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"Fucking hell!" I exclaimed, aloud. You think he's young, naive, uncomplicated perhaps, not yet fallen from the tree: the first bruise we all get that ripens us, looking back to see blossom for the first time, yet knowing we can never return to where we were. But I saw pure you. Your deep concentrated capacity for joy, the one you greet the world with that's so infectious, unfiltered in your smile, unseasoned by coarse melancholy or the bitter spices every recipe needs to blend. Like any gourmet or artist you started with the purest ingredient: raw, cherry-like, so very fresh.
Maybe it's vanity.
You remind me of me,
how I used to be.
The clarity without clutter of
someone who so clearly sees
God in the beautiful simplicity
of something like a rainbow.
When was the last time I saw one?
When was the last time I noticed?
When was the last time I saw God
in anything? I'll tell you.
Standing on the cliff-tops
watching seagulls, my mind a mess.
There I saw God in their simple effortless play.
No rainbow then though,
I haven't seen one since today,
and within its photograph
the same seagulls' joy and play.
-Huh?"you asked, nigiri only half dropped upon your tongue.
-In what way was it vicious?"
You noticed I hadn't touched my food, and ceremonially lowered your chopsticks atop your bowl, balanced like a bridge, and frowned.
-I don't think..."
-No, you don't."
-Hey!"you cried, half scolding, half pleading.
-It's just, you should know me better than that by now. I like the hair, really. And I love the eyes."
-Okay,"you shrugged, looking confused.
We both continued our meals in silence. I'd taken only one bite from yours, and entirely missed the point in doing so.
Weird to think last Summer I looked out of my hotel window on Richard Street at the tips of that same building beyond the houses across the street. So odd and out of place amongst the concrete and the glass, just a pillar and a curve of something making me stare, gently screaming out its otherness like all time-travelers do. Stranger still to think that you were sitting there, reading or writing your emails like an undiscovered treasure waiting silently beneath the fighting, in an amphitheatre where past, present and future battle it out for dominance over mind and heart.
"What brings you to Canada?" he asked, lighting my cigarette.
"A wedding. And my brother."
"Yeah? Cool. My brother's getting married in September. It'll rain tomorrow."
"Yeah. Look at the birds." Above, a dozen seagulls circled the indigo sky. "Seagulls always come inland before it rains."
He lived on the streets, off loose change, spare cigarettes and scraps of conversation like this. Beside his blanket on the cold pavement lay books on religion and philosophy. I wanted to know what drove this lone seagull inland, from saltwater lapping the whole world.
Now I know why you loved that story.
You're right, of course. It's the little things. It's always the little things. These are the scenes we remember - the smells, the sounds, the inconsequential little objects and habits and words. How is it we can lose ourselves to these little things? How is it that they, so insidiously, are what make a person, a memory - their bare honesty, laid naked and raw for anyone invited or aware to see? How is it that they define truth? And what happens to them when life maintains its inevitable advance? What happens to true love when we meet someone else?
Let the silt and grime wash over you, away from you, and just float away.
Doze on the sun-baked rock as Summer toasts your toes, letting each wave of saltwater refresh you, cleanse you, until you let go to be carried off within warm endless embraces.
When I was a boy I collected stars. I still have them, safely sealed in a box. You're my most favourite one of all. I'll keep you, little starfish, on proud display upon my wall.
But for now just float away.
Stay safe in saltwater, as seagulls glide through sunbeams high above.
And there on the beach He entombed the false-hearted: the deceivers and the lustful, the tormentors and the cruel. He twisted their screams into pebbles, shattered their bones into shale, and set the heavy weight of their sins into boulders and rocks - stones atop each other like witches' hats, cairns for the unfaithful to be hissed at by the wind, bitten by the freezing sea. There they all slump in their prisons, locked in stone for all time, forced to look out upon each sunset, every sunrise, and feel the distant warmth life casts upon the world they betrayed.
There's a place one day I'll take you to. Like anywhere special, it's not just a space but a time. Just after midnight, at the furthest point stretched from the shore, you can look out across the sea yet see nothing at all, just an endless blanket of grey. Only the salt-scented air and the sound of waves crashing against rock tells you the world is still there, that you still exist. Wait until morning, and there's a sheltered rock pool further down the beach, where at sunrise the sea stills to tranquil purple and the horizon beyond glows pink.
Every poet has their muse, each philosopher their acolyte. You can't choose these companionships - if you're lucky enough they just happen. They create the conversations upon which you build your own society, your own kingdom, an Eden where life can make sense of the universe outside the vulgar arcane order of the human world. If you meet even one other person in life you can connect with, you are richer than any human king. And you are safe in your own garden. The only thing that can knock down its walls is expecting too much fruit from its trees.
I think that's what beauty is, that's where happiness lies - one brief delicate moment in a lifetime that takes your breath away, forever frozen in a black and white snapshot you can keep in the camphor chest of your mind. But these brief sparks of beauty and happiness do not last. This is their nature - this is what makes them special. All life and its many joys are each just a short and brilliant splash of colour against the bleak and endless void. Even memories always fade, their photos always degrade. And snow, worst of all, always melts.
"That's Ben. You wouldn't remember him. He used to look after Uncle, but that was long before you were born."
"Is that why Uncle always seems sad?"
"Sort of. It's very complicated. You'd have liked Ben. He was so excited about you being born. He'd have spoilt you rotten the moment Daddy and I weren't looking."
"Why would he have when he didn't even know me then?"
"Maybe because he couldn't have children himself. He knew you were very important to Daddy and me. And to Uncle. He knew life must always go on, even when it hurts."
Love is everywhere you look
The chef looks about his kitchen and sees raw meat, unchopped vegetables and bottled spices. The jeweler regards his untwisted metals, gems scattered everywhere. No one would ever doubt your ability to perceive love, nor dare question it. But what would you do with it? How would you craft it? How would you give it life? The little man with his precious unopened bag of love nods at the miser saving every penny he sees. There's so little time for anything to just happen. You have to drag life where you want it to live.
And so it ends. Like any other dreamer I awake from the rich vibrant depths of imagination, desperately grasping at portraits gently hung there, but clasping only air. The memories fade as they're dragged to the cold surface, moments still gasping for fresh breath like netted fish snared into the light. I look on as the images stop moving, as life fades and dims. Soon there is only the empty frame, my clumsy face reflected back at me from the cold and barren glass. We are nothing without our memories; intimate images we carry that share and form our lives.
With no Valentine's envelopes left to open, I left home uninspired. Walking in, I passed a bookshop, noticing the title
A curious double take revealed that wasn't its title at all, but rather
Considering its content, and Mnemosyne's personal significance, I am regarding this myopia as a sign, but can't think what of (beyond a good title). At lunch, Little One and I both mourned dreams withering on corporate life-support machines. I must get out. I am suffocating in this job. I want to be home writing to agents, or writing Chapter One of
I've now drafted a rough plot for
I've written, in full, one third of
Beasts of the Field.
I must finish the letter and list of agents I'm submitting to. At the end of everyday, I must be able to say I've accomplished one further step forwards. Whenever I think about all the people trying to do the same thing, I get sick. Whenever some new article's printed detailing how anyone can write a bestseller, I'm filled with dread. Whenever someone my age gets an advance, a little part of me dies. There can be no more excuses.
"We need you."
Dread. Total dread. It should be empowering, but I didn't feel needed or valued. Just trapped. As he spoke, I had sudden fearful visions of the near future: I'm never going to leave. Instead I'll neglect my dreams, and like any houseplant I've ever owned, they'll all wither and die whilst I find contentment in the nine to five routine. Maybe I'll get on the property ladder, or meet someone
and settle down.
No, you don't need me. You mustn't need me. No one ever
anyone. They just don't
to let them go.
The furniture is making itself at home. Right now, it is playing asinine pop music at top volume and whistling along infuriatingly out of tune. If there's one thing more irritating than someone whistling, it's someone whistling out of tune. By contrast there is the regular and loud accompaniment of phlegm being repeatedly hacked up in the bathroom whilst I'm trying to eat. In the absence of intelligent or meaningful conversation, or even at times acknowledgement of my existence, I need to get out. I need to get far away from this squalid human symphony. I need my own space.
I dreamt of Geneva. I saw a play and took a bus back, chatting to a Pretty Young Thing. He mentioned a mutual friend and I turned around to see him. Suddenly I was in a police van, pursuing a hero of mine. I got out to follow on foot, trying to meet him first. I passed through a police training shop into an alleyway. There an old lady was looking after a long-lost friend of mine. She told me a fairytale of the beautiful young seamstress her tiny shop was named after, her crying portrait painted above the door.
One hour wasted, waiting in the rain. No one's fault, I'm sure. I ended up drinking on top of medication, making me violently sick. Cured my cold though. Vomiting's a great catharsis. Been sleeping all day since. Feel empty. Life isn't lyrical. It's not summer afternoons lounging beside lakes, cloud-gazing, or soaking up daydreams and contentment. It's steel: cold, hard and coarse; wrought in practicalities and function. This journal started with one love affair's death. So let it end. They say each time you fall it's different. This time I fell with fingers in my ears, and eyes clenched shut.
I can't find anyone remotely attractive anymore. Humans haven't changed in millennia; still interested only in indulging ephemeral Simian urges. Not intellect, not love (
God-given can't-deal-with-this love). Just splashing around in their own shit like short-sighted, stunted, selfish, narrow-minded, decadent and predictable scavengers. No longer do I merely accept the coming storm, I increasingly desire it. People don't try to be better than their flesh anymore. Just richer, or happier. Just selfish. More focused on themselves and fulfilling their desires. I think this is disgusting. I don't want to be on this planet anymore. I think humanity is disgusting.
Spent today feeling lost and alone. There's nowhere left to go. Everyone is just the same. Governments become increasingly despotic and short-sighted, people grow more and more selfish, irrational and boring each day. I don't want to be here anymore. There's nothing but disappointment here now. It's all been done. It's all the same, the same trials and stale dramas, the same slow degrading slide into cancer. I can't be like the other cattle. The world doesn't stop being ridiculous to me just because I can gaze into someone's eyes or count the pennies I've earned in a soulless job.
Twelve years old. It was dark. Twelve little moons glinting coldly in the abyss. Five years later, the moons swell red. One, three, six, ten. Pat pat pat, my head swimming in the darkness. I now know loss. Seven more years and the moons burst before my eyes, each tiny breath a supernova of colour. I am nothing, yet escaping, soaring out through broken flesh on each stifled breath.
Where is that madness now?
That sweet honey of unrefined genius? Where did the lucid dark go? I'm still nothing, incomplete. Just human blood dribbling through human flesh, lukewarm and unspilt.
The endless unlit pit below was crude. Cold, but it would suffice. It would contain only his breath for company until the flesh gave out. With one last look to the unforgiving, unrelenting bell jar above, he leant forward and fell.
A blur of flesh snatched out as he toppled, grabbing him firmly by the wrist. He looked up. A hand. The face of a smiling human. He couldn't see their eye colour, but somehow knew it regardless.
"You get into the most terrible trouble,"the human clucked, and with strength beyond his years hauled him safely from the darkness.
The universe hangs by such a delicate thread of coincidences.
Interweaving strands crotchet life from the deepest manmade wells to the timeless sky above. The sunlight's always there, perhaps concealed behind cloud, but always there. It's as if this epiphany has temporarily robbed me of something. The lyricism doesn't come as easily as it used to. This happens, I understand, when the mind undergoes a subtle yet profound change, readjusting over time. I feel part of something good and great. I hope it isn't humanity. I'd rather see humanity's minute beauties from the outside than become part of the herd.
I'm having dating dilemmas over a straight man. Should I call? Should I wait? I met him last night at Little One's party. I'm so glad I went. Everyone there puts their creative careers first, paying rent through simply temping or bar work. I could do that. Gwyll and I bonded over living in Highgate, not finding enough writing time, the industrial bane and blessing of Doctor Who and the genius of Haruki Murakami. I need more influences like this: people who don't whore themselves to time-consuming jobs, going in every morning to do something that fundamentally is not them.
It must be Little One's influence, who lives plots from 1970s British sitcoms, but my days grow evermore farcical. After Saturday's liberating company, I came in daydreaming how to slowly withdraw from fulltime work and take my chances as an author. Cue my boss wanting to discuss my future. He wants to give me more important work, more responsibility and, yes, more money. I hate money: humanity's vulgar, false God. But I need it to exist within the loathsome society I was born into, until I've enough to escape. How much does it cost to delay your dreams once again?
This week already has all the subtlety of something important about to happen, yet with the fanfare of a whisper. Everything seems not quite real, interim, fading. It's like the final few minutes before an exam, where everything you've learnt is about to be put to the test, into practice. Why do I so strongly sense pieces all in position, waiting for their instrumental purpose to be fulfilled? I'm dreaming of being trapped in toy factories, or executed for a cause entirely alien to me. I sense something pushing at the world from inside of me, trying to get out.
The Tip Jar