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Learning who someone really is, can be both the best and worst lesson we have to undertake. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve had the honour – and the heartbreak – of having to relearn this lesson in its many shapes and forms. These lessons have shaped the course of my life, and it’s with bittersweet memories that I’m able to recount its contribution to my life.

I’ve lost many friends to the various in’s and out’s of life’s path. The most recent being the most difficult since his reason for the friendship ending left much to be desired. That being said, his reason was none. That I knew at least. I’d SMS, call, even Facebook chat towards the end, but alas – he wished me a nice life and so I resolve to live it. He was not the friend I believed him to be, not by a long shot. For no friend could punish a friend in the way he has punished me, nor turn any and all care and good done between them into nothing but anger and bitterness. I wish him all the best, but will never be his friend again. And that’s sad. Letting go of friends such as these, special, wonderful, dear friends is hard – most of all when there’s no feasible reason for it – but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that you can’t MAKE someone love you, or want to be in your life. And if someone wants out, you can’t stop them – well, without resorting to kidnapping that is 😉 a little humour always lightens such topics I find.

Now for the flip side. How is this tumultuous tutoring of people’s real sides ever one of the best things to happen? Well, when you’re left more than a little pleasantly surprised. And this happened with none other than my darling lover. The man with whom I’ve been the happiest woman alive for the past three months. Upon first meeting him, there was no electric connections or love at first sight. I found him abrasive and abrupt. Imagine my surprise then when one intoxicated night spent at the Bohemian allowed me to finally experience those long-over-due butterflies, goosebumps and beaming smiles. Finally getting to know the real him has allowed me to get to know one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, and whose existence brings me happiness each and every single day!

So, to end, I say – may the pleasant surprises be many, and the unpleasant ones few and far between. But for every sadness remember that it’s there to purely make you truly appreciate the happiness when it does come. And I promise you. It will come.

When one thinks of taking time and getting away, Magaliesburg is rarely the destination of choice. More often than not, if we could have  a trip for free, we’d be boarding flights and taking trips all over the world! Well, last Saturday my darling boyfriend and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 5 in the morning to make the trip to Magaliesburg in order to go Kloofing – known to Americans as Canyoneering. Not knowing what to expect, we were very excited despite the weather doing its best to dampen our excitement.

You’ll be glad to know, it didn’t! What ensued were five of the best hours I’ve ever spent in the wilderness. Beginning at 9am, the experience begins with a walk up a mountain to the edge of the Revine at a height of about 60metres. After descending down into the revine, it soon becomes clear that there’s only one way out and it’s forward and down.

The first part of the revine is filled with a hint of things to come. There’s very little clue as to what awaits you as you journey down, until you come to a tree with only the sound of water crashing down onto rocks to provide the scenery that your eyes can’t see. A short, but delicious lunch spent here allows for the butterflies to build before the guide – with a smile lighting his eyes – asks who’ll go first. I volunteered, due to my dedication to the “now or never” school of thought.

All went well. Until I looked down. Hanging perpendicular to the rock face with a waterfall crashing down beside me onto jagged rocks can induce more than a little heart pounding. The easiest and most enjoyable part of the abseil was towards the end wherein for the last ten-twelve metres you’re completely free from the rock face and get more than a little wet swinging underneath the waterfall. A brisk – and chilly – swim across the 20metre pool below allows you to turn back and fully grasp the sheer beauty of the feat you’ve just accomplished.

From there, little more remains than to have fun and go forth. There’s no turning back at all from there, and so when the guide tells you to jump into the water off a rock or to slide down the bum slide – a rock worn smooth over time – you do it! You barely realise how tired you’re getting until the fatigue causes you to slip a little more and fall a little more. I escaped the whole expedition without any more injuries than a gash to my right shin from an ill-aimed jump into a pool.

All-in-all, I cannot suggest a more wonderful and fulfilling experience than Kloofing! If abseiling isn’t your thing, another revine is explored in which a jump from a 10metre tall rock takes its place. Such an experience, and less than two hours drive from good ol’ Joburg, I suggest you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and go on an adventure! 🙂

My vagina is an illegal immigrant. Bourne in a land far, far away, snuck across the border under cover of darkness, it takes part in criminal activity and its English leaves much to be desired!

Its fluency rather lies in Spanish, or French, perhaps even Mandarin. It must do, since I can’t understand a word it’s trying to say to me.

Let me explain. The first time I had an orgasm, I was already 19. Almost exactly a year after “All The Darkness” happened. Anyway, the orgasm, it happened by mistake. A complete accident.

I mean, it wasn’t as if I tripped, fell to the floor, bumped my head and came. No. But I wasn’t trying to have one. How could I have been when I honestly didn’t know what the hell I was doing! As for my vagina, try as I might, the words she used in an effort to tell me what was going on made little more sense than, well, than Quantum Physics.

There I was, just lying on my back, legs spread-eagle, and staring at the ceiling, giving the odd moan here and there. Lord knows why, I mean a man must not really hear all that much with thighs cupping each of his ears. Anyway, I was staring at the ceiling… well, actually, I was watching the TV – a documentary about Snow Geese. Fascinating stuff, really! Did you know that Snow Geese only have one mate for the whole of their… Sorry. Where was I? All this stuff about orgasms sort of makes me lose my mind…

There I was, moan, moan, moan – when next thing I know my vagina imploded sending shivers and squirms and spasms of pleasure up and down every single nerve and fibre of my being!

If you missed my meaning, it was good. World-rockingly good!

I may not have been able to understand what my vagina had been trying to tell me, but the giant grin she wore correlated with the warm glow emanating from deep inside of me.

When I’d recovered, I said to my vagina, I said “listen, do that again.”

Its grin disappeared.

“That thing,” I said, “you just did it!”

It stared and me blankly.

“Right now, that explosion!”

It blinked and then raised its eyebrows.

“Come on, you must know what I mean!”

Searchingly it looked around the room, before turning back to me and speaking. “Que?”

Fuck. I took stock and decided that if it’d happened once, it would do so again. But it didn’t.

And all the doubts, and anger, and fear that had first featured after “All The Darkness” happened, came flooding back. Because, you see, my vagina is a criminal. And I can’t go to the police. Because of “All The Darkness.” With the boy. The 19-year old, first in his class, funny, clever, brown-eyed-boy. He’s not a criminal. My vagina is a criminal.

Because my vagina and I – we went to that party to see him. We drank the drinks he bought us, and laughed when he’d flirt. We climbed the stairs and let him unlock the gate when we couldn’t find the key. I knew I felt uneasy, unsafe. But I didn’t do anything about it, and that makes me the criminal. I kissed him back when he kissed me, and let him think I was the kind of girl who didn’t want, who didn’t need. Vulnerable, never vulnerable.

But yes, I told him to stop. I drew the line. I threw away my carefree image and begged him not to… But he wouldn’t listen. And who else can I blame but myself? One kiss, two kisses, three kisses and he wouldn’t stop. I waited for him to be satisfied all the while telling him enough was enough.

But by then I had no vagina. Not the emancipated, self-sufficient kind anyway. Not the kind that many great women before me meant me to have. My vagina was locked away in shame, in hiding, like the criminal that it is.

When I eventually told my parents four years later, I could hear their hearts begging for it not to be true and for me to have kicked and screamed and fought my way free. But to tell you the truth, I don’t remember what I did. When it was over I got up and I left, and buried both him and my vagina deep, deep into The Darkness behind words I chose not to understand.

But now, everything has changed. I met a man, and my vagina and I fell in love. We fell in love with a man who made me love myself first, and it is that which set both my vagina and I free.

Because of him, I’ve learnt that my vagina is beautiful and that I should not only hope for orgasms, but that I deserve them.

Because of him, my vagina can wear its stilettos and little black dress without quivering in fear at the eyes of the men around her.

Because of him, my vagina and I finally feel comfortable in our own skin, our own naked, make-up free skin.

Because of him, my vagina can stand tall and tell the world, “here I am. Read my lips!”

And it is because of all of this, that my vagina and I are free and able to speak in English and finally tell the world:

“I was raped but I’m not a victim. And neither is my vagina.”

By Robyn Porteous.

My vagina is a criminal. I can’t go to the police. He’s not a criminal. The boy. 19 years old, tall, first in his class, with 8 distinctions, and the brownest eyes you ever saw. A friend of a friend. No, he’s not a criminal. I’m the criminal. My vagina is the criminal. My vagina and I, we went to that party to see him. I drank the drinks he gave me, and flirted with him. I walked around with him. Sure we were looking for my friend, but I walked with my own two legs, next to his own two legs. I climbed that staircase, and when I couldn’t find the key I let him unlock the gate. I knew I felt unsafe, but I didn’t do anything about it. And that makes me the criminal. I didn’t do anything about it. Negligence, they call it. Failure to act accordingly, literally translated as a failure to pick something up. Well I picked something up, I picked up a feeling, an unease. But I kissed him back, when he kissed me. I let him think I was that kind of girl. The cool, calm and collected kind, who’d no sooner kiss you than disappear for weeks on end. Never waiting around on a Saturday night, my vagina and I, sitting by the phone waiting for a call. Vulnerable. Never vulnerable. Yes, I told him to stop. I drew the line. I threw away my carefully constructed carefree image and told him no. I begged and pleaded with him. But by then he wouldn’t listen. And who else is there to blame? Give him what he wants, and he’ll go. One kiss, two kisses, three kisses, and he didn’t stop. I waited for him to be satisfied, all the while telling him enough was enough. I should’ve kicked, and screamed, and jumped up and run away…! But I was a fool. To be a hundred percent honest with you, I don’t remember what I did. When it was over, I got up and I left. He told me afterwards he’d only ever hurt me. That he couldn’t be good for me. I remember pleading with him, thinking if I just made him love me, or made myself love him, then everything that happened would be a bad memory and we could build a thousand good memories on top of it, bury it deep, deep under all of them so no one would ever know. But he could only tell me he’d never be any good for me. And I could never love him. I’m the criminal. I have no heart. Only a void in the place where it once was. I have no vagina, not the emancipated, self sufficient kind anyway. Not the vagina that many great women before me meant me to have. My vagina is locked away, in shame. In hiding, like the criminal it is. I never told my family. I wouldn’t have known where to begin! Confront him? My vagina and I will never confront him. I hate him! I never want to see or speak to him ever again! Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe I ever thought I could fix it. I can’t believe I ever tried to justify his actions to myself, to my vagina. Date him?! I would rather kill myself before I dated him! Or him! I would rather kill him. Because of him my vagina can never wear its stilettos without a second thought. It can never dance in a club and enjoy the advances of a man without freezing up cold in fear. It can never be dressed all beautifully in white on its wedding day, nor ever fully feel the pleasure due to it by the touch of a lover. Because of him, my vagina will never shout with joy, or tell the world “here I am! Read my lips!” No. My vagina is silent, locked away in a cell. Forever staring through the bars that barricade

Having recently graduated and found myself thrust into the big wide world of possibility, I have decided to write out a Bucket List to ensure that I make the most of my days spent on Earth… So, as it stands, here it is – it’ll change and grow, and reach into every far corner of the world. These first few relate to Britain and Ireland, but I’ll post more notes on other areas in the world as I go 🙂

  • Visit and climb the twin peaks of Skellig Michael on Skellig Island.
  • Clubbing in London and Gigging in Glasgow
  • Visit the site of the Harry Potter films – Durham Cathedral
  • Drinking Guinness in Dublin
  • Walking in Wordsworth’s footsteps in the Lake District
  • Getting toasty by toasting the bad weather in the Scottish Highlands (nothing a few shots can’t fix)
  • Make the most of Lewes Bonfire Night in the first week of November
  • Lose myself in Connemara
  • Climb the tallest Light House in Britain
  • Trundle along the West Highland Railway
  • Hoarding books in Hay-on-Wye, Wales
  • Freediving in the Royal Navy’s SETT (Submarine Escape Training Tank)
  • Hit the streets for the Notting Hill Carnival
  • Attend the Highland Games in Scotland
  • Lie on the 2mile stretch of beach in Holkam Bay
  • Ride a boat in the Regent’s Canal
  • Surf the Severn Bore – one of the biggest and longest tidal bores in the world
  • Follow in the footsteps on kings and queens at Thermae Bath Spa
  • Walk the walls of Conwy Castle
  • Folk out under the Sugar Loaf
  • Soaking up the Edinburgh Festival