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I believe I’ve made a discovery. I don’t believe that it’s of significant importance to the future of the World, or will greatly alter life as we know it, but if anything, it might just ensure that a whole lot of individuals sleep better at night. Or perhaps, just ensure that I sleep better at night – and as an insomniac, that’s a welcome thought!
I have discovered that there’s a major discrepancy adding to the generations old “war” between the sexes – and perhaps, and this is a novel idea, it even may have played a role in launching the whole war in the first place. I can practically hear your gasps as you find yourself unable to stop reading – I’ve intrigued you, drawn you in, and left you wanting to know, just what is this “thing” that’s caused years and years of angst between men and women? And why is it relevant to me?
Because it is. It’s come to my attention that we human beings are decidedly shocking at saying what we mean, meaning what we say, and doing what we say we will. And it’s THIS that has motivated years of miscommunication between the sexes. Yes, who knew? It’s truly that simple. Allow me to demonstrate.
You’re at a bar, and you’re with friends. You have no alternative motives other than to share a decent evening with friends. You offer to buy the first round – clearly testimony to how good a mood you’re in – and you saunter off to the bar. You people watch whilst you wait, amusing yourself at the rants and raves of drunken students around you. You smile and as you look forward towards to barman who seems not to notice the undeniably magnetic allure of your push-p bra, he catches your eye. He smiles at you, presumingly in response to the grin that you already had plastered to your face.
Thereafter a night ensues in which you are thoroughly charming, mixed with just the right combination of flirtatious and friendly, if you do say so yourself. I mean, if you were hitting on you, you’d be smitten! And this friendly chap whose managed to find you in the crowds three times thus far seems to be just that. He walks you to your car, you dawdle, taking your time to find the car keys, drawing out the moments right before he leans in and kisses you – a moment you both know is inevitable. And as luck would have it, the kiss is excellent. A delightfully electric cherry on the top of the chocolate Sundae that is your Saturday night. After swapping numbers, you drive home, quite content with the way things have turned out.
Until three weeks later, when you’ve yet to have meet up again with this surprising Saturday smooch. Sure, you’ve texted once or twice, but the extent of this hasn’t extended past the appearance of his name on your cell phone screen. And that’s when I began to wonder. I mean, I’m not retarded. I grasp the concept of one night kisses with men who I’ll never see again – I’m not proud of it, but don’t pretend it hasn’t happened to you at least once. Point is, there should be signs and signals that this is the case. If I’m nothing but a fun flirtation for a few hours, then so be it. But then don’t ask for my number, don’t text me the minute we’ve said goodbye, and don’t then continue to text me weekly (or worse, nightly) for the next few weeks without any mention of ever meeting up again!!
It’s from this, and other little case studies, that I’ve resolved the dissolution between the sexes. I know, sheer genius. Point is, I think we’d all be a lot better off with a fresh dose of brutal honesty. Perhaps human kind needs to take to sign language to an entirely new level – making use of hand signals, for example, that will flag what it is we’re looking for, what it is we’re open to, and whether we’re even attracted to one another. And in the mean time, keep it simple, stupid. Don’t ask for my number unless you plan to use it as a means by which to actually SEE me again. Don’t tell me “we should meet up again” without any mention of whether it’ll be this century or not. And to push the point using a phrase that a dear friend recently taught me, stop teacup-pigging me.


Dear 16½ year-old me,
What does one begin to say to themselves? I suppose, only the most simple and honest things. I write this at the age of 24, and you’ll be glad to know that you’re happy and healthy. Your family is as supportive and loving as they always were (even when your deepest, darkest, and most rebellious stories are revealed at your 21st) and your friends are all incredible people.
I’d say it’s momentous that I write to you at such an age, when you feel so invincible. It gets tough. But no matter how tough it gets, it’s never anything you cannot handle, and it’s certainly always worth it.
When you turn 17, you will have your heart broken for the first time by the boy you’re seeing. It won’t hurt for long, but it will hurt enough that for your whole matric year, you will swear off boys, and love. This is good for you – you learn more about who you are, and what you want. Although, it does ensure you also miss out on a boy who will on-again-off-again with you, right up until today. Even as I write this, I cannot fully assure you that we’re over him, but I can assure you that his love is vital to us. So embrace it.
When you turn 18, you will be raped. Not by a stranger, but an acquaintance. You will block the truth of the matter out for almost four years, until desperation and madness drive you to finally tell your parents. You will be diagnosed with depression immediately after this, and take anti-depressants for 6 months, until you decide that you just don’t want to anymore. On that day, I am so proud of you. You decide your happiness is in your own hands, and you begin a journey to discover it – without the aid of medication of any kind. I am still on this journey, but let me tell you, 2012 is turning out to be a phenomenal year, and a well-deserved reward for your bravery in 2011.
When you are 19, Hermy – our beloved sausage dog puppy – will pass away. It will hurt more than you could ever have imagined. You’ll wander the hallway of our parents’ home, and miss the pitter-patter of his little paws behind you. Our “shadow”, as mum always called him, will be gone – and for a long time you will not be able to speak or think of him, without an ache in your heart and a tear in your eye.
Sandy, our twin brother’s dog, will help to heal you, though. He will miss his brother, too, and the two of you will be able to console one another, giving you both another two years of licks and love. When he eventually passes, too, you will need to be strong. It will hurt. You will not get another dog for many, many years after. And you will feel alone.
However, you will channel this pain into something very, very good. After much discussion with your parents – and one or two heated arguments – you will be allowed to foster abandoned puppies through Kitty and Puppy Haven. You will fall in love with the little lumps of love, who come into your life, and leave it again – and you will cry every time you take them back to the Haven to hopefully be adopted. But you will remember that you have made a difference, even if it’s to only one animal – and it’s this memory that will cause you to continue this somewhat self-destructive community service.
 You may not be able to understand it now, but at 24 you have so much yet still to do. You always thought you’d have met the man you were to marry by now, but I’m rather thankful you were wrong on that one. I refuse to settle for anything less than magic, and I assure you that we’ll find it. One day.
 We have yet to travel the world, and our savings for the Round the World ticket is in dire straits. But we’re driven and passionate, and you can trust that our ten-year plan to climb Mount Everest will happen.
I could not wish to change anything about what has happened in the years between us. I want you to be the person that you are, the happy and fun-loving teenager I have so many photographs and memories of… You have hard times ahead of you, so cherish the years before they begin.
And one more thing… At no point are you ever alone with you pain and hardship, and it’s important you remember that.
I think it’s important I remember that, too.
At age 24, I want you to know that we intend to live forever. And so far, so good.
All my love,
24 year-old you

Kiss me, stupid. And you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do so in the first place. You’ll blink when we finally stop, before kissing me again. Just because you can.

Kiss me, and you’ll wonder what it was you ever saw in using your mouth to eat, or drink, or talk. Such superfluous activities, that do nothing but take time away from the minutes, hours, and days that could be spent locking our lips.
If I tell you to kiss me, kiss me. It may come as a surprise to you, that a woman who uses words in every aspect of her daily existence, should find the utterance of two tiny, monosyllabic words so very daunting – but I do. It’s daunting because when I tell you to kiss me, there’s a chance that you won’t. And that’d be stupid. So, kiss me. Stupid.
Kiss me because you’ve run out of words to say. Kiss me because it’s Monday. Or Tuesday. And Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, too. Kiss me on every day that ends in a ‘y’. Kiss me because it makes sense to you. And if the stars and planets have aligned, whilst the moonlight smolders in the sky, and the crickets produce the soundtrack to it all – well, then, kiss me. How many signs do you really need?
Kiss me to take my breath away; I’ve always had too much anyway. Kiss me to leave me speechless; I always talk too much. Kiss me to make my head swirl and my knees weak; standing up straight is overrated. Kiss me to thrill me to death; living is always better when there’s risk.
So, kiss me. 
Stupid. 
Or, I’ll just kiss you.

I am extremely dedicated when it comes to liking someone. I am picky, that’s for sure. I don’t just romantically like anyone. A whole bunch of things need to be ‘just right’ to inspire the butterflies in my tummy, and the sparkle in my eye. But once it actually happens, and I end up liking you, my dedication is quite spectacular. However, I am decidedly useless when it comes to romantic interactions with members of the opposite sex. I will probably end up screwing it all up in one way or another, leaving you decidedly certain that you’d never like to see me again and/or filing for a restraining order. That’s a joke. That’s never really happened… I don’t think. So, really, if there’s one piece of advice I can give you for when my heart quickens its pace in your direction, it’s to run. As far and as fast as you can. Or else face the threat of a hopelessly romantic and idealistic writer developing feelings for you.
And we don’t want that, do we?

Now, you may wonder how to tell if I like you; and what warning signs there might be? Well – and let’s all release an audibly loud sigh of relief – I will tell you. I have no illusions when it comes to just how tactful I am. And this means that I can tell you without a single doubt, that I’m not. Yes, I love words. I’m obsessed with them. But I don’t know how to not put my very heart into them. I may have an Honours degree in Performance, but pretending not to like you just seems futile. So, chances are, I will tell you that I like you. And it won’t be done in a simple SMS or in a blunt proclamation in person. Oh no. The romantic in me will come up with some plan that’ll see me jumping through hoops in an effort to perform a feat of emotional confession worthy of any RomCom. And as an added warning, it may include a mix tape/CD of some kind and/or photographs of the things I like about you written out on paper all around the room. When this happens, run.

Once you know I like you, because in all honesty, it will be impossible to ignore (I have been known to be as subtle as a falling tree), you may have a varied array of reactions. But be warned – the slightest bit of hope will see me resolve not to give up. I may have my own reasons, imagined or real. I’ll believe in facts as simple as the fact that I like who I am when I’m around you, or that we can talk about anything and everything for hours. Hey, perhaps our shared obsession with the chocolate flavoured Steri Stumpie will even be good enough for me. Whatever it is, if you have no intention of seeing what there is between us, it’s best you tell me as soon as possible and in as blunt a means as possible. And don’t even think about asking if we can just be friends, because I’ll need time to get to that point. Otherwise, I will daydream about you finally seeing just what we could be, and I’ll probably end up liking you more. And that’s no good for anyone.

At some point, it will all get too much. I may go on a rampage and drink too much, turning me into a sniffling and sobbing wreck. Ignore this. In fact, it’s best if you just leave. Because I have no filter, and will talk to pretty much anyone about how I feel about you. The next day I’ll realise what an idiot move this is, and I’ll also know I probably exaggerated a bit when I told the hobo on the side of the road that we were “made for one another”. But in those moments, I will believe it. So, I suggest you leave and pretend it never happened. Hey, if you’re up for a drunken screaming match at 4 in the morning, whilst I make proclamations about my feelings for you that I probably will never remember, stick around. That truly is some people’s ideas of fun. Just do me a favour. Note the following disclaimer, you have been warned. If you choose to stick around during my far-from-sober moments, you have no right to make me feel worse the next day by reiterating what an idiot I am when I call to apologise. I’m already beating myself up about it enough as it is. Don’t kick me when I’m down. That’s just mean, yo.

In the end, I will make many mistakes. I’ll like you too much. I’ll fluctuate between putting it all out there and telling you exactly how I feel, and playing hard to get. I don’t do this on purpose, you must understand. I do it because when it comes to relationships, I’m probably the biggest idiot on Earth. And not because I want to be. I blame my idealistic and hopelessly romantic nature, coupled with my moments of braveness which then result in me back-peddling as quickly as possible in an effort to not scare you completely away. So, let’s save ourselves some time.
Unless you like me too, let’s swear to conduct ourselves as follows:
When we both respectively realise that I like you, run.
Run far, and run fast.
Because I like you.
Now, run.

Left to my own devices when you’re gone, I will reread old text messages from you. I mean, I didn’t save them for this purpose… But if they’re automatically saved to my phone, well, best I make use of them. And chances are, I’ll smile just as widely as I did when you first sent them. And I’ll hear your voice in my head as I read them. And I’ll end up missing you more.

When I can’t stand to miss you any longer, I’ll go for a run. Once a day, I’ll run. At least 6 kilometres and at most 10 – because we both know my legs are quite short, and to run any further would make me pass out (read: die). So, I’ll run. And whilst I run, I’ll listen to music. There’ll be an assortment of songs playing in my ears, with words that may or may not remind me of you. And I may put our song on repeat, firstly because I like the song, and secondly because every time I listen to it, I hope somehow the words will pop into your mind and make the distance between us that little bit less.

I will say ‘yes’. The key to forgetting how much I miss you, will be to keep busy. So every invite extended my way by a friend or family member will be accepted. Perhaps a long lost friend whose face I haven’t seen in six years will want to catch up over coffee, or perhaps I just won’t be able to say ‘no’ to the 7th night out in a row with friends. Either way, I will say ‘yes’. And wherever these invites end up leading me, I’ll get there and for a second, wish you were with me. But only for a second because I’ll lose myself in the moments shared with the people I find. Until I get home. And crawl into bed. And find myself suspended in the moments between midnight and sunrise, lost beneath the hilly landscape of my duvet… And it is then that I will forget to forget how much I miss you. And I’ll fall asleep fooling myself into believing that the pillow around which my arms rest, will magically restore itself into you. Even if only for a second.

I’ll completely change my life around. I’ll resolve to be more organised, more prepared for things, and more dedicated to work. I’ll launch myself into a new fitness regime and give half my clothes to charity. I’ll move the furniture in my bedroom around, and repaint the walls. I’ll hang new pictures, and immerse myself into creating an entirely new world. And after all of this, I’ll still miss you. Because the letters you wrote me will remain at the bottom of my jewelry box. As much sense as it makes to throw them out, I won’t. And the photographs we took of ourselves that day will still live in the drawer of my bedside table, readily available should I wish to lose myself in them and the memories they represent. And as much as my life and surroundings may have changed, I’ll still be the same. And that means that I’ll still miss you when you’re gone.

I’ll tell everyone in my life how well I’m doing. I’ll be better off, and I’ll ensure everyone knows it, or at least, hears me say it. And there’ll be times when I believe it. Wonderful, flash-in-the-pan kind of moments where I can finally breathe without a memory of you haunting me. But these moments will fade as quickly as they arrived. And I’ll be back to square one. And if you ever decide that you miss me, too, that’s where you’ll find me… Right where you left me.

I’m a messy traveller. I can plan as far in advance as even the most paranoid of the population (although I don’t) and still arrive in a flurry of chaos as they announce the final boarding call. Yup. I live on the proverbial edge when it comes to travel – and half of you are still wondering what this final boarding call that I mentioned earlier, might sound like. Me? I have never heard the first boarding call. I consider it a good day when I hear the final boarding call at I reach the check-in. A job well done, indeed!

I am also, unfortunately, not a graceful traveller. Those women who arrive with matching luggage and wrinkle-free clothes are goddesses in my eyes. My luggage resembles what I’d like to imagine a circus might look like when boarding a plan. Colours and shapes vary drastically, and I always board with several (too many) books and writing journals arranged around my person. In addition to this, I am quite unable to move around my house stain free, so hoping for any better when crossing the country, or jumping continents, would be sheer lunacy. When I land, regardless of whether there’s been turbulence or not, I will have a vast array of stains announcing my arrival, and I will also resemble a somewhat dishevelled bushbaby. Use your imagination.

On top of all of this, I am also a decidedly unlucky traveller. Out of all the planes I’ve been on during all the years of my life, I have yet to be seated next to the Ryan Reynolds lookalike. No, no. You’ll find me crammed beside the drunk and obnoxious old man, or the mentally jarring and impossibly loud American tourist. The only time I’m somewhat fortunate when it comes to travel by air, is in getting the window seat (a love instilled in me as a child by my dad). In this way, I have yet to be put off flying completely for the rest of my life. As long as I can gaze out across the quilted landscape as we jet off into the sky, I shall persevere. In the meantime, if you wouldn’t mind letting me squeeze by, the baby in the seat next to me just threw up. All over me.

It’s come to my attention that my dating life, up until now, is being used as the example section of “how not to do it” in the conversations of my family and friends. I’ve become that girl. The girl that’s invited to tell the horror stories of her past relationships to make other women feel better. And I’m sitting here wondering when I let it get this bad? I mean, did my mother read me one too many fairy tales, instilling in me a deep desire to kiss a frog (or 100) and find a prince? Never disheartened, I’ve resolved to come up with a few guide lines for myself, and any other ladies, who can’t seem to take the psychotic glint in our potential partner’s eyes as reason enough to run.

1. If he uses his cell phone whilst you’re on a date – especially the first date – even if he apologises. Come on! He carries his phone around with him 24 hours a day and can’t take an hour or two off to meet your eye line and actually hold a conversation that isn’t punctuated with message alert tones? What, must you learn to mimic the sound his cell phone makes in order to come top of the charts? How about no. Next please.

2. If he uses any one of the following to describe himself: asshole, commitment phobe, serial monogamist, jerk, free spirit, lone wolf, etc. Come on ladies, I know this guy. I’ve been there. A man who’ll tell you that he’s one of these, but adds that “perhaps things will be different with you,” had said this line before. And guess what? It won’t be different. It’s never different. Take him at face value. He’s giving you a warning, so dodge the bullet honey. Let’s not run face first into this brick wall again expecting a different result.

3. If he’s flaky. Are you constantly waiting to hear from him so you can arrange to see him? And when you do make plans, does he cancel them last minute or just never get back to you because he was super busy? Well, maybe he’s busy, but I’ve yet to meet someone who can’t send a text that takes all of thirty seconds to type to ensure you don’t sit around feeling worthless. If you have time to pee for Heaven’s sake, then you have time to send a text! And ladies, this guy, the one for whom you’ll make excuses to yourself and your friends, he’s actually sort of magical. Want to know his most effective trick? The moment you stop making excuses for him; stop texting him; and stop waiting around for him, he will disappear from your life for good. Kinda neat, huh?

4. If he never compliments you. Now, I know what it’s like to wish a guy would like you. You’d be wiling to do anything – ANYTHING – and yet, you can never quite NOT get upset when he tells you how beautiful he thinks another woman is. She may be in a film, a magazine or walking passed you on the street. Either way, when you’re trying to be the best you can be, and that STILL isn’t deemed worthy of a compliment from this cheap and insensitive waste of time you’re seeing, I have one word for you: run. You’re incredible. You’re beautiful. You’re sensitive, and your capacity to love – as a woman – knows no bounds. So dammit lady, give yourself the compliments he won’t, and move on.

5. If he won’t hold your hand, give you a hug, or kiss you unless it’s the prelude to sexual intercourse. Enough said, it’s that simple.

Relationships are tricky as hell, and Lord knows I remain in square one when it comes to them. But if we’re the ones in control of our lives and those we let into them, I think we ought to resolve to be a little bit smarter about these decisions, don’t you? I’m done chasing, and I’m done giving everything for nothing in return. I’m going old school. Chivalry is not dead, and it’s the least I demand. I am woman, hear me roar. No more grey area, no more murky, no more “it’s better than nothing.” I do well by myself, and I will not be tamed. It’s never too late to not settle for anything less than you deserve.