I eat most generously, piling up the charred broccoli and the tomato-chocolate sauce, and the thin bread with melted parmesan, although there is no time for each morsel to receive a loving appraisal. I am starving and in they go, their divine form crunched down in subservience to their function. I am undeserving, some might say, but is anyone more deserving of a fine meal than one so ravenously hungry? Her ladyship has needs. She is a merchant ship with many compartments to fill with goods on their way to a new world.
The conversation is entirely optional today. And what is there to talk about, beyond the to-do lists, work imperatives, and the endless analysis of our relationship? Is today a good day or a bad one, are we handling it well or not at all, this ship is carrying lots of baggage. No topic is strictly out of bounds, of course, or no prohibition is enshrined in statute. I could, for example, bring up this book I have been reading, that you have not read, and relay both its extensive plotlines and my take on it in excruciating detail. And what of it? What will it do but convince you never to touch this book, even if it’s the lonely tome on the bottom of a suitcase on a very, very long holiday. And why would you? You know what it’s about anyway, and even how to think about it. In fact, you feel like you have read it, and hated it.
Then later, when we are sitting and I’m pulling your abstinence by the whiskers with my glass of scotch, you might bring the book up again, indirectly. You will say that I talk too much, and secretly the talk is directed at myself and not you at all. The room is cold because money. My gut, though appeased, is cutting into the waistband of my jeans, for my beauty is alternative. I am tired, and half bitten by the rough wool of my sweater, but I’m staying up, because drink. You say that you’re fed up with hearing me talk and I understand, even if I do not condone. I talk at you and to myself, who is always the best listener. The best listener is not a statue of silent judgement, nor a parrot, or a cross-examining lawyer. The best listener is a mind alike, warm and curious, that doesn’t let my mouth run dry. I talk about the book, because the book is not the curtains that need hanging or an attitude that needs correcting, and while I am blabbering on, those two can not squeeze in for a moment. The book says: you are inquisitive and sensual, and have endless worlds within you. The book knows.
You say I am spoilt, which implies that at some point I was just fine. This infuriates me. If I don’t remember what I was, how can anyone else? I walk up to the twenty-year-old with dirty green hair, a drink habit and ill fitting clothes from a rubbish skip, and disown her: because apparently everyone else owns you now. I am spoilt in some ways that I do know. I want to eat and drink, and do nobody’s bidding. I don’t want an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. I want a boudoir with low light penetrating the dust, deep pile rugs and paintings. It is not to be, not if you are renting. Instead you get a sensible Ikea flat with whitewashed walls that helps you focus and hinders dreaming. You cannot stay under the three layers of covers, biscuit crumbs on the sheets and a week’s worth of recycling tracing the way to the canopied bed, tracing the time that lapsed while you were plotting against humanity. There are no paintings that wink at you or talk behind your back, only watercolour landscapes, if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, it’s a photograph of a dewy rose, opening up in extra high Photoshop saturation. Would you be able to fuck in front of that?
Once the dishes have been stacked in the dishwasher, you sit in front of me and tell me that we are breaking up. You look solemn, like you’re at a funeral of an irrelevant co-worker. You go through the list of grievances, one by one, then ask me if I have anything to say (“for yourself”, I want to add, but it would be flippant). Breaking up, as if we were fused in some sadistic way, and now have freed ourselves at last. In the end, we go for an indulgent breakfast. There are eggs baked in an iron cast pan, slowly cooked tomatoes and strong coffee. The gut will be appeased once more. But you don’t understand the poetic vagaries of our story. You grip my wrist and tell me: snap out of this. Snap out of this at once.Take me home