It’s been a while since my last confession.
My sister came to visit me during the month of January. When she was born and I was a measly six years old my Dad said to me:
“Friends will come and go but she will be with you for life”
It’s always stuck with me. We’ve always been close, but the responsibilities of adult life and the physical distance between us have inevitably made us more distant.
I love her, but the distance makes me sad.
In Hoi An we saw a beggar lady. The beggar lady was, at a guess, 85 years old. A western lady tried to take a photo of her. The western lady was, at a guess, 35 years old.
I stood up, and tried to take a picture of the Western lady. I felt that a picture of a rich woman trying to take a picture of a poor woman said more than the picture of a poor woman taken by a rich woman ever could.
The rich woman asked what I was doing, so I explained. She seemed annoyed, although she’d never asked permission of the beggar lady to be included in a photo.
My sister understood, and I love that about my sister. My sister is nicer than I’ll ever be able to convey in words to her.
The rich lady and the beggar lady probably went back to their lives. My sister definitely went back to hers. I carried on my haphazard carry ons too.
I went to my friends place, P & Y. They live in the cosiest hole I’ve ever been in since I spent nine months in a womb. A one bedroom apartment, tiny and cramped, walls covered in their art, bed covered with a parachute and floors hidden by paint brushes, cuddly toys and nick nacks.
Together, we had a pleasant little mix of delightful drugs. With no windows, time bled meaninglessly by. I painted, and missed G.
I still miss G.
She popped into my life all too briefly, like a water nymph, decorating my edges with dazzling colours before kissing my cheek and diving back down under the waves. Exactly like the movie “Splash!” but without the happy ending.
And if she were here, oh if she were here.
Instead, I’m alone typing. I miss my sister and I miss G. My existence continues in the same erratic, libertine, directionless mess. Lovely but lonely.
Into this blog, some self-pity has fallen.
If I didn’t care for fun and such,
I’d probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
~ Dorothy Parker ~
“How old are you?” one of my 14 year old students asked. 33, I replied. “And do you have a wife?”. I said no. She asked why.
I haven’t found her yet, I said, smiling. Her expression didn’t change but she said with some conviction “And you never, ever will…”
Kids. Bless them.
And I’m hung over but this is fine as, in one of the few examples where I am right and the world is wrong, I don’t work mondays.
It’s also fine because I have my own little hang over routine. It involves ice coffee and water and cigarettes and music and the merest splash of red wine. And I know when I’m feeling better because that’s when I start to dance.
Nothing you’d confuse with anything professional of course. Much more of a distant cousin 4 times removed from dancing. Swaying’s nephew, perhaps.
And I know I look silly but it makes me smile.
Today, I haven’t danced yet. And I don’t know that I will. Because I’ve been sharing hangovers with G, but G’s not here now. The ice coffee and water and cigarettes and music and overflowing red wine and dancing we’ve shared together.
And I know I looked silly but it made her smile.
“Without music life would be a mistake”
Halong Bay is a good place to be: Mysterious, vast and eerie. Two thousand limestone islets jutting out of lagoon blue water, echoing into the distance. Sailing through them, you expect at any moment to hear the roar of King Kong. The sense of being at the edge of the World surrounds you like the rocks.
I sailed on a Chinese style junk to take me around for two days. With a capacity of thirty I expected good company. Instead, only seven. Myself and three couples.
Yet more hard practice in the getting-used-to-being-single-stakes.
They were nice and I was polite, making sure not to ruin their romance by my presence too much. Sitting on the top of the junk, on a long empty deck alone was good, in any case. Silence and movement. It’s getting easier to be alone.
In the early hours we fished for squid, while drinking Hanoi Vodka. It’s a drink which, along with getting you blindingly drunk, (or at the very least, blinding you) almost certainly has a practical use as drain cleaner. Not for the feint of liver.
The squid teased us but we caught one, cheering the victory like it was Moby Dick himself. We talked, and smoked, and joked and drank, seven people outside of time and the World for a while. A little light in the middle of the black Bay.
Afterwards we smoked in silence for a while. Each of us alone in our own thoughts.
And my thoughts were these: Right now, in this short silence, all of them are alone like me. And I’m together with them in being alone.
Halong Bay is a good place to be.
It’s been ten months since my last confession, but I have been a bit of a busy bee. I’m 8700 miles from home. You can’t run away from sadness but I thought perhaps I could fly.
Vietnam is now home and has been since November. I’ve returned to the teaching English game.
Life is good, and I think of M less. I saw her before I left. We talked, a long talk, hours and hours covering years and years. When we said goodbye it was final. We cried in a fairly dismal, mundane setting, on a road by a river. We kissed and we parted. 8 years ended with the touch of two lips.
I haven’t kissed any other lips since. I’m still all too aware how lips can so easily lie. Friends and food and drink keep the loneliness confined to darker corners of my mind.
M now lives in the shadows of my life, but this is good. The long shadows remind me that to my life has returned some Sun.
Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.