Falling Apart

 

September to November has been hard. Hard. A dark light lurked on the back end of my 2015 and dropped blossoms all over 2016. This year has been better. Better because I have learned to mine, I have become a much more artful navigator. Still, I find myself standing in the velvet smoke of the horizon, palms out, stretching for more.

September to November has been hard because rent came around three times (and I was barely paid enough to make one payment). Three times in the last few months I looked at my bank account and saw ‘Nil’. Nothing. Nothing became hour long walks to work, dinner for breakfast and dozens of sorries ‘I can’t make it’. At times I am so slick I can make a little last long (I can find boxes of limes and plantains and cucumber for just 50p and make dishes with rice that’ll last days) but with every shrinking pay check the walk becomes longer, the dream slipping through the tips of my fingers.

At times I fear that I place too much weight on my struggles, but it is so important to me to share my stories of both sorrow and strength. I believe in magic. I believe miracles tantalise us till we surrender and I am so sure that my circumstances will change. But so often I look into the eyes of people in the pits of their pain, who tell me everyday that they want to die. There is an alchemy that occurs when I tell them where i’m hurting. When they see that I am falling but getting up, afraid but pushing. Maybe, somewhere in this icy online galaxy, someone will see themselves in one of the fine lines of my story, and perhaps they will keep pushing too.

My job is brutiful. I have lost count of mornings where I wake up and feel as though I can’t make it through the day. My diary bursting at its seams with lessons, commitments, promises and I am falling apart although everything looks pretty. At some point sadness sneaks between all of our sheets and who is to say how long she will stay. But how beautiful is it that glistening between each broken piece I find my friends? Friends who come get me at 3 in the morning to help me pack up my things when i am moving. That sneak home cooked food in my fridge when I am not looking to make sure I eat. That put money in my bank account without my knowing or asking. That drive me three hours across England just to watch the sun set on that corner of the earth. That leave bags of shopping outside my door. That put money on my electric meter. Tenners under my pillow. Surprise me with tickets to see my favourite artists in concert. That pray for me, are honest with me. Good friends glow like fireflies in the dark for me.

I am so grateful to have a space like this. Space to tease through sticky emotions. A silky web of compassion that runs like thread through the words of my allies. If there is anything I can tell you about relationships that bloom, it is that they are built in the toughest of times. My friends and I do not speak everyday, and our love at times outshines our like for each other but this translates into scared commitment. Commitment to assume the most generous thing about the others intentions. A commitment to seeing in the safety of non-judgement. And at best, they will hold my wild crimson heart and let in burn like gold in their hands.

December has been better, turns out the tax man had been taking too much and I received the biggest cheque I had received all year. But September to November taught me the most beautiful lesson: struggle bears the sweetest fruit.

 

 

Dream Giver

October 2017

I am waiting in the doctor surgery with Michael. I should be in my driving lesson right now but I am far too ill. Too far into this months money to pay for another lesson. Take That is playing, I am singing, Michael is shushing. ‘Rest your voice.’ He says. I sing along to everything. Except now I can’t because I feel claws in my throat. Bubbles in my chest. I am laughing between the few words I can squeeze out and I think I’m cute. I think it is funny. I go into the doctors office. A few days ago I was singing ‘last night I had a bad dream’ with J Cole at the 02 Arena. The following morning I wake up and I can’t speak. I come here because I could not stop coughing. ‘Open wide’ he says. ‘Take two of these tablets four times a day’ he says, ‘we will treat it as Laryngitis‘. The doctor is sweet and unfamiliar, but something doesn’t feel right about taking a drug I can’t pronounce, a drug he didn’t even say what it comprised. So I scrunch up the prescription and put it in my pocket. Give me a week, I tell myself.

I spend the next five days at home, healing. Tucked in early and speaking little, singing even less. I remember visiting my aunty on her 56th birthday a few months ago. We drank Martini, ate carrot cake and turnt up. Just a touch. She’s not a fan of the ‘soft’ music I listen to. So we listen to Migos, K-Michelle, she shows me the rappers Swagg Dinero and Jojo. I’m more of a Sabrina Claudio, Amel Larrieux kind of girl. But Créole music intertwines us like vines running through our blood, it wraps itself around our hearts. So we sing. And when we sing fantasies tear like velcro from my chest. When we sing the moment stretches so wide I melt into it, I am free in it. ‘You have a lovely voice’ she says. ‘I can’t believe you are wasting your talent like that. If you have a voice you should sing.’ I was silent and tense but touched. It felt like an invitation.

I have been reading the book A Mind of Your Own and I am bewitched. I am learning that the body is a delicate web of intricacies that has an intelligence stunningly deeper than our minds can comprehend. I have been alone since I was 16 and in some ways I have felt the intuitive pull of my body. It knows what it needs. I know that making tea with fresh mint leaves relieves me of headaches. I know that when I make hot water with lemon everyday for a fortnight my skin begins to glow. I have learned that raw ginger boiled with honey, bay leaves and lemon (or lime) washes away colds and leaves me feeling strong- solar plexus on fire strong. Ever since I began my period I would be in crippling pain. On my first day I would vomit (sometimes even vomit blood) I would get back ache and feel weak and severe pain. Perhaps because like so many women, my womb is riddled with secrets. In 2016 I began to meditate fervently and my periods got significantly better. Now I rarely feel pain and I am endlessly grateful.

After days spent cleansing my lungs in the sauna and steam room, chewing garlic, and home made herbal teas I am well enough to attend Lemn Sissay’s Happiness Workshop. I arrive late to an echoey chamber to a soft spoken group who’s words whisper off the walls. I go straight in and within moments I am so deep inside the experience I can barely remember what was said. Moreso what I felt. All the feelings I have no words for come up for me. The words I do speak hang in the air like ribbons. ‘I resent the people I love.’ ‘I have felt that too.’ They say. Here I am not being hushed. I am not being told what I feel is wrong. Here what I feel is valid. Here I am reminded of the legitimacy of my voice. I would like to tell you so much more about this, but I know I am just not there yet.

At times I am awful at being honest. I am terribly good at justifying my not saying how I feel. How important it seems to wait for the right time. I’ll call them later, instead of telling them now because I want my words to set in a particular way. My silence is my suffering. Especially on matters that affect me deeply. And no matter how many times I pull myself out of this pattern, I find myself dragged back into this torrent of self slaying. One would think that sea monsters had me by the throat. Communication is probably the weightiest gift of the universe and I still find myself failing at it miserably.

But then I look and I see that over the years I have become much better. Now I choke on words that would have had me suffocate. And since here is one of the few places I feel safe enough to use my voice, I want to say, though it cringes me, that I love to sing. Since I was a girl I have had an endless desire to express myself, and I have always been enchanted by music. By the time I could use words I’d declared to the world that I would be a singer. And then I grew.

I took the things people said and I buried them. ‘It is very difficult to be a singer’, ‘stop singing’ or ‘you can’t sing.’ I became embarrassed of the thing I loved the most and became ashamed of myself for even wanting it. But desire is a wicked thing that does not die. It tiptoes into trails into footprints that leave signatures on everything you do. Though I tell myself that my voice isn’t good enough and while I have no idea how I will create music that is beautiful, I still find myself yearning to do it. And the universe is relentless in presenting me with opportunities to do so.

Laryngitis, in a twisted way may have been my greatest gift this year. A lesson in healing, a reminder that when I am not watering I am wilting. I want to find my voice, and I hope the Dream Giver, if she still waits for me, will create a space for it.

*  *  *

While writing this blog I found out that a friend from my childhood passed away. I would like to share with the world a tribute I wrote in her memory…

Jessica, you were one of the first friends I made when I was 11, when Birmingham was new to me and I knew no one my age. You were beautiful and open and at a time I felt very alone, it meant so much to me to call someone a friend. How we used to sing together in JJ’s choir and how I dreamed I had a voice as gorgeous and powerful as yours. Though we haven’t seen or spoken in years and though it saddens me to know that the world has lost your voice I am so grateful that you sang your song. The hole you have left is tremendous.

     Rest in sweet, sweet peace Jessica Rose Salkeld xxx  

 

 

 

 

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Amethyst offering

 

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Michael playing with amethyst

 

Me, first

{Please note: I refer to the team of young people I worked with over the summer as ‘Reiss’, due to privacy and safeguarding I do not include their names}

* * *

Summer 2017 has been unforgettable, in the best and the worst ways. Memories of writing by the cobwebbed balcony of my flat, in time snatched between working and everything else. Here I feel closer to the sky. The last week of the summer programme ran painfully slow at times, and others so fast my inner world was gasping for breath. Reiss went on sponsored walks and catwalks and volunteered with STOLL (a charity that provide housing and support services for veterans as they transition back into mainstream society). On one day they designed a campaign to raise awareness for the charity and on another they danced with the veterans in Richmond park and brought crisps and quiche and juice. Reiss shared slang with the vets and by the end of the day they were saying words like ‘peng ting’ and ‘my G’. Their worlds collided on a canvas of new time and war time as they two stepped to Stormzy and Wham, enveloped in dewy green grass. There were wheelchairs and crutches, blue hair and no hair in a cinematic chakra wheel. We followed baby deer through mazes of trees and as we walked back to our picnic blanket the girls and I listed all the Disney tapes we had on VHS. Tapes. I think to myself. Cassette. Recording. Tarot. Reading. Damn.

I remember an Angel reading I had years ago at my favourite shop in Greenwich. Before it began the dark haired lady asked if I would like to record it, and I say ‘yes, of course.’ And later realise that I have no cassette player to listen to it on. To this day it waits for me in the drawer in the kitchen. We sing the birthday girl happy birthday, pack up and return to our host venue. Reiss go home and staff stay behind to speak logistics and plans for the next day. The sun is still burning and I walk to the station tired and hungry and fatigued, there are delays on my train and I am still feeling weak and I am far too tired to cook. But I am grateful because life, as tasty and bitter as it is, is keeping a fire in my belly and I find this so seductive.

Days after I am in the clouds with my brother on a complimentary trip to Albufeira, our first time outside of the UK together since we were torn apart by Spain. The next day I watch him swim in the sea as if he has fins, he is so natural in the water. We took the Liana boat (before we got on the boat my stomach was feeling funny) through the choppy Barlavento coast and watched waves silently on the upper deck. The mood changed on the boat and everybody gathered at the tip and around the edges. Dolphins. Big, beautiful, chirpy dolphins. I have never seen dolphins before. ‘Look Luca, dolphins,’ I say. I take out my phone and they slip back into the water. I snap their backs and my phone says ‘storage full’, I breeze through my camera roll trying to delete pictures, trying not to drop me or my phone in the ocean. They come back but my phone isn’t ready and then it is ready and then they are gone again and they carry on teasing me for some minutes more. Maybe not all moments are supposed to be frozen behind a lens, maybe if I am still enough they will move through me, hold me, change me. I go downstairs to get some water, lucky for me the boat had a toilet for me to be sick in.

We skittered onto a smaller boat with several other people on the tour and rode through the most beautiful caves I have ever seen. Caves the colour of lion eyes with openings that weep water and sand. We settle on the beach for lunch and it is only us here. I lay on my towel while the sun kisses my shoulders, the back of my thigh and every other place I like to be kissed. Children chase seagulls, a young man follows his woman into the darkest corner of the beach, and they fade to silhouette. I don’t know what goes on in their worlds, but I know right now is perfect. Right now there are sandcastles with petals and seashells and it is so beautiful to see happy. There is a rock in the sea just like the little mermaids, I go into the water to touch it except the waves do not dance around me under the warm glow of the sun, the waves throw me and the rock cuts me and I stagger back on to the shore giggling. The air is sweeter in Albufeira.

Later on in the apartment I play cheesy songs and say ‘dance, Luca.’ He looks sad most of the time, but when he dances, he is the rhythm and the rhythm is magic and magic is all that exists…when he dances. And I wish and wish for those moments instead of being fleeting, to be like a thread on a spindle and turns and turns and never ends.

The next day we visited the water park, I’m a punk when it comes to rides, I was so cold my jaw was shaking but I enjoyed it so much more than I imagined. On the last day we packed our bags and went to São Rafael beach. We ate lunch on a terrace framed inside a cinematic view of the glittery agate ocean. A dark skinned Portuguese man asked me what I would like to eat and I imagined him carrying me naked into the same sea under the moonlight. Too soon after we were on our transfer to the airport and I lean my head against the window and watch it all. We drove past an area that was painted all white and I wonder how it stays ivory, how does it weather storms without looking lived in? On the motorway I remember a huge road sign to Faro. I imagine how crazy stupid it would be to go on a road trip in a car filled to the brim with the people I love. Singing and laughing as we lose our voices.

Hours after I look in the mirror and admire my new complexion in the plane toilets, the sun has left me love bites. Tonight I am one of the stars flying through the black sky that I watch in yearning in my living room. London looks like a fairytale when we hover so high above it. When we return we watch Moana and it is as if I am in a new world. Her Grandmother sings to her and I imagine she is my mother singing to me;

The people you love will change you, the things you have learned will guide you, and nothing on earth can silence, the quiet voice still inside you, and when that voice starts to whisper, Nadège, you’ve come so far. Nadège listen, do you know who you are?

I relate so deeply with Moana. Her island mirrors the island my family are from; waterfalls, diamond seas, volcanoes. Te Fiti is like Jade mountain. The film is ending and work is calling, a bird flies through the sky. I see you, God. The thought of going back to work is painful and I have the deepest desire to ditch my safety net and just leap into something new. Security is one of the most paralysing fantasies to believe in.

* * *

September brings in new term provisions, a new schedule and a new student. I am enjoying relaxing into my fridays and on saturdays and sundays it feels foreign to be home. No more traipsing to West London every weekend to sleep twisted on a couch and wake up heavy eyed to work the morning shift. I know the world is in love with summer, but there is something so enchanting to me about Autumn. When leaves fall like golden charms from trees, the crunching sound they make when they are crisp and dry. The trees are gold and the air is glowing, Autumn feels like the promise of something better.

I have decided to cut meat out of my diet. For the life of me I can’t figure out why I have been getting so sick but something needs to shift, and here is where I can start.  Maybe it will last a month, maybe it will last a lifetime. Honestly, I don’t know the first thing about the science or academics behind it, I just know that when I eat meat I feel fatigued, sluggish, lethargic. When I eat veggies I feel energised, light, I look more vibrant and I don’t throw up. I have been making things like sweet potato mash, banana bread, chickpea curry, lentil soup. Everyday I boil ginger and bay leaves, I drink it with squeezed lemon and honey (this I have been doing for years) and lots and lots and lots of fruit: mango, grape, clementine, banana, fig, watermelon. I have wanted to be in control in this area for so long and I had buried myself behind the excuse of financial instability and the fear of remaining skinny. I have been consciously choosing what I eat for over a month now. I am feeling and looking better, I am putting me, first, I am seeing this through and for the first time in a long time I am so fucking proud of myself.

I have been insecure about my weight since I started school and learned that I was ‘skinny.’ I have had men so kindly approach me in the street and tell me to ‘eat some fucking food’ which has laced my insecurity with an added layer of shame (especially during times when I have little money). Cutting out meat has meant working harder to gain weight, there is no cheating this way. But right now my desire to be healthy is one hundred thousand times bigger than my insecurity and I am feeling so much more comfortable in my own skin. I am looking forward to experimenting with more dishes and to have my spirits lifted by more fruits. These days there is something about the messy me that I am falling in love with, the not so perfect outfits, my cousins oversized hoody that is too long for my arms, the tiny hole in my jumper, the mole on my chin and my head on fire with curls. I am warm and cosy and comfortable and me and it feels so so good. And when I think of it I realise that I have become so accustomed to falling, now it is time to fly.

Wake up call

I woke up on August 1st feeling anxious, yet to pack my bags and having to be wherever Brentford is at 9am. I was about to embark on two weeks of residential work and adrenaline activities: supporting young people access a personal development curriculum and facilitating an inclusive experience. I stayed up till 1am that morning doing online courses in manual handling and administering medication. After a few hours of sleep I woke up calm, packed my suitcase and left. Kick off was a blur, the young people drizzled in with suitcases and shy faces, we played get-to-know-you games and before I knew it I was riding to the countryside on a minibus with 5 people I had just met, tired and deeply inspired by a young woman I was getting to know.

The first week comprised of canoes and campfires and cream marshmallows roasted black at the top. The fire wood crackled like slow sparklers in the dark and I wished I could capture the rhythms in a seashell. There are around 50 young people here on this adventure. I joined the team as one of 3 support workers and our wake up call was 6am. On a good night we would finish between 10pm and 12am and outside of that we’d work all through the night. One morning me and two young people were the last to leave at breakfast, as the Café lady cleared our table I told her the butterfly tattoo on her forearm was beautiful. Her voice broke with softness as she told me that her husband has a brain tumour, and that butterfly is the sign of awareness; she got it in his name. The next two days were the best two days and since I cannot take photographs of the young people, I will try to paint the perfect picture with my words…

The team built a shelter with wood from the forest and huddled underneath as it rained. They built shaky rafts with rope and barrels and the sun came out when they rode it into the reservoir. They fall in and get pushed in and jump in and laugh in and I am laughing too. In-between the raft breaking and Titanic jokes a young girl edges forward for a closer view on her wheelchair and we share our secrets of seduction. And I realise; my mind is not on him or rent or how work will unravel for me come September; I am just here.

Week two brought on a rodeo of challenges, we stayed in university halls of residence and had the teams cook our meals in their flats. They got rushed by a gang of 4 foot nothing year olds when we visited a children’s outdoor play centre in one of the greenest areas I’ve seen in London. There were slides and slings and ropes that swung like vines and a little man who was mean with the water pistol. Here it is a matrix of adventure; dirt, danger, play, laughter and it is beautiful because where better can they learn to fall? More than anything they need their scars.

On the 11th day I woke up with a pain in my stomach too strong for me to leave the bed. When I was not curled up under the sheets I was beside the toilet seat; knees on the floor, hair in my face, fingers scratching the wall sick. I lay straddled to the mattress all day in quarantine. While I am here I think about everything; the time when I fell sick for a week, and spent that week in bed behind closed curtains in the dark. I think about words that have pierced me so deeply I lose myself trying to run from their shadow. ‘Maybe you should see a doctor’, my friend says, ‘at least that way we know what it is.’ So I call and then wait for the duty doctor to call me back. As I wait and my mind meanders through all the little tributaries of my life that have led me to where I am now. It hits me in the realest way. My wake up call. This is my wake up call.

I need to take better care of myself. I need to put my health first. At work I chase spirals that leave me dizzy, and with people I open doors that lead no where. But the truth is, when you are in bed in darkness, or a hospital bed in pain, hungry on the floor or even grieving in a beautiful hotel, it is never the people who judge you who show up for you. It’s the people who give and give and forgive and understand you. These are the people that see you. These people are your soldiers.

Two days later I am on a bench near my home, smiling as I think of my friends. I call Betty and she asks me what’s going on. I tell her I had food poisoning and returned home yesterday and that work was slow last month so there is no food or electric in my flat. I tell her that I went to the library to charge my phone and asked my neighbour if I could come over for some toast. We laugh like we did seven years ago, only then we were in the hostel in each others arms. I lean forward and cradle my stomach, slap my thigh and my throat tightens and we giggle until I lose my breath. Our experiences are so beautifully intertwined.

 

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Another ending.

 

27.07.17

When I was a child I loved drawing butterflies. I would curl the wings at the corners, spiral the antennas like the inside of a kaleidoscope and imagine that their wings had eyes. Today the rain poured like quartz from the sky and I am now on the 177 to Peckham. On buses my eyes dance between people and street names and other little details. I squeezed on the wet bus by three women, one opposite me, one beside, and another gripping a large reusable bag. My mind felt as though it was covered in mist and although I didn’t feel like reading I picked up my book for something to do with my hands and somewhere to place my eyes. ‘It is time to ask for your sign’ the book said.

The sign is the salute from God, the symbol that gives you the green light, when you see it you will know. It could be a number, a word; mine is a butterfly. Even though I don’t like them. Even though I am frightened by them. A few months ago I dreamt of an oak tree with blossoms pink like candy floss, they shimmered like satin in the night. I was alone in this field where green went on and on and I walked towards forever in a little white dress. I remember the wind sweeping the tree’s blossoms my way as I walked forward, as they drew close I could see they were butterflies spiralling around and in front of me, wings rippling in the wind. One butterfly flew to my hand and gripped my veins with tiny black claws. The harder I tried to tear it away from my skin, the tighter it clung to it, squeezing me with all its life. I woke up in panic, skipping breaths. That is all I remember.

I feel deeply that butterfly is my sign, but I am in a tug of war with myself. I did this running with wolves guided meditation one time and I swear I came out of it brand new, so of course my sign must be a wolf, I think to myself. My head is still feeling heavy so I put my book down. I glance at the woman in the seat across me to the right, I could see her bag in my periphery the whole time I was reading, I look down at it. There is a butterfly on her bag. Big and blue like a lagoon. The book said ‘your sign will be crystal clear if you’re going in the right direction’. I look away, I look back, I look away, I look back and then I look at her. She could sense my intrigue. It was a sure sign that it was my sign.

Today has been difficult. I have been told three sad things. Why does everything go wrong at once? I have attended three funerals in the last year, two in the last month. When pain is present it is persistent. It doesn’t come piece by piece. It comes after you like bullets from a machine gun. What do I say when there is nothing I can say? I sit here with a slug in my throat afraid that I have said the wrong thing. So I hop on the 177 to the library to chase the paper with my pen, the place I run to make it right. I sit here dwelling in admiration for the people in my life. The best humans are alchemists, we take our pain and we make it beautiful.

28.07.17

I am at my care job. My summer work dates have now been confirmed, soon I will be working in Somerset. I hadn’t realised that this would be my last weekend here. I didn’t think I’d miss this place, but as I prepare myself to go, it dawns on me what I will be leaving behind. I tell one of the men I support that I will be leaving. ‘Org’ he says with a sad face, ‘I miss you.’ When he says it I know that he means it. I tell another and she says ‘okay’ in a soft voice, ‘I want to go and get some sweets.’ That is the thing about people on the learning disability spectrum, they are made of titanium. When they are sad, they are sad, when they want something they might cry or scream or just ask, when they are happy they light up the room, there is never any confusion about where you stand with them. When they are out of line I tell them thats’s not cool and they say ‘sorry mum’, we move into a new moment as if it were a new moon and the past just the past. They live in so much wonder and I will miss that. But I see work like relationships, when it becomes toxic it is time to go. I am so glad I am leaving on a high, rather than trying to make it work and make it work and then make it ugly. I am reminded of the quote ‘and then you know it is time to start something new, and trust the magic of new beginnings.’

After the fire I noticed a couple heads get greyer as the days rolled over. I had a one of those rare conversations with my co-worker, speaking honestly about the way we feel. A couple times during the shift I wondered to myself if I am doing this all wrong, shortly after I saw a butterfly on the TV. I did a sleep-in shift and woke up earlier than usual so I didn’t get to have breakfast. My co-worker made me a sandwich with fried egg and grilled cherry vine tomatoes and lettuce and avocado, it was so good. There is no feeling in the world like a meal made with love. Things about my workplace that I usually can’t stand look so lovely to me today, crazy how people are most beautiful to you just before they slip through your fingers.

 

Meeting Jessie Reyez

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26.07.17

It is 12.48pm and I am at home nestled beneath my cotton blanket, school is out for summer. I have long lusted days like this; home alone drinking tea next to my honeysuckle and cedar scented candle, hot water bottle pressed against my stomach. Work dates for my summer role are yet to be confirmed so I am enjoying my time off.

Yesterday was so much more than I expected. I had my driving lesson in the morning and I am surely improving. I went to the library straight after to write, read, work. I met with Christian, the poet in residence at my school, we spoke poetry and art and teaching. When he read my poem I saw his eyes change, he told me to read it at a poetry night. I am shy, but I accepted the offer.

I am still unearthing Fire and Joy. As I sit here musing on Nirrimi’s words, I can’t understand why creative subjects are squeezed out of schools when there is such an acute connection between art and the overcoming of sadness, anxiety, depression. Or why parents push imaginative children away from their dreams, I have seen so many talented children loved all the way into dead ends. Photography, drawing, rap; when a child has a means to make sense of the world, they will surely fly.

Remember I told you I would focus intensely on my goals? Your girl wasn’t playing, I searched online and found a writers group on Brick lane. After leaving Christian I rushed to this inspiring little book store to read and critique the work of other writers. In an hour I slipped in and out worlds of sci-fi and machines, future and past. In weeks to come I will share my own work. I left early to meet Michael and we went on our way to see Jessie Reyez sing at Hoxton Square Bar, I was enamoured.

I have changed my mind about some things I thought I knew. I thought love was acceptance, and I thought acceptance looked a little bit like turning the other cheek. I was wrong. I found myself being passive in situations where something said caused me discomfort or someone stretched too far into one of my boundaries. In my world, kindness has been a moving swirl of affection and passivity and this isn’t always healthy. Love is saying no when a no is needed, holding people accountable, and without trying to diminish the other person, simply telling them about their clart.

When it comes down to it, every choice I make is one between love and regret, whether I realise it or not.

Jessie Reyez has a voice like honey, she brings worlds together like a horizon, like Damian Escobar blends classical violin and hip hop. Anger is the earth and femininity is the sky. I found dreams I thought I had lost in her runs. Dreams of singing, time expanding. She covered Cocoa Butter Kisses and ScHoolboy Q’s ‘That Part’. We were high and just before our come down she’d say ‘You good?’ in a voice sweet and childlike. Her crazy and power and innocence reminded me that it is okay to feel it all. Sometimes I feel bitter, sometimes I feel ecstasy, sometimes I feel cheerful and sometimes I feel naughty. I think I would make a perfect hurricane. And while I must be honest with my words, I must be careful not to trap others inside my storm.

Michael and I got to talk to Jessie after the show. We spoke about the blurred lines between London and Toronto, how Jessie sounds Trini, speaking Spanish and her being from Colombia. My favourite song of Jessie’s is Gatekeeper, she illustrates her story of sexual intimidation in the music industry and I have shared it below because the world needs to hear it.

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My trip to Portsmouth and Southsea

23.07.17

After finishing a sleep-in shift at work and sliding past after shift questions, I rode a train through the twilight window. The journey was just over two hours from Victoria and the train split in two half way, my carriage carried me to Portsmouth. The sky was hissing with rain and I left home without my umbrella so I had to just take it. The train rocked with Italian teenagers hopping between carriages, singing, chattering to the very last stop.

During this time I read and I wrote. I received Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth two nights ago and I finished it like a glass of wine. I run my finger through my favourite quotes and re-read chapter 4 of The Universe Has Your Back. I wrote thoughts of chaos on the page and then I looked at them with love, like the book said. Thoughts like ‘I am not funny or attractive enough’ became ‘I am a spirited young woman full of mystery and paradox’ and ‘there is something wrong with me’ became ‘I am a flawed human being who fiercely perseveres, often makes mistakes, and there is nothing wrong with that’. It felt as though spells were cast over sad thoughts and sent them to the sea. By the time I arrived I was eager to learn more of this pretty little town. Anca took me to her place where we spoke men and sipped wine and I was wavy after just one glass.

24.07.17

I am on my way back from Portsmouth and I am smitten by Fire & Joy. This blog belongs to a beautiful young mother, writer and photographer named Nirrimi, living in Perth, Australia. She speaks with a transparency I rarely see and I was moved by the way she spoke of her brother who took his life last year. Her honesty tugged at things I thought I had forgotten. When your heart is broken open by honesty it sucks everything in like a vacuum.

Anca and I had cups on cups of vanilla chai and watched the film ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, it was beautiful and funny and sad all at the same time. I was so pleased I watched it. Anca dreams and writes as I do, that brings a stardust to our friendship, her home feels like I am tiptoeing through Romania; the hospitality, the adornments, the Romanian Love Island lol.

We left at 12 to explore. South sea moves between waves of wind and sunshine. We went to the pebbled beach where I tried to capture the waves in a moment, it was the nearest thing to holding them in my hand. There was a castle and bricks stained with black and a church with a bombed off roof. Looking, walking, talking, this is how we wasted our day. We got lost in all the corners we could find to view the same sea. By a pier with black railings young boys no more than 13 were diving in. There was one who was too afraid.

‘You only live once’ one boy said.

He clung to the edge of the concrete wall with a sense of desire that I relate to. ‘Will you ladies kiss him if he jumps?’ said little Mr Yolo, the frightened boy still stood tense on the edge.

‘Are you crazy? I would do backflips for that.’

I laughed and we kept it moving.

 

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