

So you don’t make the common mistake that most people do in new relationships. You aren’t on your best behaviour, and you don’t pretend to like sports. You don’t faff around like you usually do when you’re trying to impress people and seem cool. You confess to not remembering much of ‘Pulp Fiction’, and express the desire to rewatch it, soon. You confess your feelings of inadequacy and struggle against the fact that you’re hopelessly besotted. You use the word “besotted” in front of them, about them, and feel them smile from halfway across the world. The good things about you slip out unconsciously, like you can’t control them, or restrain yourself. The texts in the middle of an evening (yours) saying “I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m so lucky we met”- that he will wake up to in the morning. The spontaneous squishing of someone that you cannot believe you want to squish, and are allowed to squish. The semi-sexy emails in the middle of the day. The actually worrying about a person, and buying them fruit and making a detour to their place to make sure they’re still breathing. These are the things that pour out of you- words that you cannot stuff back into your mouth, thoughts that translate into sentences before you have time to think, that terribly foolish thing where you include them in your plans for a year later. The good things are unplanned, but your ugly you will fling at them continuously.

“When will you show me?”, he asks one day when you’re talking about a piece you wrote about him. “When I’m convinced you’re not running away”, you say. “I’m not running away, babe.”

You don’t believe him entirely. Yet.

Random things from the internet that made me laugh out loud

So today I got done with the bane of my existence- my 6 hour weekly molecular biology lab, and a whole bunch of other important deadline oriented midterm-applications-volunteering type things. It has been a long, tiring week, and there are more like this coming up. But right now, this Thursday night I am wearing comfy grey pajamas and a hoodie and chilling so hard. I’ve been trawling the net, and maybe I’m just glad I get to sleep again, or maybe it’s the Reese’s peanut butter cups, but I keep reading things online that make me laugh. Out loud. Which isn’t something that happens all that often, come to think of it.

Also, I am reading the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, and quite surprisingly liking it. I snitched a bunch of books from the Women’s Centre library (which I will obviously return), and I’m very pleased about it. I will write something coherent later- right now I’m fairly sure this reads like the composition of a fourth grader- blame it on sleep deprivation. Instead, I will post random lines that made me LOL from the interwebs.

Page 56: Hedwig bites it as the Death Eaters attack. Still, we’ll have all those great memories of Hedwig. Like the time Hedwig delivered a package. Or the other time Hedwig delivered a package.

Page 309: “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!” Harry Potter is Batman! *oh batman. general fond indulgence*

Page 371: Oh, good, Ron is back. Everybody, wave your tiny little flag for Ron.

From Thought Catalog’s article, “Honest Facebook Photo Captions”:

“Just a friendly reminder that I’m in a relationship and you’re not.”

“I look like I’m screaming here, but really I just quietly posed with my mouth wide open in mock-shock fashion because, edgy.”