In Oxford, the night before we met under the Bridge of Sighs, on December 13th, 2005, my 19 year old self wrote:
One day I’ll properly write this into a story. For now, all I have is this list of things I’ve remembered. It’s filled up two notebooks and the pocket in my zip up diary is stuffed full of bits of paper, bus tickets and tourist maps scrawled with the scribbled ink of a girl who doesn’t ever want to forget what she’s learnt. This is probably coming across all self-important, so No I don’t think I’m a genius, I’ve learnt that *cue cliche #1* the more you learn, the more you realise how much you still don’t know, and the more questions you start asking. Besides, dammit this is my blog and I can say what I like for whatever reason I want, fucker.
-There’s never as much salad as there is in the advertisement. And it will most likely mainly consist of cabbage. And if you’re in Poland- even if it looks like meat on the picture- it’s probably mushrooms.
– Everyone has their own music they can’t live without, don’t go anywhere without it. Music is right up there with Elastoplast in terms of necessity.
-The coolest things are often the things you could never plan, things that they won’t tell you in guidebooks. Like finding bears in a castle moat, a squirrel in a palace garden, a short ray of sunshine on a clouded mountain peak, a fortress in a valley.
-You can try and hide in wonderful places, see fantastic sights, distract yourself in meeting new friends and learning new things, bury yourself in books and art and taking photos, surround yourself with vibrant people and old friends, send emails, write postcards, post journals that convince yourself that you are ok. But even after you think you’ve given yourself enough time, that you have no need for tears anymore, that you’re ready to face a new and different world, that you understand what it all means, that you’re really enjoying yourself and your time again. It’s still possible to realise that you are still running. Still hiding. You don’t know what from. Even if you knew you had to get used to a new way of living, you won’t even really know what that way is.
-Nothing ever turns out exactly the way you expected. No matter how hard you plan, how long you dream, how much you want and hope, it never turns out the way you thought it would. At the end of the day all that matters is what you decide to make it. How you choose to mould what you have into something you’ll remember, something beautiful, something strange, something different. Something that you can create a cool memory or story with. Something to learn from.
Oxford is a pretty town, but I was never really there. I remember wearing my boots to the Bridge of Sighs. Under the bridge was an ice sculpture of a penguin. It was too cold. We found a bar where I could drink orange juice. The lights were too bright. We walked to his hotel.
Love was how it ended, and probably how it begun as well. We never said that word until it had all well and truly unravelled on that hotel floor in Oxford. He was shaking. He read to me the words he’d written on the plane. I remember how he stopped, took a deep breath and in one rushed exhalation told me that I had to know he was in love with me and always had been. I remember saying – I know, I’ve always known.
He’d got the letter I’d sent from Sicily, the one about love being pain. He said he knew me better than I knew myself. That he knew I loved him. I didn’t know what I was feeling any more so I went back to my youth hostel. Someone was having loud sex in my dorm so I jammed my headphones into my ears and sat in the hallway under fluro lights. I wrote out every single word of Ben Lee’s ‘Whatever It Is.’
It was the hardest night I’d ever known.
I woke up thinking I wanted to be with him, that I wanted us to be together, that being with him was more important than anything else. In the morning I walked to his hotel to meet him for breakfast.
As I started to speak, my chest caved in on itself suddenly. Somewhere deep in between my spine and the skin on my stomach something felt very heavy. Something felt very physically wrong inside of me. Everything slowed down. My body was telling me I was doing the wrong thing. My gut, my instinct, whatever it was, it was sending me a message loud and clear. My brain couldn’t figure out what was best for me, so my body was stepping up to the plate.
I said no. I couldn’t be with him any more.
I stood up and left.
To be continued