What I learned when I unmatched my ex on Tinder, and other lessons

To unmatch my ex, I first had to match him. Let’s call him Khalid – why Khalid? Because I have always liked that name, and it’s ironic because according to a google search, it means “eternal” and he was as much the opposite of eternal as can be. Also, I figure a Muslim pseudonym is appropriate because he was a Muslim man. (For the record, I am not. Muslim, or a man. This is, for non-desi readers, a capital P Problem for many of us brown people.)

Ok, so Khalid. Khalid and I met 3 years ago, when he was the age I am now (no this is not a math problem – math is actually easy, love sadly is not). I say this because I remember what he was like at 27. And I know what I’m like at 27 (ie: what I’m like, right now). And he is now 30. And 24 year old me was vastly impressed by his 27 year old man self, and 27 year old me is completely unfazed by his 30 year old self as he exists in 2017. And that is Lesson 1: seeing his face, I suddenly realised that after the age of 22, age is virtually irrelevant to how much a person has grown, will grow, or what they are capable of. After 22, it is a fucking free-for-all. Some people will continue growing, some will experience a second spurt of intellectual/philosophical self knowledge, some will plateau, some will continue steadily on, some will deteriorate, most will follow some combination of these paths, and some will have already achieved enlightenment (please note: Khalid has not achieved enlightenment). So when Khalid’s beautiful (and I mean beautiful: we’re talking chiseled jaw, perfect hair, eyelashes that perfectly frame deep Piscean eyes that promise everything the ocean has to give,  lips to die for, a chest you could melt in, and shoulders that so so offered the myth of masculine reliability ever so convincingly)

face

popped up on my Tinder, along with his age: 30, I was not impressed. 30. What does 30 mean to me? 30 is the age my dad was when I was born. HAH! I burst out laughing, Khalid as a father is an absurd thought. Not that he wouldn’t make a great dad, eventually. But who knows, maybe my dad was just as clueless at that age. Maybe that’s just what that age is. For men. Anyway, I was not impressed. But I did note his handsome face – and, I noted a little viciously, that he was using the same profile pic from when we first met. (So was I. but I have other more recent pictures up, and he didn’t and this in my mind made me of course an infinitely better person – this is just how one thinks of an ex that was a significant ex. He was a first love, for me. I was a “mostly nothing, bit of an ego stroke” for him. I’ve come to terms with that.)

Anyway, I was curious about whether he had swiped right on me or not, so without really thinking about it, I swiped right. :O! Lo and behold, Khalid with the face of a Pashtun angel prince, had indeed swiped right because we were an instant match. I laughed. And this is lesson 2: my mind did not run with wild stories of how much we were still meant to be together – I was just curious (we fit like a single hand and a dick attached to the same person – it makes sense. It works. It “fits”. The universe agrees with a certain chemical balance existing between the two of us but it’s not really what love is all about in the end). If you’re curious about the kind of things I thought about this man at one point, I am dead serious when I say he was my first love – you can hit “Cinderfella” on the right hand panel to pull up a lovely list of tragic (in retrospect: hilarious) poems I wrote about this dude. But! I was impressed with myself. I did not have ridiculous fantasies of us reconnecting – what did I feel? A memory of the possibility of chemistry. Curiosity. A genuine curiosity about who he was now. A selfish ego-stroking curiosity about if he had indeed right swiped me. A self awareness to know he had probably right swiped me for the same reason – to see if *I* had right swiped him first (recall: I am aware of being an ego stroke for the Pashtun angel prince, so this makes sense: he wanted to see if I, the equivalent of a hand for his lust, was still available). And 0 hate. I had no hate. I actually generally find it difficult to hate the men I have loved – I get exasperated, angry, I feel used and discarded for a bit when they invariably break up with me, but I never hate them. I just get very very very internally upset for a long time. But anyway, point is: I wasn’t even upset when I saw his face. I felt slightly wary due to how things had ended: 0 closure, no conversation really, practically a ghosting – but I also knew I was not my 24 year old self. So: going into this eyes wide open was also a  part of lesson 2 – I knew a right swipe meant. nothing. I mean I’ve known this always whenever I’ve right swiped anyone, but here was a man I once had feelings for. REAL POETRY TRAGIC FEELINGS for. And. now I did not. Woah. Weird! This sense of genuine curiosity about someone’s life is something I want to bring with me to future right swiping/date setting when I eventually date again (at 30. Good God, he’ll be 33 by then, but will he emotionally have aged to 18? WHO KNOWS?! only time will tell.)

Ok so rewind: Something I said in the last paragraph was about chemical balance. What I said was: “The universe agrees with a certain chemical balance existing between the two of us but it’s not really what love is all about in the end”. This is really important because chemistry is *a thing* in my life. It is a *real thing*. When Khalid and I first met, we had a five hour conversation – it started at a small Second Cup, and then continued at a resto in Toronto’s Little Korea. We finished the conversation at around 1 or 2am, and this gentleman prince angel offered to walk me home or to the edge of whatever sidewalk I preferred in case I did not want a random stranger man (ie: himself) to know where I lived. Well *Southern accent* my my my, my little feminist heart was just a-flutter. *blush and giggle and bat my lashes*.

He ended up walking me home that first date. I stopped first at the edge of the little road to my house, and then I said what the hell, walk me home, so he did. We hugged at the little path leading up to the front door, and I had no plans to kiss him, but he sort of held me a bit and I looked up, and he leaned down and it was a glorious first kiss. And I knew he had initiated that, in my heart, I could feel he liked me.

“Call me?” I said.

“I will” he lied, and I walked back into my house.

Khalid was an abysmal caller and an abysmal texter. Hmm. Or I was a dumbass at 24 too. Probably a mix of both. Anyway, our whirlwind dating was beautiful and romantic – I’m talking late night adventures around Toronto’s local castle Casa Loma, Christmas in the Distillery District – the boy even drove me to my parents’ place once (in Hindu/Muslim life, this is like, a *big deal*. He didn’t come inside the house, but my mom totally knew something was up when she saw my huge ass smile as I walked in the door) Anyway, Khalid was not very good at making plans. He was not very good at initiating plans. He was not even very good at showing up on time (we’re talking 30-40min late every time, without fail.) But Khalid also was deeply romantic, loved my poetry, made me laugh, and showed me things around the city. He also treated me to dinner almost every single time, which I found kind considering he made way more cashmoneys than me – and also because I was sick of men thinking that just because I paid for half the meal, they could choose to not take me seriously. So for the time in my life,  this made some sense to me. And the chemistry. The chemistry was… let me tell you boys and girls and people of all genders: random white ladies in the street stared beatifically upon our faces as Khalid helped me down from a particularly steep curb once. The world was all blessings towards us. It was my first time dating a brown man (and I am also brown), and the universe, in a word, capital A Approved this. We were a striking couple, indoors and out. That chemical balance that the universe so rightly Approved?

Led nowhere. LED NOWHERE – we lay beside each other one night about two months in and I said “you know if… if you have feelings for me, it… is ok to tell me you do.” “I think I do…” he said softly. I turned to him with my razor tongue and witch eyes (I couldn’t help it, I suck), and I said “Say it then,” So this idiot did because it’s easier for a man to say “I love you” when commanded, it turns out, than saying no. But really, I’m the bigger idiot in this, because I said it back. And two weeks later I applied my mind reading skills as every woman has to, and gently told him he didn’t have to say he loved me, that night, and that I understood, but that I was still interested in seeing him if he felt love could grow – this is at the point in my life where I thought that I don’t know, men actually thought about their feelings and didn’t just act from a place of selfishness, greed, and complete lack of regard for another person’s feelings. Needless to say, we didn’t last long.

BUT ! Chemistry! What the hell happened?! Nothing – I was a needy bitch and he had the unfortunate combination of suffering a tragic loss in his family and was also was socialised as a man so chemistry went nowhere in the end. It turns out, more than chemistry, you have to WANT to keep a relationship going. Both people do. Both people do despite the ups and downs and uselessness of general human nature. And that was ok. I loved him. I wanted to continue in my needy codependent way. He didn’t love me. Fast forward to 3 years give or take a few months annnnnnd his face pops up on Tinder. Here is a man I know to have chemistry with. Physical, sexual, romantic, call it what you want – we had it. We probably still have it. But I also KNEW him this time around. I knew his bullshit. I knew mine too. We’re both a little older a little wiser a little more beaten up but maybe a lot more resilient. And… I suddenly knew. I knew with a clarity – and this is lesson 3, part 1: that yes we both liked each other. Let me backtrack: for me, whenever a relationship ends, I’m always convinced I didn’t matter to the other person. There are a lot of reasons for this: I’m self sacrifical in love (bad. don’t do this. I’m working on it.) I was bullied mercilessly growing up and always thought of affection as earned even though I cognitively knew people just liked each other or didn’t (again: affection isn’t earned, that’s not how love works but like years of conditioning will do that to you) . I have always been dumped after falling for a dude. But seeing both our faces pop up like that under Tinder’s blessings of “It’s a match!”, I just knew this moron liked me. And I liked him.

I loved him. not in that moment, but that I used to love him. And at one point, he liked me too. And the chemistry had been real. We had something real. It was real.   Ok. But I felt no butterflies. I felt no apprehension swiping right on his handsome face. I felt no elation when it popped up as “It’s a match” – I would have felt no disappointment had nothing popped up (indicating he hadn’t swiped right on me). So this is lesson 3, part 2: The chemistry was real, and also it doesn’t matter that it had been real to the ultimate longevity of the relationship.

I’m coming out of a second Muslim boy affair – let’s call this one… Reza (Also, Hindu ladies, just… sigh, be careful. Also Hindu men: don’t fuck over Muslim women or Sikh women or Christian women by pulling this nonsense where eventually you’ll just go with the girls your parents pick from your own communities because none of you have a spine anyway). Reza and I also had chemistry. I thought what we had, had been real. And I was again similarly stunned/devastated/nonsensensically spiraling into heartbreak when it ended. Did he even like me? was a stupid question that kept circulating in my head ad nauseum.

Looking at Khalid’s face reminded me in a second “of course they did.” And I realised that whatever chemistry I had with Khalid and Reza became uncomfortable when I started seeking them out for validation of my essential worth, that neither of these men could or should define that for me, and that I never again had to worry about if someone liked me or not – I’d know. And then I could just believe it. And not stress. Chemistry isn’t about winning someone’s affection or approval. I knew this when I right swiped Khalid because I had no interest in winning his approval… but the universe did whisper a small fleeting thought in my ear: “It was good, wasn’t it? Parts of it?” And I smiled.

And then I messaged our man Khalid, the handsome pashtun prince! Something absurd I think – “Wow you’re 30 now!” (genius line, I think so) “How’ve you been? Also I’m not taking this as serious interest ofc, just more so “how’s an old flame doing/can we reconnect in a friendly way”” Or something like that. And then I said to myself, he has 24 hours to reconnect as friends. And that was it. And this is lesson 4: Boundaries are important. I know what my worth is. He has 24 hours – why 24? because I’m comfortable with 24 hours. Because I do these days exactly and precisely what is comfortable for me, and an ex that ghosted who I’m curious about doesn’t deserve more than 24 hours, that’s why, and ultimately, my body decided on that time frame. 24 hours. no more, but also no less. I didn’t want to reconnect with him…. or approach reconnecting with him from a place of fear. I didn’t want to feel at 20 hours suddenly panicky. I did a bit at 20 hours because I deal with generalised anxiety, but I talked myself down and waited. I realised I couldn’t wait to unmatch this fucker. I knew he wouldn’t respond but… I didn’t care! My boundary was for me  – my real self. not my anxiety-induced self. And definitely not for the moron that let me go once already (because even if I was a codependent needy bitch at that time in my life, I still added value to his life #beyonce #upgradeyou). Look,  my 24 hours was for me. It was mine. It was my comfort zone being defined. It was something I chose from a place of curiosity and not fear.

Lesson 5: :O Someone I have chemistry with could choose to disrespect whatever arbitrary boundary I had…. and I could leave without it being a reflection of my self worth.

24 hours came and went. Tinder told me I had officially sent the message not 23 hours ago, but “yesterday”. I smiled. I felt a sudden wave of intense sorrow. I smiled again, and I unmatched him because I owe him nothing and he owes me nothing and chemistry will come again – as it did with Reza, and I don’t need to feel anxious about a damn thing.

🙂

So final lesson: How I approached Khalid is exactly how I need to be approaching any potential date I feel any chemistry with. Every boy is a motherfucker on some level (and to be honest, every person is, period), but you just have to know what you’ll tolerate, what you can live with, and what you cannot live without. I am excited to date again – in 3 years, when I’m 30, Khalid’s age now.

And I know at that time, I will be me in a way I have never been before. Chemistry will change for me too – there is better for me than what Khalid or Reza offered. And there is better for them too than who I am right now. Chemistry will always be around – but how and if it leads to love needs care and respect and kindness and trust and all that other shit.

And people surprisingly show you exactly who they are in a very short amount of time.

Khalid didn’t message me back in 24 hours. The universe whispered in my ear: “Chemistry is real, and so is his fuckery, now what will you choose?”

And it turns out, I am starting to always choose me. 🙂

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New Conversations

I find your tongue again in my mouth
in strange ways, in new conversations – “Ah it’s good we’re in
our late twenties” says a new man.
I smile and there is your voice between my lips
“You might as well round up to 30” I/we joke.
He chuckles, and I smile with half my lips –
it is your side of my face.

Consider the other one
that told me he’s learning
how to be comfortable again alone. I swallow and
say, “Yeah you kinda… need that.. first” and a memory
echoes in the room. He looks at me strangely.
I cannot smile. I smile anyway.

I am quieter these days. Tell me about
the men before, men ask. I shrug and and open
my mouth, lick my lips, swallow and say the perfect
words from a century ago, they taste like dust:
“That’s private – you know I like to keep some
things private.”

I can look them in the eyes now – there’s a trick I learned from you.

Why am I writing about you like you are dead.

Why am I writing about us as though we existed.

Sometimes, you hear the contours of your own soul
take shape in someone else’s mouth; my soul fluttered against your lips that night, a small black butterfly, and out it fell, deep and dark and like the night: All or Nothing. You gave it back to me, a new way, a new form, a new shape – when I knew her last, she was a small caterpillar, a little worm on the underside of the leaf of a tree the boys liked to climb at the local high school –

“It was a connection – just, not the highest – but it was real – why are you so all or nothing”? you asked me.

And in your mouth, she grew a small hard cocoon you had to
spit her out – she was not yours, you had to return her,
for you,  her presence was a question, a plea, a
small and whining exasperated thing
but in mine she is a part of a circle of
liquid fire and butterflies that do not burn
and I stand inside it:

All or nothing.

 

I was not wrong – when I met you, I met myself, sometimes:
We need to hear our soul speak in someone else’s voice
for it to ring true again in our hearts.

That has always been the truth of my spirit, now
take it or leave it
get out or stay
those are the stakes and
those are my terms and yes
they are steep, steep, steep, rocky
as a seaside cliff, there are no stairs to get here,
find a way to fly if you have to. You must have to, to get here,
this is not a journey for simple desires.

In the space between All or Nothing is a vacuum
where men convince themselves that a half truth is as
good as a half life, where half love is as good
as half-ambivalence, where people take what they can get
and do not reach for what they want, because
they do not know what they want because
they do not know who they are.

Do you know who you are?

I am All or Nothing.

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River Witch

I sit at the edge of the riverbank a few kilometres from my garden. The waters are calm and still, and not too deep. I see pebbles under the surface and fish, reddish gold and blueish green dart under the surface. I peer into the surface, seeking her out. She only appears in my own face, after all.

At first, it’s just me. My own face, neutral and serious. I purse my lips impatiently, and my eyes narrow. The reflection’s lips remain the same. “Hi, ” I say tentatively, and she bursts into laughter, the strange swooping cackle of a witch. The fish fly through the water like a flurry of pigeons, startled by the sudden sound. I see the edges of her features sharpen – her lips are mine but tighter. Her cheekbones higher, her eyes darker, narrower. Her nose longer, the bump in the middle more prominent but not unbeautiful. Haughty and sharp. Her teeth are all pointy like a shark’s, and this is the only significant difference, I think, between her and me. Her mouth. Her tongue slithers out like a snake, tasting the air and she winks at me. I see how sharp the little razor edge of her tongue really is. She has a mean face I think. A weapon for a mouth.

“Well, I *would* considering my name-” She says unnervingly, cutting through my thoughts.

“I know you all can read my mind, but it’s still a little odd,” I say out loud.

“I can do more than read your mind, you know –  We all can of course, but I’m the only one that’s ever really done it, so you want to talk about that, is that right?”

I look at her cruel face, her lips red like blood under the surface. The rest of her body is shrouded, the water is deeper than it looked at the start. I can no longer see pebbles or fish, only a murky depth.

“You look a bit like BeingLovedAgain,” I say finally. “She has your tongue. And… your smile.”

The river witch smiles, and water ripples around her face.  A mean mermaid who ate all the fish, I think. A mean mermaid who killed them all. I sit in the shadow of a tree, looking across the river stretching for miles in either direction. It’s as wide as the Amazon I think. As deep and as treacherous as any ocean.

The river witch is speaking – “I do look like her, don’t I? And she has a wicked scorpion tail – which I don’t have anymore. I gave it to her. I’m her older – much much much older – cousin.” She pauses, and looks sideways out of the corner of her eye. “Cousin? Maybe aunt. It’s all so long ago, really.”

Witches in my life have a strange family tree, I muse.

“You know who I am, ” she says. “There is no mystery here, like with the others, so ask what you came for,” she commands.

I think carefully about what I want to ask her. “Are you my friend?” I ask finally.

Her eyes widen in surprise. It was not the question she expected. I am learning too about my own craft, and I smile, a sliver of her own expression in my face, icy cold for an instant.

“Sometimes,” she responds, her eyes are honest. It lands like truth in my gut. “I am always here with you but I cannot say I am always here for you…or I could but I’d be lying.”

I notice how still nature is here, there is no rustling, no leaves moving. The breeze is dead. Even the sun feels cold.

“Show me,” I tell her. “The… when you take over me like that and… change me. Show me now.  Here. When it’s calm and things are ok.”

She searches my eyes, treading water, and then rises from the river. Things shrink. The river is regular sized and shallow. I see fish again swirling against her ankles, and pebbles in the shallow stream. She grows, and steps out onto the riverbank, naked and of course perfect. The body I always wanted for myself. I see the flash of silver at her elbows. Metal. I know her jaw is made of stone and diamond instead of bone, and that there is something alien in her muscles, like liquid steel. An otherworldly energy processing machine. I stay sitting on my knees, and look up at her, partially in awe even though she is just my height.

“You’re the Stone Lady” I say to the river witch. The dark triangle between her thighs is perfectly trimmed unlike my lazy winter bush, lasting well into Canadian summer. Her even tan covers her whole body, and her hair hangs, straighter and thicker than mine – all the way to her knees. I try not to stare. It’s probably rude to stare even if I know she doesn’t care. She really doesn’t care. She is the witch who has no fucks to give. Her body is toned perfection but I know she doesn’t go to the gym. This is just how she’s built. She is a killing machine, an animal, a monster – there is something quietly robotic about her. Something manufactured. I feel if I listened to her chest, I would hear the soft hum of a rattlesnake or a high efficiency car. “But you’re also someone else, and I didn’t know that until today.”
“Before trees, there were sharks, and before sharks, there I was,” she laughs. “Are you sure you want to know? Are you sure you want to….feel me change you? Now?”

I nod. We’ve never done it this way before, where I’ve invited her. She has been there sometimes suddenly and instantly.

She presses me further. “Are you – the real, embodied you with all your physical structures – sitting in a safe spot where you can’t hurt yourself or anyone else?”

I’m on my lunch break at work, I think out loud.

“That’s not good enough,” she says. Water continues to drip from her like it would off a plastic umbrella. She is unfazed. Her nipples don’t harden in the cold. She is the cold. She turns to leave. Her footprints leave deep impressions in the riverbank, like heavy construction boots. I feel she is heavy. If she were to step on a scale, it would break under her sheer strength and weight.

“Wait – please,” I say. “Just… stay. We don’t… we don’t talk properly. We haven’t talked like this. You’ve always talked with my mouth. This is different. Can we just talk like this when you’re not – in me?”

She stares at me unblinkingly, and I realise she probably doesn’t need to blink. “We can,” she says, finally, and smoothly sits down on the bank near me. She has no smell other than the river. Like rain against a stone. She looks as smooth as a pebble, as sharp as one too. She is a weapon, crafted by water.

“Ok, you want to talk witch-to-witch, hmm? Ok,  let’s talk” She says, and bursts again into laughter.

Her cackle is a knife, cuts the air into oxygen and a vacuum – it’s a sound she’s made with my mouth before, and I’ve seen how the blood of men freezes when they hear it, seen them choke on their own thoughts,  but

I am not a man and
she is only me, a part of me,
and my blood stays running, warm
and regular, and same, and sane,
and I am neither hot nor cold, I am
somewhere between fire and ice, while she is both, all at once.

I laugh too, a quieter gentler laugh. “Yes, Rage. Let’s talk.”

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Will, or The Rules, or Dialogue Instead of a First Kiss, or How to Date at 30

No, you see,

I will not kiss you until you hold my hand in the street.

I will not sleep with you until you tell me you love me.

I will not commit to you until you put a ring on my finger.

And those are my rules. Take it or leave it.

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What I learned From You – 2

  1. How to be a knife slice
    edges clean away cut
  2. How to invest in myself with
    the ferocity of a wolf, a tigress, a lionness
    the Great Goddess of your country
    even though you don’t worship her
  3. That I am enough, more than enough
  4. That men do not know the difference between lies and promises and truth
  5. That men flirt as a tool to lower a woman’s defences while they make up their minds about being with us
  6. That I will never trust anyone again who has not earned my trust
  7. That men are incapable of earning trust, reliability, or emotional responsibilty.
  8. That justice is a life well lived
  9. That I can and will rely on myself
  10. That you don’t deserve even a clipping of my toenail
  11. How to be selfish
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All or Nothing

There is no in-between place for trust or love or truth – these, in parts are dissections, half of me in the earth, and half of me in the ocean; half trust is  trust broken, half love is love lost; and half truths are only ever lies.  Before, many times, I  have split myself like this, told myself it is ok to sacrifice myself  for a friendship, for a connection, because sacrifice is love and love is sacrifice and i will regrow again and vulnerability is sacred and i Care So Much (TM).  I still believe these things.  But I will not split myself.

I will not pull my mind out of my body, and my heart away from my brain and dig through my organs for the meat you find pleasing and discard willingly the meat and brain matter and old heart that you do not – not because I cannot split myself.

But because you don’t deserve such a monumental sacrifice.

I know I can do this to myself and survive.  I have done this many times in the past.  I have regrown entire new bodies from stem cells in the dust.

But only after you, did I consider what a waste of this precious energy is. Why should I willingly submit to any vivisection and regrow myself from soft parts, when I could just keep growing from where I am? Why should I divide myself for anyone?

“I don’t want to keep dating…but I want us to be friends – why are you so all or nothing?”

That’s nice. How
can you ask such a thing after vulnerability,
and a connection like that? Unless your end of
that thread between us was a lie, frayed, bitten,
chewed, my side golden, honest, true – listen.

Listen.

No.

Listen.

(“Why?” I asked. “Why friendship?”)

Listen.

I will not be your “friend”.

Listen.

All or nothing.

Listen.

(“Because we have good friendship chemistry. We can learn from each other. I think you can learn from me, and I know I can learn from you,” you said your little rehearsed line.)

Listen.

Pick one.

Listen.

Make your bed.

Listen.

Lie in it.

Listen.

Learn that I gave a fuck,
and now I don’t and a fuck is
the smallest unit of energy, I
don’t care what your electrical
engineering courses taught you about this,
and that single fuck is
is now gone, and no it isn’t divisble
and no I am not divisible.

So

Listen. Listen. Listen
to the sound that exists when you think
of me when I am not in your life, it
sounds like nothing, it is the static of a radio
antenna catching all those in-bewteen frequencies
between stations no matter which way
you turn it – Listen, nothing is all we are,
and nothing is exactly how much I need you,
and nothing is exactly the measure of how little you have to give me,
when I choose to not split myself into parts you like, because
when I have me – have all of me,

that is all I need.

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The narcissism of heartbreak

There is a narcissism to my heartbreak, always. A million poems churn from my fingertips. I pull tears out of the air,  paint them mime-like under my eyes. It’s not acting. It’s not fake. It’s real in the way where after a while, after a few months, or many years, only I am real and you cease to exist. You are the he are the she the many theys you are a blurred line of past brown edges white insides many iterations of the same pain same apathy same grey landscapes that vibrant colour flashing for a single season of blooming flowers.

There is a peculiar interest in martyrdom that only a narcissist could bring so successfully to that table, to that potluck dinner where the theme is always sacrifice – as though a single sacrifice by a single person matters anything at all. As though a single heartbreak matters in the scale of the universe.

As though these moments are worthy of extreme gratitude or cherishing or the vast and inevitable devastation that follows.

I marvel at my capacity to hold a tempest inside myself. When I start to whistle, hear me shout: Tip! me over and pour me out.

“it was just a good time, a nice time” men insist desperately, all raised with the “emotional range of a teaspoon” as Hermione Granger snaps at Ron Weasley, where I can only imagine that “good” ranges from very nice chocolate cake yes, to aweinspiring intimate sacred moments. In their minds, such moments are not very far from the experience of delectable chocolate cake. I assume she continues snapping at him for the entirety of their marriage because it’s not as though he grows at all as a human being across 7 years.

“It was a good time!” you said, and I carefully took your words from the air, crumpled them up and stuffed them into a back pocket to keep for later.

I wrote you a letter that said much more than “It was a good time!”

“It’s nice to have somebody beside you like that” he said.

“But you weren’t just somebody to me, ” I said, not realising of course that I was some body to him.

Chocolate cake. You for a man as a woman are never too far from the experience of eating chocolate cake. The quality of these experiences sits in a range measureable by a teaspoon.

But maybe there is value in having – in being – so little. So miniscule. So worthless as men tend to be. They never consider dining at the sacrificial potluck dinner. They never consider themselves that magnificent against the comparative larger structure and beauty of the universe. The capacity of selfishness increases with how little someone is – they have quite literally nothing to sacrifice, and everything to gain. There is a lesson here for me too.

“You want so little from me” I marveled at my exes, these men I wanted to offer the world to, as though I had the world to offer. You do not want the world. I do not have the world. But you don’t even want a woman. You want a finger, a kiss, a kind word, a soft hug, these disembodied moments without the full flesh and structure of another person.

To be a woman and to recognise her own worth is to be, to some extent, a narcissist in a world that defines you as small parts of available soft flesh and tender moments and words on a page – men always think I am my poetry, and I am my poetry but I am not just my poetry.

But I also think I do something, I do a thing, an interesting and strange and peculiar thing – I turn them into mirrors for my own reflection, maybe I am a vampire seeking seeking endlessly a mirror inside a person and isn’t that an interestingly dangerous thing to do to someone? Maybe, unknowingly, that has been the price I’ve demanded too – if they want a pound of my flesh maybe I want their eyes to be lakes just for me to swim in forever. If they want some sweet moments with me maybe I want to wrap myself around them until we wake up limbs not knowing to whom they belong.

Increasingly, I think about the myth that is romance. I think about how it is the only way I know to fall in love. I think about the impossibility of such a love lasting in any significant way. I think about how a flower that blooms once and dies is not an evergreen standing for a millenia. I think about the prettiness of the little loves I have had, the flash of gold magpie-like. You fade like an atom bomb shadow imprint, instantly gone.   The months that follow are passages of time ringing worms around the me that was, the you I thought you were decays. But you are not gone. you live. you exist. just not to me.

and not in a “you are dead to me” way. Our lives are just distinct. Cut off. I also do not exist in your world. but there is a narcissism to the writing isn’t there? You are not “an atom bomb shadow imprint, instantly gone”.

We went on what-  4 dates? We talked a lot for 2 weeks. We dated for like a month. There is nothing grandiose about this. It falls so firmly into the realm of the absolutely mundane.

I always hoped for more I guess, until you. Maybe you took – and maybe this is good – the tendency I have to cherish the mundane, and call it love. It was love, for me anyway. It is the only type of love I know, but it is also, as you showed, ugly in its smallness in its lack of reciprocity.

I accept that I was very nice chocolate cake for you.

I accept that you and the others enjoyed a good dessert.

I accept also that I wanted more and that I believe increasingly that “more” does not exist.

Maybe the next time around, the “you” i meet will be nice chocolate cake for me too.

“You are only chocolate cake” I will say to the next man. “You are a good time.” I will say. “It is nice to have a body beside you,” I will say.

The idea of bright flowers does not excite me anymore.
There is nothing thrilling about a long lasting evergreen tree either.
I want(ed) bright flowers that exist forever, and this is not how nature functions, and I accept this also.

My love has always been fictional in the way the best stories are always fiction. My love has always had technicolour film soaked event. I have no regrets, but I am these days tired. So tired. I am tired of my own narcissism and dreams and hopes and desires. I am tired about the paltry flash of flowers blooming and their inevitable deaths.

Fatigue makes us honest in a way nothing else can, no not even pain – pain to a narcissist is just creative energy.

But I’m tired. It is tiredness that drops the pen. Muscles don’t ache, they just stop working.

So I’ll be brief, look:

Love is dead and you are not.
And
Love is dead and I am not.

My heart is the size of a walnut, enough for me.
I do not have the world to offer.
I do not have a heart to offer.
I do not have anything to ask for in this regard either.

And I suppose, all other things are negotiable, provided they fit in the range of a teaspoon.

A walnut, after all, fits very rightly so in a teaspoon.

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Burn

You mattered
and now you don’t.

It is a binary switch
here or there
unlike the lamp fan light burning
dim in my room that night until at 6am
the bed filled with limbs and lips and
eyes and fingers

Old wallpaper memory feels crusted over,
its edges faded with time and cooking oil
and sandman tear crystal sands.
There is nothing as unappealing
as half torn wallpaper
begging to be burnt away it
feels like a house no one has lived in
derelict and resentment spilled across the floors

and behind, or maybe under, a cleaner slate
sits, calm and eternal eggshell walls , and as usual
poetry redecorates the room with plainer skill
than 80s Bollywood tapestry, those
gaudy posters of ill-fated romance

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Template Response to a Breakup Whee!!

Hi! Here’s a template for how you should respond the next time you’re scraping the remnants of your heart, dignity, and self-respect off a cafe floor! Memorise it! 🙂 Then, when you have to use it, say it, and then get up and leave. Foreeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvverrrrrrr wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

This is incredible difficult to hear. 

You’ve made a decision choosing a life without me as a partner.
This is painful. You have hurt me with this choice, but I accept that you’ve made a choice you feel is best for your life. 

Everyone deserves to make such choices. 

I have lost you and I need to come to terms with that. 

You have also lost me, but that was what you wanted: You breaking up with me means you want to lose me. 

Now I need to heal and move on in a way that is best for me and my life – and for me, that means no contact, no staying in touch, no reconnecting, no friendship; our lives are now separate, and you are a stranger to me, because you’ve chosen to make me a stranger to you.

You breaking up with me means you choose a life without me – any of me. After so much vulnerability and affection, for you to say you will have only a part of me as a friend is an insult – I don’t deserve to be dissected. I deserve to be known loved, in the full range and depth of my humanity. 

My partner would not leave me, would not abandon me, would not choose a life without me, would strive to make it work with me. 

You have already left, so you are not my partner, and maybe you never were, because I’m really a swan-type kind of lady-person-human.

My choices going forward are:
Something beautiful was irrevocably broken.
Or something beautiful existed only in my imagination.

I love you,

Take care. 

Goodbye.

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Truth Teller

I do not know what makes me an angry woman in the day; maybe all the shadows under my eyes only come alive in sunlight.

All the thorns I’ve swallowed over many centuries sit
in my throat, they come out like
acid poison darts in the day:
Coward. Liar. Inadequate. Selfish. Get Out.

In the night, I am a still bird, with a trembling broken wing. The breeze ruffles my feathers painfully, coaxes truth and tears and gentle goodbyes all at once.

All the roses bloom in my mouth in the night, petals brushing over my tongue,
dewdrops stinging my cheekbones:

You hurt me.

I know you cared about me, and I know that changed too.

I miss you. Did you even miss me at all?

Have we, who we were, died?

Were who were when we were with each other only alive for those moments? 

We are not people anymore in each other’s lives. All we have in the end of each other are ideas, eroding as time sweeps and rounds the edges of memories into smoother rocks without edges, eventually pebbles we can hold in the palms of our hands.

We have carved away each other’s skins, hung them up like ugly coats, cut up, against the reflected painted glass windows of our hearts and stuffed them into recesses of the filing cabinet of our minds, however tight the fit, snip away the layers of complexity, sew and stitch and move each other’s parts into the discard pile .

Years later we will tell new lovers about each other, curled up around them, when they ask us, our mercurial tongues loosening, tasting the air for the kind of truth we want to tell.

“Idk, she was…kinda nuts” you’ll say and shrug. You’ll wink in that “it’s just a secret between us” way and say “haha, she knew I was a catch though. And she – well I guess I liked her at first because I mean she wrote poetry and it was…she was…interesting. ”

“Idk, he was a fucking idiot” I’ll say and laugh. I’ll giggle with a glint in my eye and say  “haha, he definitely learned a thing or two from me. And he – I mean I guess I liked him at first because he was disciplined about his life and he…was interesting.”

 

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