Wined and dined

This restaurant might be too high-calibre for us. Take the telecom tower stools, for example. We clamber on like children straddling our horses. We watch, bewildered as they switch out the forks and knives: one for entrés and one for mains. Why they would do such a thing eludes me.

The napkin is dropped once and retrieved by the waiter. It is dropped twice and retrieved by the tip of my heel. I am an imposter in painted red lips, checking my reflection every so often to remain in an upright posture, as is only proper.

We have just one glass of wine each, the cheapest on the menu. I spit on my arm mid-conversation. We have tap water, the small portions. But there’s tripe, porcini mushrooms with potatoes and four postage stamps for Ravioli. Garlic bread, complimentary- a highlight with the olive oil. We are surprised by it’s quality and potency. Being here is like scraping a C in the top set for Maths, or buying a Rolex when one eats dirt on a daily basis.

***
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the siblings who wanted to share their rack of lamb and rocket salad dish. They had ordered too much. “That’s nice of them- not the fact that they offered but that they didn’t want to waste food”. Rare in a place like this, perhaps. How very lovely.

“Si” he affirmed each order. The Italian waiter- I suspect, the manager- who reminds me of my Dad’s best friend. The one I used to have a crush on, with his stubbly chin and sparkling smile. He stood a little too close. Touched my wrist gently in recommending the porcini, when he caught my eyes scanning for the bathroom. And he did so with a smile bright enough to have been the one before the kiss.

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Sarcy Darcy

Tongue like a viper. I haven’t spoken to a quick witted male in so long I’ve forgotten how to flirt. I think I might be flushing. I’m particularly taken with ‘darling’ and ‘my love’, even though that’s what bartenders and fathers do. The English have a way, don’t they, even when they’re ginger and not particularly good looking.

***

I had a crisis moment. She said something that could have been sarcastic. She wasn’t. I used to be able to tell, easily. The Brits are superior.

***

“I love colours but only if they’re black”. She said Jesus did Jewish magic and that she had Wicca friends. Went to a festival for druids and witches. Believes in communism and disagrees with old fashioned social categorisation. Gender fluidity, unidentifiable sexual orientation, a child of the 21st century. She thrived in Catholic school- the parties were wild. I listened but I was two strikes away from saying “don’t talk about politics and religion on a first date”. I hadn’t seen her in so long, it might as well have been our first meeting.

***

I missed the train by one minute. One. I ran/ jogged to the station as fast as I could in my sandals, slap slap on the concrete. I had to focus on retracing my steps from the station but was distracted by the sun skimming over the sea, the belly of a boat nestled in the streaks. The sky a dazzling blue.

***

It was getting dark- the first time I’ve been anxious on my trip. What would happen if I missed the stop? Would there be a last train home? How will I find my way back from the station to the house when I am blind to streets in daylight? My stomach lurched when the guy spoke through the speakers overhead, horrified by the thought that I might have been on the wrong train. Romsey. Thank God! I scrambled out and saw my grandad on the bench, waiting for me. As we walked home, he said “I know you would have found your way back, you’re a big girl, but I do feel a little responsible for you”. I nodded in gratitude, hushed into contemplation of the child I still very much am.

The park

We’re showing off our roley-poleys, spinning on the handle bars which old people like to use to stretch their legs. We’re gymnasts! Then we’re blowing bubbles from plastic goo to make transparent balls that reflect the rainbow. Who can make the biggest bubble? And we run around the playground, sliding sideways down the slides, greeting each other through what’s supposed to be a channel for our voices. Two purple metal poles with slits for our mouths to whisper into and for our ears to press up against.
We can’t resist the curry fish balls because it’s a local delicacy. Always five on a stick in a leaky paper bag.

– – – – –

The next minute, we’re illegally lighting candles on trays and staring up at the white face of the full moon. Neon lights hang from the trees and glow sticks adorn our heads, necks, and wrists. You can never wear enough of the glowing rings. My cousins scamper around me, each with their own noisy, bulbous lanterns. We aim to waste the batteries and set everything on fire! Alight! You must milk nights like these for all the magic they’re worth.

– – – – –

The green of the skating rink is olive in the shade. We’re on our backs, head on our folded arms- our makeshift pillows. It’s late and we breathe like we’re sleeping but we’re watching the clouds. We’re friends, though I’m thinking that if I loved a boy, I’d like this a lot.
Look at the stars. Did I know that they are already dead? But didn’t they once shine brilliantly.
And thinking back, didn’t we once?

– – – – –

We shouldn’t have been let out of the house in our attire, but we don’t care, and this is evident as we’re eating out of a variety of chip packets. Slumped on the bench, we perfectly juxtapose the glistening joggers, puffing to finish yet another round, and we quickly become familiar with this one guy who seems to appreciate the humor in what we’re doing. He waves and smiles as he passes and we wave back, as if to say we’re here most days of the week. It’s not strictly true, but this is our park.

– – – – –

I’m growing increasingly disgusted by him. The way he holds my hand and insists on a hand on my waist. The way he brushes hair behind my ear, away from my neck. It’s not romantic. And here comes the talk; it’s pretty much over. It starts to rain and it’s the best part of today. I love the feeling of rain on my skin, the feeling of reckless abandon. I’m a child again, with hair clinging to my cheeks and grass on my legs. It cools the intensity of my confusion. At the very least, he’s romantic enough to twirl me. Then he’s ready to leave before the rain hits harder.

– – – – –

We’re pacing back and forth, in our hoodies, carrying bottles of green tea. I have two phones in my pocket, because the buzz of a text makes her anxious. We talk about the possible futures and most probable ends of whatever we have with these guys. Would I like to kick back with a couple of beers and watch the sunset? Maybe. Would she like to see him again because he makes her feel different? But they’re meant to dip in only for a short while. We’ve only just turned seventeen.

– – – – –

I come here to clear my mind. I have with me a cup of tea, a notebook and a pen. I’ll sketch the trees, the curve of the skating rink. There’s a certain music here, where everything seems to fit together, sing to each other, like counter parts. The sky breaks over green, the wind brings me air, the ants scurry away from my foot. I am taking a break from the people I love, the pain of loving. I am content in being alone.

– – – – –

All the memories I have there are special in some way.

One day

I will be able to: 

1) Read without the voice in my head. Because ‘hearing’ myself mull over the words takes too much time.
I’ll train myself by repeating a word (like ‘hamburger’) in my head whilst reading some text- like a distracter sound. Hopefully I’ll grasp the meaning of the sentence without the repeated word interfering.

2) Know when to stop pouring drinks (when the cup is full) by hearing the sound of the liquid filling the cup change pitch. Unusual goal, I know. Probably doable though.

3) Speak fluent Spanish. It’ll help when I’m in LA and when I have a phone so I can download audio books.

This is the place

Let’s be spontaneous today. Let’s take a walk and see where we end up. It’s dark, we want a drink, so let’s waltz into a bar. We possess an energy that radiates from within and a desire to spread ourselves thin- to stretch and feel the world extend beneath us as we flit through possibilities of the night. We’re like chafed wires, charged, wound, and everything we touch will erupt. We’ll walk through smoky places and restaurants and crowded escalators until we find one best suited to our liking. There are too many middle-aged men in there, too many expensive bottles of Pinot and intimidating people with pink cheeks in groups, clutching beers in their hands. They won’t be moving any time soon so we’ll go elsewhere.

We’ll hear a sliver of reverberating music as the glass door swings open to our right and we’ll decide this is the place. Because why not. We’ll slide onto the stools and look through the menu; we’ll cripple ourselves with indecision. We’ll complain about how we don’t have enough room and roll our eyes at how nobody seems to have heard of personal space (we’ll secretly enjoy being annoyed). We’ll pretend we’re 19 and students from California with a preference for white wine and margaritas. The bartender will flirt with some English man and tell him she’s from London. We’ll giggle and watch her crush frozen juice cubes, make frothy bubbles and strain pink jelly bits. We’ll stir our straws and talk and talk and talk until it’s time for food. We’ll be young and silly, happy to add onto our string of adventures. Because we choose to make the most of this place, right here, right now.

Some recent firsts

It’s nice to keep track of all the new things. The small things that are, in their own ways, milestones of experience.

I don’t know why but I’ve always found little blemishes (like freckles) and markers of brokenness (like bruises) endearing. It’s lovely how the body carries records of too much time spent out in the sun and the results of spilt coffee and slippery floors as well as slight impressions of blunt furniture. Just the fact that you’ve broken a bone makes you a little more interesting because there’s a suggestion of a story behind how it happened. And well, I do love stories.

So, in some strange way, I’m proud of the fact that I chipped my tooth on Friday!!!!! The tradition involved in winning the Swimming Gala for school requires jumping into the pool, swimming across it, and copping a feel of the House Plaque. I had the honour of jumping into the pool, though in the frenzy of trying to swim with long sleeves and a heavy skirt against waves of chlorine pushed my way by the better swimmers (my eyes also suffered), I must’ve bumped into a line of floating buoys. Because as we were all smiling at the cameras on the other side, I felt my teeth grind across something with the texture of sand. My tongue felt the rough edge of my upper front tooth and realized woops I think I broke my tooth. Thank goodness it was just a minor chip- I think I can leave it to smoothen out after I pig out some more.

When the muscle in my foot was inflammed, I went to a chinese doctor. This was new for me, not because he was a chinese man, but because  he specialised in chinese medicine. He wrapped my foot in something brown and smelly and I basically contaminated the air wherever I went. It did the trick though!

Here’s what happened in a P.E lesson:

“Ugh do you smell that?” she scrunched up her nose.

“Sorry, probably my feet,” I smiled sheepishly.

She took a sniff of her matt again, looking a little embarrassed for me. “No, I think its the matt… it smells like spices.”

“Ha, I was referring to the medicine by the way.”

“Oh.”

And we both couldn’t stop laughing. A result of the heat and the silly yoga poses, perhaps.

Just before the end of summer, I re-ignited my love for fire (see what I did there). I’ve always loved playing with candles, blowing them out and re-lighting them and watching the flames eat the wicks and blacken spoons. I’ve just always been too scared to pass my finger through a flame, so when I happened to find a lighter, I just watched, mesmerised by how my friend could pass his fingers through the flame with such ease and confidence. It took a good twenty minutes before I grabbed the lighter and challenged myself to do it.  Trust me, it was super intense and exciting- just dangerous enough. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I had done what I was scared to do. Honestly, you could put me in a room with nothing but a lighter and I would have a blast. I played with that lighter so much I had blisters on a few of my fingers.

If you’re a tumblr-rer you’ve probably seen this quote/question: when was the last time you did something for the first time?

It should spark the adventurous spirit in you as it did in me. Why not add to the list of firsts? Expand your world view, experience more and live fuller.

I thank God for blessing me with the firsts that I’ve already experienced and for the many firsts to come.

Sobe xx