sugar pop

My birthday tradition… that time of the year again. 
42. The answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. And I am waving goodbye to it on Tuesday. It was an interesting year. I started out full of energy and hope and excitement as always, and end it with a strange melancholy I’d not seen coming. An extended introspection which has left me feeling ‘out of body’. But in turn, stronger and more powerful for it. Like something big and important happened and however it ended, there was learning and inspiration. Not from him… but from the allowing myself to feel again. And a sweet tasting discovery that I am actually ready to stand out there and let someone else take the lead, take my hand. 
So this birthday I had a little place in my heart that thought perhaps, I would get to share it with someone special. A little slap n’ tickle, a lot of laughter. Drinking til dawn and a dollop of chaos. Meh. It makes it no less worth celebrating solo. I have always looked forward to birthdays. Not for the party or cake or even super lovely affirmations from my people around the world. I embrace them because at times in my life… I have not wanted to see another one. 
And sometimes I remember the resentment of having stayed, being made to stay, being asked to stay. And sometimes I mourn the sensitive, empathic girl I was, who found the world such an achingly sad place that she didnt want to be in it. But mostly, mostly, I give thanks every year for the gift of my journey. And the wonders that I see and hear, and the feeling of it all. The chance at a smile, simple joys, the tug at my heart when a loved one is close. So I celebrate. Another year ventured through. 
Every year, since I was 16, I’ve held dear a birthday tradition. The ‘new view’. I have not yet broken the pilgrimage. The premise is to open a window on the morning of my birthday and look upon a new place. Be in a new place. Experience a new vista. Start again. Start the next 12 months with clear, fresh eyes and excitement for what they may bring. 
I’ve always enjoyed spontaneous roadtrips and have traveled all over the UK; know the geography of England and Scotland better than most natives. But my birthday tradition has been the motivation to discover new towns or seek out places I’ve not visited before, not woken in; Bruges, Venice, Rome, Ludlow… I have woken in some of the most beautiful, quaint, or awe-inspiring rooms. And the day can lead to wandering wintery cobbled streets, walking crystallised pathways, or tramping wind-blasted hilltops. I’ve been in a capacity crowd at Twickenham, and have sat for 5 hours to have a piece of artwork etched into my back. 
This year? Well. I had booked a lush hotel room to surprise a boy, thinking it would be the scene of quaffing bubbles and the use of a giant hearth-rug in front of an open stone fireplace. But I’ve cancelled that, with a resigned smile and wistful nod to my recent, unusually inflated, sense of romance. 
And there will still be wine.  And wandering.  I will fling open the little window of my tiny budget hotel room, and gaze out on a New View at sunrise. Then there will be nostalgia and old haunts. There will be motorbikes and music.  And I will be happy on the anniversary of my birth day. I will know I am blessed, and celebrate another year gifted.
‘Emma’s Box Hill’ – Surrey 

Oh, that we should all feel so good for sharing our Nothings that to gift our special Somethings becomes an easy second nature. That our brokenness and hurts and secret selves are no longer disguised.

Oh, that we could all feel so blessed to hear your Nothings, knowing you are almost ready to speak your Somethings. You are held together with love for the giving. 

add just a teaspoon


A few weeks ago I glibly referenced my early childhood eating disorder, to someone I was beginning to trust. And mentioned that when I was a tween my Dad used to joke that I’d end up obese because I stayed inside reading on sunny days. I tried to explain, lightly and casually, how those seemingly harmless jibes from him had impacted on the sensitive self-conscious bookworm I was. The response was a dismissive “…up north we just get on with it…we don’t need to talk about stuff like that…” Or something similar. And I considered the things I’d already mentioned. About my past and my history. I had consciously censored and filtered much of my story in order not to overwhelm, but gifted chapters, in my adopted anecdotal, yarn-spinning style. Clowning and story telling. Shared because I thought he was going to be important. In return I received bullet-pointed swapsies. But guessed that there was more and was happy to wait to hear the big stuff. It takes time for most people to build trust enough to unwrap their past and gift it to another human being.

I’m a bit different. For a myriad of reasons. I am, at my most ‘stagey’, an entertainer; regaling friends and acquaintances with random adventure tales or odd ‘Sliding Doors’ episodes. And they get it. They know it’s part of my coping strategy. I’ll share because it’s part of my process. Part of my healing and an acknowledgement of how I got here. In this, there is ownership but not regret. There is clarity in a retelling. And I share because I grew up with a diverse loving peer-group that were supportive; honest and open, we learned from each other – gifting wisdom, debating, growing and seeking together. Importantly, I share with people I am attracted to because the bonding, the exchange of words, communication, is my aphrodisiac. To hear someone else’s story is the ultimate beautiful prize for sharing mine.

I share, and always with a joke, because that’s my protection mechanism. It’s a smoke and mirrors strategy. It offers the opportunity to laugh at the hilarious or the weird situations I find myself in. Or the chunky-chewy bits of life. And while I share this noise, the real stuff is locked away. The private, scary, scarred, parts of me remain well-hidden. These are not for general consumption. They aren’t often for lovers. Or even most friends.

And I know my candidness can be challenging, not always endearing. Slightly outside my current community’s norms. It is me making fun of myself, shrugging off heart-break or disclosing my own errors in judgement to entertain or educate. I try not to hurt, implicate, or cause pain for others – they are my versions only and always. Self-deprecating, self-chastising. And this is hard for some. The attuned will sense it is all bluster and know that in quiet moments the real me will relax respectfully with my secrets. Upon occasion I will want to speak of them. But rarely will. Why would I? Better to play the goofy clown. Better to make it all one big joke. Less threatening.

The important stuff? I don’t easily share that. I haven’t shared the parts of me that are dark or sad. So while I yabber-on and share things that most people would baulk at knowing, let alone telling, I hold my real secrets close. Guarded and sacred.

This? This tedious love stuff I have been writing about recently? That seems like I am baring my soul? That’s just a tale of paralysing humiliation. An embarrassing consequence of foolish faith. The story of me ending up a passive passenger on someone else’s car-crash of a journey. But it’s not private. It’s not something to be protected. Hidden. It’s another silly interlude to add to my many stories of people and places and possibilities. And fuck-ups. They make me look very stupid. But entertain others. With my drivel and ditties.

So, while I may be accused of oversharing, be it known that I am cautious and careful. Well-positioned screens of haze. And those that are gifted insight into the darker places, the people I select, who I begin to trust? Who are chosen? They should not be fearful of me in my slow, honest moments, when I am not making jokes or flailing my arms in animated theme-threading. For it means I think you are important. That I am letting you in. And these far less frequent exchanges are precious.

So please don’t shut-down or dismiss them. If they become too hard to hear… Just whisper, just take my hand and kiss me quiet.