Archive

words


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 had an aunt named Rose.

She was lively and determined. She hated people who were fake, in fact, anything that was fake. She, like me, had no filter, and if she’d ever thought twice before she spoke, she would never have said anything at all. She was brutally honest, and if she thought it or felt it, she said it. I’m sure you’ll agree that this kind of honesty doesn’t always go down well. As human beings, we ask for the truth but are often angered when we get what it is we asked for. However, this never daunted Rose. In fact it’s her words that I remember most.

My aunt Rose loved fiercely. She loved her friends, and her family with a fire that burnt strong and true. I remember she once told me, with a mischievous little smile, that if I married for love, I’d be materially poor. If I married for money, I’d be emotionally poor. And if I married a man with a foot fetish, I’d have the best in footwear that money could buy. The final bit was a fact she’d learnt from first hand experience, and a memory which always left us in a fit of giggles. But I know Rose married for love, and spent thirty years of married life filled with happiness as a result of it. And I know that I, too, could never marry for anything other than love – because Rose got it, and made me see, that if you found love – the real long lasting stuff – there’s a lot of other things you can do without.

My aunt Rose wasn’t happy all of the time. She had a life that wavered tempestuously and often found ways of kicking her when she was down. But I don’t have a single memory of her in which that sparkle in her eye didn’t grow to become a grin on her face, as she cooked up some new form of mischief with which to astound people. Whilst her body, as all our bodies, changed with age, her heart remained as youthful as ever. My aunt Rose never found herself out of place with young people, because the one thing she was always up for was fun!

I had an aunt named Rose, who passed away yesterday. I prayed for those she’d left behind, and I prayed for her – but some part of me knew she’d already found her way up to the angels in Heaven. She’d been reunited with her own mother, and her daughter, and was already causing havoc with the celestial beings around her. In my heart I knew she had begun to look down on each of us with the wisdom and love she’d always shared with me during each of our meetings. And I knew she’d always find a way to ensure her presence was still felt – in the final rays of the sun as it sets, and the ever-rolling waves of the ocean against the shore. 

I had an aunt named Rose, who I am blessed and proud to say I knew.
I will carry her heart in mine. I will renew my zest for life, and resolve to live as lovingly and honestly as Rose did, never growing too old for a little fun and a good giggle. 
I will never forget the words that she gave me on every occasion that we shared.
And I will never forget Rose, and her mischievous smile, and the twinkle in her youthful eyes…

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!

Reconnect with an old friend, or an old flame, a lost chance. Chat one day on Facebook. Comment on how many years it’s been. Accept when he suggests you meet up for a drink. Know it’ll be a once off. Put it out of your mind until the day arrives. Be nervous whilst you fret over what to wear. Don’t understand why. Eventually settle for the outfit you first chose. Go.

Smile when you see him. He hasn’t changed a bit, and yet there’s something different about him. Talk over one another at first, in the rush to catch up. Resolve to let one another take turns. Laugh at the things he remembers about you, and the one and only date you ever had. Smile slightly when he tells you that he’s recently single. Say good night eventually realising that six hours have passed and you didn’t even know it.

Be thrilled when he messages you to say how good it was to see you. Tell him the same. Say yes when he suggests you do it again. Go out drinking together almost every night for a month. Find yourself, on every one of those nights, in a drunken haze of happiness. Wonder why he hasn’t tried to kiss you yet. Try to grin when he tells you time and time again how happy he is to have found a friend like you.

Pluck up the courage one night after another drink-filled night out and ask him to kiss you. Sit with your heart pounding in your chest. Wonder if he can hear it as loudly as you can. Listen out for the beat of his heart, too. Wait for him to do or say something. Practically faint when he finally leans in and your lips touch. Lose yourself in the 3, 4, 5 seconds that you kiss. Hide the disappointment you feel when he pulls away again. Search for a sign of emotion; a sign that it meant to him what it meant to you. Ignore the awkward silence that’s settled in between you. Say good night without seeing a sign of anything at all.

Wait to hear from him all the next day. Jump out of your chair every time your phone goes off. Ignore the pit in your stomach each time you realise it’s not him. Hang around on Facebook on the off chance that he’ll log on. Get butterflies when he does log on. Ignore the sinking feeling in your gut when he doesn’t message you and then logs back off.

Regain hope when he eventually messages you. Ignore that he calls you ‘dude’, ‘bud’ and ‘friend’. Make plans to go out with his group of friends.

Spend the whole night checking his face and body language for a sign. When you say good night, notice that there’s something he wants to say to you, something that’s been on his mind. Hold your breath. Keep a straight face when he tells you how glad he is that the drunken kiss didn’t ruin the friendship. Try smile even. Say goodbye. Cry as you drive home.

Find yourself waiting for him to realise how he feels about you. Go on dates to makes him see. Feel confused at how he seems genuinely disappointed for you when the dates don’t work out. “You’ll find someone,” he says, trying to reassure you. Hate him in that moment because you have found someone.

Try not to let him hear your heart break when he tells you he’s met someone. Feign excitement at the chance to meet her. Hate her before you’ve done so. Hate that you like her from the moment you meet her. Hate how beautiful, intelligent and funny she is – love that she’s the exact type of woman he deserves. Hate the way he looks at her; the way he places his hand on the small of her back; the way he leans in and whispers in her ear. Hate that they have eyes for no one but each other. Hate that you have eyes only for him. Hate yourself. Love him even more.

Date a writer. Not only will she mean every word she ever uses, but she’ll also choose words that let you understand just how much you mean to her.

Date a writer. Your lives will be filled with magic from which she’ll find inspiration. She’ll immortalise your magical moments in words that will live long after you’ve both passed on. And who knows? Perhaps your own love story will inspire other not to settle for anything less than magical, either.

Date a writer. Because whilst she may not know precisely how to begin, or where it will end, the journey will always be worthwhile.

Date a writer. And discover a world you didn’t know existed, with a woman who always knew that it did.

Date a writer. Learn new words everyday. Whether she uses them in a loving moment that takes your breath away, or in a rage during which she condemns your preponderance toward hyperbole or the discombobulating manner in which you conduct yourself, you’ll never hear the same words twice.

Date a writer. For the attention to detail to which she will give everything cannot be matched. And happily ever after means more to her than just a phrase found at the end of a Fairy Tale.

Date a writer. And live a life filled with letters in your coat pockets; notes beneath your pillow, and a smile upon your face at every word she’d written.

Love a writer. Because if you mean it, she will return your love tenfold. And if you don’t, the pain and anguish you cause her will give her writing added depth, and ground the words she uses in her book.

Love a writer. For all of her idiosyncrasies and habits. She may not be able to sleep without rubbing her feet together, or won’t write until she’s procrastinated for seven hours by rearranging the furniture, but love her, and her writing. Because every piece she writes carries a little bit of her soul, a little bit of her very being, in it. And if you can’t take the time to read it, she’ll never give you another piece – of her writing, or her heart. But if you love it – and her – tell her. She’ll feel more proud than if she’d won a Pulitzer Prize.

So, date a writer. Or better yet, love one. And never lose her.
Love a writer.