I don’t want you to talk to me. You’re not required to smile. I don’t even need you to know I’m here. I’m not looking for a hook-up, an individual intimacy. I’m not here to make friends. I don’t desire your conversation. I am standing here, in the middle of this melee, for your energy. To be surrounded, engulfed, by a room full of anonymous vitality. I’m here to siphon. Be in noise. Breathe in the smell of humanity. Be charged with the end of week madness that draws and drives a crowd. In this, I cannot hear my thoughts. I do not hear the voices or my singular heart-beat. In amongst you I am lost. And it is good. Healthy. Perfect. I want to dance, give me space. I want to move to the music, so leave me room. If you stand in my space, I will smile, a hostess grin, big but dull. You won’t notice it is as fake as her tan. If you initiate conversation, I will be kind. I am mannered and noble. My eyes have glazed over at the thought of exchanging pleasantries, well anything, with you. Though especially words. But I know the game. To be afforded a safe-place, I must sacrifice. It is transactional. I pay the kind Barman for a drink; solicit a fleeting friendship. This too, a barter. He obliges the chat with my change.
And then you take my arm and drag me, smiling, outside for a cigarette. And I am tired of making excuses, exceptions. I do not have the fight to deal with your affront, if I say no. So I let you lead me. And you are full of banter and compliments and intense gazes. To accompany your full belly of beer. And I give you some mileage with my helpful narration of the people around us. You take cues, so easily crafted, and try to entertain. But you are boring me and annoying me and I have reached my tolerance. So request my leave, vaguely suggesting the loo, or call to a friend. And I have shrugged off the arm, or conversation, lightly, deftly. So as not to be rude, or hurt your feelings. So that you have no harm done, by way of me tonight.
And I am standing on the dance floor again. Having a sway and being alone in the throng. Having another drink; the music working it’s way into my soul, JDs in my veins. Smiling to myself at the privilege of being alive and enjoying life. And then there is another you, at my elbow. This one more inebriated, combative and forceful. Of course, you have been here for hours. This time, this you, wants to buy me a drink, suggests something foggy in my ear. And I am busted out of my reverie, to find your hand on my arse. A ring, I notice, on your wedding finger. Seriously? I match your certainty with an acerbity of my own. And at once you are angry and offended, and the defense is ugly on you. But you are like so many other yous in this bar, drunk and entitled. I am not ready to cower at your lurid comments or appease you for my own peace, this time. I am going to shut you down. You do not get what you want by bullying or harassment. And I will not let you. If politeness does not gift me a pass, you can have the whip of my honesty. I turn tail, and remove myself.
Please. I am not looking for conversation, am not hoping you will initiate. I am here to immerse myself in the music, in the vibe. Please don’t think that because I am here by myself, I am seeking to change that tonight. If I am smiling, it is not an invitation to seduce. Pay me attention with respect, if you wish to make a connection. If I am interested, I will tell you. If you are interesting, you will know.
[edited 27 November, 2016]
There is no anger.
For why curse at clouds that catch free flight on the wind?
There would be no remorse.
For surely we do not expect oceans to resist their nature’s ebb and flow?
My mistake, in being honest. Making statements, sounding out my understanding, acceptance. Embracing pragmatically flaws and brokenness. And to the engaging heart just beginning to open towards my voice, it is heard as judgement. In my certainty, I forget the suspension of reality, the romantic game of illusion. And whilst my soul knows beyond all, they are quite the most beautiful of creatures, formed with a treasured mix of goodness and recklessness… they are already turning towards another. For to be giddily idolised, is more alluring than to be known.
Why are we even having this conversation still?
The article (linked below) from a couple of years ago, hit my Facebook feed this morning. And I usually ignore the pap these guys publish. But reading it, I oscillated from righteous indignation to vehement nodding. It’s pushed a button or two.
Read Good Men Project article: The pros and cons of loving a ‘strong woman’…
If you have been reading my blog, you will know that someone who I was starting to care about, walked away leaving the parting suggestion in his wake, that I am “too headstrong.” And I was bewildered and saddened and confused by the seemingly barbed accusation. Still am. I don’t know what he meant. I know it was important enough to guarantee the demise of a short-lived entanglement. And I cried. I cried because he called me headstrong. That doesn’t seem very strong to me. I cried because I think I know what English men mean when they say this kind of thing about a woman. And it is never a compliment.
I was sad because I spent well into my 30s wanting to be the exact opposite of this horrible thing he had leveled at me. What I would have given to be soft and compliant and little and vulnerable, non-threatening… to appear like I needed protection, to be that perfect blend of needy and nurturing. I have never been able to strike this balance. I am not needy. I am independent and come out fighting more often than I should. I know this. I wont ask for help, rarely give ground – not because I am right, but if I admit a chink in the armour, I can be hurt. I have scars far too deep to let that happen again. The battle cry stays just at my throat. Not because I want to, but because this is what I have learned from life.
And as I type this I am weeping big ol’ silly slow tears. Because here I sit more vulnerable and scared and in need, than any one I know. Not many people have ever seen me cry. That is not something I do in public.
My Mother is a wonderful mix of resilience and resourcefulness. She is also beautiful, and petite, and feminine. She was sophisticated and elegant. In my child’s eye, I remember watching her; coquettish, complimentary, she would tilt her head back laughing prettily. Men were enamoured with her. I’m not sure she ever knew that. She only had eyes for my Father. Still. Still. Almost 50 years later. And I was so jealous of her. Her dark skin and big eyes and tininess. Men wanted to help her and rescue her, and fell in love with her. And I was a wobbly giraffe-like giant – I towered over her so quickly that it feels like it was always me giving her hugs not the other way around. Like we’d flipped roles. I was tall and ugly and clumsy, gorky and questioning and clever. And a lot of the time I was scratchy, like a wounded cat, terrified and backed into a corner. Least, that’s how it felt in my teens. Like I had to fight for myself, because no one had my back. Even as a little kid, no one seemed to believe the best in my intentions or support my dreams. I was a good girl without a voice, and no one seemed to know that.
I wont paint the detail into the picture here. It’s not the time. Lets just say I was bullied at school for being different. Even at 5 and 6 years old, sometimes physically. Taunted and ostracised. Add to that, the feeling that I never had the full or unconditional support of my parents. I always seemed to be the one in the wrong, the one being told off… even when I had done my very best. And I repeat, I was a good girl. My very best was usually for someone else, not for my own benefit. Anyway, they seem small things, these two contributors. But in a sensitive and innately empathic little girl, this was an anxiety-causing combination. I had to be my own hero, as the adults in my life had life happening. So I toughened up. I was financially supporting myself at 17, had been kicked out of home, had little contact with my parents. This is unusual where I come from. Rare in the community I grew up in. I was pretty young. So I got tougher. But on the inside, to my inner circle of trusted friends, still a softie who wore her heart on her sleeve.
So then add in that I am a Kiwi chick. A product of a country where equality is a bedrock of our culture. The pioneer spirit. Gender equality. We are expected to be independent thinkers, practical and pragmatic of attitude, partners in the true sense – not possessive or possessions. I like my space, I have an opinion, I have found my voice. I am sure of myself and am fully formed. Finally embracing the strong, confident, woman I have become, and being proud of the wise, thoughtful, sensitive little girl I was.
So yes, I am headstrong. Strong. In all the negative ways the article lists. In the unwanted, unbidden, ways the Lover implied. I am not what most English men have been looking for. I will not bend to their whim, or pretend a submission. I challenge status quo and have a fire in my belly. I speak up for an injustice – be it my own or others’ – in the bedroom or boardroom. But I am also the wonderful things that having a true partner offers; trust and loyalty and laughter and great sex. A confident woman will still have days when she feels frumpy and inelegant and not good enough. And she will speak too loud or too quickly when she is tired or scared. But she will be honest and open and want the best for her man.
But isn’t that the problem? All of this means there is a need for a man to step up and match the energy and faith a strong woman offers. And how scary is that?
You know when you have one of those crystalising moments? When everything else around you is in flux; flotsam and jetsam floating in your space, mixed with the important and precious and fragile. Creating low-fi noise and distracting static. And you valiantly welcome the detritus that throws itself at your head, barely missing your heart. But in a small, stalled, glimpse through time, you are gifted a learning that puts pause to everything. All the mess and overgrown paths and closed doors segue away. You are certain. A punch-in-the-stomach conviction. Like a message has fought it’s way through the hubbub and melee and confusion. A knowledge formed and made real in an instant.
It builds instinctively. Like a perfect wave. And as powerful. Filled with joy and fear and momentum – you are transfixed by the beauty of it. The energy, the strength. You collect an image, to keep it safe. Blue-print the feeling. Preserve the wisdom.
And in the knowing, comes the release.
“Oh, take a turn with me
Around the misty lake.
Hold my hand and lead
Ever you may take.
Pay me heed, incline your head
At all my non-sense.
Pace me slow and bring
To heighten my suspense.
Promise me a sailboat ride
Just an evening stroll.
And I shall smile at your
Even while I count it’s toll.
One day in Summer, you decry
Or walk the dunes?
A concert in the park,
With all our favourite tunes!
You craft a charming promise
Seducing with your eyes.
But I have been here so before
Already know your lies.
So take my hand and walk
Around this pretty pond.
Shower me with kindness
Feign that I’ve been conned.
Make it feel sincere
Like a line you have believed.
Then part your way again,
– We’ll pretend you’re not relieved.”