Bodies work in the strangest ways. After months of learning and undressing and recalibrating and disarming, I’ve come to realise that you can understand a body, but perhaps never know it at all.
There are some nights when I still think of and am reminded of old lovers, bodies and ghosts, but as with memory, they become hazier and I cannot tell if it’s a real thing that I’m missing, and in a sense, perhaps it is for the better. Yesterday, I closed my eyes and I know something is finally for real, for real, for real, because I can feel the shivers right at the tips of my toes, and the tingling go straight to my teeth. This feeling is real, and this is reality.
In order to understand men and relationships and all the messy things that come out of it, I let them have all of me. But as it turns out, that so-called all of me isn’t that important and special after all. That’s why you can have all of it.
I cut my hair this afternoon and 12 hours later, you run your fingers through my hair; they escape much faster than before. “It’s really short,” you say.
"Didn’t you want to keep it long?"
"I do. But I don’t know what to do with it."
I never really had a chance to do much with my long hair and my short hair seems to have an affinity with all the boys. The last serious relationship withered away slowly just as my hair touched my shoulders — the longest it had ever been at that point in time — and it was a pity because he couldn’t wait to see my hair grow out. But instead of cutting it off to signify the end of something, I just let it grow and grow because I couldn’t be bothered and it turned into somewhat a signature look. And now I just keep going shorter and shorter because I don’t know how else anymore.
"Just let it grow out." You mumbled a bunch of words as you ran your fingers down the back of my head and caressed the back where the baby hairs stuck out.
I blow a whole bunch of smoke in your face before resting on your shoulder. It’s easy to say.
Being an adult in waste and abandon is being wearing only your underpants and picking up the newspaper off somebody’s front door, and coming back into bed pretending to love someone else. Even if you have any sort of shame about your body and how much you hate it, you try to hide it just so you can prove a point — that you really try to pretend to love yourself so other people can see that you can at least attempt to love them. Because everyone seems to want to see that sort of logic so much.
In other separate nights I’m drinking till I black out and wake up and black out and write drunk tweet after tweet after post and post on different places, and send it into the hells of publishing — in drafts. The hells where random sentences survive and thrive and grow bigger on the pools of anxiety and desperation, which twist and scream to try and get out.
As it turns out, I’ve been deluding myself all this while. The parallel life had been one full of emotional intimacy and with it came all the physical benefits while the alternate life which I thought would come to fruition turned out to be a quick fuck most of the time. And in my head, I’m just laughing every day. Life is funny. And the things you have you’re never satisfied.
On Friday night, I really couldn’t be half-assed to take off my dress, but you insisted because, “the dress will be dirty”. I stared at you for a while and then decided, you’re right, my dress will be dirty. And it’s best to just feel dirty instead of being dirty I guess. A body is a body.
Halfway during the ride home, driving through the tunnels, I felt an inexplicable need to cry.
In this lifetime, I fell in love with a physicist at the wrong time and if he knew how to manipulate time and space and turn the past into the future, we would be perfect. If the physicist turned up at my doorstep with that letter from ages ago and said, “let’s change our future”, I would try all over again. But none of us were brave enough this lifetime, and will never be — and it is an irrevocable variant that would stain the futures so badly no matter how many pasts we desire.
In the next karmic cycle, I fell in love with a memory that was too good to be true, even with the flaws that I gave — the marriage, the unavailability, the volatility. But my memory is decaying and the half-life is increasing and I forgot if we were even that good in the first place.
In the dying days, I fell in love with a biologist who doesn’t know how to look hard enough into my heart and insides (or maybe doesn’t want to?). In between flashes of electricity and pain, I close my eyes very tightly and wish that this lifetime, our brains were perfect and the best for each other. And I have nothing else better for our present — because reality is so boring and the short circuits in our brain make us badder people than the better people that we so badly want to be.
As I turned into the corner leading into the lobby of my apartment, I saw you sitting by the railings listening to your music. Probably the same sort of dance music that I don’t really fancy. But if there’s one thing we have in common, it’s that I understand how music can make you weep because it reaches into a soft place somewhere.
And as I saw you, I felt my heart drop ten thousand feet into the ground below and I hope never to be found again. Because what I imagined in my mind, finally wasn’t him but you instead. And when I opened my eyes finally, to walk closer, the mirage had disappeared and I realised that my imagined reality is better than anyone else’s reality out there.
As I sucked all the remains of your feelings out from your mouth, I realise it is the familiarity that I wanted and a warm body back in my bed. In the dark, while we were asleep, you sounded a lot like him, right down to the things that he would ask a sleepy me. And for a while, I closed my eyes, and I let the feeling of guilt wash over me while you try and lick them off.
It’s new bodies that are fresh off the boat which clash in the dark. There’s the clumsy fingers and the overeager mouths that are all waiting to find a sort of symmetry and routine to settle into. We can say that we’ve made it only when two bodies can move seamlessly and perfectly in the dark.
In the countless universes and timelines and probable situations, we just so happen to melt into a single night in a car that was too small to fit the entirety of our bodies. I contorted my body to fit on top of yours as I sat on your lap and you kissed my ears. I thought it would be different, but it turns out affection and physicality is all the same. Change the hands that run down my back and up my thighs, and it all feels the same. Boys are all the same. I am the same.
Did I expect a magical healing flower to sprout overnight from the soils of two lonely hearts? Or was I expecting an old monster to emerge rabidly from the ground when this love pours on it? In any case, something took form and I don’t know what it’ll turn out to be.
Twenty-four hours later, I saw a bruise at the side of my thigh while showering. If our love left a mark on my body even though it doesn’t hurt, it must mean it’s real right?
Maybe as I grow up, I understand relationships better. It’s perhaps more than just closeness and intimacy, which I had initially perceived what a solid relationship should be. But no matter what relations, be it best friends, sisterly, familial, working, romantic, or whatever, turns out it’s all about power and dominance. Of course, it’s easier if you’re holding on to more, and people often don’t realise the amount of power that they wield over other people, but the true test is what you do with that sort of power and dominance.
Perhaps also, the question that I should ask myself is, am I comfortable with the amount of power that anyone has over me at any point in time? Relationships are not my forte, especially the Romantic ones and I’m terrified. And I don’t want to fuck this up because this one feels like it’s okay. This one is comfortable. This one feels kind of safe. For now.
Last night our knees touched under the bar table. Then, as you’re saying something - I can’t remember what - I wonder what’s real and what’s fiction, what parts were the truth and what parts were not, because while I was not entirely truthful last night, I didn’t say anything untrue.
But the thing is, the memory, no matter how embellished, stays true in my head. I can’t remember exactly what so-and-so said during that time, or how so-and-so reacted to certain things, but in my mind, the memory is preserved and maybe that is the reality of the things that I remember. So it’s the truth.
As I’m enamoured by you and the things that you say the entire hazy night, I am reminded the next sober morning at seven that the best storytellers are also the best liars, because everything is a story, a possibility, a myth. And I know, because to a certain extent, I am sure that I am a liar and a storyteller; and if you’re anything like me, I think I’m going to be in trouble.
I sat on your bed with my back facing you and I said it really slowly - only because I don’t know how else to see you and say to you. I’m not sure how easy is it to pull away from familiarity and ease but I can’t let an empty spot revolve my entire life. Do you see it? I’ve been letting an empty spot dictate my possible futures. And of all the possible, infinite futures that I could have created, you were still in it.
And yes, I’m still mad, and when you’re mad at someone you love, you just can’t finish them off. And I’m mad that I can’t finish you off once and for all. I’m mad that I don’t have that energy anymore. I still want to kick your face to the ground and make sure that you never exist in the other timelines that I exist.
And then you take my face and say, then see, what’s so bad about us?
I say, I’m a bad person. And you’re a sick person. But mostly because I’m a bad person with little regard for you because you’re not the most important person in my life, but I let you pretend that you are. You say, “it’s okay, it’s okay, we can pretend for as long as it takes.”
"I’m just afraid we’re too comfortable pretending all our lives, you know?"
"Is this it?" you say.
"Let’s try and make this ‘it’."
It’s countless, this kind of conversation that I have with you. At the end of the day, I still climb back up the stairs and bang on the door when I’m drunk and ask you to let me in, or you come home drunk slumped out on my lap. I don’t know how to stop revolving around an empty space. I don’t know how to.
This morning, I sat up by the side of the bed and I turned behind to look at you. You were half awake and reaching out for me to get back into bed. I turned back to the front and I felt your fingers slide down the knobs of my back slowly one by one. And I wish you could simply reach in to tweak buttons and controls for the right permutation of reactions for us to be happy together. Instead, all you got was a broken machine whose only spare parts are lost in an old junk yard.
When you stay mad at someone you love, your anger will never cease. You can’t forgive them, but you can’t bear finish them off once and for all either.
I told you last night between tears, that I was so angry, I am still angry and I’m not sure if this anger will ever cease. And I”m stuck between a limbo of love and hate, forgiveness and revenge. Other people have moved on and moved in, so why haven’t I?
In the end, I fell asleep with my glasses still on my tear-stained face and a whiskey glass still in my hand. You took both away from me and we slept sitting up on the couch. In the middle of the night, I woke up and realised what you did. I touched your face and you woke up and said, “Let’s go in to bed”. I nodded. Warm bodies are all the same.
Before drifting back to bed, you asked, “When will you forget about it?” I replied, “Never. I think never.”
I drank outside tonight and I drank even more before slamming my fists on your door. You opened up and I cried and I said I didn’t want to be at home tonight or tomorrow morning. I said please, I don’t think I’m going to survive tonight alone.
With my face very close to your chest, I whispered, he’s getting married tomorrow, he’s getting married tomorrow and I don’t want to see him from across my home getting into the car in his suit and bringing his bride home. I’m not sure if you heard it but you pressed my face into your chest and wrapped me tighter around. And when finally I feel your limbs drop and your hold on me loosen, I slither out of your touch to sit by the couch to drink some more. Was it two hours ago or just merely five minutes when all that happened?
There is also a scar right down your palm when you smashed your mug against the counter one night after we discussed something. I saw it play out in slow motion in my head and I felt like I could reach out to stop your hand but I knowingly let you smash it down with a force you could not fathom.
In another timeline, I”m not sure if you would have smashed it across my face if I had stopped you. Or if in another timeline, you might have dropped the cup entirely and sat down. Or still smash it anyway, this time a shrapnel entering my eye. I don’t know, but in the present, your mug smashed into pieces in your hands and walked away while I sat there trying to hold the pieces of my soul together.
When the elevator doors opened on your floor, I realised that it is with repetition that things happen over and over again in the most painful of details. Today, the elevator doors open on your floor and I step out. Tomorrow, the elevator doors open on your floor and I step on a piece of gum. The day after, the elevator doors open on your floor and I fall down. The day after after, the elevator doors open on your floor and I step out.
And with that opening of the doors on your floor, that I realised that we’re forced to go through the details - the most minute, most mundane and the most painfully boring of details that we don’t wish to sit through. If life was like a movie, it would be a box office flop. But it is also through the opening of elevator doors that made it so clear that this is an eternal loop of punishment. And that most importantly, I also have the choice to tell myself that the future is a loop of punishment and I can get out of the time cycle anytime I want to. I just need to step out of it and bow out of life’s movie.
“What’s this number? Why are you calling in the middle of the day?”
“I needed to talk to someone.”
“Why is it me?”
“Because you adore me a little more and know me a little less than most people?”
I cried at the balcony but this time it all happened in my head while I whispered into the office telephone so that no one would hear – even if everyone was out for lunch. The warm sun, the peeling table, the tears, the heartache, the displeasure of mediocrity, the dilemma of restlessness, the impossibility of perfection and the inevitable end all crumpled into one big, tangled ball; I had to slowly unravel it for myself before understanding how my own feelings work. So I explained in 3 minutes what I would have done if you didn’t pick up your phone. Sit at the balcony and cry except that maybe it’s all in the head.
Then you said, “Did you sleep last night?” Yes, I did, I drank myself to sleep and then I woke up to two cups of coffee that you didn’t make for me. “You said you’d stop drinking,” you slowly said. But I couldn’t do it knowing that you were doing the same thing, I said. You laughed and said silly girl, you’re not that bad. If I could punch you in the face through the phone, I would – because I am that bad. I am the worst.
There was silence for a moment and I wondered, what were you doing on the other side of town? Were you looking at your computer screen analysing numbers or eating lunch at your desk? Then your voice pierced through and I heard, “I’m sitting next to you on the balcony with coffee okay?”
I told you to fuck yourself and hung up before I burst out in tears.
"My mom has some clothes over here and she’s not my girlfriend."
"… Was that supposed to convince me or to discourage me? Cos you’re doing it wrong."
Did you put something in our alcohol? Because we were funny tonight. We didn’t reference sad movies, didn’t bitterly laugh at each other’s career dead ends, didn’t play games, didn’t force each other to share the truth, you know? At one point you were tickling me and I kicked you in the shoulder in an attempt to run away. I felt 18 and I remember being like this when I was with boys previously. And then… and then…
How long does young love last before it expires slowly like perishables in the pantry? Wouldn’t it be funny if we had to be bitter and sour for us to be preserved for a long time?
Don’t we create our own demons? Two nights ago I laid in bed with you and I heard what you said in your drunken, sleepy state. It was a little secret that spoke volumes about you, and your relationship with me and other girls. And in my drunken, sleepy state, a lot of things suddenly made sense.
By no means are we anything, but we’re definitely something, no matter how small and little. I’m not pushing for anything - never, in fact - I’m not mature enough to handle an adult relationship. In fact I think I recoil when you ask for more. There are things that only you know, simply because you’re still a stranger, yet huge realities that you don’t see and know simply because you’re not a part of my life.
Don’t we create our own demons? Two nights ago I tried to slowly dig deep into your heart and I tried to see what it looked like. I imagined it to be a winding path of complexities, compact and neat in a box that looked like a cute coconut. Instead all I got was layers after layers of messy muscle, tendons and blood after ripping flesh too quickly apart. Halfway searching, you grabbed my wrists and told me to stop. Not because it hurt you, but because you said I wouldn’t be prepared to see what was really in there. And I snarled and said, “are you fucking kiddin me? I slowly made an incision so I could dig my fingers into my own chest so I could rip out to see my own to see if something was wrong with it. I know what gross is. I know what disgusting is. I know what reality is.”
That night, you too, reached in to pulled my heart out of my mouth and flung it in a corner. “It’s broken - get rid of it.” you said. I reached over to close the gap between us and told you to fix yours first.