Tag Archives: Love

Unconventional romanticism and why Valentines Day is a farce.

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Valentines Day is this Sunday, hilarious.

I’m not a fan of that holiday, in fact, I actively do not take part in it (mainly because no one loves me enough to actually be my valentine, but let’s not get technical here).

I’ve always been an unconventional romantic. I used to have debates with my best friend about the merits of receiving multi-coloured shoelaces instead of flowers (he, who writes thoughtful letters like they’re crack, does not agree) and there’s a dinosaur toy perched on my bookshelf from someone who also revels in the delights of unconventional romanticism, what a gem.

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Maybe it’s because of this quirk that I’m averse to the holiday, maybe it’s my background as a child of divorce that has made me cynical about unnecessary, clichéd and relatively meaningless displays of affection such as giant pink love bug plushes and commitment-scented bath salts. Perhaps it’s just because for me V-day is also no-D-day (get it? Cause I’m dreadfully alone…haha…love me)

Whatever it is, I’m pretty much doomed to spend the most commercialised and capitalist holiday of the year eating pizza in my bedroom and trying not to listen to my housemates getting it on with their respective lovers, yay.

So Happy Irrelevant Consumerist Holiday, everybody. The most action I’ll get is probably a fist-bump from the drunken car guard on Prospect Street, but at least it’s something.

Someone drop a fast food menu on my doorstep will ya? I have a lot of feelings to eat.

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Coffee dates from Hell, not really- I’m just picky.

I went out for coffee with someone this week, and it was actually the most difficult hour of my young, angsty, emotional life.

That sounds nuts right? The indigenous extrovert, who can often be found drinking lots of coffee with lots of people and staying bonny and blithe in her quest to perceive the full spectrum of the human experience, goes out for such an event and immediately wishes she hadn’t.

However, coffee is only fun if you do it for the right reasons- I really didn’t.

Queue in the poor unsuspecting victim in this tale of woe, a male acquaintance who I’ve been conversing with casually, in an attempt to give way to a new friendship or, at least, to bag a date taller than me for various formal events this year. He probably wasn’t aiming to land in the friendzone so quickly, I placed him in there willy nilly for self-preservation’s sake.

He picked me up, a bunny in headlights expression clouding his face as he looked over my rather grungy, newly darkened aesthetic, I didn’t expect him to like it as much as he did- damn it. He took me to a cafe where the sitting arrangements were too small for our hands not to touch, so I sat on mine. He bought me iced tea, made long eye contact and leaned way too far across the  dollhouse sized table to be deemed comfortable. I’m sure he would have charmed the contour lines off of any other wholesome, fun-loving, bushy-tailed nymph spirit, yet I remained motionless as a heavily kholed, exasperated cloud, immune to his efforts and raining all over this poor guy’s one-man parade.

He asked me about my favourite TV series and expressed his amazement at how avidly I read. He disregarded my blog as soon as I told him it was about “my feelings” and proceeded to embark on a long monologue about quantum physics. I almost exploded from trying to slurp my iced tea in a dignified manner without removing my hands from my butt and trying to figure out how to get out of the entire situation early.

He exited, oblivious to the bear I sent after him, returning my rag doll hug with a tight embrace and a salutation that listed all the things he hoped we could do together on another date.

I got home, slid down my door like a cliche and cried into my knees, because in the Jane Austen novel of life, I am eternally Marianne Dashwood- all sensibility, all feeling, very little logic. I cried because he was actually quite nice, despite his Vanilla disposition. I cried because I am cursed to crave people with more flavour to their personalities and to disregard anyone and anything who doesn’t make me excited. I cried because the only reason I went on that stupid coffee date was to feel like I’d somehow won something, like I wasn’t sitting at home waiting for the void to stare back, like I was achieving shit like bagging tall dates to formal events and moving forward a little bit.

He bombarded me with messages enquiring after my well-being and when he could see me again, I plagued him with several blue ticks of death until I eventually let him off the hook by expressing my desire to take myself out for coffee dates from now on.

I guess I can always pay attention to myself if there’s no one else exciting enough to do it for me.

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Vulnerability is not how I was brought up.

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Source: weheartit.com

The one thing I’ve learnt in the past month or so is how easy it is to learn how to be happy.

It’s something I’ve always been weary of- showing emotion other than happiness, especially around people I’m not close with. Sadness is a weakness, crying is not likeable, showing vulnerability isn’t how I was brought up.

When I was 16 years old my first boyfriend ever decided to break up with me, I saw it coming- we were too young and too silly to carry on much longer. Before I went to go see him for the last time, the end of his affection darkening my sunny doorstep, my very independent, brilliant mother stared into my eyes and told me that under no circumstances was this boy allowed to see me cry.

“You walk away Harriet, you keep your head up and you accept it with grace. Don’t you dare let him see you cry.”

I took her advice, I cried in the car- dented heart and bruised ego trailing behind me.

It was the start of an era- I remained steadfast and stoic until 18 when my heart was smashed into fragments by someone who didn’t deserve it and I went a little nuts. I cried into the phone, I begged him to reconsider his lack of affection, I stayed in bed for a week in a state of decline, I stopped eating. I tried to squeeze myself into every single mould he wanted me to fit into until I gave up and broke down the box he tried to keep me in.

Since then I take my mother’s advice. I cry when it’s necessary, when I can’t hold it in any longer. Sometimes I slip up and I’m forced to peel myself off the floor- I’ll scoop myself together bucket by bucket, piece by piece until I’m a little less misshapen. It’s a routine I have become adept at and the last time I left a piece of myself behind it’s because I gave it away freely, I desperately wanted him to hold it close and keep it safe.

Since the removal of this vital piece I’ve learnt how to cope. I get up in the morning, I read books that make me think and spend afternoons drinking coffee in soft shorts and messy buns.

Grasping happiness is easier in soft shorts and messy buns, grasping happiness is also easier when it’s dependent solely on myself.

I could cry into the phone, I could stop eating and get drunk and kiss strangers- trying to find some comfort in their empty sentences. But I think it would end in too many pieces of me being stolen by too many careless people.

I’ve learnt how to be happy. I’ve learnt how to tightly hold each delicate piece of me together, I’ve learnt how to be whole.

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January 14, 2016 · 7:28 pm

Kid, you gotta love yourself.

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source: weheartit.com

I got to spend time with one of my favourite people this January which is significant as we’re currently averaging on seeing eachother every 700 days. The distance between Canada and South Africa is a bit awkward for visits to be more frequent, so we make do with the time we have.

We met on his 15th birthday, I was 14 and obsessed with side-fringes, converse sneakers and bright skinny jeans. I thought jumping off a golf cart would look super cool and ended up with a spectacular face plant to leave a lasting impression. He has therefore essentially seen me at my worst and most embarrassing- it’s been 6 years of tripping over my own feet, running head-first into fire places, acquiring various black eyes and dropping a number of objects he has chucked at me to realise that not a lot of people have seen the parts of me that he has.

When I was 17, I got to spend almost 2 weeks with him in Kenya. It was 10 days of constant exposure to the pros and cons of a particular human being. We both learned the colours of each other’s anger, we spent a full day in the hot sun after getting half an hour of sleep and by the end of it were bickering more than usual, we spoke about our respective futures like they weren’t right around the corner and some days when we ran out of topics of conversation, we’d sit in silence until the things we desperately wanted to say came bursting out of us.

We had such a moment this week. It was hot and we had stopped talking for a bit. He was lounging on the couch that I had my back pressed against and I was feeling rather conflicted about the emotions that were running rampant in my chest. He looked at me like he knew what I was thinking, I stared back, trying to figure out how to phrase my crazy.

“Do you think that someone can wake up one day and just stop missing you?”

He gave me a skeptical look, a constant calculation shooting off in his head, I’d told him about everything that’s happened and how I’m still trying to figure out where I fit, he knows me well enough to say the right things. So he leaned over and flicked the bottom of my chin before stretching back and uttering this resonating statement:

“You don’t need to be missed Harriet. You have to learn to be autonomously happy, regardless of whether you are missed. You can’t tear yourself apart being emotionally dependent on anyone.”

He knows me. God, he knows me. He knows how easily I leap into my emotions like they haven’t let me down before, he knows how I feel about effort, how desperately I cling to any hint of romanticism. It’s been 6 years and countless mistakes and so many letters home trying to figure out why I like my life to be filled with intensity- and the man summed up what I needed to hear in 3 succinct sentences.

I do not need to be missed.

I need to have autonomous happiness.

I can’t afford to tear myself apart.

I can’t afford to tear myself apart.

 

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I’m a little less superlunary.

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Source: weheartit.com

I saw this coming. Didn’t you? From the minute you kissed me- hands on my waist, eyes slightly open; trying to count my freckles- I knew. I knew it was going to end with me sobbing into your t shirt at a train station, trying to conjure up the last bit of strength I had to stop smelling you, stop kissing you and to get out of your car.

Fuck.

Every step I took away from your stupid bittersweet little smile felt like ice. I never want to feel like that again. Saying an almost permanent, definite good bye to you was scarier than being locked inside a room and screamed at, scarier than traveling alone, scarier than walking home in the dark. At least in those situations I had an end goal – break down the door, find terminal A, sprint to safety. The outcome of being left behind by you is “try to be happy”- try desperately not to spill tears all over my keyboard, find the few upbeat songs I own, don’t cry on the train, don’t cry on the train, don’t cry on the train.Walking away from you was like hacking off parts of myself to leave behind, I swear I left a piece of my being on your front seat.

The thought of kissing anybody else goodbye makes me sick. I couldn’t possibly share dinosaur daydreams or Halloween kisses or tubs of ice cream with anybody else. But when I stepped out of that car, I accepted the possibility that I’d have to.

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Maybe we fit right?

Maybe we don’t. Maybe our little love affair- our dalliance with miscommunication and morning giggles- is doomed to remain strictly digital. Maybe you’ll get busy and write your masters and forget to come home and I’ll go back to kissing strangers in bars, trying to find some parts of you in the wreckage.

Maybe we’re both not as great as we thought we were.

Maybe I’m doing that thing I do where I’m over-dramatic and you laugh and kiss my cheek and tell me it’s one of your favourite things about me- how much I feel, how desperate I am for genuine human connection.

There’s a lot of maybe when it comes to us-yet I’ve never felt so definite, so attached, so willing to use superlatives.

This is a mess. I’m a mess. A rubbed raw, icy footed, miscommunicated mess. But if the mess was caused by us, and that last kiss goodbye caused this type of carnage in my life, then I can live with it.

I can get up in the morning. I can write paragraphs that don’t mean anything in an attempt to stay numb. I can lie when people ask me where I’d rather be, because the answer of “next to you, holding your hand” isn’t a plausible answer.

I knew this was coming. I’m still in denial that it has, I still expect that you’ll come back and pick me up in a spirit shirt and brown corduroys. I’m desperately clinging on to the notion of July and December visits, like a child in the middle of a custody agreement. I’m prepared to feed myself fantasies until it doesn’t hurt to walk, until my eyes dry up, until I’m okay.

Fuck.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

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Break-up Season and The Art of Being Perpetually Single.

Source: weheartit.com

It’s September and with it comes along one of my favourite seasons; no you over – enamoured festival girls with your flower crowns and misappropriated Native American headdresses, it is not Spring. It’s break up season.

Aaah, break up season. The undefined amount of time when couples decide they need to start making alternative arrangements for New Years. It’s either that or the pollen has some kind of effect on assholes revealing their true colours. Either way, in breakup season my status as the perpetually single, professional third wheel is promoted to veteran. I become the newly single girl’s independence guru and it’s my favourite thing.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- I have been cursed with experience. As my mother once aptly introduced me “this is Harriet, she has the WORST taste in men”. Right you are Lori, and don’t I know it. A miriad of philanderers, future strippers, batshit rockstars and one rather questionable character armed with a pair of roller blades and a spiked collar have come my way; and, because I like a good story, because I appreciate it when my life takes a turn for the bizarre- I give them the time of day.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me pretty good at getting rid of weirdos. In my experience, there’s two ways break up season can happen to you;

1. You cry, you ugly cry. You end up looking like Kim K eating a salad, or just Kim K crying. You binge on something – be it food, cheap box wine or love quotes on pinterest, you fill your void with something other than that person. I voice note my friend Chris at ridiculous hours of the morning after watching Pride and Prejudice for the third time and sobbing because Mr Darcy is the perfect ratio of socially awkward to adorable. Chris is a real trooper. Hi Chris!

2. You get over it quickly. You never liked them that much anyway. I always get a drastic haircut after a breakup, one time all I got was my nails done. It’s all relative, it depends on whether you’ve acknowledged yet that you deserve more than locked doors and explosive words. It’s about whether or not you’ve given away so much of yourself already that no fucks can be given. That’s cool, your favourite kind of no should be no fucks!

Once you’ve reached this Land of NSource: weheartit.comope, it gets easier, it gets interesting. The Land of Nope is my favourite place in the entire world – it’s the land of tequila and nachos, incredulity and cynicism. All hail the Land of Nope!

One of my best friends is going through break up season. She’s acknowledged that a relationship isn’t worth it if the other person doesn’t make an effort to make her feel safe, or special. She’s figured out that although it’s nice to have someone to cover her eyes during a horror film, it feels even better to have the strength and sense of self – preservation to walk away from her own. I love her for it, I think she’s so brave. I acknowledge how terrifying being alone can be- you don’t want to go back to pub crawls and batting off club goblins. Being single sounds like the worst thing right now, but let me tell you kids something from your friendly neighbourhood future cat lady: being single lets you be selfish, and sometimes you need to be selfish to figure out who you are and what you want.

October marks a year since the last break up I was an active participant in. After being single for almost a year you figure out some things:

1. Sweatpants are my best friends. My other best friend regularly jokes about how when I go out I make an effort, yet when I come to campus then everyone is forced to deal with the wild beast that is my naked face and unbrushed hair. I don’t care, because sweatpants are my best friends and you can’t deny the kind of love they wrap you in at 3 o clock on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and watching Adventure Time. Sweatpants are love, sweatpants are life.

2. You don’t need a significant other to make you feel important. You don’t need someone tracing the outline of your lips every night to feel heard. There are people in your life who will still be able to tell how your feeling from a single flinch. Chris has my hangover routine memorised, he has no need for it, but it’s nice to know that when I order chicken chow mein and spring rolls from Kung fu kitchen and then lie in bed watching Archer for the rest of the day, that there’s someone on the other end of the phone just as concerned about my liver as I am.

3. Freedom is the gift that keeps on giving. Once your tear ducts dry up, once your chest feels a little lighter and you’ve reached the Land Nope and No Fucks, you will start to smell the sweet scent of liberation, my friend. Turn off your phone, go exploring for a few hours, spontaneously kiss a stranger – or don’t, because germs are a thing; whatever you do it can remain unjustified. You never have to explain a single thing to anyone ever- you are a sentient human being who deserves to be wild.

4. You learn to love yourself; and kid, you gotta learn. Every stretch – mark, every split end, every out of place freckle. You can’t lay the burden of self – appreciation on anyone else but you, and once you learn to stand by yourself, once you establish that you are strong enough to be able to walk away from any relationship at any time, you will understand why none of your previous love affairs worked.

Breakup season sucks, for everyone, even experienced wise sages like myself. But the journey to occasional loneliness is worth it, my god it’s worth it.

Bring on the tequila and the nachos. I feel a one – man movie marathon coming on.

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I Contain Multitudes.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of who I am, or at least, of whom I want to be. Sometimes I need to remind myself to actually be myself.

It’s weird. I’ve always felt so solid in my identity, a rock in the ebb and flow of euphoria and misery, order and chaos- the hysteria that is human existence. I have always been Harriet. I like ironic t-shirts and unintended puns, I like people and the world and the way the sky smells in the summer time. I fall asleep in the foetal position every night and I wake up with my legs tangled together in a mess of duvet and bliss every morning. I like going out and dancing on tables and telling too many people that I love them too often. I used to sing in class.

On my own, my identity has never been a problem.

But then I meet someone and I forget to ask myself if I like them, instead of “do they like me?”

I’ll find out their values and their morals and how they like their eggs in the morning, I’ll add their favourite songs to my iTunes playlist and listen to them more than I should, regardless of whether they’re good or not. I’ll read books they might be impressed with, or go on diet regimes they might appreciate, or make sure I stop doing anything that might particularly annoy them.

I spend days, weeks, months in a state of attempted perfection; don’t eat too fast, pretend to be cynical, read Edgar Allen Poe, don’t drink too much, don’t swear too much, don’t breathe too much.

I’ll meet someone and I’ll forget to smell the sky and to write and to take my human encounters with a shot of enthusiasm instead of scathing criticism, because they hate people and therefore I must too, right?

And every night I’ll come home and I’ll feel empty and cheated and confused- because I can’t separate myself from the person I am and the person I think they want me to be.

There are a handful of people in my life who I never change for. They’ve seen me shove a hamburger in my mouth without breathing, they’ve taught me how to play pool and how to be selfless and how to love unconditionally. And every night when I come home from emptiness and failed perfection they’ll squeeze themselves into the same chair as me, wrap me up and say

“Stop making yourself so small- you are so wonderful and smart and beautiful, and if you ever try to be somebody you can’t be I will remind you of the girl who wishes on clocks and kisses everybody on the forehead. You were raised by wolves- you will spit out anybody who destroys the people you love, yet you won’t get rid of the voice inside you saying you’ll never be good enough.”

So I’ll start breathing again, I’ll sit on library floors and read anthologies, I’ll take my coffee with extra cream and two sugars, I’ll start to love people again because that’s the person I want to be. I’ll remind myself that I’d rather be alone than a diminutive of myself.

Because like Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes”. I was born into a world of sunlight and summer skies, I refuse to be anything less than what I am.

I am not a shadow of someone else’s ideals, I am my own.

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