What not to expect

All I want to do is write, a story, any story but it has to be mine. I have to own it, I have to see myself in the words – like I am standing in front of a mirror, stark naked. You also have to see me in the words, my words. I want people to feel my essence, my dry humor, see my wry smile, hear my maniacal chuckle, see my manipulative eyes and enjoy a world of my own doing.
The only problem is that my life, is well, plain. I don’t have a tragedy I can write about or hardships I can share. I’ve never had to wake up on the foot of a mountain before the crack of dawn and let my feet down on the hard cold earth to walk ten miles just to fetch water. I’ve never been to war, or held a gun or watch someone get shot. In my eyes my life is boring. I’ve loved and had my heart broken but none of it was to epic proportions. None of it felt like Romeo or Juliet. It did not feel like my soul had been crushed and my heart pulled out left to bleed out in the cold. I did not feel like Rose on the Titanic having one last passionate deep kiss before a tragic end. It did not feel like I had a doppelganger that was ultimately drawn to me, no femme fatales just plain old love. Love that like is with any other, sparked up a passion in me. A passion that did not grow but flickered like a candle wicker on a cold July night. Flickering till it went out. No ceremony, no death it was nothing to write home about.

But maybe I should write about that, the lack of pizazz in my love life. The mundane conversations and boring nothings – much like a chess game, every move bringing the end closer. A boring end nothing fancy a king trapped by a black queen and a bishop movement paralyzed by a lurking rook. I can’t remember her name, okay I can, but I want to say I can’t remember her name. I want to say she is a distant memory, my first love – the first real love. We were maybe 14 or 15 but loved like 45 year olds. I’d like to think we were old souls but maybe I was just boring. We never did anything fun other than sit behind an old lorry talk and finally briefly kiss. It was a kiss heavy with uncertainty, I did not know what I was doing but she thought she did. We would talk about odd things like movies we should watch always making plans that never came to pass. We were either too busy – as bushy as a 14 year old can be – or we were just not comfortable with each other’s company. But the awkwardness made it special.

“Babe… what do you think we’re doing?”

She never called me babe not unless she had something weighing on her mind. She always had something weighing on her mind so she always called me babe. It had a ring to it, I wasn’t used to pet names. Every time she said it I’d cringe and look around to see if anyone saw. I did the same when our hands brushed against each other when we walked. It was electric almost tantric that light brush of warm skin. But it was weird, so I always pulled away.

“Being in love I guess. Doesn’t this feel like love?”

“Babe… then why haven’t you ever said it, that you love me?”

“I didn’t think I needed to say it. Don’t you feel it?”

“Where? When you hesitate kissing me? When you cringe every time I say babe? See, there your eye twitched. I want you to say it. I want you to hold my hand, not briefly the whole day when we walk.”

“But we don’t walk. Do you want to walk? Don’t you like this, the old lorry? It’s kind of sentimental.”

“This lorry, this lorry is going nowhere it’s here stalled, spoilt. That’s what you want to liken us to? A spoilt lorry? I want a love that will take me places. Not this!” she gestured at the rusty wreck.

“Then we’ll walk.”

“Will you hold my hand?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“How do people hold hands? The normal way I guess.”

“Show me. Here take my hand.”

At that moment I took her hand and the soft warmth filled my palms up my forearm and into my heart.  Found myself drawn to this beautiful girl with wide eyes and an uneasy smile. Her hair held back in a ponytail fastened with a black ribbon that was lost in the lushness of her black mop. She pulled herself closer to me till our faces were a nose apart, and there I kissed her. No uneasiness, I just delved into her soft lips parting them gently and letting my tongue play with hers. For the first time I put my arms around her waist and pulled her even closer embracing her and diving even deeper into the kiss. 

“I love you.” I whispered

“I love you too but it’s been long overdue.”

“What does that mean?”

“That was our last kiss.”

“Well at least I made it count.”

Just like that in the midst of impartiality my heart was broken. I didn’t let it show, I didn’t want her to know that I was human and that it hurt so I pretended I did not care. I pretended like I would come to pretend in later years. A pretense I wore under the pretext of a smile. A cunning smile. 

At 17 I liked the smell of rain but hated the wetness. It was weird how I’d stand at the window and picture a life. Right now I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking about but it was right about that time that I had my first drink. I had sipped before, from an almost empty glass but that didn’t count. It tasted bitter but it wasn’t enough to qualify as a drink. It got lost on my tongue immediately they made contact. A literal drop that could do nothing to quench my curiosity – I wonder how the rich man, the one that mistreated Lazarus would go by on a drop of water.

Outside the window I could see puddles of muddy water and an incomplete construction site with dogs in the unfinished apartments sheltering from the rain. The smell of wet cement hit my nostrils and I got an urge to get a drink. My first time to get a real drink so I pulled away from the hypnotizing stare or cascading rain drops and put on a hoodie – gray and musky with sweat. The air outside was surprisingly warm, the earth as soft and a bit slippery. I jumped over puddles just too get to the store. There as a sense of urgency, my stomach knotted, blood rushed through my veins and my breathing was rapid. I imagine this is what a bungee jump must feel like to let go of all your cares and jump from earth’s highest points into nothingness. The sound of rushing wind whistling in your ears and the ground fast closing in. I got to the store, a small compact room with metal grills lined with all sorts of alcohol. I didn’t look at the guys face but I could tell he was eyeing me, suspiciously maybe or maybe he just wanted me to get over with it. I regretted walking in but now I couldn’t walk out. It would be an act of cowardice, I wasn’t a coward or I was too scared to admit that I was one. So I asked for the most popular drink, a cheap one in a clear glass bottle with a yellow sticker with black writing. Wrapping it in a newspaper and thrusting it into a black paper I handed him the money and walked out happy with myself, happy with the world, happy that I had made my first bungee jump.

I don’t know what I expected with my first drink. What does anyone really expect? It should be this profound moment where you cross the threshold into a world of men, a word where you’re revered. If for anything I was more interested in the bragging rights. The ability to sit down a group of friends and narrate just how I went into a liquor store, bought a bottle and how I drank every last drop of it. How it felt, how it feels to be drunk. I imagine one of them would compare it with being with a woman only because they knew I hadn’t and they’d want to steal the spotlight. At seventeen, being with a woman ranked higher than taking a drink. It was always a competition and I hated it. It was always about how many breasts you cupped, how many arses you mushed up against or how many kisses you got. Detail was key, how did you hold them, did they let you do stuff to them with their finger, how did it feel like? Was it warm? How was the smell? All I had was the drink and I was sure they were going to steal that from me so deep down I knew I had to get something more than a drink.

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