This is part truth, part lie. It doesn’t bother me that you are right. It bothers me that I think I did something wrong. It seems so shallow to need reassurance.
Insomnia, my once familiar torment, took a stranger turn the night after I scattered her ashes. Insomnia, those long minutes of sleeplessness ridden out until I could sink back into what was left of the night, changed to panic, an hourly waking from dreams of amnesia and failure.
Morning found me staring down the all consuming nothing. Because she, finally and forever, is no longer in the world, and there was nobody to hear my grief.
(This isn’t true.)
I took a week and spent it idly. I took too much to drink. I drowned myself in absence. I surrounded myself with friends.
It didn’t work, so I took a walk to the doctor. I took some pills and another week ticking over. I drowned myself in abstinence.
Grief is like moving in a still frame. Everything paused but still in motion. Numb and silent, I’m waiting, unable to articulate what I need. I don’t know what I need. I don’t know how to ask.
It seems so shallow.
Written in response to Low from the R.E.M. album Out of Time
Once upon a long ago, when dads had shiny shoes to dance upon and mums had demiwaves and A-line skirts, a stack of her mother’s 45s made its way into her bedroom. They came with a vanity case sized record player, hand built by her dad. Home made Dansette, cased in rough fabric that she would run her fingers over as the stack of records dropped one by one to circle under the cream plastic stylus arm.
Ten and twenty years earlier than current, the songs were the songs of her mother’s youth. Sparky pop and syrupy crooners, they filled her chest with a longing she couldn’t yet understand, the first swell of love inspired by minor chords and soaring key changes, a rib cracking expansion of her being that travelled through life and flowed through her marrow every time a songwriter moved her.
Her mum passed her driving test. A cassette stereo was put into the car. The sounds from the 45s were captured on magnetic tape. On escapes from the everyday, they would drive into the hills, wearing out the tapes, belting out the songs together. Two uncool girls separated by thirty years, moved by popstars and crooners.
She was never fond of the niceties. And now she finds that you have served your purpose. Her distraction has been distracted. New horizons to scan, new distances to stare into. She finds that she doesn’t want to gaze upon you any more. Your face, although still handsome, still appealing, has lost its charm.
She started by needing a stranger. She always needs a stranger. The being unknown to another person, the being a stranger herself, the lack of commitment. She feels like she can be anyone with a stranger, because they won’t know any different.
Lately you have become a commitment. In terms of time spent waiting. In terms of effort put into being something that she’s not.
Niceties, you see. She doesn’t spare them. They’re wasted words. It’s better to cut and run.
She has a bloody effigy on her wall. Something to contemplate. She’s tired of your routine, your clumsy advances, your mind-numbing, heartwarming gestures. She’s tired of waiting for something interesting to happen. It’s not your fault.
She isn’t nice, I know. She never has been, though. Don’t delude yourself any more. Don’t expect her to be different. She isn’t nice and she doesn’t do niceties.
In response to the Cowboy Junkies’ song See You Around.
A friend has a phrase she uses about me: I am popular with strangers. It’s an odd thing. I’m not that approachable and yet random strangers, usually men, feel the need to strike up conversations with me.
I talk to them. I’m polite. And then I move away from them. I don’t want to be stabbed or followed. I’m not an idiot.
I was talking to a stranger recently about the interface between the online world and the real world. It made me think about how I sometimes want to tell people I admire that I like what they do, but won’t let myself. Not face to face. The few times I have, it has been awkward and disappointing. Apart from Damon Gough. He’s a delight.
It happened accidentally once at a gig. I visited the merch stand to buy a CD. The singer took off the cellophane and signed the sleeve. The unwanted autograph then made me feel like I had to have a conversation. But what do you say to someone you don’t know? It was awful. Especially because it was obvious he didn’t want to be in the conversation either.
All very unfortunate.
Don’t do it kids.
You know when you listen to a song and it irks you? I listened to a bullshit song today. Some paean to the notion of what women want in a man. Or a particular type of woman. It was full of guff about open arms, holding doors, knights hidden inside shabby suits. I wasn’t angry at the songwriter for putting this guff in a song. He’s a canny man. He knows his audience. It’s a nonsense, though. Nobody, man or woman, can be all the things in that song.
What men and women should be is adult enough to cope with the parallel flaws of another adult. You can’t write a song about that, though.
I’m not saying that people don’t want to be held, to have their insecurities assuaged, to be freed by the knowledge that someone loves them. I’m saying don’t expect another person to validate you, or give you things you should be able to give yourself. We should be our own validation. Confirmation from someone else of how amazing we are is a bonus.
Just for the record, I am romantic. Rapunzel is my favourite fairytale. I like the bit where the prince goes blind.