In some kind of desperate attempt to "live life to its fullest", a way to condone and console not going ahead with carrying and developing a child inside my body, I have decided to be more open to meeting new people and, tried to find some kind of bravery and social energy. distractions to self-hate, doubt and guilt.
Recently I purchased a little instant camera with my first proper paycheque.
These are the results in the order of date/time taken. I am still getting acquainted with it, but, so far, I can say, it's really facilitated a level of openness in me that I don't think digital or non instant analogue methods would engender. I have tried to foster more connections with other humans of late, after others wrenching themselves out of my life perhaps. This communication comes at a price though. The joy of bonding over the magical appearance of an instant photo, the high that comes to me from giving away a small part of myself to a stranger or new friend, the reacquainting with old ones, inevitably has it's crushing lows. This sporadic thrill of being alive and present seems to require such a lot of intermittent rest. I don't know, maybe I'm just on the brink of something these days, slipping and scrambling.
These are Haruka and Babak Jani. I've known him for a good few years, since University in Swansea, and Haruka I met for the first time almost a week ago (it seems so much further back in time!). She kindly let me stay in a lovely spare room for a couple of nights before hopping on a very early Eurostar to Brussels last Monday morning. Ordinarily I would have been terrified to "impose" on a stanger, even with Babak there. That Saturday I was brave though. Possibly coming as it did on the back of a Luxembourgish weekend where I met many new people and learned a lot about my own character in alien situations. Her flat is in a sandy-bricked house in Stamford Hill. All the houses were thus, sash-windowed and Jew-filled. It felt like I was on a film set, old houses, smart coats, tall hats and twisted locks. She studies cultural studies at Goldsmiths and handed in her final essays this past week. She hopes to do a dance/play therapy MA afterwards and is a yoga instructor too, as well as having a degree from a Japanese arts university (situated on a mountain!). What a lovely individual. I really hope to meet her again soon.
This is Ryan, we also know each other from Swansea uni days. It was utterly surreal bumping in to him on a London street as I wandered aimlessly and he was on his way to a haircut. I hadn't seen him for ages and hadn't had contact with him for almost a year. He decided to "unfriend" me on Facebook last summer after disagreeing with a pro-feminist anti-rape-culture article I'd "shared", largely surrounding the sick notion of victim blaming. He saw it as code for women wanting to sleep with as many men as possible while simultaneously not expecting to being referred to as sluts. This was a strange opinion and hard for me to accept. As was his trivialising of the suicides of young girls globally, who were shunned by their communities because they happened to have been raped (often while the perpetrators retained freedom and acceptance). We "discussed" things online and he became ever more personal in his criticism and hostile as friends of mine joined in to my rescue. It was a jarring experience. When he bumped in to me on the street though, all that negative feeling seemed to have departed him and we went for a coffee before his appointment. I'm kind of relieved.
This is Alastair, a homeless Londoner who wanted to sign up for a permanent hostel place but didn't have the funds for paperwork (£16), we went to a cashpoint, then got a sandwich, then on to his hostel to settle up. Afterwards he offered to take my details and send money on when he "settled". I said a portrait would suffice and it was amazing to see his reaction to the way the photo developed slowly. We watched him appear, all regal and proud looking, he asked "is that really what I look like!?" and it was pretty fantastic! As we parted, I to more wandering, I passed another homeless gent (one of many in the capitol I guess) who asked for change. All the notes I'd taken out had been given to Al and I genuinely had nothing on me. I started to dig around in my bag for a snack or something I could offer, and he made the sign for "up yours" and swore in what sounded like Greek. I had not expected to be so floored by the gesture, the pain in his face. It took me a few hours to shake that image and sting from my mind and body. The shadow of it remains.
This is Shay. A beautiful Israeli whom the photos do no justice (to either of us I must say!). After the shaken feeling lingering in my bones after my last human encounter, our gazes met just off Shorts Gardens near Seven Dials. With the practice of a handsome salesman he asked if I wanted to try some super dead sea salt cream and I replied laughing and without thinking "you can put anything on me as long as it's free". He enjoyed the remark and, sort of teasingly, led me inside and got to work. He started to apply some fresh smelling solution to my wrists. He happened to catch the armband with the Palestinian flag on it that I occasionally wear, and asked if I was from Palestine. He apologised for the conflict. I said I was not and then we both apologised. For some reason I was just staring at his face while he rubbed my hands and I could see something come away from his expression, visibly, a guard dropping, almost like he'd been struck gently.
As if remembering where we were and why we were there, he asked where I worked and when was the last time I'd treated myself. I said a youth work charity and proceeded to brandish the little camera to show I had in fact treated myself a couple of days ago with the thing. He used to work for a charity "back home". He was so excited by my "profession" and then he asked for our pictures to be taken. He squeezed my hand. He had a patch of pure white hair towards the end of his right eyebrow. The whole thing was electric.
Then I left to meet Jani in Trafalgar, he was finished with the National Portrait Gallery for the day and we'd be heading for tea/home. After the extremes of the days crossings, such lengthy walking of paths having given so much of myself to the passers by, in smiles and polite moves, patience and humanity, I just cried. I could not in all my depleted strength muster the reserves to stem that flow. With travel/tiredness and general disruption also circumventing any option of a helpful tourniquet. Jani being who he is, just took a picture of me, before we walked away for a drink.
The next morning was a ridiculously early start and I was still not caught up on sleep or calm.
I rode the rails with smaller eyes than is ordinate. Feeling grimy and creased.
When I finally got to the hotel after an afternoon of conferencing, I had the nicest fucking shower you just wouldn't believe! Played around with the double exposure feature and went to bed super early. I wish I had stuck around at the European Youth Work Conference a little longer before "turning in" that first day though, because, I met a truly arresting man on the last but one day... It would have been nice to have met his acquaintance sooner and longer.
After that double exposure was made and I'd gone to sleep some water had tipped on to the camera in the night and it refused to play with me the remainder of the trip (today I got it fixed and the following images are from this past afternoon in Cardiff).
Along the theme of camera as a tool for social engagement (much needed for this manic introvert, veering wildly between intrepid bravery and the vexing panic of an Avoidant's Personality), it would have been great to have use of it those last days, not least to take a picture or ten of Finn.
Wednesday morning he walked in to a "workshop", Democratic Participation it was (oh man did I want to participate with that particular human - oh lust!) and there was something so gaze-commanding about him.
I can kind of feel the residual effect of it now, far away from that place and a little removed in time. Almost arrogant features. A dominant nose that knew it was a nose with such conviction!
Chameleon eyes, hazel? Green? Was it amber or moss? Foliage trapped in that resin maybe?
That bloody voice. How could something so languidly mellifluous concurrently be drenched in an alertness that jolted and woke you?
The confusing allure of the strange perhaps?
Through the day, our paths crossed intermittently, to grins by the end of it, "we keep crossing" (and it was a lengthy day at the Convention, much info, lots of people, many conversations, we didn't get out of there until after midnight!).
"Do you have a light?"
"No, Can I take your picture?"
I did, on 110 film, developments forthcoming I hope[Developments arrived, last photo on the roll, here!].
After an evening of jazzy tunes and catching up with the ERYICA guys I met in Luxembourg (boy was I glad of their friendly faces and even kinder characters!)I sort of kept an eye out for that lanky man, I loitered around in my tired-state, driven by something similar but distinct from curiosity and courage...
(No! Not beer, though, yes, that too!)
He saw me.
We went into Brux-central in search of beer and somewhere to enjoy it. His (ac)scent was amazing and his nose, his whole structure arousing. He was tall and sensitive but almost haughty too. I can't put my finger on it, there was something so intriguing but also slightly conducive to fear-producing in his way and ease.
It was an overwhelmingly long day. My tired body was obviously awake to his physicality, but, alas, my mind couldn't hold out, to my complete regret, and, eventually, in the darkest part of the night, at a city flat after beery-bar kisses ("exquisitely soft", searching, the way his hair felt, his long neck, those extended arms, hands, such long fingers..), I fell asleep on his bed (and have no memory of it... The last I remember I was sitting to his right, black stocking to the knee and cadmium yellow skirt, flirtation, lips... Nothing else)and almost instantly it was morning.
We rushed manically to get back to the convention on time for the wrapping up, but first we had separate hotels to visit to pack and pick up packings. As I packed and sort of sobered up, the self-disappointment struck on all sides. Why hadn't I been able to stay awake? Why had I needed to drink so much? Was I boorish and overtly forward or weirdly aloof? The last I could recall was the feel of his right ear lobe gentle at my fingertips, dizzyingly stirring (certainly thinking about it now, the feel of him, and those eyes! Seemingly sad and proud and alive and mischievous - synchronously!).
It was weird, walking into the packed auditorium alone again, I hated myself and the (it seemed to me) fundamentally missed connection. I think another combination of that high-low (im)balancing swing of mine, exacerbated by tiredness and alcohol, by hormones, ensured I was totally drained and almost feeling helpless. I had this vision of a cold gun muzzle pressed into that triangle where jaw and neck converge below chin, and a shot firing. I took a pen and really pressed it into my thigh to try to quieten the mind-whirling, batten down for the cyclone to pass.
It sort of did.
Our paths continued to cross intermittently through the (tiring) morning and when I was getting ready to leave we converged again and walked into the sun together. I weighed down by bags, he on his way to retrieve his before heading home to shower and nap. The offer to do the same was put to me but he had an engagement and I also had a train. I honestly deliberated staying another night, and catching a megabus back or something. I had some money in my account now, after all... Alas, that would have meant essentially inviting myself into someone's home, and, the idea of this wiry handsome human being weighted down by my presence imposing on him, I couldn't take the leap.
|This is Soph, longtime love and occasional wise-craker regarding my promiscuity!|
How I wish I had that courage! It's only been a day but I see Saturday and Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday stretching out long ahead of me. The prospect of free time, space to organise my thoughts before a crazy few days in work picking up last week's slack doesn't seem as appealing as it did last night when I waited, exhausted, for my train home. Longing for bed. Now, in that bed that I've made, I crave the company of that bedfellow.
What am I becoming?