I’m going away for a couple of weeks but it’s no holiday. I’m going away to seek asylum from the war in my head. To find stillness, to yield the loneliness, bend the anxiety, manipulate the madness.

I’m escaping to arctic winds to remind myself that I am alive. I’m going away to seek the visible breath as proof that I am warm on the inside.

I’m going away for a couple of weeks but it’s no holiday. I have this incurable illness of restlessness, a pre existing condition of being alive. I’m running from the punishment of perpetual consciousness to entertain ideas of unrealistic virtues of an eternal hedonism.

I’m escaping to find beauty in the ugliness, find a fraction of joy in the bitterness, peace in the chaos, existence in the loneliness. To take my fractured sense of self, put that black dress on and contemplate death under the pale moonlight.

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In the place where we live there are frames of times past, of memories cherished, slicks of spit and glue, of strong craft beads, of craft paper, fabric. There’s no sea. Landlocked, a lake swarmed with thick flies, our tongues dry with dil and ketchup, the open bathroom window which we always forget to close. Steal grapes from dry vines, barefoot and drunk, my dress transparent and slick and sour and skin in our teeth. The sky big, path narrow, laugh, lick. I drive into sheaths of sequin, paper dresses, spiked wood.

In this town where we live or won’t live, there are children missed. I think of my infertility. Cold heart, head strong. That’ll never be me. It makes me feel confused but lighter. You drive. You choreograph bends of the road delicately, smoothly. A road you’ve mastered. An art. I’ve mastered my art. Six years of highlighting cash with illuminating pens, two phones, who are we? 

In this town where we live, there are door knobs, silhouettes of our mouths. Lips tight and then wider, teeth close and then closer. Photographs, winter coats, and the sweat on the bridge of your nose in the Italian restaurant where we eat pasta with clams and worry about the future. We buy half of a six pack and trudge through the snow, wonder if it’s oak or maple, what makes us sleep, how can we be better?

In the town where I live, I assess every hour. I watch and observe, and speak unsure if you’re listening or not. I see you. Every part of you. I know you but you do not know me. 

In the town where I live, I visit the same coffee shop for the same barista who anticipates my order before I stutter over my words. I drink, sip, write and read, make scenes of real or fictional families, they argue and clink glasses of coloured water, juice, babychinos, table of stacked pomegranates. Fake family, real family. Pretend we’re always together. In town, pizza, £1 per slice. I have to pee. You wave from across the street in the dark. I insist on noodles. Pretend we’re telling stories, kick leaves, my mother calling. We look to our mothers and wonder. Pretend we don’t speak. Sweat behind my knees, worry about breakfast. How much do we have? Open our palms and show the coins there. My grandmother coming out from under the ground, pretend we don’t speak the language. Her frozen kitchen, naked in her big red coat. My grandmother at eighteen, at twenty five, at fifty five. In May just before she died, it’s exam week. Sweating and turning, and in her black blouse she said, “I’ve got a lot of moves.” How she never stopped dancing, how she never stopped loving. Scared and packed bags, moved back for her daughter, my mother, me. Always looking forward. Even on that last day, looking forward.

“Our plans are impossibly large. Our loves are impossibly various, and stacked, and broken wood, it’s always cathedral, almost now. Forget who’s listening and leave the windows open, and wear transparent clothing. You are magazine beautiful, we are California beautiful,” and the sky over where I live turns foggy. “Try not to notice luck or doorknobs, or all of the other signs.”

You’re naked and I want you. Packets of sequins and paper, glitter, kicked ketchup and the sun setting or rising. Which coast? Look faraway from the photograph. Maple syrup, £6. Let’s show dad how real we are. Without the dirty money who would I be? Smile for immigration. We’re careful to do things for ourselves. I want you to drive. We’re careful. We’re careful to be hungry, to love words like ‘lousy’ and ‘camomile’and ‘slick’, never ‘moist’. Count the steps. 34 or 5? I’m still hungry. I’m naked and unlocked, and then we give it all back. We’re naked and making adventures with our heads. Connected. We’re not afraid. 

We’re not afraid. Let’s never be afraid. Let’s never, let’s not, let’s never be afraid.

Self…

Astrologists tell me that I am an escapist but I have no idea what I’m running away from. Myself, perhaps. Distracting myself with coach rides and airport terminals and train conductors who speak in foreign tongue. On the most part, my summer is rain and coffee and cigarettes, running with newspapers and bags and regretting why I thought it was a good idea to leave that umbrella at home, playing hopscotch with puddles and dodging others who are dodging the rain too. Hotel rooms, Polo and girls with voices pitched too high screeching ‘D.F.T.B.A.’ in my face. Not that I ever forget, of course.

And now this trip. Susanna accompanies me on my travels, convincing myself that what I am doing is self-productive and a necessity to remain interesting, complex. Internal self-modification. Expensive. Or convincing others, parents. Self-assured. Proud. Be proud. Is it egotistical and self-flattering to think that our own lives are proclaimed to be busy? Chaos correlates with interest, less complication correlates with boring. We tell others that we don’t want complication in our lives but with no drama, I’m restless.

I’m like you. I want to turn the sound off. I want to be alone with things that don’t pay.

I stay in hostels for the first time. I like them. I love them, even. I am a hostel lover, perhaps. I like the word ‘lover’. Lover. It’s superior to ‘partner’ and it has endless connotations. It’s warm and fun and almost always honest. Partner equals one of two but you can have endless lovers… hostels… This trip I stay in three. And each day has been a winding road and a new destination and an added ounce of self-discovery, making observations about my body that I have rehearsed a thousand times before.