Dear J

I learnt what “skid marks” were the hard way. I also lived with the most putrid, rotting fish fingers in the fridge – so pungent I caught a whiff of it on my robe after a hot shower in California. To be fair, I contributed to this lifestyle by allowing us to keep the leftover Chicken Masala in the microwave after a night out, still a superior alternative to the kebabs across the street. ‘Twas good whilst it lasted but we weren’t raving to it.

It’s not exactly socially acceptable to pee in the same room as another person, with the door open. I don’t usually let people listen to me pee either. So I think what we have is pretty special. There’s also no one else I’d rather be caught tatas out to the sun with but you, babe. Only in France.

And don’t even get me started on “when the day is winding down”. The onset of night is the beginning of delirium. We can get away with following a good looking man home (half joking), guffawing in tears in supermarkets, malls, parks, trains… We have left echoes of our joint existence in narrow lanes and bar corners. We are insufferable, but who can help it when you pronounce ‘Gare du Nord’ like that??

You are my saving grace on Moody Mornings, your positivity dampened only by scoundrels that demand you donate to them- the deaf, blind and mute. All of them hearing & speaking. You drag me away from hopeless conversations and you help me snag all the deals. Ask for the iPhone charger, you say, the hotel adapters, an umbrella, low sodium meals on the airplane. Where would I be without you? Soaking wet, wandering through the streets of Paris, lost, and dying from chronic high blood pressure, most likely. And I can’t thank you enough for trouble shooting my laptop and updating my phone so that I can upgrade my emoji usage. I have been waiting for a ‘crossed fingers’ pictogram for the longest time. You are my I.T Wiz, MY ROCK.

I am thankful that you’re always on my cycle: lazy-day bud one day, hiking and yoga bud the next. Wine buddy one day, I-would-rather-die-than-drink buddy the next. Thank you for listening to stories about the same guys over and over again. Thank you for seeing the best in me. And most of all, thank you for understanding that my God is my compass.

I am always glad to know you are near, your sandals thumping behind me.

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.

Delight

The first thing that caught my eye was a crate of wine bottle carcasses. I’ve been drinking every day since I got to the UK and I have never once been bored. It is not the wine I like so much as the leisure with which it is associated. We talk about French etiquette, Tom Hardy, the future of agriculture (apparently we’ll be farming vertically, skywards), things I know nothing about. They take pleasure in blue and white china tea sets, in sparkling water with a slice of lemon in it. Dorset’s red cheese and peppered crackers after dinner. It is never too much trouble.

I am so beside myself; it’s been perfect. I’ve been so present on this holiday. I mean, I am never thinking of being elsewhere, rarely dipping into the past or the future. Rarely in need of anything or anyone. I feed on my family’s love of culture, history, art, and good food. On my grandparents’ wisdom. I am so FULL.

Out of dust

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Photo of New Zealand by my grandfather. 

I am tucked in the middle of a queen-sized bed in my favourite black bralette. Family Guy is running in the background and in front of me is a scenic painting of Norwegian mountains. I have a glass of water beside me, a cup of tea, a bowl of jelly beans and a dry-fit hiking hat I told my granddad I liked. That hat has been to the untouched underbrush of New Zealand, the snow tipped French Alps and the coves of Mallorca.

Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren, especially grandchildren they don’t see often. Love pours out of their eyeballs, like dew drops by the bridge of their noses (they’re not crying, it’s just something that happens when the glands are tired). “Let me get you coffee!” said my grandma. “Let me get these tickets for you” said my grandpa. But the best part of it all is that time with them is sacred. Momentous. The fact of your existence is already a joy and you are an exquisite thing to be learned and absorbed. They get the gist of you, your knack for the arts a red pin in your profile. Your favourite colour, a pair of killer heels on a card for when you had a phase for fashion illustration. A photo of a dog, a cut-out from the newspaper, something they think you’d like. Being around them is so plainly satisfying. There’s so much to learn from these wizened souls, the ripples of influence forever expanding from their ancestors to your parents and now to you. We carry each other in one way or another, the memory of you ingrained in the way I pay close attention to harmonies, enraptured. In the way my desk mirrors the clutter in your kitchen, a projection of the sparks in your mind.

The older generation knows that tomatoes are picked from trees, not grown in baskets. Grandparents raised in the countryside have a special appreciation for the world that moves without us, the scuttling of hedgehogs at night and the turning of leaves from lime to amber. They are in wonderment of the Earth, the ancient trees, the land that gives and gives us life. The carpeted floors of moss, the gentle trot of speckle-breasted does by crystal streams. Life all around us, nudging us into humility. Beautiful without even trying! And you see how they used to think the gods were everywhere.

I walked through the fields, weeds tickling my ankles. In the dust from which I came, I thought, horse poo trailing my Nikes. Out sprung a blackberry bush, and I picked at them with fervour, bearing the sting of nettles on my hip and hands. Not to fear, they grow by Doc leaves, I remembered my dad once said. I rubbed the leaves on the swollen bumps and the pulsing in my hands abated. The Earth provides. I went home, boiled the blackberries and made dessert. The Earth provides.

Greedy for Time

“Time is subjective”. I think that’s what my mum once said to me in an attempt to explain the word ‘subjective’. I used to repeat the phrase because I thought it sounded intelligent. If I’m being honest, I still do this- plagiarise facts told by people I trust. Vegans need creatine supplements because it is only found in red meats? Okay, passionate-vegan-hating brother. I’ll tell my friends when the topic arises.

As with most lofty concepts, it takes time to construct a solid understanding, like plastering the walls of a mud-brick house. I accepted prima facie that time is more than the rhythm of the clock’s hand. It is an experience: the wait was long, the ride was short. But Spring Break operates on its own distinctive holiday time. I have all the time in the world, until the clock strikes nine and I have around three more hours until bedtime. I’m trying to train myself to wake up with the sun- it’ll be of use next quarter when I have my 8:00am classes. And I just like the idea of aligning myself with the natural cycle of the day. When I grow up, I want to be a morning person.

Anyhow, the day is extended, like a string of dough in my hands. With this freedom, I am so present walking by the neighbourhood houses, detecting pine and sweet blossoms in the air. I think about where I might want to live and work, where I might want my children to grow up. I read my book, I read the newspaper someone’s left on the table in Starbucks and I enjoy every human encounter. Costco employee, Apple genius, the man with his granddaughter in his arms. She waves goodbye enthusiastically until they walk far enough to disappear from view. I see a father pushing the shopping cart with his two daughters sitting up front, flying across the parking lot. I see a tattooed gentleman pull his wife back for a kiss before they depart and enter into different stores. In the absence of real responsibilities, I let the space be filled with life. In the stillness, my mind wanders. I want to learn the history of everything. I need to know of the battles that occurred in Cyprus, the details of the Victorian era. I want to read the works of Plato and Emily Dickinson, learn to cook red Thai curry shrimp. I want to absorb Ella Fitzgerald’s music and channel her feeling, understand encryption and watch John Oliver. Give me more time so I can do it all.

 

Taking high notes from Australia

My eyes feel funny, like things aren’t as clear as they could be. Like words can appear sharper and I’ve been staring at things so closely they’ve lost their shape. I need to make sure my eyes are working properly by looking at something wider and bigger than what my eyes can take in- somewhere without walls and rectangles.

***

The great crashing of the ocean is enough to instil fear. But from up here on these weathered rocks, I feel safe. I bend my head to write and then turn back again to look, and the yellow hues have sunken a little lower between grey and blue. Clouds are golden speckled and I see that sunlight actually shines in linear streams. What a shame it is that the sky does not match the same sky in the photo. Nothing will capture that purple.

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Seriously though, the pictures pale in comparison.

***

This keeps happening. I keep doing things that are meant for people half my age. I want to eat from the children’s menu, I want to drink the kid’s size coffee-free expreski, I want to go to the animal farm and I want to blow bubbles.

***

I felt depressed thinking that I had spent half my day half-sleeping and listening to music that I didn’t even choose. It was almost as if my body was too weak to move, eyes too dull to see. The heat was lulling me to sleep and even when I was awake I felt dull dull dull.

***

Animal farms love me. I accomplished the goal of picking up rabbits and guinea pigs, and that was a very difficult challenge indeed. The brown ones reminded me of dirty rats and I didn’t really want to touch them even when they were the easiest to ‘capture’. Some had red eyes and I was thinking how creepy it’d be if they only glinted red at times, like when they’re running into a corner and you catch their eyes in the sun.

Sheep with heavy wool shrouding their heads look like they’re from the 18th century. They look like a bunch of Mozarts who haven’t washed their wigs.

***

We had a Valentine’s Day dinner with a few candles with wicks almost too short to be lit, almost completely submerged in wax.
Opera music
Special Fried Rice again
along with lamb chops, salad (I think I hate French Parsley)
risotto from the packet tweaked with wine, rosemary, leftover chicken
fizzy apple juice that looked like beer.
It wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t spectacular. I wish it didn’t take much for me to feel spectacular.

***

I do this thing where everything I write sounds cynical and I describe every time as a crappy time, which turns out mildly entertaining for me to read.

From Sobe to Sobe to remember xx

And yes, I’m trying to be punny with the name of this post.