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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.
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Meet him one night, at a bar, at a friend’s house, through your sister. Hit it off. Find the stories of the adventures he’s been on riveting, and find yourself excited at the prospect of a new-found friendship. Think nothing more of it than an opportunity to go on a new adventure or two yourself, and resolve to say “yes” to every opportunity this new-found friend brings.
Go surfing. Climb mountains. Drink too much too often. And always, always have excellent war stories from the night before, as the two of you reminisce amidst fits of laughter over what he said/she said, he did/she did scenarios. Call each other nicknames that have no real meaning, and playfully wrestle when a disagreement over whose ordering the take out arises. Bake weed cookies, and stay up all night watching horror films. Share a bed, but never think that anything might happen because you’re “just friends”.
Go out drinking, another night out, to any one of the usual places. Order the usual first round before the night dissolves into the usual myriad of shooters and bad decisions. Notice there’s something different, but don’t figure out what it is. Until…
Share a kiss on the dance floor. Let the sound of the music fade away in the background. Don’t think any romantic thoughts, it won’t click straight away that he was someone you could fall for. Instead, find yourself trying to gage his kissing skills, and wondering if your breath smells. Pull out, just to make sure you’re kissing who you think you’re kissing, and then just throw caution to the wind, and continue. He’s not that bad a kisser anyway…
Uh. Oh.
Find yourself driving two days later, running errands which don’t really require the command of your full attention. As you drive, find your thoughts drifting to that night you first kissed. Smile. Stop smiling. Find it odd that you smiled in the first place. Shake your head and write it off to nothing more than the appreciation of a good friend, but find yourself wondering if it’ll happen again…
Let it happen again. And again. Now when he sleeps over, find your bodies pulled together so that you lie side-by-side spooning, a magnetic force between you that means you’re never more than 10 centimetres apart. Kiss for hours, slowly building up the anticipation each time, until neither of you can take it anymore. Have sex. Briefly hear a tiny voice in your head asking you what the hell you think you’re doing, before the touch of his tongue to your neck pulls you back into the moment and over the edge of reason. Lie together afterwards, awkward yet comfortable. Hold hands as you do so. Fall asleep spooning.
Wake up and replay the night before in your mind. Crack open your eyelids to find him sleeping still beside you. Let your hands wonder over his body, bringing him to consciousness and arousal simultaneously. Have sex again. Lazily this time. With as much passion as the night before, without the will or need to rush. Grab a shower afterwards and come out to a cup of coffee and a kiss awaiting you. Say goodbye, and part ways.
Chat to him now and again over the next week. Find yourself blinking twice whenever he uses the word “dude” in a message to you. Think nothing of it. Wait to see him again. Do so, at a bar with friends. Try not to feel confused when nothing is different. Note the lack of something… Something special when he talks to, or looks at, you. Be just another face in the crowd around the table. Push your feelings deep down inside.
Bide your time. Every now and then, find him back at your place after a night out and one too many drinks. Have sex again. Ignore the voice in your head begging to know what’s going on. Resolve not to be that girl. Swear you’ll just go with the flow. Don’t acknowledge the silent horror of your skipped heart beat when he jokes about being “friends with benefits”. Fail to see any benefits, beyond the half-an-hour to an hour you share in your bed, during which you can fool yourself that he sees you as someone beautiful; as someone worth loving; as someone full stop.
Never get the answers to the questions that race through your heart and mind. Let go of the exciting potential promised by the first kiss. Resign yourself to the notion that you are “just friends”. But never let the flame go out; that flame that dares to unhinge the cool, calm and collected image you’ve worked so hard to construct… That flame that urges you to wonder if he’ll ever like you, ever love you, never leave you. That flame that burns you every single time you dare to let it glow a little brighter.
That burning, fiery flame.


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

I’m not crazy. 
I know I might come across that way, and trust me, I don’t mean to. I’ll explain. My friends have always laughed about the fact that my mind never stops, and often the end result is that I’ll come out with very bizarre statements that frequently have very little to do with anything we’ve been discussing. At all. But in my head, I made the transitions, the connections that lead me to that point. And just because I didn’t say all of it out loud, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense… To me, anyway. Point is, I may have done that with ‘us’… Made the transitions and connections in my head and heart, that lead me to the point where I knew I liked you. So whilst I said it out loud, you were still several steps behind me, wondering how on Earth I’d ended up where I did. So, believe me when I say I’m not crazy. I just like you.

I will miss you. 
I know it’s a really small statement to make, but people don’t say it enough – especially when it is exactly what they’re feeling. I think of everything we’ve shared, and how I went and messed it all up – because let’s be honest, I did a bit – and I have only one clear emotion (I refuse to ever regret anything) and that is that I will miss you. Time will heal us both. We will move on. In a few months, perhaps a year, I’ll find someone who’ll make me laugh and I’ll start to like him, instead. But I can guarantee this – I will miss you. I may not feel it every moment of every day, but there’ll be moments in each day – lots at first, and less with time. Perhaps a song will come on, or I’ll come across a line in a book that reminds me of you. Perhaps I’ll play that game we always used to play where we’d open a book and read the first line our eyes fell on as the answer to the questions of the world… Point is, I will miss you.

I didn’t mean to make a mess of everything. 
It’d be alright, I think, if it had been the first time this time. But it wasn’t. And the more you seemed to point out where I was falling short, the shorter I seemed to fall. I genuinely don’t know if it’s just me who learns by making mistakes, but I seem to have made almost every mistake imaginable. And then I just make more. The first time, I got scared and ran away. And I thought you’d never forgive me for it. Then you got scared and ran away, and I thought I’d never forgive you. Then we forgave each other and seemed to launch into a whole new exciting and potential-filled phase… Until you ran away. Again. This time, however, I have to forgive you. Because you only ran, when I chased you.

I believed you. 
I have this stupid habit where I believe people – I’ve researched cures for it, but there don’t seem to be any that don’t involve being a 99-year-old spinster with 17 cats whose fluent in cynicism. Not a great look for me. So, I believed you when you told me how important I was to you. And when you said we’d be friends for life in the very least, and that you did have feelings for me, it just wasn’t the right time… Well, I believed it all. I drank it up. I was onboard – hook, line and sinker! Even now, I’m not entirely certain that I don’t still believe you… I know. I’m a bit of a sucker for punishment.

I’m sorry.
Just that… I’m sorry.

On Monday, I’m going away. I don’t know how long for. I mean, I do actually have to come back – I’m unfortunately tied to various commitments that begin again in July, so disappearing into the wide world isn’t an option, just yet. But on Monday, I’ll go and I may come back after a week. Or I may not. Perhaps I’ll come back in a month. Who knows. And whilst I don’t know how long I’m going away for, or even where I may end up on my journey, I can tell you why I’m going…

I’m going away because if you asked me to stay, I would. I’d cancel my flight, get into your car, drive to your house, snuggle up on the couch with you, and stay. I would give up my adventure for you. And that’s the best reason I can think of not to. Whilst this may not make much sense, there is a point. Somewhere.. In all of my past relationships, I’ve given. I’ve given up things; I’ve given up myself; and my time and my dreams. I’ve given and given and given. And when it ended, I discovered, to my horror, I’d given so much that I had nothing left. I had given up pieces of my heart, my ‘ness’. So, I had to rebuild everything from scratch. And when I began this process of rebuilding, eight months ago, I decided never to deny myself something I wanted, for someone else who can’t give you a good enough reason to do. So, what I want right now, is to go on my adventure. But I can’t pretend that I don’t want you to want me to stay, either.

I’m going because if I stay, I will break us. I have never been very good at the whole relationships thing. It takes me a long time to love, yet when I do, I do so with a love that transcends gaps in distance, and lifestyle, and even logic. When I love, I am dedicated and hopeful. Every sign you give me – whether it’s intended or not – is one more sign for me to fall even more for you. And I know we said we’d just be friends and see where things went, but you didn’t help me when you kissed me. I mean, I have quite a few friends and you’re the only one that kisses me… So, naturally, I believed it meant more than it did. And when you didn’t make an effort to see me, in the build up to my leaving, well, it didn’t make sense to my head, or my heart. So, instead of ruining us by asking you a thousand questions so I can know exactly where I stand, I’m leaving.

I wish I felt as strong and brave as some people say I’m being. To walk away from someone you care about, and not only to walk away, but to hop on a plane and end up on the other side of the country… Well, apparently that takes some guts. But if I’m honest, and I do try to be, it doesn’t feel like bravery. Because when I get off of the train at the airport, I’ll hope you’re standing there. When I line up to check-in for my flight, I’ll listen out for your voice speaking my name, asking me to turn around and stay with you. And when I go through the gates, a hundred Romantic Comedy airport scenes will inspire my heart to beat faster as I walk slowly to the metal bird that promises to take me away from you, and any hope that I still might have…

Once I’ve gone, I’ll still think of you. I’ll hope that maybe you’ll think of me, too. Maybe, once I’ve gone, you’ll miss me. Maybe you’ll see who I am, and what I mean to you… Or maybe you won’t. And we’ll just grow further apart, until one day we’re nothing but the odd Facebook status update chanced upon on a normal Thursday afternoon. A flicker of recognition will cross your face as my name registers something to your brain; and a skipped heartbeat will jolt my heart as it recalls the feelings I felt for you…

So, I’m going away. But, dammit, I wish you’d ask me to stay.

Think about it.

When I was at school, I remember learning about a poem in English entitled “My Blue Umbrella”. The poem was about a child’s acquisition of language, learning the names of things. But as the child learnt the proper names for things, it lost its ability to creatively express itself. The title itself, My Blue Umbrella, was not in reference to a blue umbrella at all, but a peacock. The child, not yet acquanted with the name of the creature, had had to come up with a way of expressing itself. So, whilst we require language to effectively communicate with others, we lose something in the acquisition of this language. We lose an innocence and brazen creativity that we’re blessed with from the moment we’re born.

However, even once we’ve acquired this language and the words of the language to – presumably – express ourselves, our feelings and thoughts, to others without difficulty, this is often not the case. I read a quote once that states “language is the source of all misunderstanding”. And part of me has begun to believe this is absolutely true.

When we’re learning a language, be it for the first time or the tenth, we’re given words. But what we aren’t necessarily given is the meaning, to us as individuals, behind those words. Think about it. How do we know what nausea means? No one sat us down as stated that for us, individually, when we feel queasy, as if we’re going to throw up, then we will be feeling what is referred to as nausea. To complicate matters, look up nausea and it’ll define it as when you feel queasy; look up quesy and it’ll define it as when you feel nauseous. There are no hard and fast rules that what a word means to one person, it will mean the same to another. And it is this that really messes things up.

How can relationships end when people make vows to love and cherish one another, until death do them part? To all intensive purposes, to love one another forever? Well, because of the language. What forever means to one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll mean the same to another. The same with love. I tend to shy away from using the word unless it is absolutely the word for the feeling that I have, and it is for this reason that I’ve used it sparingly. But luckily, due to this over-cautious nature surrounding the word, everytime that I have used it, I have meant it.

I think we all need to make an effort to say exactly what we mean, and mean exactly what we say. If you don’t mean forever, don’t say it. Don’t love someone, don’t say it. Rather hurt someone with the truth, than protect them with a lie. We could all do to be a bit kinder to one another when it comes to our words. And maybe we need to start listening with a little more critical analysis of what it is we hear. I’m guilty party number one when it comes to dissecting every little statement a man makes in the hope that his “I don’t like you,” actually means “I will love you”. Talk about wishful thinking.

Let’s make a mid-year resolution. Let’s be honest with one another. Let’s listen and really hear what it is that’s being said. And let’s not waste time any longer on those who can’t tell us what it we want, and deserve, to hear. To a world where creativity thrives, and words mean what they say! Hear, hear!

There are a myriad of reasons why I can’t do this. I don’t really believe that I even know where to begin. But I can’t do this. And I’ll try my very best to tell you why.

I can’t do this because when you tell me that I’m beautiful, I believe you. And I can’t have that. I can’t have someone convincing me that they see beauty in me. If I believe you – and sometimes I do – then what’ll happen when you leave? Because you will leave.

That’s another one. I can’t do this because you’ll leave. You won’t know it yet, but I do. I’ll ignore the fact, however. A sort of emotional masochistic endeavor. But I won’t be entirely ignorant. I’ll convince myself that this time it’ll be different. This time I’ll be loved. This time you will stay and I can feel safe. This time…

What else? Well, for one thing, you have soft pillows. There. I said it. You want to know why I can’t do this, and that’s a perfectly viable reason. The pillows on your bed are so soft it feels as if I’m sleeping on a marshmallow – which actually isn’t as pleasant as it sounds.

I can’t do this because when you look at me, I can’t breathe for a second. And if you were to look at me for longer, with the meaning in your eyes that I hope to find, I’d die. Just keel over. You may not know this, but breathing is necessary for living. Yup. And your taking my breath away is for one thing, decidedly rude, and for another, impeding the efficiency of my living processes.

I can’t do this because you make me laugh – even when I’ve had the worst day. Your eyes captivate me. Your voice enthralls me so that I just want you to tell me stories all day long. I can’t do this because you have made me forget about the other 3,456,782,396 men on the planet. I can’t do this because if I did, I’d never want to not do it. I can’t do this because you hesitate when I tell you how I feel. You hesitate when I ask you to kiss me. And you’ll hesitate when I ask you to love me.

I can’t do this, us, love, because… Well, if I’m honest – completely 100% honest – I can do this.
And I want to. But if I need to find reasons not to, to protect myself, then I will.
Even if the only reason I can find is those damn pillows!