Saturday, August 10

When You Fuck-Up After An Embrace

I HELD ON TO sleep very loosely so that when her five-fifteen alarm went off I awoke very easily. It was no use trying to go back to sleep—besides, I didn’t really want to—so I lay there, tossing and turning, watching her get ready for work. The flatmate above had just returned from a surfing trip to avoid the authorities and was using the shower. She cursed him.
So this is it. Today—this morning—I must take my leave. How strange to consider the past few days, now that it was all over. I was exhausted. My thoughts and tears from the night before had left me in a tattered state and I felt as though I hadn’t slept at all. I did not know what was going on between us, between she and I, and I considered all of this as she got ready. At that moment, I thought that we were strangers who had, by chance, shared a bed. I thought that nothing mattered much anymore and that I was doomed in life and could not see a way back. Melodramatic, I admit, but my burdens still very much weighed upon me.
The moment came. She did not announce it nor lend it any great importance when she came over to my side of the bed and threw herself into my arms.
A flush of happiness swum through me! I held her tightly. We meant the embrace, though we were terrible at such things. Her arms and her shoulders were bare and cool, and my body was warm; there was no more perfect temperature for her to be. There was no feeling like her. As she broke, I was submerged again.
She was gone.
I lay in her bed, alone, staring at the ceiling, listening to the sounds of the morningly quiet house. Then I, too, readied myself, made sure all of my things were packed, took one last look at the place as a good-bye, and left out of the front door.
Being in the open was a treat. The neighbourhood was still asleep. The little street festival from the day before had not been completely cleared away yet. The shops were closed, their interiors dozing in darkness but for the eager Monday six a.m. coming in. My bag weighed heavily upon my shoulder yet there was a spring in my step that is only granted by the purpose of one who has a lengthy journey ahead of them. I walked as I had been led on Sunday by Johanna. I smoked the cigarettes I had rolled Sunday evening when Johanna was sat on the window sill, her legs brought up underneath her chin, gazing away into the lamplight. Approaching the intersection—stabbed left & right by pavements, bus routes, roads and cycle lanes—there was no traffic. I listened to one of my favourite albums, hung my head. It was over. I knew it was over. ‘Head towards that tower.’ Would it ever begin again? I could not be so sure. All I had was a pounding of sadness, of trying to recollect everything and get my thoughts in order and figure out what had just happened, in slow motion, for the whole of Holland to see. Walking through the city, amongst the coagulating throng of commuters, was an insipid effort at how it had felt with Johanna; or, to go even further, how it had felt Friday evening, with all of this in front of me, unsuspecting. It was a distant memory now; all thoughts prey to blur, to interpretation, disfigurement.
I bought my bus ticket and the ‘Eindhoven Airport’ bus came straight away. Unfortunately the route it traced was not that which I had taken Friday evening. I gazed out of the window, rested my chin on my fist, and gradually tiny tears began to form and fall. The airport was its own minor hub of activity. I got a coffee, watched the holiday-makers and the holiday-breakers coming and going. I waved good-bye to the city.
The plane took off and the plane landed. The pilot almost killed us all with the wind of Essex, waiting underneath the clouds, ready to destroy us. All I could do was continue. I thought of her, on trains, going to work, being tired, being beautiful, being unlike anyone I ever knew before; and of me getting farther and farther away.
‘I suck at saying goodbye. Hope you had a good flight :)’ as I was having a cigarette outside the airport, among my unilingual countrymen, feeling terribly glad to see them again. There was nothing I could think to myself to make me feel better. Everything was ruined. The sun was hazily shining through a thin quilt of cloud. All around me was English, not Dutch. No Johanna. No female Steve McQueen. No Annie, wiggling her bum. No Johanna, no Johanna, no Johanna; pulled from me like the last feather. The scenery was two & a half days older than I had left it. I was a great deal weaker. Another week was beginning. I had nothing to offer. This was where I got off. I bought my train ticket and headed to where the train waited to take me back to London. Again, without wishing to or knowing why, I started to cry. And that’s how everything is sometimes.

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