Archive

honest


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
Advertisements

When it’s good, it’ll be right. And when it’s right, you’ll know. You won’t have known all the time, but there’ll be moments when everything is suddenly so clear that you can’t understand why you’d ever considered doing things any other way. When it’s good, it’ll be so right that to behave, think, speak or feel any other way, will be wrong. And when it’s wrong, it’ll be the worst.

When it’s good, it’ll be the best. And this doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be perfect. No one ever said that perfection was naturally the best. And whilst it may not be perfect, it’ll still be good. In a life where so very many things can go wrong, be wrong, feel wrong, the ability to recognise and hold onto what’s good may get a little lost. We’re so busy concerning ourselves with how the people and “traditions” of the world dictate us to feel, and who we ought to be, and what is or isn’t acceptable, that we lose sight of the most important fact: you get one life. One. And you’re the one who has to live it, everyday. So why would you choose anything other than what’s good, what’s right?

When it’s right, you’ll know. You can have faith in that. And when it’s wrong, you’ll know, too. The only thing that ever gets in the way in the pursuit of what’s right, is ourselves. We sit, and worry, and think, and wait. Instead of wondering who you are to have so much good, ask yourself who you are not to?

When I wonder who the people I have respect for are, my answers are probably somewhat unorthodox. It’s the man or woman who says “I don’t” when standing at the alter – arguably one of the most unacceptable places at which to be completely honest about how you feel. It’s the young rape victim who, pregnant with the rapist’s child, brings the child up to be the very antithesis of all of the evil of the man who caused his conception. It’s the mothers who love their children through the terrible two’s, teenage angst, drug addictions and worse. It’s the man who follows his heart in pursuit of the woman he loves, because even though his friends may tease him for being “whipped,” he’d rather sacrifice a man card or two, than ever risk losing her.

When it’s good, it won’t always be good, but it’ll be right. And you’ll know it. With every part of you. Once you know it, the times it isn’t so good will be okay. Because no one ever promised you that it would be easy, just that it’d be worth it. So, let go of the past. Let go of the fear. Start again. And this time, give more. Trust more. Love more.  Find what’s good. Find what’s right.

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.

I’m bored of the cynics. I’m bored of the moaning, and the people who give up because they got hurt. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s time for some tough loving. Having been on various social networking websites for a couple of years now, we all know the various motions that are bound to take place at certain points in the year, and in our lives. These include (but aren’t limited to): the Valentine’s Day “it’s a commercial holiday created by card and candy companies to boost sales” banter; the “my life is over, I’ll never love again, and I can’t even remember how to breath or brush my teeth without you” post-break-up statuses; and the “I am single and staying that way. You all suck. F*#% off,” posts that frequent our various news feeds. Well, I’m bored.

I hate to break to you all, but being a cynic, it’s easy. It’s a cop out, if you ask me. Seeing the negative in everything, it’s doesn’t take a genius. There’s so much of it out there in the world. It’s easy to focus on all the ways in which love, life, and people fall short of your hopes, dreams, and expectations. Oooh why don’t you be real controversial and say something about you hate love and couples in love? Look at you and your bad self. Because that’s all there is. You. And yourself.

I want to challenge you. Step up to the plate. Take the bat in hand, and swing! Stop reiterating the thoughts of the 92-year-old angry man next door. Let it go. Oscar Wilde stated that “hearts were made to be broken.” And it’ll happen. And when it happens, it will suck. It will hurt. It will cause you pain that starts in your toes and sits in your stomach and chokes at your throat. You’ll wish you were dead. You’ll cry. You’ll hope every SMS and phone call brings the words “I made a mistake.” You’ll laugh with your friends, but feel like you’ll never truly laugh again. And after all of this, you’ll move on. You’ll heal. A little bruised and scarred perhaps, but wiser and more thankful for all that you experienced.

We’re in a leap year that some say will end with the end of the world. Whatever your views on this, I just see it as a another reason to live. When it comes to things in life, if you’re doing them half-heartedly you may as well not do them at all. Having one foot in the door, means that you still have one foot out of it, ready to run should the smallest of reasons arise. And I’m bored with it. I’m bored with the excuses, the damaged goods, the baggage we choose to cart around with us. That’s right, we choose what we carry with us. And we choose what we let go. So when you eventually get far enough the road of love, turn back and be thankful for the moments and happiness you shared; send love and light, and let go.

I believe that we’re given fire to teach us about water; death to learn about life; and pain to learn about joy. So take the good with the bad. Pick yourself up when you fall. Never settle for anything less than butterflies. Never stay in a relationships when your loved ones ask you “how bad does it have to get?” And give yourself another chance. Believe in romance, in love. Have hope. And leave the cynicism to someone else. It’s not a good look for you. Rather reach for the moon and land amongst the stars.

I challenge you to be strong; to never give up; and to hand out love whenever you can. Remain open to the possibility that you, too, can be loved. And you will be. I promise.

I know the start of something new can be scary. It can be incredibly daunting. Every ‘first’ is so shiny, so new, and the exhilaration of sharing these firsts with another human being – a human being that you could grow to love – is quite unlike any feeling we experience in our lives. It’s not always perfect, and realistically, every relationship you have WILL end until you find the one relationship that doesn’t. And in the end, this may even be a relationship with yourself. However, as homage to the hopeful romantic inside of me (and every one of us, I believe), why not make a few promises on what I feel, an ‘us’ might be like…

Promise #1: there will be adventure. 
As a firm believer in never saying never, and trying everything once, I can guarantee you that we will go on adventures at least once a week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean we’ll necessarily be throwing ourselves out of planes and off of mountains at an alarming rate. No. But maybe we’ll try both of those at some point. By adventure I mean novelty. So if you want to build a tent under the dining room table and stay up late telling stories, or take a mattress out to the balcony and fall asleep under the stars, you can guarantee I’ll be in. I’ll make us sandwiches, you bring the coffee flask, and we’ll climb to the tops of mountains at midnight. Whatever tickles your fancy, and whatever tickles mine, we’ll do it together and it’ll be nothing short of magic.
Promise #2: there will be magic.
Those moments we’re told ‘only exist in the movies’? They’ll happen. I don’t know how many people know this, but all you have to do is let them happen. Be it rainbows after a storm as we surf perfect waves, or a misty full moon across the ocean as we round the top of a mountain road bend. It’ll be magic. And when we’re there, together, in the thick of it, that’ll be magic too. We may not know it at the moment, but these will be memories we’ll never forget. And if you’d take my hand before folding me into your arms and kissing me, well, that’d be magic too.
Promise #3: I will bring home strays.
You’d hide it super well, but the amount of times I’d ask you to stop to pick up a stray along the side of the road – even in the dead of night – well, it might irritate you. So, I won’t do it too much. But if I’m alone and successfully manage to coax a stray woofy into my car, it will be brought home. And fed. And loved. And cuddled. And yes, it will be allowed to sleep on our bed. Because it’s cold.
Promise #4: I’ll only ask to keep the stray once. Maybe twice. But three will be the absolute limit.
I know a dog is a lot of hard work. I do. And we’ll both be working hard and possibly long hours. So, I know that ideally the dogs I pick up on the side of the road ought to go to a home with children in it so that they can dedicate hours and hours of play to the pup. But I’ll ask if we can keep him or her. And I’ll ask again. And I may even ask a third time. But I’ll respect your decision and understand the reasons why we actually can’t get a pet right now. And I’ll promise to take the woofy to the shelter. Tomorrow. But tonight, it’s definitely sleeping on the bed.
Promise #5: I’ll bake if you deal with the spiders and Parktown Prawns.
I love to bake. I’ll bake everyday. And I’ll even make you heart shaped scones topped with strawberry jam so you’ll know just how much I love you. But when there’s a spider or a Parktown prawn, I will squeal like a little girl. I’ll jump up and come find you, demanding that you drop what you’re doing to rescue me. And when you’ve got the offending insect far away from me, I’ll retell the story to our friends emphasizing the sheer size of the insect (it’ll always be HUGE!) and the bravery of my knight in shining armour!
(P.S. because I understand how scary these two things can be, I won’t judge if you’re a little frightened, too. Oh and you absolutely cannot kill it. You have to take it outside where it can happily live out its remaining days. Far away from me.)
Promise #6: I will use you for your body warmth.
I get cold very easily. I am also stubborn about this. I won’t ever take the jersey or jacket off your back, even if you offer. I mean, if you offer more than once who am I to refuse. But I really will try to refuse. However, I have no shame when it comes to the use of your body for warming purposes. This may sound harmless, but it could get taxing. When we’re sitting and watching TV, my feet will worm their way under your bum, and my hands might relocate themselves to rest against your warm tummy. In bed, I’ll bury my cold nose into your neck whilst wedging my (still) cold feet between your calves. I admit to somewhat predatory heat-seeking methods, but here’s where I’ll compromise. I promise I’ll wear socks to sleep, to lessen the shock of my refreshingly chilly feet against your skin. Now that is what I call love.
Promise #7: Man Flu will be treated as if it were a real disease.
There’s some truth to the belief that men regress to become total babies when they fall ill with even the least serious of ailments. The common cold has been known to topple full grown men into whining and whinging masses of man-flesh. However, your every need shall be catered for. I shall bring you tea in bed, and climb in along side you. I’ll keep all the stories of just how much you moan to myself, and ensure that you receive all the T.L.C. you need. That said, don’t take this for granted. Abuse my loving nature by asking me to run your bath because you “feel too yucky,” and I shall expose all of the evidence on how pathetically you behaved. Yes, I’ll even take photo’s. Boom.
There are many promises I can make to you, about ‘us.’ But for today, we’ll leave it at these seven. The rest will be discovered along the way. In the meantime, let’s go on an adventure. The sandwiches are made, just remember the flask of coffee; we’ll grab our walking boots and get lost somewhere.