girl v. rain

One day I was so sad that it started to rain. And as much as I could will it, it would not stop.

Months passed, as they often do when you grow old and drink wine. And I spent so long with in a haze; recounting a thousand conversations I remembered so vividly having, that had never happened. And, as it often happens when you grow old, one day I finally woke without him as the first thought in my mind.

I removed all the clutter, all the traces of his being from my life and painted our room white. So I could start afresh. I thought the mess would leave a hole in my life. But all it left was space.

 

 

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girl v. depression

I think of depression like grief… It’s sticky. It’s that annoying sticky stuff that gets left over when you peel off a sticker and you need to rub a couple of times to get the last of it off… and even then it is just sometimes… there.

It finds its way to cling to the underside of your daily routine, always there, always… sticking. And more often than not the days and weeks will pass like in a monotonous blur and nothing much happens. All the while depression will just sit there quietly. And then one day you find yourself waking up in a cold sweat crying because you’ve fallen down an effortless spiral; without warning, without much choice. There it is dragging down and there it lies like thick black sludge.

And then it’s Tuesday again and all of that stickiness seems to have washed away overnight and I’m walking down the street again and it seems like the rain just washed my feelings down the drain so effortlessly. And as I watch all these wonderfully content people pass you by, I think to myself “I could have done that.” But then again, I didn’t.

Unmade Bed by Joe Gerhard – Dishevelled Bedroom Series 

girl v. how to stay in love

I wrote about how to fall in love. Did you follow my steps precisely? Did you fall in love? More importantly… did you stay in love?

Fall in love slowly, deeply or casually but make sure you fall in love. Fall blindly and stay there. Make each other packed lunches with post it notes. Stare furiously into each other’s eyes and try to unlock that deep dark soul of theirs or stare blankly into their open heart. Make love, not war. Whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. Stay up all night and tell each other secrets. Don’t tell each other everything. Don’t plan your wedding but plan a life. Share a life together and talk about all those long road trips you’ll never take because you spent too long at work and got stuck on the tube on your way out of London. Walk hand in hand and curl those fingers tightly like they might just slip away if you let go. Say I love you; whisper it, sing it, shout it from the rooftops but don’t forget to say it. When they say they’re there for you, believe them. Close your eyes and say their name. Everything else should be white noise. Spend all morning in bed. Spend all afternoon in bed too. You won’t always get to. Never go to bed angry, and if you do, wake up and kiss them, make it the first thing you do. Listen to everything they say, because one day they might not say it anymore. Watch horror stories and build forts. Laugh, cry and work out together. Never say “it’s nothing”, because it never was. Eat pizzas and make plans together. Make love. Make time.

 

girl v. grief II

If life is that slow march through banal drudgery, then grief are arrows in the back – painful and piercing but never fatal.

Grief is an abyss that if you look into for too long and let it, it will consume and devour you, leaving you a bitter husk. It can lie dormant for years or it can chip away at you everyday, making you bitter and cold, or unburdened and free.

But everyone knows that shit hits in threes.

Luckily life isn’t always banal drudgery and sometimes we’re marching towards life and not death. On days grief will hurt just as much as the first time but if anything, it will remind you of what is important in your life, and what makes your life something slightly more than banal drudgery. Somedays you can wash the slate clean and start again.  But sometimes, shit just hits in threes.

 

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girl v. London

London, I wish I could quit you.

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My desire to quit London is an itch. It starts off with barely a tickle, a murmur under my skin. But that little bite will keep itching. It will wait until I’ve got my paws back firmly on the soil and it will itch. And itch. And itch. And it won’t stop until I’ve dug my nails into my skin and caused a scar.

But I love London. I don’t think mere words could do my love justice. Simply and delicately she is the most inspirational energy in my life. She is an anchor for my soul. London taught me to love. She has the power to bring the sense of new possibilities everyday, like there’s always a chance to reinvent yourself, whatever sins you have committed. The power of anonymity runs rampant through her streets.

But if I’m honest, some days she’s not enough. Some days I don’t want to play sardines on my commute or wait in line for a fucking burger. Some days she can’t take my constant instability and indecisiveness and itches. But she tells me that everything will be OK if I just stay here with her. But with her anonymity is also easy routine. And as easily as we reinvented ourselves, we find ourselves in routine.  This week Ari called me up and asked me to meet him for a hotel night of sushi and excess. It was an achingly London routine and I wondered whether in a city that is constantly evolving, are there some things that stay painfully the same?

I wish I belonged here but lately I have felt I am owned by London. Every time I leave, I get the overwhelming urge to crawl back. When I am here I am euphoric and then quite suddenly plagued by thoughts of quitting that leave me feeling so guilty. Like I owe something to London. Which is true, I owe her my life. She is as mesmerising as she is intoxicating and once she’s got you, she’ll never let you go.

I’m pretty sure I don’t want to quit London. But it is an addictive place and I think you become easily wrapped up in a certain way of life that it’s hard to imagine that anywhere else could soothe you in the way London does. Some days she just swallows you whole. I think I will escape while I’m young enough and go have an illicit affair with New York or Berlin, someone who might be crazy enough to handle me. Maybe I will come crawling back to London begging for forgiveness. That does seem to be the growing trend.

It has been nearly a year since I came back from Tokyo. Some days I want to quit London but the feeling is always short lived and the itch and scar soon fades away until the next time. I guess I only think I want to quit because I don’t want to belong to anyone, not even London.

Originally inspired by Time Out’s ‘New York, I wish I could quit you.’

girl v. grief

When grief hits it will chip away at you like a disease until it devours you whole.

 
 
About two years ago a good friend and my father died suddenly a few months within each other. Teaching me quite abruptly and at a relatively young and naïve age, that nothing lasts forever. I was left gasping for breath completely and utterly unable to comprehend what happened and with no chance to say “goodbye” to either man.
Even now, I never really speak about either of them, but not because I don’t care or that I have forgotten. On some days, when I’m alone, or surrounded by people; maybe in my apartment, or on the tube, my mind wanders to them. And of course I am overcome with a certain kind of sadness but not one that incapacitates, no, it is rather one of fondness, for they lived and their lives were intertwined with mine, and that makes me happy. And I think that is the best way to deal with grief. It is not a burden for us to carry but a tool to make us think about our lives on a deeper level.
 
But it wasn’t always like that. Grief affects us all in different ways. I spent so many days and nights reading about the “seven stages of grief”, trying to psychoanalyse my own behaviour and trying to wish away the days until “it was all over”. I cried, of course. For days, for months… I stared into an abyss within myself and wondered what could ever fill it. I took off to the other side of the world, did anything to run away from the emptiness grief brought with it. But I have come to realise that grief is not about “getting over it.” Everyone copes in different ways, but there are some things that remain the same…
 
First you’ll forget their voice. You won’t realise you’ve forgotten their voice though because they live curled up in a crevice of your mind. But one day you’ll think about a funny joke they told you, or you’ll be about to reach for a cigarette and be reminded of all the times they told you not to. Then you’ll try to remember how they said it and you won’t be able to capture their essence. You’ll grasp at the way they used to say a particular word or phrase. Or the way they said your pet name. But one day you will forget completely. Their intonation will disappear and get swallowed up by the sky.
 
The last time I saw James was New Years Eve two years ago. We had dim sum to ring in the New Year and I told him I had never had a New Years kiss. As we stood on the escalator down to the tube platform he did nothing but silently stare at my lips, mesmerized. “Why are you looking at me like that?” “There’s only one reason I would ever look at you like this.” As we went to jump onto our trains he grabbed me and kissed me, our first, and only, kiss. The kind of kiss that takes  your breath away. “I know I’m a few hours early but Happy New Year.” And then as quickly as it had happened, we ran onto our opposite platforms to our opposite sides of London. I remember the jacket he wore, the pocket square and the ring on his left pinky finger. I don’t replay that moment every time I take that tube anymore. But I have forgotten the intonation when he said that.
 
New Year kisses are kind of sacred to me now. Only to be shared with those I am willing to bare my soul to. James set precedence. Those tiny things, like a fond kiss between friends, that shouldn’t bear any significance or stand out in memory can, and should, when it evokes the memory of someone; dead or alive. People leave impressions and I like that those can have impacts on our daily lives.
 
One day you will begin to forget their face. This is surely the saddest of all. Sure there are photos but remembering someone’s face is different to looking at a photograph. Those photos begin to look like someone else. Those moles look different and those wrinkles don’t look like they belong to him. When you close your eyes there will soon start to be a fuzzy little glow around their face as you recall them talking to you. You will start to try to single out a moment in time to remember them by and forget how they looked when they made you toast or read the evening paper.
 
You’ll always remember the little nuances of their personality. The way they hated the phrase “how are you” or the snarl they gave you when you’d done something wrong. You will always remember the look in their face when you had your last argument. If you’re lucky you’ll remember the last smile you shared.  But you will forget a lot. You will start to sieve out the banal, everyday details in search of a few salient pieces of memory to focus on when time comes to recall them. But I urge you to hold onto those boring pieces of everyday. The way the edges of their mouth curled when they got angry but didn’t want to say, or the way they blew their nose with a handkerchief.
 
One day you’ll wake up and they won’t be the first thing you think of. You might not think that possible, but the day will come when they will be the second, or the third. Some days you won’t remember them at all. Some days you’ll want to do nothing but bask in their memories and let those recollections flood in. Enjoy those days, do not try to block out memories because once they are gone they are gone, believe me.
 
I don’t believe in cliches like ‘it will all be OK in the end’, and I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. Some things you just don’t get “over”. But I don’t think that the end goal should be “to get over” or “to forget”. But then I don’t believe in time being so linear a concept. We are not all working our way up to one final moment where everything makes sense, we are constantly evolving in a way that every moment is the end, and also the beginning. I am not happy that some people are dead, or gone. But I am happy. And I think that is what counts.
I think committing those who have died to raw memory is of the utmost importance to us. To come back and remember the good, and the bad, of their lives and personalities make us more human. In a way it helps us remember those in our lives already; the good and the bad of them and their importance and significance to our everyday lives.
 
I think the ultimate goal for grief is celebration. It shouldn’t shackle you. It should set you free.

girl v. nostalgia

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Nostalgia is ‘an ache to return home’; nostos meaning to return home, and algos is ache or pain.

No, for me, nostalgia is an open wound. It is a potent yet addictive emotion. One that we cannot help but pry open when it starts to itch and heal. It reminds you of emotions that are not there anymore, just thoughts of what you think should be, or miss, or desire.
Opening up nostalgia is like rubbing salt in the wound simply for that delicate after taste of relief. You’re addicted to let painful emotions wash over and consume you because basking in nostalgia is often better than reality.
My friend told me that on a recent trip home she had met up with her first boyfriend, despite her currently being in a loving relationship with her long-term boyfriend. She had met the first love at 17 and enjoyed a young love whirlwind romance for a couple of years. And now, she was confused. She didn’t understand how she could feel an ache when she saw him, but still love her boyfriend.
She asked me to tell her about my first love, about what I felt, whether I ever saw him again. It would explain a lot, I said. But no. I do not wish to prize open any old wounds. Nostalgia removes the bad parts of memory and holds recollection up on a pedestal. It doesn’t remember bruises on your heart or your legs or your mind. It savours only the good parts in a way that aches.
There is no need to dream of fond memories and what if’s. Nostalgia is not about coming home because home is right now in this moment. The memories we hold dearest through nostalgia are simply whispers in the wind rather than reality. Do not rip open wounds to bathe in nostalgia, no matter how addictive. The best thing you have is in front of you.