We’re in a taxi, about to head into an underpass when the countdown begins. We quickly shove a few dollars at the driver, insisting he stop us by the nearby pier instead. A sprinkling of fireworks goes off in the distance, casting its coloured reflections in the black water. In front of us the city lights up like Christmas trees, each skyscraper brighter than the next. It’s chilly and we lean against the railing of the broad walk, taking it all in, reveling in the newness of the year in a foreign city.
I’ve never cared much about new years, but I cared about this one. Maybe it’s because I’m finally now able to assemble the wreckage of the last. My cynicism replaced with an earnest desire to wipe the slate clean. A fresh start.
"You can be so fickle sometimes", someone once told me in passing. It was offensive only because it was true. I have sympathy for the girl I was a year ago, who didn’t know what she wanted until it was gone.
Here is what I do know now:
This time I go to sleep happy.
I’m in love and for once it doesn’t feel like a lifeboat
• 6 January 2014
an ode to pop punk and teenagehood
I’ve been following a bunch a lot of music blogs lately, in particular this one, mostly because I find peoples personal relationships and attachments to certain songs quite fascinating.
I won’t any attempt at music critique-ing because I’m pretty sure it’d involve very little musical technicalities and more sentiment than necessary. I probably would not be able to talk about the music I love in any objective way because my love is embarrassingly simplistic; how a song clings to your bones long after it’s over, the way you connect in some separate certain albums to a certain chapters in my life –almost like a time capsule, inextricably linked to my own growth as a person. Inexplicable and profound way. There isn’t much explanation.
Growing up the shy and awkward, it was pop punk that gave me something to identify to, even during the darkest and loneliest of months. It felt like a complete validation to connect and realize that your feelings are nothing special. The collectiveness of the human experience is comforting because of its unanimity. Finding someone whose favourite bands are similar to yours is akin to finding a kindred spirit. The giddiness of going to your first gig, exploring the world with no supervision, reveling in the small moments, seeing a band you like live, the feeling of belonging, even in an abstract way to something much greater than yourself.
Any song by Finch or Sugarcult or Taking Back Sunday hits me with a wave of nostalgia so potent, I feel like I’m fifteen again. Nothing is as intense as your feelings when you’ve got tunnel vision heightened by teenage angst and existential terror and unrequited love. Looking back, those trivial matters were monumental. It seems mildly embarrassing now, that there was a time I loved these songs so whole-heartedly.
The raw honesty of pop punk is abrasive but there is no apology. It is cathartic in the barest and broadest sense, feelings are meant to be felt unabashedly. There is no point hiding, we all wear our hearts on our sleeves as we navigate the restless energy and aimless of teenage hood. When you feel small and angry and overlooked when all you want is to be understood.
Even though we’ve all evolved to cooler electro-beats, polished synths and disaffected lyrics, it is still those teenage memories that cling to me the tightest. There are some moments six months ago that feel less real, less tangible than the first time I heard Hands Down yearning earnestly for someone to sing it to, for something I didn’t truly understand.
Finally seeing Chris Cabarra perform many years later seemed almost surreal. I remember the crowd, a sea of apathetic 20-somethings who willingly shed their defenses, not embarrassed to scream those lyrics one more time.
“You are the best ones, of the best ones.”
• 3 December 2013
I can only remember you in the alcohol we drank, the medium we used those few months we dated, stumbling through a culmination of poor judgment and bad decisions.
That bottle of Captain Morgan rum we finished together one night, I was starved for the extra attention and you wanted something fun to occupy your time. It gave you the courage to kiss me while waiting for a taxi. You said it was to get me to stop talking. What a poor excuse.
The Pinot Giorgio we shared with your brother and his boyfriend the first time I came over for dinner. I was nervous and gripped the stem my wine glass a little too tightly, eager to make a good impression. I think you sensed it; held my hand on the couch, smoothened out my anxieties with your fingers on my palm. I wanted so desperately to play the part, no matter how disingenuous it felt. I was inebriated with an overarching neediness for approval, the way your parents loved me, accepted me abstractly into your family.
The blue spin I had at that gay bar we used to frequent. It looked seemingly harmless, its potency only realized a few hours later as I passed out cold on a pavement. You had carried me into bed, undressed me and tucked me in as tenderly as you could.
The pint of ice-cold beer I had with a friend one afternoon after I found out you cheated. I was angry and later when he offered to take me to dinner I didn’t refuse.
The beers left untouched on our holiday. We had bought them to celebrate my birthday. Instead I fall asleep my back towards you. I think you ended up drinking them alone.
• 3 November 2013
"Personally, I’m a mess of conflicting impulses—I’m independent and greedy and I also want to belong and share and be a part of the whole. I doubt that I’m the only one who feels this way. It’s the core of monster making, actually. Wanna make a monster? Take the parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable—your weaknesses, bad thoughts, vanities, and hungers—and pretend they’re across the room. It’s too ugly to be human. It’s too ugly to be you. Children are afraid of the dark because they have nothing real to work with. Adults are afraid of themselves.
Oh we’re a mess, poor humans, poor flesh—hybrids of angels and animals, dolls with diamonds stuffed inside them We’ve been to the moon and we’re still fighting over Jerusalem. Let me tell you what I do know: I am more than one thing, and not all of those things are good. The truth is complicated. It’s two-toned, multi-vocal, bittersweet. I used to think that if I dug deep enough to discover something sad and ugly, I’d know it was something true. Now I’m trying to dig deeper.”
Richard Siken, Black Telephone
if you love poems, you absolutely need to read Crush. One of my all time favourite books.
• 29 October 2013
I miss the little things. Like walking back home alone at 3 in the morning after a night of dancing, the newness of the city still intoxicating. There is a bar across the streets and the noises that waft into my open window gives me comfort, keeps me company while I read textbooks huddled under the covers. I miss splitting a pack of cigarettes with a Brazilian boy on those chilly morning walks to class, or when the tube was closed and we all slept in each others beds, drinking rosé at a mixer where we played a game of guessing each other’s nationalities. You could always tell the Europeans and the Americans apart from their shoes.
I remember with fondness those five hour breaks in between classes which I’d spend walking aimlessly around the city, losing myself completely down those brick pavements and narrow winding streets. Back home I used to struggle with being out alone, I’d fiddle with my fingers or stare dumbly at my phone, a feeling of discomfort bubbling beneath the surface because I didn’t know how to behave in my own skin. I didn’t know how to just be. It was only in London that I finally begun to take pleasure in my own solitude. It was strange and exciting how I wasn’t just discovering the city. In doing so, I had begun to discover myself.
I felt the tendrils of fear that have subconsciously wrought my choices slowly loosening its grip around me, the weight of judgement gradually lifting. It was the furthest I’d ever been from everyone I’d ever known. There were no roles to fulfill, no one to be accountable to beside myself. No scripts to follow and no idealized visions to mould yourself into. I open an email from my professor while waiting for a train to Rome after the semester is over and he congratulates me for topping the class. I am caught by surprise at my tiny accomplishment, it made me feel invincible.
• 15 October 2013