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]
Latin beats. Doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t keep still. No matter where I am, no matter my mood, my state of sober, the company or lack thereof. There’s nothing I can do. It taps into my soul. It makes my nerves fizz, my muscles move. Even as I am sitting here, in this chair, solo, in a nightclub. Watching young couples partner off, find a rhythm, connect, contract, swing wide. It is hip-swaying and joyful. It is an unfurling and the taste of freedom. Uninhibited, sensual. It is at once wisdom of generations and an expression of youthful hope. A frenzy, a focused movement. A step away, a coming together. It never ceases to make me smile, to make me relax, to create a desire to let go; growing small tidy steps into sweeping motion.
This is where hearts heal. In the grounding, in the crawling over a dance floor, in the evolution. Up on to toes, back down into release.
Written at 3am, in a bar.
Twelve months ago I made the decision not to engage with Stoopids. For a period of six months. To let unfounded opinions fly. To accept the varying levels of educational deficiencies and life exposure, and not take on the frustration of seeing such saddening ignorance. The benefits were so life-changing, I gifted myself another six months. I am avoiding contact or interaction with The Ignorant. Or those with an inability to explore the multi-layers of any political or theological argument. I chose to step down off my soap-box and not Tall Poppy myself amidst the thousands of sheeples that on a dime, transform into abusive trolls. Be an examplar not an educator.
I have spent most of my adult life being a passionate and highly vocal advocate of human rights, anti-bigotry, and equality. A speaker-uperer of gender issues and animal welfare. I joined WWF (the animals, not the lycra-cladded) and BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) when I was a young tween. I have been a disciplined recycler and conscious global citizen. As a kid, I suffered a myriad of detentions at school for questioning authority and pushing boundaries on behalf of others who had not found a voice yet; the value of certain school policies and curriculum. I was forced to apologise to the teachers I challenged when they concentrated on uniforms rather than our ability to read. Have championed proactively befriending the lonely and forgotten in our society. And I have done much of this with a voice. Not to proclaim any elite morals but in the hope that perhaps one person will hear my call for help, to join our very large group of like-minded people.
And until last year I was comfortable to use social media as a forum to quietly but confidently state my beliefs; debate, learn, exchange ideas, change my mind, continually be informed of, and by people with, differing views. Until I realised that even in a private and somewhat isolated place like my Facebook portal, I was communicating with people who were just plain, and steadfastly determined to remain, Ignorant.
I would physically feel the manifestation of the sadness and frustration and disbelief. I would shake, not with indignation, but a pent up need to find a way to somehow help those I was communicating with, to see a different perspective and be ok with its existence. For them to be inspired, to look at the world with an open mind. An open heart. To be kinder. To forgive. To be inclusive.
We know fear and the anxiety response to change, the unknown, can be incredbly debiliating, inhibiting. Segregating. We understand that cultures and society structures can make enemies of countrymen, of families. Exposed as an inheritance of hatred; we see the father’s eyes, in the son spouting indoctrinated vitriol. I acknowledge all the paths we have trodden as individuals, as communities. To get to this place.
And so over the last year I have found myself disentangling from heated conservation about politics or religion or immigration or racism. From grammar pedants, mysogynists, or tabloid soundbytes. Remaining passive. Not detailing media misrepresentation, or mass misinformation. Ignoring poorly qualified statements of truth. It has been bliss. A peaceful and secluded existence, with rarely an impulse to rush in, encouraging or facilitating. Leaving the people to abuse each other, to fight, or to perpetuate shockingly myopic beliefs. But my two times six months is over. I wonder what I will do?
Faking it, ay? I’ve never really had to consciously do this before; as a strategy to manage a relationship. I’ve been lucky. And privileged. My lovers and partners have been my equal, mostly. One or two, teachers. Interested and interesting. Keen to give as well as receive. Giving time and creating opportunity to flesh out what is fun or intense or powerful. Early lovers were as inexperienced, but I was a curious, explorative girl… so enjoyed the delight and charm of surprising and awakening a bed-friend.
In my first long term relationship, of almost 10 years, he was older. And kind. Sexy and a little dark. Certainly intense. And while towards the end, sex became more scarce, I loved him with all that I could. He had become my best friend and lover and family and we were forever bonded, no matter the passing of time or our distance. But I needed adventure, the world. And he let me go.
More recently, a Big Love, one that etched its scars on my heart and my personality, caused me to question my trust in the physical beauty of, and emotional sharing through, sex. He was a powerful man, strong of body and intellect. He vocally adored all the things I was – the passionate, social, tactile, nomadic, confident woman. The twist showed itself too late. I was already hooked. Smitten. Loved him. Monogamous and dedicated. Happy, and engaging in thoughts of future. Rare and scary for me.
Then things moved slightly, shifted. While he craved me in the bedroom, he started to censor my history, my passed lives. What made me who I am and the journey. The essence of me. He benefited from my experience and congratulated our prowess, but started questioning my journey to that pleasure. He would celebrate our specific union but chastise my general enjoyment. And slowly he began to make ultimatums. Requests that I remove male friends from my life, limit my social interaction with others. He’d ask me who I’d seen, what my history was with certain friends. He would memorise the list of my male friends on Facebook, and drop names from my past into conversation, feigning a casualness neither of us believed. He suggested I had been disrespectful to myself and allowed others to do the same. Surely and certainly he became obsessive. Demanding the cessation of friendships, some of more than 20 years… lessening our social activity, and increasing the reasons why I hadn’t quite measured up to his expectations.
And I was so in love with this man, I began to comply. I said silent goodbyes to a number of good men. Sacrificed connection with treasured friends, to appease my Lover. It was a relationship that started so healthy, so ‘good’. With fizzing stomachs and silliness and fun. Months of lovely. And became one of such highs and lows, intense, tumultuous, fraught. And there was bargaining and challenging and eventually my almost complete submission. But not quite. I couldn’t understand fully, his need to delete my past, and I didn’t delete my past fully. So at the height of his commitment to me, he removed himself. And that complete circle, that meeting and living and loving and losing, almost broke me. It has taken a long time to heal those scars. It undermined who I thought I was, made me question my innate attraction to both emotional and physical intimacy, and closeness and bonding, with a lover. I lost my sexual confidence; an ember starved of oxygen, no longer glowed.
I guess in outlining that story briefly, I explain the time it has taken to reconcile all the bits of me again. I have become a new version of myself; an almost me. Not quite who I was, the happy energetic, heart-on-sleeve woman that existed, but close. More wary. More weary. The cynical romantic, always hoping that someone will hold me in arms that keep me safe, but let me breathe. And yet never letting any one close enough to try.
I am reacquainted now, with the woman who was open and honest and explorative and comfortable with sex and intimacy. Mostly she is me. But then last year I met a man, who become a lover. An Almost Lover. Not exclusively mine; a journeyman plying his trade. And I was so in awe of him, of the wanting of him, that I found myself faking. Don’t get me wrong. The sex was good. Hot, passionate. As a female of the species, one who understands her body and loves it, I know I don’t need an orgasm to have wonderful sex. I guess it was because after a while, I realised it had the same pace each time. The same scenarios. And endings. For the first time in my sexual life I had become hesitant, to ask for what I wanted, wonder out loud at what he craved, or direct us to a mutually fulfilling climax. That says more about me, and my lack of trust in him; for it to be ok. And also, at the time I really did think we’d have opportunity to learn each other’s desires so was in no rush. An illusion.
We didn’t spend long hours together. He was gone from my home quickly, like that thief in the night. Or early morning at least. But, in the nature of our bonding, I knew I needed to pretend. I was not gifted the relaxing moments a couple share; when just a small flex, a feline-stretching, can blow… minds.
Now, looking back, I don’t know who I was pretending for. Was I scared he would suggest it was me? My fault? My inadequacies? Would he quietly take it as a further judgement, withdraw privileges as a punishment? Perhaps it was for my own benefit; if I dented his ego, he would not return. And I did not wish to wound him with my needs, sensed somewhere that may sadden him. I think worst of all and more likely in hindsight, I subconsciously knew he would not care. That would wound me most of all.
Whatever instinct stopped my voice, he never noticed from my body. I don’t think. Maybe he did, and this at some level led to his repeated disconnections and then returns. But I doubt it. The clarity of time, makes me laugh at my predicament. Humbly and with a lop-sided smile. Because for the first time in my adult life, I had chosen a lover who was not A Lover. Not a lover of me at least. His wham-bam was indicative of his feelings. Yet so sure, so certain, I chose to believe the romping would evolve into cherishing. And it turns out, I was wrong.
But to stop learning, stop seeking knowledge or new?
Well, that is a degenerative dis-ease.
For those that only reference their past,
Have already begun their dying.