Karin and I took to the pub for a pint of Winter Warmer, and had a play with my precious camera I got from my darling Mike. Woolwich doesn’t have a whole lot to offer, but the Dial Arch down by the river is a bricks-and-brews wonder pub.
English pubs have a special place in my heart – especially when outside is dark and bitter, and cold is seeping in through our draughty windows at home.
It’s been ten years since we moved to London together, K-dawg and I. We’ve spent a third of our lives here. What a ride it has been.
My skin feels raw today, and our dry January is drowned in a glass of whiskey. It soothes my antennae, which every evening feel as though they have been split into a thousand and all streams of input are exaggerated to the point of pain.
A few weeks left at work, then I’ll be free. Free of commuting pressed up against fetid zombies three hours a day. Free of forced company and shallow conversation. Free of mindless toiling and endless longing. Just a few more weeks; a few more pounds in my pocket. Then I will write. Then I will socialise. Then I will tidy and clean and wash and organise. Until then, my boy takes on the evenings’ tasks and cooks me meals and I am so very grateful, because I would have done a terrible job myself.
Fleur feels far away. Later this week I will take my camera and hit the streets of Greenwich and see if maybe I can find her through the viewfinder; capture her on some bright LCD screen.
There are corners of the web which contain words that make my heart sing – people who tell their stories in ways that remind me of goosebumps and heartbeats. There I find, underneath the protective layers of compliance and sarcasm, that person I used to be; the girl who ran through the woods at night in search of magic, the girl who talks to oceans and trees, the girl who dreams bigger than her heart can contain. The girl who watches a movie and feels it fill her soul with magic and romance and remains in that movie for weeks afterward, hearing its music and dreaming of its characters, whispering dialogue into dark mirrors; the girl who allows herself to create a fairy tale in which to live because why not?
I have lived on the edges of London for so long now, and I thought the city was pushing me out of its all-consuming noise and clamour towards a quieter life. But it was I who crept out of there on my bare knees and hid under my blankets and dreamed of silent forests and glinting stars. Well, the stars can glint even in London, and the neon signs shine all night long in all the colours of the rainbow, and I am ready to go back. I put plasters on my scraped knees and walk right back into the mess I left.
I remember now, life was exciting once. Once upon a time I worked for the mafia in Knightsbridge, losing myself in late-night VIP events surrounded by Russians and champagne, fresh into the city and ready for adventure; long ago I worked in the porn industry and had carrots being heated in my microwave for ungodly reasons; once I used to stay up all night and make love in hallways and have my heart broken and call friends for help and feel lonely and lost but alive, and we spent many nights on the hills around the city watching millions of glittering lights, and everything mattered.
But thicker skin was layered upon me and things felt less, and I laughed more, but something was lost.
I’m going now to find it.