Writing: Run, Run Away

I'm halfway through 3 different essays, one nostalgia piece and three music reviews but Luna isn't sleeping well this week which makes me even more tired than usual, so instead of writing I've been grouping up work from different times and trying to create something of a portfolio. Anyway, four years ago I was trying to write a novel. I got about a quarter into it when I realised that every "chapter" was a little too close to my life, and kind of drifted away, telling myself I would get back to it one day. Every "chapter" was based on a different time in my life, and in the end they were all supposed to come together as intertwined small stories. I never finished it, but there are some fun flashbacks to a time and place in the past. The teenage years are the best - it appears I was able to really tap back into my teenage self's mind, even at the age of 32! Some pieces are even more personal than this one, I may or may not post them all one day...

I loved that Metallica shirt...

I loved that Metallica shirt...

Run, Run Away

Light my candles in a daze cos I found God – Nirvana, Lithium

Everything was running around and around in my head.

I fucked up my whole life. A year ago I was at school, responsible, not really missing class, getting good grades and basically just getting through it all. Now I am a high school drop-out, I don’t have a job and I spend my days hanging out with my friends, listening to music, getting high and writing poetry. I am not even looking for a job, all I want to do is stop existing in my own body and in my own head. I look in the mirror and I see the same face every single day. Boring big brown eyes, boring long brown hair, boring skinny body, boring, boring, boring. On really bad days I just want to cover myself up and hide behind my hair. Ripped jeans, old t-shirts, large sweaters and flannel shirts, scuffed Docs. On better days I will wear an old dress and make-up, with the trust-worthy scuffed Docs. Maybe the green ones if I am feeling extra happy. Black eyeliner and red nail polish. I know I’m not normal, but I just can’t force myself to try anymore. Maybe if I hide for long enough I’ll just disappear. Maybe if I get high enough I’ll fly off into a different world full of rainbows and butterflies. I doubt anyone will notice much anyway, I have just become a burden on others.

It nearly happened last week in the park. The usual crowd was there, hanging out, talking about everything and nothing. Some guy came up to us and asked us if we wanted to share a joint. He looked normal enough, so I said yes. He passed it around, some declined as they had to go back to class, but a few of us finished it off. Next thing I know I am lying down in the grass in a haze of bliss. The sun was shining on my face and I could hear voices in the background, but I felt soft and fuzzy, and on another plane. All feeling in my body left me, except for a perfect feeling of numbness, just perfect. That state that I always want to be in but can never find. Well that was it. I suppose people tried to move me, but I was in another world, a world I had no intention of leaving. Then my mum turned up and literally carried me home with someone else and put me on my bed – I barely remember that, except I think that I was laughing because my legs wouldn’t hold me upright. I could hear everything Mum and Grandma were talking about in the kitchen, but I couldn’t move from my blissful haze. Then I got up and had a cup of coffee and acted like the normal human being I am not. And I didn’t even get in trouble for it. I suppose Mum isn’t going to yell at me for something that she knows I am going to do again anyway. I’ll just make sure to never smoke with that guy again, because as much as I want to be away from reality, I can’t do that to my mum. If that was heroin I want it again and I never want it again.

I get so angry at myself and the world around me. A few weeks ago I had a bad day and I just wanted everyone to leave me alone in peace, to sit on my windowsill and listen to Nirvana, smoke cigarette after cigarette and dream of another life. But instead I had to sit down to dinner and listen to my sister talk about her new boyfriend and go on about school and have to answer my mum when she asked me what I had been up to all day. I wasn’t really going to say that I spent hours dreaming about moving to Seattle and marrying Kurt Cobain who had miraculously reappeared from the dead, divorced Courtney Love and fallen madly in love with a much more beautiful version of myself. So I just mumbled something unintelligible and pretended to eat my pasta. My sister started asking Mum for some money and then went on to make some sarcastic comments how I wasn’t even doing anything to earn any money and I still got everything I wanted. I couldn’t help it… Up went my fork and slammed straight down onto her hand, and up went my glass and smashed against the tile floor. I screamed something along the lines of “Fuck you all I hate you!”, grabbed my jacket, cigarettes and keys and legged it out of the house. I had no idea where I was going, but I wasn’t going back. Ever. I wandered around for a while, crying silently, then called a friend from a telephone booth by the park. She couldn’t really help, seeing as her parents were listening in, and to be honest I don’t think she really understands the depth of everything I have gone through over the past few months, few years even. It’s not her fault, I haven’t explained much of my life story to her. The less people know the less they feel sorry for me. Things are better kept bottled up inside rather than out there in the wild unknown. People use this type of information against you, or they treat you differently. I don’t want to stand out and I don’t want to fit in either. I don’t know what I want anymore. In any case it isn’t here and no one can help me. I stayed at another friend’s house and went home in the morning. She called my mum to let her know I was allright, even though I told her that she should just keep them guessing… But Mum was already worried enough, so I suppose that’s how it should be. I scream and cry and mess up and then apologise and am forgiven. I feel allright for a few days, even happy sometimes, and then it happens again. I’m a mess, and really a waste of space.

I picked up a knife yesterday and spent 30 minutes contemplating it from all angles. It was a big knife, and sharp enough to draw enough blood in order to die. I thought about how my father must have contemplated ending his life and wondered how long he had thought about it. Did he think it over for days or weeks beforehand? Did he make a conscious decision on how he was going to perform his final act on earth, or did he act on a whim? Did he just wake up and do it? Did he even think of his kids when he decided he had had enough? Did he shoot up on enough heroin to not feel the pain, or was he sober and completely aware of his actions? I turned the knife around in my hands and felt more and more agitated when the phone rang. It was Alicia, telling me she had a feeling I wasn’t doing too well and had left school and was on her way to get me out of the house. Such good friends are special. I just want to feel numbness. Not death, not pain, just numbness. Drugs and alcohol are a safer and easier bet. Nothing like the gentle numbness of good hash, the floaty feeling, and the heavy eyelids closing, surrounded by music and soft voices.

Poor thing, poor thing
Do you have a sister?
Would you lay your body
Down on the tracks for her? – Belly, Someone To Die For

Hash brings happiness and sleep, alcohol brings silliness and joy. I can never mix the two as the point is to disappear into a different dimension of life, not spend my time puking in the toilet bowl. I learnt that lesson well, if you don’t mix then you outlast everyone. Weak stomachs don’t enjoy too much of a variety of good things, but if you only do one kind of good thing you can do as much of it as you want. Yes, I will drink you under the table, and yes I will continue to drink long after you have finished. I don’t need to stop, it’s not like anyone really cares anyway. When I drink I feel free. When I drink I feel like I can be part of the world, talk to people, dance for hours on end, and write lyrics to songs that I may compose one day. Most days I feel like I can be myself without having to worry about people talking about me behind my back. I can actually talk to people I have just met without thinking I sound like an idiot. I feel so much stronger and ready to face this world I am part of without wanting to be part of it. I wish I could feel like this all of the time, just naturally. Sometimes I do, but I can never count on those sunny days, and at the moment they are so rare that I feel they will never come back. So give me all of the substances I can find because I need them to exist right now.

I feel ugly and stupid. Technically I know that I am neither, but I just can’t get myself to actually believe it. Why would anyone be interested in me anyway? Who really cares to hear me talk about Russian literature and how beautiful it is, or how Bikini Kill have affected my life? Who wants to hear me talk about my obsession with the French Resistance during WW2 and how I feel like I was part of it in a former life? I like to think I was like Jacqueline, my favourite character in Marge Piercy’s Gone To Soldiers. Strong, beautiful and so loyal she would fight through all dangers to protect those she loved. I want to strive to be like that, but I am too scared. I rebel against everything and then hide when I feel like my inner self is becoming too strong. I constantly battle between my shyness and my outgoing real self. Can one not live with the other? Why can’t I just let what is inside stomp the shy part out? I’m just too scared to let go of these walls. They have protected me from everything since, well, since forever.

I’m only 17 for fuck’s sake! Some days I feel like I have seen and lived through so much that I don’t know what else I can be put through. Death and violence and hatred and love and joy and pain and fear. Religions and prayer and different countries and different languages and different countries. I’ve read so many books and have so many more to read. I write and write and destroy most of what I write. Who cares about poems full of questions and dark images and death? I’ll never be as good as Baudelaire or Rimbaud so why even try? What are normal 17 years olds supposed to be doing? School and boyfriends and music and hanging out with friends? I just left school but I have boyfriends, listen to music constantly, go and see bands, get thrown around the mosh pit, drink, smoke a lot of hash and Marlboro Lights and hang out with my friends wherever we feel like meeting. Church steps, music store, café, park… Anywhere where we can sit and talk for hours. I sometimes like my boyfriend, I sometimes think I could love him, but he tends to annoy me after a while, especially when he tells me how much he loves me. How on earth can he think he loves me when I am such a mess inside and out? Does he not see what he is getting himself in to? How could I even love anyone else when I don’t even love myself. Most days I literally hate myself! Most days I wake up crying and wish I didn’t exist anymore. How can I make this better? I feel so old and angry and hurt and just want it all to go away. I’m just tired of being inside my brain all of the time.

Pigalle, Paris. Coffee, cigarette, writing. Happy to see that my style hasn't changed in 19 years.

Pigalle, Paris. Coffee, cigarette, writing. Happy to see that my style hasn't changed in 19 years.

Short Story: An Angel Passes By

As I am (slowly) putting my website together and applying for freelance writing jobs I have been going through a lot of my writing and trying to group everything together. I noticed that I hadn't posted this story, which is strange as it quite naturally goes with Autumn's Place and Of Instability and Growing Roots. I wrote them all about the same time and with the same frame of mind.
In any case, everyone needs a Marlena in their lives, just to make everything a little brighter and happier. Not long after I write this one Bat For Lashes released her last album, with the song Laura on it, and it really made me think of my own Marlenas. Cherish those friends forever.

An angel passes by ("un ange passe") is a French expression that always takes me back to moments in the dead of the night during my late teens with the friends I grew up with, that moment when everyone goes quiet, contemplating their own thoughts, and then all go back to their conversations at the same time. That silence that doesn't feel uncomfortable, but warm and fuzzy. These are the people that will always be with you, your own personal angels in your lives. I dedicate this one to those who aren't here anymore.

An Angel Passes By

She stood there in her little babydoll dress, her long, skinny arms wrapped tight around her body, as if she were protecting herself from an invisible force that was about to hit at any moment. Her eyes stared wide into the distance, somewhere away from what we could all see around us and her forehead was creased into a frown of concentration. This is always the image I will have of her in my mind, touchable but unapproachable. Surrounded by a ring of fire keeping her away from the rest of us.

She stood there in her skinny black jeans and black velvet jacket, cigarette smoke encasing her body and a bright smile on her face when she recognized a friendly face approaching her. Nothing fake about her smile – once bestowed upon you, you felt like you were the center of attention for a minute; that no one else existed but you in the world. There are so few people on this earth who have the ability to make you feel this way, that when you meet them you cherish their love for life, long after they have moved on to other places and other people. This is the other image I have of her, happiness and sadness, encased in that body with the beautiful face.

Some people leave and their memories fade over time, until they are remembered only when a photo is found, or a random memory pops into your mind. Other people leave a special legacy behind, one that cannot be erased by time, or alcohol, or drugs or age. All I need to do is close my eyes and conjure up her face and all the emotions I felt every time I was in her presence, even after all these years. Her foot prints can be found all over the world, in the many countries that she traveled to and the many people she met and loved along the way. She was never famous, she never felt exceptional in any way, but she simply made everyone she came into contact feel special for a few moments, and those few moments always lasted forever. Some days I walk through the streets of Manhattan and see a swish of long, blonde hair and a cigarette in a hand and my heart stops for a second. Maybe it is her? Maybe she is still here, walking and talking and dreaming and crying and smiling and just simply present. Maybe I can have one last hug, and this time I will know it will be the last and I will remember it forever. I never knew the last time she hugged me would be the last time I felt her touch and smelt her shampoo and perfume floating around me. If I had known, the last time I told her I loved her I would have looked her in the eyes for more than two seconds and would have made sure she knew that I meant it with all my heart. I hope she knew that before she left.

Marlena was one of those people that you felt had always been in your life, however long you may have known them. She arrived in my life randomly one night, a friend of a friend drinking in a bar that we didn’t often frequent. I didn’t really talk to her that night, she was wrapped up in a conversation with another person who didn’t want to surrender her attention, and then she left abruptly, hugging everyone as she made her way to the exit. A few days later I bumped into her on the street, and she smiled at me and invited me to grab a late lunch with her at her favourite restaurant. She gradually introduced me to all of the people she knew in the neighbourhood and I became part of the family of people working and living there. Marlena always had time for a chat, however tired or overworked she was. She had the ability to make me laugh and smile, even when I knew she was having a rough day. And when she was tired or unhappy, all I wanted to do was make her feel better, a small gesture, a hug, a cup of tea at 3am. Anything to get that look of pure gratitude she would give you on those days. 

There are no perfect human beings. If perfection really existed it would be a flat, boring piece of blank wood. Imperfections create the depth that makes someone human. As much as Marlena was an amazing person, she was definitely not perfect. She kept herself distant from certain things, and locked away parts of herself deep inside so that you could not even see a glimpse of them in her eyes. She would turn away when someone tried to get too close and shut down, wary of giving herself fully to another, wary of being hurt again, and having to deal with pain, again. But she would cry openly and sometimes let you into what her life had been and what she wanted to hide from. What she had finally got over and what she was still going through. She could be as stubborn as a bull and would butt heads with people with her strong opinions. I could not even count the amount of times I had seen her jump up and smash her fist on the bar shouting “but you aren’t listening to me!!!” and stomp off outside for another cigarette, ranting under her breath about idiocy and hypocrisy. But two minutes later she would be back, buying rounds of shots for everyone and laughing at the argument that had taken place moments before. There was never a boring moment in her presence.

Marlena taught me how to find the perfect beaches near the city, wild places where the waves would drag in shells and crabs and city trash, where you could sleep at night if you felt like it and you knew you were safe. She showed me special places in the city where the walls were painted with so much art you could spend hours just looking at them. I taught her where to find the best bagels and where to go to feel like you were in the middle of the countryside right in the city. She would sometimes disappear for a few days and apologise when she reappeared, always saying she needed time away, time to herself, time to finish a song, time to listen to her own voice in her head, away from others that were always crowding it. She would wrap her arms around herself and frown worries away until she could smile lightly again. Some days I would walk into her work and see how tired she was despite her smile and other days she would jump up in happiness and throw herself into my arms, a little ball of energy that couldn’t stop itself from showing all her emotions. She was just a normal girl, but one who created a special place in her heart for everyone.

“I think it’s time for a pint – who’s in?”

“Marlena – it’s only Noon! We have stuff to do today!”

“I said a pint, not 20, and I could really murder a Guinness right now. We can have it with lunch, that way we won’t feel like we are just drinking. And let’s call Robert and Liza and Sandy and the rest so they can join us!”

“OK – and here goes our productive Monday. Let the fun and games begin!”

Never a boring moment. Being friends with Marlena meant being friends with everyone she knew. And being friends with everyone she knew meant that you never really felt alone anymore. Some people you liked less than others, some you felt great connections with while others remained acquaintances, but everyone had something in common: Marlena. She loved to be surrounded by friends and watch them interact and be around each other. She loved to try and match make but hated it when people tried to do it to her. She didn’t get angry often, but when she did you could never see it coming until her rage had broken free. After you saw that you tried hard not to cross her or upset her. No one wanted to be on the other side of that!

When I put her in a cab that night and hugged her, telling her I loved her, she asked me to text her when I got home, which was always the last question she asked all her friends when they left the bar. Twenty minutes later I got her text saying she was home safe and getting into bed. She never made it out of bed alive. Her heart just stopped beating, gave up and sent her off to another place. There was no real medical explanation for this happening at such a young age, so we all ended up deciding that she was needed more somewhere else, and that she had given us everything we needed and everything she had to give. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t devastated… It took me months and months to stop waking up crying and looking at pictures of her. I found it hard to walk down the streets where she used to always be, hard to be in places where I always wondered if she would miraculously walk through the front door. All of her friends banded together and talked about her and stayed friends, but it was always surrounded by sadness. Her presence was always around, but her voice could not be heard anymore.

Even now, years later, we always hold a Marlena party, a night out together where we drink pints, do shots in her honour and get completely drunk and silly. There are people who just won’t go away, even if they are dead and long gone. Marlena is one of those, an angel passing through lives, making them just that little bit better than they were before she arrived. Cherish those Marlenas as they are special people that may not be able to stay long. 

Catch some of their essence before it drifts away elsewhere – it will stay with you for life.