Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Berlin Hunk of Liebe


Synchronicity...



Dear Squigg,


You probably won’t read this but that’s ok. It’s better that I post it here rather than your letterbox because that way there’s no obligation to reply. People scarcely engage in this place.
Moreover, there’s not too much to respond to probably.
I suppose if you did come across it somehow, you could merely pat yourself on the back for a decision well-made, an escape pre-empted and successful.

More time has elapsed since the last time I saw you(almost a month after our parting) than what amounts to our period of relations as a whole. I’m not exactly sure what to do with this information save hold it up like a sort of talisman, something that should protect me from the ridiculous reality that is my daily struggle – a weighty something to right this unbalancing act.



I thought time would be doing a better job at kickin all of this under the carpet and wrapping it up like some crime rival’s corpse,to be trashed at earliest convenience.
Alas, no, not so. It’s not time’s job to do any of that.

Humans bury, time just forgets them. Catastrophe can bury, time can commemorate.


Despite this being my first summer in the city, despite the many travels I can look back on this year and have still to look forward to, I haven’t quite rafted onto those distractions and sailed away from you.


Sometimes the current changes and I’ve lost sight of you in moments of brevity and calm, only for you to resurface like some immutable force or presence.


You crash in to me with your silence and I have no adequate way of dealing with it save letting it be.

Occasionally, when I’m feeling brave, when I’m feeling energised enough to share this tumult with those I care about, without worrying about the consequences of sharing these negative thoughts, I’ve been able to make portions of sense out of this whole experience (and I shall include some edited versions of them here, below at some stage).


Having the thoughtful input of others helps in such a huge way that a dozen “it wasn’t meant to be’s” or “you’re better off without him’s” can never console.



At times I feel like having your truly thoughtful input would be invaluable, as opposed to the echoing “you’ll be fine”, “focus on your friends and family” and “I have your best interests at heart” which occasionally reverberate around the chilled chambers of my thoughts.
Then again, perhaps the input of others can be detrimental also – I regularly remind myself, masochistically, of how, instead of asking me about my experiences you asked the kitchen porter at your old place of work (who also happened to do volunteer work with a mental health charity) to classify my experiences for your benefit.

I understand your need to risk-asses, sure, it still stings in a way you could not possibly imagine though.

I am permitted to speculate on the intricacies and inconsistencies of my occasionally inordinate behaviours, I am allowed to try to make sense of and contextualise the minute and often-pathetic tribulations I regularly face myself with. In the same way that a privileged person doesn’t get to tell an unprivileged person that privilege doesn’t exist, the way white people aren’t authorised to tell people of colour what does and does not constitute racism, you, a healthy, reasonably focused and adjusted person, don’t get to decide what living with a mentally unhealthy, differently focused or ‘maladjusted’ life is like, no matter which expert you've consulted.

  
Nobody can have the monopoly on experience, that is certain, but, neither should you arrive at a conclusion about somebody’s potential as a worthwhile part of your life, based on the judgements or damning indictments of strangers.


Not only is it a deeply problematic approach and potentially offensive, but, it is also plain lazy.

To think of you both discussing my condition, however abstractedly you managed it, categorising and diagnosing me… Fuck that hurts!
I never met him, not once, but he did cycle passed us a couple of times in town and you pointed him out (taking the opportunity to
illustrate your stories about the people you had worked with - I recall you mentioning his lack of marathon training for this year’s Cardiff half marathon that you were both to participate in, chiding his competitiveness and the fact that you weren’t exactly close to the guy, that you were fitter, never dwelling on your own lack of preparation or, indeed, not until after you’d decided to break up with me, not mentioning once how you’d talked about my mental health…. “I've talked about it with Ed and he said it sounded like... well, let’s not go into it now...” Oh. My. God! I remember you using him as an example to me to go ahead and take part in the marathon because Ed was doing it and our 3mile runs ran up the same time!), now, whenever I see that bearded stranger wheeling passed me, I can’t help but contort and cringe inwardly – outwardly too at bad times.
 
Though, my face is often scrunched in some way or other these days it seems. 

Bloated, inflamed, damp…

To say that I have unravelled since we first met wouldn’t be strictly true. I had been in a process of unravelling, tangling, sorting and re-spooling for a very long time.

I think, this year, after last, I have just been a collection of threads loosely bound by static, never each long enough to make a little sense of, not yet too tiny that they float away like the lint they will one day be.


People are trailing bits of me around with them and I shall never again regain myself.
I suppose the order of the day is to come to terms with this new adult state and weave a semblance of stability out of that acceptance of disorder(s).


I’ve met a fair few people this year, more than in recent adult years, and, infuriatingly, regressively, in spite of the Spring’s bravery and boldness, that old foe seems to have crept up alongside me for the ride into Autumn.


The enemy that sits somewhere at the back of your mind, on a balcony, leering out threateningly, dangerously, the one who lashes out at you and laughs cruelly every time you say something to a new acquaintance and they don’t quite hear you.


The one who half-heartedly utters “maybe this life isn’t for the likes of you” whenever you accidentally drop your fork loudly, or, worse still, fall over in the street and graze your hand and knees while some lively and interesting Berliner tells you about their experiences of trash disposal as a recent student in Amsterdam (in response to my “it’s so clean there!” – FYI; apparently there is no “bin night”, it’s so tidy because it’s scrupulously and methodically sanitised each night, each night you put a little of  the rubbish you have from that day onto the street and each morning the street is cleaned! I need such a nightly scouring of demons!).


Every time you’ve said something awkward that nobody was listening too, he’s the one that squeezes your brain so much that your mouth becomes a twisted grimace.


He’s the one who tells you never to speak in the group again.
He is the ache from the pitying look of the person whose guilt asks you to join them.
He’s the one who tells you to go home early to “spare other people your company”.
The barb that lashes at your chest cavity from the inside when you think of yourself as a child and the disappointment you've become, think of those you’ve known, and 

loved, and lost.

Sometimes it’s a healthy presence that keeps you from getting carried away on a tide of good self-feeling you’ve somehow generated in your mind, an inflated sense of self-worth.
The trick is preventing that metaphorical presence from taking hold and encouraging all manner of destructive impulsive behaviours though. It must not go on unchecked.

Ibrahim, he thrives on your lack of elaboration to the quasi-mystical words “it just didn’t feel right anymore”.

He is your silence.
He is my fear.
The fear that there is something so fundamentally wrong with my character, with my guilt-infested humanity, that it turned your stomach and lead you to eventually turn away from me altogether.

The fear that my inability to normally process the grief of a dead relative or the stress of new work demands, not being able to cope effectively or expediently, the fear that others see this as the weakness it is and are uncomfortable with it – the fear that when they look at me they see a caged and injured chick crushed by the bustle and progress of stronger fowl (but, hey, we’re all going to be crushed and killed soon enough).



The fear that each new acquaintance will inevitably realise I’m a dread-filled, try-hard, boring, naïve, jaded, depression-breeding black hole who isn’t to be known in any more depth.

The fear that I’m totally and un-alterably rotten inside and that these days I can’t prevent it from seeping out…


***









***




Recently I wrote a version of this below to dear Jennifer who is out in Pennsylvania at the moment, going through her own journey’s of discovery and battling her own incessant demons. She had asked me what was going on in my life, she mentioned she reads my blog and we exchange real letters too, so, she has a  sort of cryptic notion of what’s been going on, but, no specifics, so, somehow, I just managed to write and write and write then send;


After Tim and I broke up and I started the new job (quickly trying to get up to speed, meeting new people, travels to meetings in Luxembourg, conventions in Brussels!) things were a little intense, busy, I sort of didn't have time to...

I don't know... Understand, or, appreciate how I felt about everything...
(Which was sort of ok - I spend far too much time focusing on my thoughts and trying to figure out why I'm down, to little/no avail!)
I realised I was missing, not necessarily Tim (-not at all really, but I hadn't given myself any time to get over that-), but, that kind of love or closeness, I felt vulnerable and alone at a crazy period and like I just needed someone to hold me tight from time to time.

When I met Finn in Brussels, it was pretty electric, intense - exciting only in a way that meeting someone sexy (so tall, those crazy blue green eyes, that Flemish accent!) who appears to find you (Me!?!?) attractive, in the capital of Europe, who whisks you away to wooden panelled city bars for Belgian beer and thrilling kisses, can be...


Given that I was alone, out of my depth and overwhelmed at the convention, it was no wonder I was bowled over by him. And when I got back, I was sort of obsessed with him...

In the first week or so we exchanged messages on Facebook pretty frequently and whatnot, but, what can be said? He's an attractive energetic man in his 30's, it was inevitable that it would lose its steam pretty swiftly.


I accepted that but I was still distracted by it, thoughts of him. I wasn't looking for anything, I didn't plan on meeting him, it just happened and it affected me...


Anyways, every now and then after things died down I'd ask of him, in cringe-worthy feigned chirpiness, things like; "done anything of note this week Van Dinter?"


And it seemed like he was always on his way out for a date.
Always first dates.I would e-laugh and wish him luck and also ask how he managed to meet them all!

He would say words to the effect of; he couldn't sit still in his flat, life's not for lying about – so, if his friends were busy he'd go on 1/2 blind Tinder dates.
He suggested I sign up, to get myself out of the house and stop over-thinking,
"just work it" he said.

So, I did!

At first it was amusing, it made me think of you and those evenings or weekends in Denbigh when we'd scroll through horrifying Plenty of Fish profiles or dodgy Facebook photos of the “lads” we worked with.
Over Gin and Ginger Beer.
Needless to say I didn't have many Tinder "matches", then, along came Mr. Ibrahim...
His photos weren't terrifying or ridiculous, just a man and some friends - it was even difficult to pick out which one he was, but a couple of his photos were devoid of humans and just cool/pretty film photos he'd taken..
Those sorts of camera accidents that I’m drawn to.

Light leaks.

At first I wasn't too bothered, I was still fixated on Finn and we had some hectic work meetings to get through so it was just a short message a day really, polite, non-committal almost.


Then, we got to talking about real life, sharing music, family, films, discussing food, memories, being over-sensitive weirdos…

After a short while I realised I was looking forward to hearing from him, that I'd break out in an involuntary grin!
The day I realised, the day I had a notification from Tinder that he'd sent a message and before reading it I was smiling - was the same day, same message, that he confessed that his thoughts were taken over by me, a stranger, and how weird and awesome it all was...
We exchanged more and more messages, word count increasing each time, he sent me physical post, a little parcel he'd dropped off in the environs of my flat - which he left endearing instructions to find in my tinder inbox, directions to his envelope filled with its appropriated slides, slices from other people's lives...

It was like a fantastic treasure hunt and I felt so bloody alive! I returned the gesture, with a handmade book and more found photos...
It was giddyingly lovely Jennifer.


THEN... We met.
It's hard for me to think of that first night.
Hard to resist the urge to tear-up.
Like I said I wasn't sure exactly what he looked like, just that his name was(probably) Ibrahim. I just wanted to meet regardless because I felt this affinity with him.


(Stronger than Finn, mercifully!)

I met him where he'd dropped my parcel a few nights before, between two trees that have sort of knitted jumpers encircling their boughs.
It was after 2am, drizzly.

We had planned a picnic in the park, to watch the sun rise and listen to the birds, but, the weather was against us so I suggested an indoor picnic as a substitute.

When I saw him in that Sodium orange lamplight, in his crisp clean light blue shirt, with his perfectly fitted trousers and such black and curly hair, when I saw how big his eyes actually were, how he carried himself... I panicked!


I thought, he's got this wrong, he doesn't want to meet me, look at him!
I can't engage with men like him, he's a cut-above, I'm some binge-eating scumbag and he's a clean-shaven, gently-spoken incredibly fresh-smelling gentleman!
Smart and funny to boot!
Sigh... He seemed to have similar reservations about me though.
That I was too beautiful and intelligent to be consorting with the likes of him...
Well, we stayed awake for almost the whole night, talking, laughing, sharing,(kissing) snuggled together like co-conspirators embroiled in a most wonderful plot.
The next couple of weeks had that same pattern essentially, he'd come over after work, in the night and spend it in my bed.

I'd cook for him, or we’d cook together, then we'd eat, listen to beautiful music and have such good bed-times together.
Joking and making plans. All rather vulgar really, eh!?
Obviously such high-feeling isn't sustainable. Couple that truth with the fact that my hormones tend to be up and down regardless of external/internal factors, no matter where I am, what I eat, who I'm with or how much I exercise those crazies have their own agenda - in short, it couldn't go on that way.
It's not to say it couldn't go on, I really think we could have found a viable rhythm and routine if he'd given us a shot.
 To be honest, work got crazy stressful. A few days before he broke up with me I got a text on my way in one morning saying "change of plan, you're heading to a meeting today to take minutes" (hard when you don't drive!) and, the most nerve wracking; "do you need a projector?"
To which I replied;" ... What for?" To which I received; "for the presentation you’re giving in an hour”....

I had a panic attack in the street and actually called my dad! I don't know what I expected him to do but I just really wanted to hear a calming voice and I didn't feel like Ibrahim would approve.
At least my dad didn't tell me to "man up" or "own my shit" or "work it" or any other unreasonable axiom.
He listened, offered support and swore about my colleagues in the appropriate spaces.
In short, he loves me.

Anyhow, what with my boss being a poor delegator (because his bosses were putting extra pressure on him probably, he works far too hard - ok, fair enough, but, at that point I still hadn't had a proper "induction" - still haven't!) and, fairly suddenly, my aunt died...  
She was old and not entirely well and what have you, but, even so, it knocked me sideways...

I guess I was feeling the strain, trying to please everyone, and even appease Soph and her joking; "oh so you've met someone, guess you'll be leaving me soon then, heh!" type comments... I felt like I was breaking down.


I had this wonderful thing and everything else was crumbling around it and I guess I clung to it too intensely for support...
[I should clarify though, it was only ever he who contextualised us as a "relationship" or refered to me as his "girlfriend" and it was he who mentioned love]

Ib said things like "it's a new relationship you should be excited, things shouldn't be this depressing for you already" and; "if it's like this now in the good first weeks how's it going to be after a few months or years?"

[A little understanding wouldn't have been remiss of him but then again it's not his obligation to make allowances for the weaknesses of others - a shame nonetheless]

He said he was falling in love with me but he didn't want to, that he didn't have the energy to support me - that I deserved.

I think that's bollocks but I'm helpless to it. Perversely, that was a couple of days before my aunt's funeral…

                       

***




I bought some soup in Rhyl which didn't kill.
 
Way above are some photos of Denbigh Castle I took a few weeks ago while I sat in the rain and watched the sunset, thinking of Jennifer and all the places I've lived. Wondering where next for all of us... These ^ \/ ^ I took the next day, on my journey south.


In vain I sketched plans to write to Ami on the train.


***

I wrote this to my friend Andy (Andy P, not Andy G (Gimbo!), I met P through G, they lived together briefly in Swansea and they’re both computer geniuses. Psst, if you’re out there Gimbo, I love and miss you!)after he asked me how I was doing. 


We occasionally exchange quite long life-updates via Facebook messages and we used to play e-scrabble together daily – I should offer him a match again…


Some of these are responses to specific questions but are hopefully clear enough that the questions don’t need including, some Q’s are included too. I’m HJ, he’s AP;


That street fella didn't call, but the waiter text.
We watched a film etc., together, it was ok. I think I'm still too focused on Mr.Ibrahim though...
Not sure what to do about that save take it easy and let time do the rest...(HJ)


How are you feeling about Mr. Ibrahim currently? Or perhaps the question is how do you feel about yourself in that context? I think you're right though, time will likely do the job, and time spent figuring out the missing pieces that you need to find in that time will be time well-spent. Time spent with people who value you, too. (AP)


Today, right now, honestly? I feel like a disappointment... Like I really missed out on something marvellous, because I'm me.
I'm worried I'll always be drawn back to this time, like I'm occasionally drawn back, wistfully, to a similarly short-lived but wonder-filled "relationship" during uni years.

It's not that I'm particularly bright or funny, or beautiful, but, I don't often meet people who stir me so, completely, witty, quick, silly, brilliant, creative, sexy, endearing... I guess I'm not meant for that? 
I don't know, I tend to think I should steer clear of "meant to be"s and all the "shoulds" and "coulds", it is hard though.

Also, I'm not convinced in the whole "it just wasn't the right time" or "it just wasn't right", period.

Things have a habit of feeling very "right" one minute and cycling into "difficulties" the next, then it comes around again.
Just that for some people, each time it cycles back to feeling good, it's ever so slightly less "right", each time, like something gets lost.

I call that life, though, the things that have a habit of getting in the way and tarnishing the propensity to appreciate beauty, to overcome the contempt of familiarity.

I don't think compromise is evil, I don't think it means sacrificing yourself completely or like "giving up", I think the challenge is to keep fighting complacency, to keep engaging and appreciating, and, whatever, some people don't have time for that sort of living, some people just want to be promoted and make more money and have an easy "life" outside of work.



And, if work becomes "life", then, that's fine for those people. It's what you make of it after all... (HJ)

 


What makes you feel disappointed in yourself? I only know tiny pieces of the story but the sense I get is that he let you go too easily, as though there was some new responsibility that he was afraid to take on, or some reality he didn't want to face? And that could have been because of his own issues, and not because the reality presented to him was particularly insurmountable. I think that's an important thing to consider, even though you might feel like acknowledging his drawbacks would betray the investments of emotion, time, actions, words, etc. that you made in him. I apologise if I'm talking (typing)rubbish right now, I'm unqualified to comment on the situation at all really.
Call it speculative advice or something, perhaps. (AP)


Not perhaps though! Those comments really have helped put certain things in to perspective and stop me beating myself up over other things… Still…

Oh Thank you Andy for taking the time to reply so considerately, you never have to but you always do!

Tea and word-games soon please.

As for dearest Jennifer, instead of launching into a facile attack on the character of the person causing me pain, she wisely and astutely commented that “It seemed like he was holding something back”. No expletives, no clichés, just spot-on words that actually speak of the situation with some efficacy…


After I wrote her all of the above (and after I’d offered comments relating to her difficult situation at present) I sent a quick Oh Jennifer, what are we doing?! They didn’t put any of this in the Disney Films!!! Shit, sorry about all that! Maybe we should start skyping instead?!


And Jenny said; Fuck Disney!
I would watch the film you just wrote. Although it would make me sad. But it'd be beautiful too.

And after I read that I smiled a huge and deeply sincere smile, and, for the briefest moment I thought I could hear Belle and Sebastian singing “If She Wants Me”!






Oh you wonderful creature!
We exchanged some more messages, which, despite our closeness isn’t that common because we share similarities in our bouts of communicative inactivity, a sort of numbness to commenting on life and connecting that we each find infuriating in ourselves but accept in the other…
   
I closed with the profound; “It was shitty!”
And…
It doesn't help that he literally lives just up the road from me, and just after we broke up he started working at a cool vegetarian and vegan restaurant on the same road, right next to my doctors, that I've yet to try and now probably never will (they do vegan doughnuts!)!


We met up properly once since, after I came home from Minorca, a few days after my birthday, but I had this awful sinking feeling after we parted.


Like something of great significance and grave import had been irretrievably lost, like, he was perfect, I couldn't have constructed him better myself, he was/is a fine human being, and me and my dirty rotten anxious, petty, pathetic crumbling core ruined everything.

I feel quite hopeless in a numb way, you know? Like, "that's it for me"...

Not in a dramatic suicidal sort of way, just in a resigned, despairing acceptance of a finality, like I've only just realised I'll never be good.
Not that I'm bad, just, I don't know… I've noticed recently when someone handsome or friendly looking smiles at me in the street my eyes fill with tears unexpectedly and in my head the message "I've got nothing to offer, you know what I am, I've got nothing for you, there's nothing here, I've got nothing to offer, you know what I am", over and over.


Which, isn't great.

***


Then (19th August 2015), a week ago tonight (26th August 2015), I finished the beautiful new release of Haruki Murakami’s first two (until now unpublished) novels (that I had purchased in a Waterstones in Shrewsbury at the beginning of the month while there for work reasons, those work reasons also took me to Denbigh the ensuing night where (I photographed the castle in the rain and)I met up with another old friend whose correspondence I featured here, dear Alan. I read to him a passage from the first book Hear The Wind Sing that I’d read that morning on a churchyard bench in drizzly Shrews).
This is the passage that I read aloud;



Everybody, thats who I am!!

Last week I was feeling markedly introspective, listening to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks record on Soph’s player (she had left that afternoon for Ireland and I was alone in an eerie dark flat), the songs “You’re a big girl now” and “you’re gonna make me lonesome when you go” were so utterly resonant and poignant!
 



I listened and I read. Finishing the whole book, killing time trying to stay awake before my 02.30am bus to Bristol Airport and the beginning of my now terminated Berlin adventure (to be broadcast soon).


(I had compiled a blog post of all the better photos I had taken on my first visit to Berlin with Mateusz in 2012, with some of the writing above, the messages from lovely friends at least, trying to make some sense of where I am and who I am, how I felt, last week, about Berlin past (and relationships past) and Berlin future (now also passed).

What to say save, here are some old photos that I took on a trip I didn’t make the most out of with a man I loved and didn’t see the best of.


Here, first, some more Haruki shots that speak to my character, before a quote that speaks of my present feeling, here, this morning, after waking at 5 and spending 2 hours thinking in the dark and 3 (+ 3 formatting!!!) hours writing into the light;




Pinball, 1973; p. 67



My face and soul were lifeless shells, of no significance to anyone. My soul passes someone else's on the street. Hey, it says. Hey, the other responds. Nothing more. Neither waves. Neither looks back. [...] Their eyes saw nothing, not a damn thing. And mine were nodifferent. I felt empty. Maybe I had nothing left to give.


                                                                            ***
First to last Berlin shots 2012






























































































Maybe I do have something left...