#10

 You are literally hours away from Miami.

And in a couple days, you’ll be back here. It feels like years ago that I dropped you off at the Waterfront. I’m glad you’re coming back because sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten details about you and it really irritates me.

Like I miss your voice. It somehow doesn’t sound the same over a voice note. And I miss the way you smell. And being in your arms. I miss being in your arms the most.

When you hold me, I feel as if the entire universe has stopped and if I was stressed or anxious or tired before, it’s all immediately calm and peaceful.

I’m so incredibly stressed right now – I could use a minute of quiet with you.

I’m trying to take a minute now. It’s 1:34am and everyone is asleep. We’ve had the silliest day imaginable and we’re all exhausted. I do really need the sleep but I also need the peace so I’m taking it.

 I’m listening to one of my favourite albums ever, Tove Lo’s Queen of the Clouds.

The current track is called Paradise.

Said I want you for a million days

You say you want the same with me

With love for real without the lies

Is that what they call paradise?

I only ever realise it when I’m gone but my apartment has become my little safe space.

Even just one night away and I miss my bed and my candles and MY FREAKING DOGS. I wonder if Wilson is missing me. My needy little puppy.

Anyway, I’m trying to think of all the last things I want to write to you before you come home.

First, I’ve never been more panicked in my life than reading your message last wee about the car accident. The possibility of losing you when I was literally on the other side of the world was indescribable. I don’t think I even fully processed it until much later. Even now when I say it out loud, it seems made up.

You are my absolute favourite person in the entire world. You are in my head no matter what I do. Sometimes, I close my eyes for a second and I can almost feel you next to me.

It hurts and then I remember that I get to see you soon and have you with me. The idea that I could lose you is terrifying. I don’t know what my life would look like. Or how I’d go back. Meeting you changed everything, even me.

I also want to tell you that I love you. I hope you know how much. I hope that you know that when I tell you to be safe, what I mean is that I need you to be safe.

I was talking to Jose about you the other day. And after I recounted the events from the previous week, he says to me, “This Dan has a real hold on you, hey.”

And because I’m me and generally my go-to emotion is panic, I denied it in a way that very apparently denial. (I’m sure you can imagine.) After which he laughed and said, “Look at you, catching feelings of all kinds.”

It made me laugh because I immediately flashed back to having that conversation with Bianca, when she said to me, “Oh god, you’re starting to actually like him! You better not fall in love.”

Why can’t I ever just follow instruction? 😛

By the way, I was looking at these cottages out in Hogsback and one of them was literally on a cliff in a forest WITH A BATH TUB FOR TWO.

Also, it was like R2 000 a night but that’s not the point. Who needs to like, pay bills and buy food?

I got distracted. What was I saying? Oh right. Feelings. Yes, so many of them. Ugh.

I mostly can’t wait to talk to you, and hear all your long, boring stories. I hope your friends decide to like me so that we can do something all together. I mean, I don’t know why they don’t. I’m very likeable! Most of the time. Some of the time. Okay, mostly never. But still, they don’t know that. Just tell them that I am. Then by the time they figure out that I’m not, it’s too late and they already kind of like me. (It’s a trap.)

What if they never like me?! You can make new friends right? Like long-haired, somewhat alcoholic climbers must be dime a dozen? :’)

I got distracted again.

I truly haven’t had a connection with anyone like I do with you. And at almost 27, if that isn’t the saddest thing you ever heard … But it’s true. Every day that passes, it becomes more apparent. Even from so far away, and talking to you only a handful of times in the last few weeks, you’re the person I feel closest to.

This is going to sound strange but I feel sometimes like I’m in a whole new life. Like whatever I was doing before I met you was some strange faraway dream and I’ve woken up to you.

Speaking of waking up, I have to be up in like 4 hours so I better get some sleep. I love you so much, Daniel. I love you with every tiny inch of me.

Having you in my life has been an utter revelation.

X

 

 

#9

Hi plum,

It’s 10pm on a Wednesday night right now with just the right amount of humidity and mountain coolness in the air that it’s almost too good to go to bed. So I’m sitting here in the lounge, with candles and wine and you.

I’m listening to this song called Somebody Else by the 1975. I’ve really been enjoying this album for the late nights the past few weeks. The album name is:

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

Obsessed.

I’ve put a live version in here because I don’t much like the music video, but I love how ethereal and electric this performance is. I can almost imagine being there. 😍

This track is one of those songs where you feel like every time you hear the artist perform it, you get a little more out of it. Like they’re pouring themselves into it, and it’s an endless flow of raw emotion.

I think another song like that is Do I Wanna Know? by the Arctic Monkeys or About Today by The National –

Towards the end of that song, he sings:

Hey, are you awake? 

Yeah, I’m right here. 

Well, can I ask you about today? 

How close am I to losing you? 

It always makes my chest a little heavy when I hear it – 

It’s the same with this song by The 1975.

I can imagine 19-year-old me loving it too. Out in a dark city. Vodka soda lime in hand. (Fyi this drink is called the Skinny Bitch and was my drink of choice for a good few years.)

My favourite thing about going out to the city is when you’re just drunk enough that you feel like you’re disappearing into the music and getting lost amongst all the people.

If this song was an experience, that’s what it would be.

Sorry for the musical exposition!

I’ve had a really difficult week being away from you. Reading your last email broke my heart a little. I hadn’t cried since before you left. I don’t know why it affected me as much as it did. It’s been six weeks, shouldn’t it be easier?

I don’t know. It feels like it gets harder by the day. I keep thinking about other people, who do this regularly. Like Bianca has a friend whose boyfriend works on ships and he’s gone for months at a time, and it’s not temporary. It’s his career.

I suppose if you have to do it, then you just find a way to get through it like anything else.

Anyway, I’m doing my best. But I can’t explain how happy I am that there’s an end to this and I get to have you back soon.

/

I found a folder of stuff on my old hard drive today from uni. Mostly research papers and essays and random bits. But amongst it all was an essay I’d written at the end of second or third year. I think we were supposed to reflect on what kind of work we wanted to do and like all idealistic journalism students, I had set out to make some kind of meaningful change in the world.

So I wrote about how I wanted to specialise in environmental law and journalism. And about being a vegetarian (not sure if you know that I was vegetarian for 5 years). And about wanting to work in marine research.

I felt back then (as I do now) that there’s so much academia that never makes it past the four walls of a university. Academics and researchers and the people with all the knowledge are not the people who develop policies and laws and aren’t the people who write headlines. So I wanted to be the bridge, I think. I don’t know.

Ah, to be young and full of dreams!

That said, I realise it must seem to you like my job at the moment is awful. And I have daily moments of:

But the part that I love and that really gets me thinking and motivated is when a client comes to you with a business that’s their baby, and I get to spend time figuring out how to connect their idea and their dream with people who might buy into the dream.

Mostly it’s a slog of emails and eye rolls but I do love that part.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing an MBA because I think I’d probably do really well as a freelance business development strategist. But we’ll see how that goes. As it stands, I do not have 100K for another degree.

If you would just let me be a stripper for like one year, it would solve all our problems!

Chat soon, my love.

Sail safe.

X

#8

How is it still four more weeks?! Excuse me while I sulk.

Okay, I’m done now.

At least we’re past the halfway mark now. Every day, we edge a little closer to you being home and soon, we’ll be counting the days until you’re back. 💛

I bought this book a few weeks ago called, “Love Her Wild.” It’s a book of poetry and almost all of it reminds me of you.

It has become my small ritual, my retreat at the end of the day. I flick through the same pages and linger on the poems that seem to fit neatly into my soul.

I want to share one with you here tonight:

“It took me a long time to realise

that I am happiest

not at the parties

or the dinners

or the shows

but at home with you

and just our books

our movies

and our tea.

And wherever we go

for now and forever

we will bring this happy with us

for home lives

inside us now

wherever

together

we go.”

– Atticus

I’ve been thinking about this letter a lot this week, and in truth, I’ve been trying to write it for most of the last two weeks. Mostly because I feel as if I’m on the cusp of what I want to say to you but I can’t quite find the right words. So I’m just going to waffle on and hope I stumble across them here.

I both love and hate to tell people that I met you on Tinder. Love because I find it somewhat silly and frivolous, and it makes me laugh, and hate because it is immediately followed by a deep look of cynicism (which admittedly I would have too, if a friend told me that she had met and fallen in love with a person she swiped right on).

But this morning, I read this article on the NY Times. It’s in one of my absolute favourite columns called Modern Love. I think I’m obsessed with it because it never fails to surprise and delight me with all the thousands of ways it’s possible for people to love each other. Sometimes the stories go the other way and I am equally as stunned by our remarkable propensity for hurting each other but all in all, the columns make for good reading when you’re lying in bed in the morning, drinking coffee, and trying to procrastinate away your to-do list.

The article has nothing to do with us except that it relates to Tinder and hooking up. It gave me flashbacks to the week that I met you. I began it innocently enough, with no clue that a boy that I had matched with would turn everything upside down. When we first started talking, I thought, well he seems nice enough and the conversation doesn’t bore me to tears or stray into anything weird. Trust me when I say that this is a rarity. It’s astonishing the number of adult men wandering around who are incapable of holding a five minute conversation, or expect that five minutes into the conversation, they can start calling you ‘baby’ and asking what turns you on …

You were interesting and interestED, which not a lot of people are these days I think. And despite only being in the market for some short-term hook up thing, you were kind. And funny. So when you asked if I wanted to have drinks with you, I didn’t really have to think about it. Ordinarily, there’s a fair measure of apprehension.

Plus I mean, so cute. 😄

I wish I remember more detail from that night. I don’t know why I’ve forgotten so much of it because I only had a couple of beers? But in truth, I remember hugging you, and I remember us talking about beers when we first sat down, I remember you touching my arm when we talked about my tattoo, and I remember ordering the Uber while you were in the bathroom.

I remember holding your hand as we walked into my bedroom, and a few things after that.

But my next clearest memory of you is the next morning. I think it’s because instead of the awkward good morning exchanges and attempting to usher you out as quickly as possible, I felt happy and at home with you. When you came over again that night, and we sat together on the couch, half kissing, half talking, I felt distinctly like perhaps this was headed in some alternate direction.

But at that point, I didn’t dare let myself believe that there was anything more to it. I was determined to remain as unattached and unsentimental as possible.

We’ve talked about how a large part of my decision to let things roll on with you beyond those first two nights were predicated on the fact that I knew you would be leaving in a few weeks. But I think I also felt like I couldn’t help it. As much as I wanted to hold back, I felt so strongly drawn to you.

Was it like that for you too? Going into it expecting one thing and then suddenly, waking up to a lot more than you had bargained for?

It’s 3:24am now and I still haven’t quite arrived at the thing I want to write about. So I’m going to go to bed and edit this in the morning. Ugh.

/

Okay. I’m back. I have no idea what the point of this letter was. I think, I’m trying to say that you feel like home to me. You feel like the person I’ve been looking for my whole life. It scares me a little, and I definitely didn’t anticipate that I’d be in the middle of something so serious so soon. But something fell into place when I met you, that had been missing and I could never quite figure out what it was.

Sometimes, I feel annoyed that I’ve been here in Cape Town for years and it’s taken me this long to find you. I wonder what it might have been like if I’d met you when I first moved here. I wonder who you were back then, and if you would have liked who I was.

Have you watched the movie Garden State? It used to be one of my absolute favourites. Primarily because it stars Natalie Portman but also, there’s this one scene that really stuck with me.

 

This is how I’ve felt for years. Then I met you and being with you feels like home. I think that’s why it was so easy to have you stay here with me and not feel uncomfortable. And conversely, why it’s been so hard having you away.

Sigh. I miss you, obviously. I love you.

X

#7

As I write this, 2018 has quietly made its arrival. Outside, for the first time in weeks, it is pouring rain – glorious, thunderous rain. The kind of rain that creates the best soundtrack for making out in bed or something  … 😏

I spent a couple of minutes standing in the downpour, thinking of you, and of us, and what my wish for this year is. In the past, I’ve written wishes to my friends and family but I’ve never really come up with anything for myself.

So here’s what I’ve got:

I hope to live this year with a passion that is fierce and wild. A passion for creating, and growing, and loving, and being truly immersed in everything that I do. I hope to rediscover all the bits of me that I left behind.

I want to be inspired this year.
I want to write magic.
I want to dance more, and cook more, and spend more time in the forest with Wilson.
I want to take my time.

I want to go on as many adventures together as we can pack into one year.
I want to explore, and experience things with you – even things I’ve done before because I believe that having you by my side will change it.
I want to wake up to you, and go to sleep in your arms.
I think we’re on the edge of something explicitly wonderful and I can’t wait to live it.

What do you think?

I miss you, of course. But I am still happier than I’ve ever been. I love you. Happy New Year, and wherever you are, I hope you’re smiling.

X

I can promise you nothing feels like sleeping with your arm around me and your breath in my ear. Still, it’s comforting to know we sleep under the same moon, even if she’s so much older when she gets to me. I like to imagine she’s seen you sleeping and wants me to know you’re doing well.”
― Clementine von Radics, Mouthful of Forevers

#6

Hi plum,

Today was positively dreadful.

I’m having all these frustrations with work that I’m struggling to voice to the team and I’m not entirely sure how to deal with it. It’s been on my mind for a few weeks now, and today has just been the culmination of all that stress.

I think the two biggest issues that I’m trying to grapple with are: there’s an imbalance within the company between what the guys want us to offer as a service and what clients expect to receive as well as the success outcomes of that work on both sides and secondly, a bigger existential issue that I’m facing which is: do I still believe in this work that I’m doing? 

I also don’t feel a sense of progression in terms of the level of work that I do. In fact, in some ways because I’m working for a start up now, it’s like I’ve gone backwards.

Anyway, I’m going to spend a couple hours on it tomorrow and on Monday. I want to write to the guys and get it all down and organised because I don’t like how this affects my mental state.

It tends to snowball into each other  – when I feel unproductive and unfulfilled at work, I struggle to keep everything else in focus. And of course, because it’s not enough for my mind to be a state of complete and utter disarray, my body also just gives up. So I’ve been exhausted this week despite the fact that I’ve done nothing.

So as of right now (10:54pm on the last Friday of 2017), this shambles of a life that’s been happening is getting back in its lane.

I was using having you around as an escape (or an excuse?) to not address it. But I can’t possibly bury my head in the sand any longer. First on the priority list is sorting out this work stuff.

I need to also get my diet back in line after these holidays and get back into the gym. I feel disgusting, and I’ve been feeling sick for a couple days which I’m sure is all to do with the fact that I’ve been consuming nothing but carbs and sugars for a few straight weeks.

Of course, this inner angst has also seeped into my thoughts about you and I’ve been having horrid dreams this week. I’ve been having awful thoughts about you coming back not feeling the same way, or deciding to not come back at all. It all makes me feel a bit sick and I’m trying to keep it out of my thoughts because I know it all comes out of the anxiety I’m feeling about everything else being out of control.

I wish I could ring you to talk about all this, and for you to reassure me because I know I’m going to the crazy place.

/

Saturday evening now. The heat of the day is starting to fade a little. I’m lying in bed, I have two new poetry books, and I’m going to make some coffee.

You are on my mind, as always. I miss your lips, and your hands, and being wrapped up in your arms.

My memories of you seem to exist most starkly in hot, summer days: still, and sticky; bodies pressed together; love urgent and burning.

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel you lying beside me. I’m off to day dream a little more about you now.

Even from an ocean away, thoughts of you make my heart race.

X

kisses-couple-relationship-love-bed

#5

The dogs are driving me insane. 

They’ve discovered a baby mole (?) and are now camped in one spot of the garden tunneling for it. I just don’t think I could handle it if they killed Oliver. I mean, there is a limit to the number of animal funerals one person can handle. 

In any event, I haven’t written to you in a while because you were in St Helena last week and we had a chance to chat. It’ll be a while before you reach your next stop but it does feel like the first check point (of many) completed. I didn’t expect how emotionally overwhelming it would be to talk with you again; to hear that you’re happy and healthy and missing me too. 

It helped to bridge some of the anxieties and insecurities I had been wrestling with.  

Anyway, not much has happened since my last letter – Christmas, of course, and my folks were here. They left early this morning, and as I waved goodbye it occurred to me how accustomed I had grown to seeing them only every six months, usually for about a week or two at a time. Watching them leave seemed ordinary. Being without them on a daily basis is difficult, and I certainly have my days when I wish they were a drive away, but missing you from my day-to-day life is somehow more visceral than it has been with anyone. 

Actually, something of significance did happen. I spoke to Dale briefly. I know it’s not the sort of thing that you want to read about, I wouldn’t either, and to be entirely honest, I don’t know how you have dealt with all this. If things were reversed, I doubt I could have shown even half of the grace and maturity that you’ve shown in the last few weeks. 

But while it is happening, I feel that it’s better to tell you. 

When I met you, Dale and I had been broken up for about 4 months. Not at all a significant period of time given that we were together just short of 3 years. Our relationship was turbulent, and chaotic; often manipulative and irrational. We had good days, and happy times together, obviously, but for the most part, we just didn’t fit together. Too much had gone wrong between us, and instead of forgiving each other and ourselves and walking away, we stayed together until we reminded each other of disappointment and anger. 

To put things into a little perspective for you: you and I developed more of a friendship and connection, saw each other more, and built more of a life around each other in two months, than Dale and I did in our first year of knowing each other.

I try not to compare but I think that it’s worth doing in some instances, first for me, because I needed to be able to confront the reality of my relationship with him, and let it go, and second for you, to take comfort in that you are not the follow-up to an extraordinary love gone wrong. I cannot remember a time when it was right.

So whilst 4 months may seem (to a lot of people) like inadequate time to properly grieve a relationship, for me, it was more of an awakening. I had spent so long in that bubble of resentment and heartbreak that I forgot entirely what it meant to be truly at peace and happy. Not just with other people, but with myself too. I forgot that it was possible to wake up light, and not be weighed down by insecurity and inner turmoil that I couldn’t quell. 

That said, I did grieve. I cried for half an hour every day for a month. I cried in supermarkets. I cried walking Wilson. I spent more time and energy than I had, trying to think of a way to make it work. In hindsight, this was almost entirely because Dale continued to call, text and come around giving me the impression that he also felt that way, and I was utterly convinced that somehow it was my responsibility to ensure that we were making the right decision for both of us.

But I realised one day that I was crying over the end of an idea of a relationship, and of a man. Neither of which had ever existed. I had spent 3 years waiting for Dale to become someone else, and for that someone else to choose me, and for me, to be worthy of him choosing me. All of which sounds ridiculous once you write it down, but was the truth for me.

And after that day, I didn’t cry any more.

So this tumultuous and uneasy relationship is what I have been trying to put behind me. I have been trying to undo its damage and recognise all the ways in which it creeps into my current life so that I can stop it in its tracks.

I’m sure you’ve rolled your eyes at the number of times I call ‘trigger’ over what should be meaningless exchanges between us. I suppose that’s how all of life works.

The reason I’ve written this not-so-short tangent is because finally, after half a year apart, Dale is now out of my life. We spoke and it seemed for a moment like we might be able to salvage even some semblance of a friendship but he still refuses to do the work the rest of us do to learn and grow out of our experiences. To be honest with ourselves.

And I can finally walk away from the responsibility of trying to lead someone to a place where they refuse to go, no matter how hard you try to convince that it is what’s best for them.

So I wished him well, and he said that he hopes we are happy and that he was sorry. Sincere or not, I appreciated the bookend to the chapter.

This year has not been at all what I expected from it. But I am looking forward to beginning 2018 with a new me, and with you, and with hope.

Together, we start afresh.

X

vsco-puppy-family-love

#4

Hey baby cakes,

How’s it going out there? I know you’re on watch as I write this. Is the sun still high in the sky? Sometimes, you pop into my head – vivid and animated – and I like to believe that it’s because you’ve thought about me and the universe is sending me a telepathic ping so that I’ll daydream about you too.

You should be getting to St. Helena any day now, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to chatting with you, even just to know you’re okay and everything is going really well.

So if I seem a little more chipper today, now you know why. Also, I’ve had a generally good Monday. Work was good, and I’m picking Mimi up from the airport later, and I played with Wilson for a bit just now. And now I’m sipping the French Vanilla coffee that we bought together and watching the sun duck behind the mountain, and in the background, Paolo Nutini is serenading me …

God, is Caustic Love one of the best albums ever made? If I had to listen to it every day for the rest of time, I would be a happy woman I think.

“And you’ll either love me or you’ll hate me, but I can see you’ve got no time for in-between.” 

I wake up some mornings with this song already playing in my head. Those usually turn out to be brilliant days. Listen while you read. 💛

Zinhle said something to me the other day that has really helped me with the whole rabbit hole of anxious dismay thing, which was that you’re probably just as scared and nervous and lost as I am. Probably also wondering how much you really know me, and whether you’ve made a good decision.

So in today’s letter I want to tell you about me; primarily things I love.

I believe that early summer mornings are the best time for finding magic, and late summer nights are the perfect time for falling in love. And that both of these things are best discovered on a joy ride along a windy Cape Town road.

When I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, I walk high up into the forest, sit and stare out at the city while Wilson digs holes and eats twigs. If it’s a nice day, I’ll lie back and watch the sun rays filter through the trees, and I imagine I could float up towards them and out into the sky.

I read The Great Gatsby every year. Usually right before my birthday. I’ve had the same copy since I was 15. It goes wherever I go, and is the singular most important piece of literature I’ve ever read.

I worry that I’ll never write anything of importance to anyone, and that all the promise and talent will be a memory of youth left behind. But I do love to write. I love the rhythmic ebb and flow; I like the structure and control; I like ability to create and conjure. I love alliteration.

I like going to the beach in the winter (warm winter days mind you). Mostly because there are no other people, and you can wade in until your thighs and enjoy how serene the ocean is. Empty beaches feel like being lost in time.

Simon the spider has been hanging out in my lounge for about a week now. I wouldn’t say I love him but he appears to be injured so I’m letting him stay. For now.

I feel the most beautiful when I try on a new dress.

I like going to late night movies; mostly because I like wandering around the empty shopping mall afterwards.

I love candle light. No matter where you are, a candle lit room will always feel safe, and secret, and like home.

For my 27th birthday, I hope to be in the city, with glitter in my hair, and cocktail in hand. I hope the night is loud and dirty and filled with mayhem.

For my 30th birthday, I hope to climb Kilimanjaro, though a more realistic dream is probably a sunrise trek up Mount Batur in Bali. Having stumbled into my twenties, I hope to transcend into my thirties.

And then, I love this first photo of us. We look like a family, even though I’d only met you twelve days before. Two days later, I would tell you that I loved you, though I’m sure in this moment I knew it.

couple-love-dog-family

I’ll write more in my next letter but in a moment, I’m going to close my eyes and concentrate on this memory of you. And I’m going to hope that the universe carries me to you, and somewhere in the middle of the ocean, you will feel as if I’m standing right next to you.

Ping.

X