Before I throw myself off a cliff in today's essay, I have an event I'd like to invite you all to...
This Saturday I'm going to be doing a reading of some of my writing at Luxembourg + Co gallery in Mayfair, London, as part of Magnetic Island's MUSES fundraiser.
It's going to be an evening of live music along with poetry from some of my all-time favourites: Anna Myers, Charlotte Moore and Chloe Laws.
I have never done anything like this before so I'm very excited (and nervous) and it would be wonderful to see you there.
Tickets are available here.
I often feel the end before the end.
My fingers tingle and my toes boil. The energy moves around my body as static, charged. When I sit in a cafe in March 2020 and I look down at my cup and saucer I can’t believe it’s not finding its way off the edge of the table. I am earthquakes and volcanoes: something is about to happen.
It’s my telltale sign.
Now when I feel it, I know I am about to lose you.
So I spend the day under the covers Googling gig tickets for us to see all of your favourite bands. Because if I can distract you with a good enough reason to stay, you just might forget you were about to leave.
But the pressure in my bones continues to swell. I want to drink and I want to take drugs. I want to text all of my friends that I am losing it — at losing you.
And sure enough, the next day I do. I don’t even need to open the text thread to know what it reads.
It reads the same thing as it always does.
When I was 16 I had my heart broken for the first time. It was a sledgehammer job — as it so often is at that age. But it was also a slow unfurling of the same feeling I would come to know so well over the years. Weeks and months of senseless suspicion, of reticent hysteria, of feeling entirely crazy because everything is fine, everything is fine — because I want everything to be fine, everything to be fine — all the while under the surface my body knew there was an artful untethering at play. A plan to slip away in the dead of night. Even when my mind couldn’t or didn’t want to conceive of such a thing.
I think of the opening passage of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women:
“Throughout history, men have broken women’s hearts in a particular way. They love them or half-love them and then grow weary and spend weeks and months extricating themselves soundlessly, pulling their tails back into their doorways, drying themselves off, and never calling again.”
The logistical split was as sloppy as the pieces of my exhausted heart. In the park on the bank of the canal, I wept and wept. I tore my dress right down the middle and had to tie his hoodie around my waist to shield the whole town from seeing my knickers. My feeling naked not just a metaphor for how it feels to lose someone you love.
And then bang slap in the middle of the remains of that August — that did in fact pass like a bottle of wine — I met a girl who would become my best friend.
She spotted my band t-shirt and thought: yes her. We sat in the same park I’d had my world ripped apart weeks before and became as thick as thieves.
Even at the time I felt the significance of our serendipitous union — that she was only delivered to me because space had been made for her amidst my ex-boyfriend’s exit. One exchange for the other. She not only gave my heartbreak purpose but helped me believe that losing him was worth it in order to meet her.
I have spent the better part of this summer and if I am to be completely honest, this year, avoiding my grief. Of getting over someone by getting under someone else, ad infinitum — as the saying goes. Of standing on an amounting mass grave of ghosts, moving on before each burial.
Haunting me, haunting me, haunting me.
I used to be good at aloneness, at quiet living, at empty space — revelled in it, even. But the pandemic has changed me. Has made me restless and dependent in a way that has taken away my balls to look at my own mess. With the world on fire, it’s unsurprising I have found myself a penchant for having something or someone to place my certainty in. When I am alone I have to contemplate with knowing I know nothing at all. That I am certain about nothing and never was.
So I’ve been filling the places that hurt — like if I can just pour concrete into the cracks of my heart it won’t crumble when someone brings the sledgehammer back out.
I’ve been avoiding empty because empty takes courage, empty means confrontation. It means a lack of certainty — even when what is certain is a truth I’ve manufactured for my own avoidance.
Lisa Taddeo speaks to me again, this time in her brutalising, novel, Animal:
“May you not go around the world looking to fill what you fear you lack with the flesh of another human being.”
But empty also means an open passage for life to fill itself into all over again. A blank canvas that can be painted once more. Empty means there’s space for the most unexpected and magical arrivals.
At 16 I learnt that one end often means a new beginning is to follow. Somewhere amongst the rolling pain of the last 18 months, I forgot that.
I see that now.
And once you see something — you can’t unsee it.
So; an ending.
One that, now all has been said and done, now my fingers have stopped shaking and my toes don’t feel as if they are pressing down to the earth’s crust with every step, I am digging for.
Clearing the worn-out path — getting rid of the stranglers, as my friend Beth would say. Making space for brand new.
Because your new life is going to cost you your old one, to quote Brianna Wiest.
And like clockwork, do you know what happens when I do? When I surrender?
There is an arrival.
A golden Labrador puppy.
As always, I love to hear from you. If you liked today’s newsletter, want to carry on the conversation or have any thoughts or feedback at all, do hit reply. Thanks for reading x