Tag Archives: learning

A month ago

A month ago I didn’t know you. That was ok.

And a month from now things might have changed and that will be ok.

But for the moment, you’re taking up my time. You’re diverting me, and keeping me awake and planting in my mind things I didn’t know I loved and I love that.

I don’t worry about how long it will last; it’s all new and one day it will be a memory.

I’ve already set that in stone.

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Austin’s Late Night bus riders: Welcome to Texas

A voice came from down the isle. ‘Don’t worry bout her lady, she trippin. She been trippin long time.’ I looked back up at the driver. Her eyes were slow and dim. Her skin was blotchy, lined and her pores stood out of her nose like pinpoints. She was making a kind of humming noise and her eyes couldn’t help darting across the highway, looking me up and down, then darting back.

I had been waiting at the bus stop outside Austin airport for about 20 mins. It was hot, dark and sticky. The insects were screaming in the long grasses either side of the highway and by then, I had been travelling for an entire 24 hours. And now the driver – this small, scatty latino woman with few teeth was in another world. It became immediately evident that a taxi to the motel would have been a far better option.

‘I’m just going past the prison. And I take a right after Walgreens and onto the Interstate. I donno after that. I follow the signs. It’s a long route. So you’re from London England? I love your accent. I been to New York 20 years back but my husband died and I haven’t left Texas since. I been driven this bus for 14 years now. I got some folks in Dallas…. ‘

My back hurt from carrying the luggage and no further progress was being made as to the route of the bus.

The man down the isle called out again. ‘Come on down, leave her.’ I looked in his direction. The dimly- lit bus was empty apart from 3 people sitting in a huddle. An overweight woman carrying a trolley of crumpled plastic bags, a broad old man in cleaning overalls and a skinny woman with a vacant expression wearing what seemed to be pyjamas.  The man held his hand out straight to shake. ‘I’m Walter and I know every bus route in the city.’ He spoke as if it were a title. An accolade to proudly show off. ‘I’ll help you miss, where you tryna go?’

I felt obliged to step on board. I put down my bags and showed him the address. Walter rode the bus each day, twice a day he said, from his home in Clear Creek to Travis County Correctional Facility in the south.  He worked as a janitor there. I didn’t realize at the time, but by car the route takes 20 minutes along two straight highways. On the bus, it’s upwards of an hour, with 30 minutes between each bus.

The bus started again and no one seemed to mind that I hadn’t paid. Following Walter’s directions were like remembering AA route planner directions from London to Edinburgh using only B roads. We went left then right then past this house and past that house and round a few roundabouts and up another highway then looped back and went the other direction on the second time and took the turning to go past this place but Walter was getting off to check on his nephew so Betty (the large woman with the trolley) would take over from here. Betty nodded as if it were a routine shift-change.

And the bus trundled on past grasses and weeds, cruising through the clear highway at the pace of little more than a jog. Apart from Walter, no one got on and no one got off. There was no urgency. The night was empty.

Betty was disabled, she told me. She had a tube that ran from her nose to a bag of fluid she kept under the crumpled bags in her trolley. I didn’t ask what it was for, but it made it difficult to understand what she was saying. Her boyfriend was disabled too, apparently. He lived near Timber Creek and they spent most days together. But he was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get out of the house much so she came on the bus to visit him in the morning and went back each night. They met at the hospital a year ago and ‘the rest is history.’ She burst into raucous laughter after she said this, her eyes glistening and stomach plunging up and down as she slapped her thighs triumphantly. I smiled.

We kept going. More grasses, weeds, street lights and empty diners. I became increasingly worried I had no idea where we were going and had been traveling for almost an hour. Betty was still chatting and the other skinny lady silently listening. They seemed to have forgotten that I would ever need to get off. My internet wasn’t working so I asked if they had a phone I could use. Betty’s was a brick. Too old for 3G and the other lady, as Betty told me, didn’t own one. The lady shook her head to confirm. Perhaps I shouldn’t have complained about my lack of connection.

Betty talked and talked. About her boyfriend, her family, her health insurance coverage and her shopping. And then about the skinny woman sitting beside her who again nodded and shook her head at the appropriate moments. She talked about Texas, and how things had changed. She talked about the Mexicans and the whites and for the first time I heard the word ‘negro’ used as a description of the self. And it was used with pride – her, Walter and the skinny woman were just as much ‘negros’ as they were bus riders, Texans and Americans. It was another title referred to with a sense of communality and understanding. I became aware that I was none of those things, and perhaps in other circumstances that would have mattered, but to them it didn’t.

The bus driver shouted something about the Interstate and opened the doors, motioning for me to leave. I had few other options. None of us seemed to know where we were going or when the bus route ended so I stepped out onto the highway with my bags. Betty shuffled over to kiss me as I left and the skinny lady looked up in recognition.

The heat struck me again. I stood amongst my bags looking out over the flat, never-ending land. So this was it. Fast food chains and gas stations lined the highway. Cars occasionally flew past, but the air was still expect for the crickets rustling the grasses. I felt a thousand miles from anywhere or anything I knew. No recognizable faces or sounds or street names. No one I could phone. No google maps I could check up on. My eyes burnt from lack of sleep. I fell down on the weeds. I couldn’t already be home sick. I had barely started.

In the distance I caught the outline of a stark red and yellow logo. I squinted through watering eyes. The Super 8 motel – so maybe the driver did know where she was going. I trudged on.

In a way, it was the worst introduction to a city. A bus driver that looked like she belonged in rehab, a bus that drifted endlessly through the night and still a fifteen minute struggle alongside the highway to the motel, leaving me covered in dust and far past exhaustion. But in reality, after all of this I couldn’t have hoped for more. People in Texas don’t use public transport, and I can understand why. But the characters of the 350 bus – individuals distinct from the mainstream though they were, for me represented so much of what I came to realize Texan culture stands for. Sure, there are guns. There are rednecks and cowboy hats. But there’s also a fierce communalism. An isolated distrust of outsiders and authority that spawns localized patriotism and self-reliance.  There’s racial tension. Economic inequality and exclusivity. And there’s a genuine kindness, openness and concern for those they encounter. Arriving at the slimy, dim motel room after the epic journey – as sticky, dirty and tired as I was, I couldn’t help but already love the place.

I’m writing to say I’m sorry

I came across this poem on instagram by Marisa Crane. I was ashamed by how much it struck me, but it’s beautiful and I wanted to share.

I’m writing to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for putting you in parentheses,

for treating you like an afterthought,

postscript at the end of a letter

but this, this is your letter,

too late, too pathetic, 

not the one that should have been about you.

you deserved a novel, not the corner of a page turned down

in case I ever wanted to pick up

where I had left off,

I should have taken the time

to read your footnotes,

to understand the context of your smile,

of your tears, of the nightmares

that plagued you.

I hope that wherever you are,

you are doing well.

I’m sure that you are, having been lifted of the heavy,

apathetic love

that once ailed me.

I’m so truly sorry to those this is about for me. I hope one day to tell you in person. Until then, I hope you will somehow know it and understand.

apologize

Don’t hate me, but I’m struggling to be a feminist.

I’m having an internal dialogue as to what I think about feminism. It’s been going on for a while (roughly a decade) and I’m concerned I’m not making much progress. I’ve had the opportunity of an education, I can vote, I can work, I can travel where I want. I don’t feel like there’s anything I want to do but can’t solely because I a woman. Granted, occasional unwanted attention from the opposite sex is still a problem today. I think we all know that. But I don’t feel like that diminishes me as a person. To me, that’s not so much the woes of being female – more the woes of being a man who’ll never know what he’s missing.

But despite all this, I still feel some moral obligation to adopt the title:

I am a(n aspiring) feminist.

I still get a bit anxious when the topic comes up. When friends share ultra-empowering, women-rule-the-world statuses and links on facebook, or complain about their daily maltreatment by men. Or when we praise Cara Delevigne for telling us to ‘free the nipple’ on instagram and get excited about the girls of Tehran for wearing jeans and cutting their hair short. Of course, this isn’t any form of western cultural appropriation or neo-colonialism (although if it were Mauri tribespeople instead of Arabs, perhaps we wouldn’t be celebrating their stylistic transitions with such triumphalism) – no, this is feminism, so stand up girls; let’s all clap our hands and dance to Katy Perry because WE LOVE FEMINISM ❤

Well, Michelle Obama’s great. And Queen B. The Bell Jar got me through when I needed it. Can I join the club? 

No seriously, I have tried to be a feminist. I started off with If Women Counted by Marilyn Waring – written in the 80s but now considered one of the founding texts of feminist economics. As I understand, her argument suggests that in associating the value of our assets (whether human or physical) with the monetary value of the output they produce, the capitalist set-up is designed to reduce the role of women through undervaluing the work they traditionally do. The male position is therefore secured on a higher rung of the social ladder and women are reduced to their dependants. The argument seems pretty logical – because women more commonly do work with no monetary value attached (caring for children; managing the household for their families; providing basic, but unpaid healthcare), women represent ‘undervalued human capital’ in our capitalist system. Men, who aren’t expected to fill these roles and so aren’t ‘undervalued’ enjoy greater economic freedom, independence, and a higher status in society.

I get, it- feminism is about women having equality with men, and there’s no lack of cases across the world where that still hasn’t been achieved. Certainly in many of the poorest societies women have little option other than to fill these unpaid, undervalued roles. The pure fact that they are female, and nothing else, condemns them to a lifetime of dependency with little ownership and few choices.

But what about the women who are independent? Who can, if they choose, step outside the immediate homestead and work? In most of the Western world isn’t it the financial and therefore social independence that we enjoy that forms the pre-requisite to the luxury of calling ourselves feminists? After all, I doubt many of the women Marilyn Waring was referring to in her economic model would actually labelled themselves with the term. Ironically, it seems to be those women who do enjoy more or less equality with their male counterparts that are able to join the club. `Those who don’t seem to be left outside.

Hence the confusion again set in. Maybe I needed to look at the other end of the social/ economic spectrum. If I struggled to get my head around the relationship between feminism and women without relative power, maybe a better place to start would be looking to those with relative power. And I needed to hear clear arguments. I needed someone to talk to me; to tell me personally without me having to think. So I went to the autobiography section of the Oxford Street Waterstone’s and picked out Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. Surely the queen herself, the New York high flyer and all round woman-of-the-world couldn’t let me down.

It was a good read. It certainly filled the criteria of me not having to think, and I found it strangely reassuring to match up her eccentricities to my own – I definitely felt a bit less weird for four or five days and that’s always a good thing. But I couldn’t escape the sense that I was looking onto a very tightly-knit circle of grown women enjoying a kindergarten story time session.

Yes, I recorded what I ate for a month. And guess what…. I eat SO MUCH FOOD. But it’s ok that I’m overweight because on the inside I’m beautiful.’ *General applause and pats on backs all round*

Ok, the essence of the book I agreed with. Women don’t need to be worried. We don’t need to feel like we have anything to live up to, or be pressurised with any constraints. We should be confident, and happy, and feel good about ourselves.

But aren’t these pretty universal messages? I’m sure our childhood friend Arthur the aardvark and the tunes of S club 7 were saying the same things…. Why when we get to adulthood are they being withheld within the binds of daring pink and black ‘feminist’ print?

I understand that there are issues which face women to a greater extent than men. And these are real issues. Emma Graham-Harrison wrote a recent article in The Guardian highlighting how much more difficult survival is for women residing in the migrant camps in Calais purely because they’re women. We as readers can empathise with the fear of unwanted attention when we go out for the evening (mobile phone and house keys in toe). But with no streetlights, no police support, no tampons or soap, and in many cases a child to look out for (three mothers have so far given birth in ‘The Jungle’ camp – quite a feat) daily life takes on a whole new level of challenging.

But I find it difficult not to see the term ‘feminism’ as restricting these issues to the female sphere. Not in their reception – there are plenty of prominent male feminists around – but in their origin. It suggests that these are problems only women have, and society needs to deal with them.

From all that we’ve learnt in the history of the world, surely one of the most important, resounding lessons is not to look at humanity in blocks. Not to divide people up as their nationality, or their religion, their race, political bias – or gender. Not to isolate each block or pose one against another. People are intricate. They’re individual and interconnected in more ways than we realise, and in my opinion, a huge achievement of our generation has been our ability to disassociate ourselves with gender norms. It’s ok for our best friends to be of the other sex. It’s ok to spend time with whoever we want to spend time with – go to dinner with them, go on holiday with them, co-habit with them. As we’ve recently seen with the Women’s football World Cup, women’s sport is for once being regarded just as seriously as men’s. This isn’t because women are becoming more like men – it’s because the individuals on that sports team are now able to do what those individuals want to do. In many cases, our gender is coming to no longer define the boundaries of our societal or social roles and interactions. Yes, there’s a feminine stereotype and a masculine stereotype, but at last we seemed to have realised – 99% of us lie somewhere in-between, as non-gendered people.

I’m saying this because I think that’s the crux of my issue with feminism. That surely ‘feminist’ issues are just ‘people’s’ issues. In response to feminist economics – anyone can be economically undervalued, male as well as female, child as well as adult; in response to Lena Dunham – anyone can feel insecure; in response to the real challenges facing women throughout the world – the challenges you’re facing don’t just apply to you. They don’t exist in their own gendered sphere – they’re part of a wider societal, cultural, economic and political sphere that touches on and involves us all. Their relevance shouldn’t be attached to the block of humans we call ‘women’. The danger; the injustice; the lack of independence or choice; the harassment and exploitation – they all very much exist and they’re all very much causes worth fighting against. But these aren’t issues of women’s rights, they’re issues of human rights.

The Pledge

I worry about being a persistent admirer. At least, being solely a persistent admirer. It’s quite a scary thought. One of those who makes deliberate visits to the magazine shelves in the Victoria Station WHSmith to gape at Beyoncé’s ability to be vegan. Or the toned physique of the latest celebrity unveiled in their holiday snaps from a secluded Caribbean Island; sea behind them twinkling in the sunlight and hair coiffured to perfection. Maybe even a yacht or collection of palm trees in the background. Of course, this admiration comes with no intention of adopting the required diet or exercise plans. Nor going on holiday (or buying the magazine). These are the lives of the rich and famous, and we’re waiting for the train.

And its easy to brush off those who spend hours on youtube researching tracks and ‘unknown’ mixes. They play favoured consistently for 4-5 days until unable to bear it again- long after those around them have felt the same, before making the swift U-turn from 90s deep house to Chopin as the playlist of choice.

I am also that person who delves into the posts of arty instagramers (currently on @pauloctavious @thiswildidea ) and for an afternoon inspiration is found in every street lamp, shop window or park landscape. I am the unstoppable amateur artiste. The lighting, graininess and timing…. The pure depth and meaning of the shots convey so much…. to me. I then realise that I, my second hand acer (they do make phones) and admittedly poor photo editor fail to give the desired ambience. Perhaps I should stick to more generic shots.

I suppose I’ll probably always be all of the above, and that’s ok – but I’m not just all of the above. I’m also someone who wants to care. I don’t want to simply admire others caring. I don’t want to only receive. A few months ago I lost someone that I feel like I never really knew. Although I didn’t expect it to have a big effect on me, it really did. Before shock or sadness, pain or disbelief it was guilt that really struck me. Not because the death was especially my fault or I could have changed the situation, but because there was a person – a resource of thoughts, experiences, emotions and insights that I had neglected and a mind that could no longer be picked, let alone understood.

I became increasingly aware of the power of individuals, both in a personal and wider sense. The power of family bonds that I had previously not realised, and the power of greater, ‘global’ individuals that have such an impression on the lives of others- many of whom they may never come into contact with. How might the world be different if it were bereft of their particular passions and observations? What if Malcom X or Rosa Parks had played a more passive role in the fight for civil rights, sitting by and watching the progress take motion from afar? Or if Aung San Suu Kyi just wasn’t so bothered about the political potential of democracy?

Or, more to the point, the largely anonymous comedians and journalists operating from the bars and street corners of Harare who risk so much to bring to light the malpractice of the Mugabe government. If not change, at least their work brings about a collective political awareness amongst their neighbours, colleagues and friends. And those documenting the daily struggles of the people of Soweto, Johannesburg. The violence, unemployment and invisibility they endure as their elected government look on – but also the rich communal atmosphere and relatively developed informal economies that prosper from its corrugated steel huts. In a sense, the cultural wealth of its people.

These are people who really see the world. They don’t just admire it, but synthesise it, debate it within themselves and act on it. To me, this is the true power of humanity – the ability to conceptualise the world and pass on that conception.

So this is my attempt to make up for the guilt. This is a pledge to myself to both receive and ‘admire’ the world (even if it is through Heat magazine) but also to analyse and act on it. Who knows how long we’ll be here, and who knows what is contained in the minds of those around us.

A letter to the first person to tell me they loved me

So you said good luck and goodbye. You said maybe we should have seen other before I went. I said maybe. But we didnt, and I suppose if it mattered then we would have.

And then I didn’t know what else to say, so I said thank you and bye. And we simultaneously hung up.

I think we think we’ve spoken twice in the past year. The first time, at a mutual friend’s birthday party you hardly knew anyone. You stuck to me like glue, telling me about your great life at your fancy university with fancy friends and big ambitions. Your eyes were on the future and we weren’t going to discuss the past. I said I was happy for you and you said I should come visit, for a weekend perhaps. If I could take the time off work. Sure.

As it happened, a few months later I was passing nearby. I called and you came out to meet me; the first time I had been alone with you since the last time. And finally, I felt pretty hollow towards you. The knot of emotion that had kept me tied up for last five years had been released. Or at least relaxed. There was no excitement or nervousness, nor sense of anger or betrayal. I was blank and we had both at least partially found someone new to keep us going to the gym and occupied at weekends. I just wanted to understand what had happened and how I had got so caught up. But in your predictable dismissive style you relented once again about how ‘busy’ life was and trailed me through the supermarket listening to your deliberations over the superior washing powder and what to buy for dinner. When I realised you were buying for one, I got the hint and left you in peace.

So its fine if we never really connect again. I accept that recognition of what happened – that chunk of our lives that proved so formative for us both has been conveniently swept away (just as we conveniently swept away so much else) and I won’t ask anything more from you. Each time you pop up on snapchat looking tanned in the south of France or in dinner jackets at private parties I realise how far our lives have diverged and the full extent of our dissimilarities. I still remember your obsession with sunbathing and fear of appearing pasty in photos. And can smell your tower of hair gel and doses of Lynx. I suppose they now resemble a memory, not an emotion. (And thank God for that.) But even if I say nothing else to you again, I want you to know the effect you had on me and the distorted perception of ‘love’ that we somehow came to adopt.

We met fresh out of primary school. You were short and I was quiet. I don’t remember much more than that. As the years slipped by we shared classes and friends and interests, and probably stepped up the flirtation as we experimented in our own worlds of the early teens with little concept of the consequences. I had been suspicious of ‘romantic’ relationships from the start – my mum and sister had both been let down in some way through those they had loved and I had developed my own armour of never trusting a boy too deeply. Have fun, enjoy their company, but be wary of emotional attachment. In my eyes, it could only ever be dangerous.

I suppose you gave off the same attitude – or it seemed to suit you at least. The older you got the more ‘macho’ you became, with numerous ‘girlfriends’, jokes and well timed one-liners. You were clever and charming and flippant, and we were trying to understand ourselves. Looking back on it now, I had an unusually liberal upbringing and was free to experiment, discover and navigate for myself – and with us, nothing was a big deal. So when I found myself at home with you one night and, having just turned fifteen candidly stepped into my first sexual ‘encounter’ I thought little of the blood that soaked the sheets or the unusual pain I was feeling. You seemed to be fine, and the next morning we put on the washing machine and watched The Inbetweeners.

We drifted through another year of friendship. You would phone me in the holidays and I would walk around London streets in the dark. You would open my eyes to science, TV programmes and good music. Through you, I would escape for a bit into what seemed like a bigger, greater world and I really did value it. I’m sorry I didn’t show you at the time how much I appreciated you.

And I can understand how you felt betrayed. Just as I mock your ‘busy’ life now, as we got into sixth form I took on new courses, responsibilities and interests, and so did you. The circle of friends that had meshed us seemed to dissipate and I saw you less and less. Due to my timetable I ended up spending entire days with one of your best friends. But when I invited him and not you to the dinner you didn’t need to feel jealous – we had a different relationship and he had in no way ‘replaced’ you. (Whatever that position that you held was…) Anyway, you had other girls to chase buy that time, and were more than occupied doing so.

But when I next saw you at a house party a few months later and we crept out and got lost once again along winding London roads, reminiscing private jokes and past events and you made me laugh like no one else I couldn’t help but feel the sense of closeness and energy I had missed. Work and deadlines and home felt so far away. We once again seemed important.

And perhaps I should have seen what was coming. Perhaps we needed some confirmation of where we were. I realised I had grown a bit distant in the last few months, but we were still friends, I assumed? We were getting on with life. After all, it was you who had reminded me- for whatever had come before, we were just learning, right?

But from laughing and joking and a clumsy kiss under the streetlights it seemed within a second I was standing against the backdoor of a garage with my clothes discarded among the grass and gravel and I couldn’t move. We weren’t fifteen anymore. This wasn’t testing the water, or taking a punch in the dark. By that time you understand good experiences and bad experiences and roughly know what to expect from sex. I had thought you were a bit drunk. Well you obviously weren’t. In that moment I forgot where I was and who this person was I was with. I forgot the conversations we had had over the years and secrets we had shared. The experiences we had gone through and all those words meant nothing. I wasn’t this kind of girl. This wasn’t meant to happen to me, and I needed to get out.

I had lost my tights but I found my dress at least. And one shoe. You passed me the other without speaking. I charged out from the alley of garage doors back onto the street with no idea of where to go. Out onto the main road, pacing past kebab shops and 24 hour convenience stores- their vendors clearly perturbed by my shaggy appearance. I felt humiliated and embarrassed and for once, wanted to go home.  I heard you running after me, shouting. You grabbed hold of my arm and I pushed you away. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I wanted to feel fierce and strong, although I probably looked much the opposite. You stood back, and said you knew the way. We walked in silence up to the house. I slipped past the throngs of drunken friends and into the shower and you slid upstairs and went to sleep. I had left by the time you woke up.

We went through another few months of not speaking. Not deliberately, I suppose. We just didn’t come into contact and I didn’t miss you. We were growing up once again, each discovering new people and I assumed that chapter of our lives and the ‘mistakes’ contained in it had closed. So when we realised that in the final year our school duties would bring about a forced closeness, it came as a shock. You apologised for scaring me off and I apologised for over-reacting and not much else was said. I’m still not sure if either of those two things really depict the situation but that was the easiest thing to say at the time and it was clear we needed to get over any past issues. This was a ‘professional’ relationship we were pretending to forge, although I think it was just as clear to you as to me that wouldn’t be the case.

As my work loads piled up, it was you who could relax me in the way I had relied on in the past. Perhaps it was the familiarity when so much of life had changed. Now, everything seemed exciting. Compared to the evening phone calls cut off by bad signal or hiding out in the churchyard at the bottom of my road suddenly we were dining on food we couldn’t pronounce and causing havoc on British airways. We would get crazily drunk from dessert wine (my tolerance level always being around a fifth of yours), then prowl about the City in the early hours forging ten-minute friendships with the homeless and road maintenance workers. You would blast out Duke Dumont on the train and we would take over the carriage (being the only ones on it), acting like we were thirteen again and everything meant nothing. And it was all our secret. The next day we’d both go back to lessons and duties and sports matches and homework and music practise and pretend we could take on the mantel of being quasi- adults. It scared me how quickly I always seemed to get used to you. And now it was you who was telling me that it was ok – don’t worry, nothing was serious. It was all on the surface, just having fun and avoiding the skirmishes and deep feelings that we presumed had been the problem in the past.

This was around the same time that another girl fell madly for you and you tagged her along until she could no longer accept that you would never be her boyfriend. You complained of her getting ‘too attached’. I hope you now realise that that’s what normal people do – they get attached, and it was us who deluded ourselves to the assumption that attachment was a bad thing. At least she recognised the need to know where she stood. And I was beginning to find someone who I unusually trusted and I suppose by accident he made me realise the gravity of the situation I had got myself in. Bit by bit the fallacy of the past years was inadvertently being knocked away and the remnants came crashing down. And regardless of that, somehow he was important. I found myself unable to backtrack on him in the way I had with everyone else up to then. Maybe I missed a chance, but we were friends and I liked that. More to the point because of you the idea of committing to anything felt so far away. He had had a succession of what seemed like serious girlfriends whom I doubted I could ever live up to. He was intense and serious and made me wary of all my weaknesses, but at the same time someone I specifically didn’t want to just dip into and forget about. Nothing about him was on the surface – completely your opposite. Even so, I was scared of slipping into the same again. My protective shields were up and it took me too long to realise that I probably wouldn’t have needed them. Before I knew it he had found someone else, and you and I had neatly lapsed back into our comfortable, ridiculous limbo.

Through her, you could have had the option to grow up. You can complain and bitch but she could have helped you. At the time, she genuinely loved and wanted to understand you. And for me, although it came as a shock suddenly I was finally willing to at least try to grow up. By then, we both needed it so badly. This wasn’t fun and carefree anymore; it was unhealthy and frustrating. I suppose I can really only be annoyed at myself for allowing you to get in the way again. Maybe it was my need for reassurance, or to stay in my quasi-comfort zone? Well, I was sick of it by then; I still don’t really understand.

This will be the third year since we left that tunnel. I’ve learnt that that the drama and insecurity that came with it isn’t normal. I don’t know if you’re still deluding yourself in your void between friendship and relationship. Or which of the girls on your facebook page have bowed down to your experience and  and been left assuming they were special. Maybe they’re older and wiser than I was. But for them- they shouldn’t be led to think that’s what friendship with you amounts to.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not blaming you, or me, or the situation we were in – I think we both realise it was all of those combined. And really, after all this I don’t resent the highs and lows. There were just as many good memories and bad and those are to be battled through and learnt from. I just resent how drawn out it all was. The time I wasted and the imprint you left on me. It seems like the more I took in the idea that everything meant nothing, the more this ‘nothing’ seemed to get in the way of everything. That fantasy may have been ok when things started out, but there were wider consequences by the end.

And after so long in the tunnel, without the structures that had surrounded us I was shocked by how unimportant you suddenly became. Yes, I was in the dark a bit. And it certainly took me a while to relax into my baby steps – but I enjoyed doing so, and I’ve once again learnt a lot in the years since. Things don’t have to be so complicated and covert. It’s ok to trust and believe in and even rely on people, and to expect the same in return. Of course, there a mistakes still to be made but we don’t need to worry about making them. I hope for you, you’ve been able to realise the same thing. Speaking to you on that last night I think we both felt equally grateful that that was it.