Where I’m not meant to be

I’m writing to think about something else that isn’t thinking about social media and dating which numb my mind. To not think about the place where I spend most of my week sitting in, I want to write even more and I want to be where I’m meant to be.

I think about people who have a passion and then succeed at it and I imagine them staying up late at night burning the candle at both ends until they free themselves because there is no gain without struggle or freedom without a fight. Those who succeed only get there with struggle right? You have to endure tears and pain to get it right. Right?

And then I wonder if I just float through life as I am, not devastated and relatively comfortable, can I live with this feeling that follows me around like some masked menace? And while sometimes I forget he’s there, as soon as I turn around he’s poking around and smirking at me like some smug asshole.

I know I don’t fit, that much is obvious and it’s pointed out to me everyday. I used to think it was socially but recently I’m realising that it’s more to do with what my place is in the world. Those around me, like the characters in a dream are very much aware of an outsider – they turn to me and say, “Why are you doing this? You know you’re meant to be doing something else right?” All I can reply is by using humour to deflect the fact that I know but I don’t know where.

My world falls quiet and everyone stops moving, speaking and expressing. They turn to me and each and every one of them holds up a sign that reads, WRONG WAY.

What am I? An imposter? A wolf in sheep’s clothing? A cuckoo or a Lyrebird? Possibly a chameleon? Sitting and waiting, planning, or just copying because mirroring is all I know.

You take a left step so I take a left step too.

You reach for coffee so I reach for coffee too.

You suggest this a holiday so I suggest that very same holiday.

Your eyes thin slightly in suspicion and so do mine.

You laugh and then I laugh.

I even express the slight discomfort that comes across one’s face when they feel they are being mirrored. Or is it you that is mirroring me? Deep down you know but you’re not sure enough to say anything and that’s all I need.

Now the train tells me I’m at where I’m not meant to be and I get off one more time. For another day I tell myself that maybe I take life a little too seriously and think a little too much. I see what’s ahead and I can’t stop chewing the inside of my mouth. At this very moment when no one is watching, I’m not copying anyone.

Haunted City

I live in a beautiful city.

Some even say it’s one of the most beautiful in the world but I think that depends on who is looking and where they are looking from.

There was a time when I would fly, wide-eyed around my city filled with buildings both old and new, streets lined with plane trees and cute little laneways, each turn filled with me wonder and excitement.

But recently something has changed. When I walk the streets, I’m alone and I can’t help but notice them.

They are scattered amongst the new people that pass me by.

The ghosts stare at me with their hollow eyes and shapeless mouths.

I try my best to ignore them but there seem to be more and more.

I enter an arcade that I would spend countless afternoons in all those years ago. One of the cafes in the arcade has this upstairs area where I would sit by the arched window watching the crowds filter trickle through for whole afternoons.

It was a sacred place.

But now, as part of the trickling crowd I look up to the arched window and see a ghost sitting at my table, mouth gaping open and staring at me.

I decide to walk another way.

Food tastes bland and powdery, the buildings look weathered. The world around me is becoming a tired amusement park, the rides haven’t changed and things are starting to break down.

I’m not making new memories like I used to.

No – surely not.

I look through my phone to convince myself otherwise but most of my photos are of food, buildings or myself. The smiles that occupy my older photos before this all started are filled with warmth and feeling. Something has changed, I have changed.

What have I done?

Where did I go wrong?

Whatever I did, wherever I went wrong, there are only ghosts following me around and standing in my way.

This is no longer the city I grew up in, the city that shaped me into who I am.

And when I look under the thin veil it is very much apparent that at some point I stopped living.

How long have I just barely been existing?

Scared

I’m scared.

Scared to love, scared to be loved.

I’m scared of closing my eyes and I’m scared of speaking up.
I’m scared of making an impression, scared of being forgotten.

I’m scared.
Scared that I’m doing it all wrong.

Scared to be the first, scared to be the last.
Scared of permanence and scared of being vulnerable.
Scared that this is it and that nothing will change.

I’m scared that I’m silly and scared to look you in the eye.
I’m scared of being left behind.

Scared that everyone rolls their eyes when I leave the room.

I’m scared.
Scared that I have made some terrible mistake and there is no going back.

I’m scared that no one is listening.
I’m scared that everything will change.  

Scared to disappoint and scared to impress.
Scared of being admired and scared of being hated.

I’m scared of what I see staring back at me when I look in the mirror.
I’m scared that I’ll be found out.

I’m just scared.

I see you

We’d just had sex, relishing in the warmth of post orgasm cuddle play when he looked me in the eyes, “You know I really like you.”

My chest swelled with euphoria and fear and I smiled, “Me too!” But just as my reply reached his ears the sparkle disappeared from his eyes, his lips curled down ever so subtly – the post coitus warmth had dried up and my bed felt like winter.

“It’s okay, I know you don’t.” He said, the eye contact was broken now.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He was looking out the window, his thoughts were now as far as the mountain ranges in the distance. He started speaking, “You don’t want a relationship. You don’t want a boyfriend. You’re so lonely but you only want guys that are temporary but then when they are willing to stay in your life you back away because you’re so scared of getting close to someone.”

All I could do was nod. I didn’t know what to say but I couldn’t disagree.

He continued, “I feel sorry for you, I don’t know what happened to you but I’m really sorry that it happened. In all the time I’ve spent with you, I still have no idea who you are.”

Just like that it was gone, my jig was up. An act even I wasn’t actively conscious of up until that point.

Again, I just nodded and looked down at the messy linen sheets, really deep into the thread work and imperfections – speckles here and there, lumps and bumps.

Slowly I took my gaze up to my reflection in the mirror where I only saw myself. He was all but gone.

Rather than looking at my reflection, I was looking through myself in the reflection. My eyes glazed as I floated out from my body to imagine me viewing myself alone in the room watching myself look through my own reflection.

I felt so empty.

Wall

I made this wall to keep the harm out, it has served me well but there is something else. After years behind the wall, I’m getting this growing sense that I am somehow missing out.

I see you and you see me but as we go to touch, something stops us.

The wall keeps you out too.

Now I sit here in my space where I used to feel so safe. But now, it’s not just that I’m missing out but something else – I feel something sinister here with me, invisible to my eyes as I look around.

It’s just me, there is nothing in here, what could it be?
That’s when I catch a glimpse in the reflection of the glass.
It is in me, it has been growing in me and changing me.

I realise now is the time to let down the walls. I’m not ready but I don’t think I will ever be.

All I know if I don’t I will cease to be me.

Dad

After ranting all day about how lonely I felt, Mum had gone out with the girls from work and it was just Dad and me at home and he said he would take me out for dinner.

Part of me wanted to say no and keep wallowing in my own self pity but then I sensed that Dad needed this just as much as I did, maybe even more.

We walked down to Woodstock nearby, my arm linked with his as he tapped his cane along the pavement talking about everything that came to our minds. Walks with Dad are like some kind of lucid conversation; ideas, stories and the odd revelation.

And just like that there we were, father and son sitting at the bar picking at a salumi and cheese plate when he says, “Well, I’m not your boyfriend but I can still take you out to dinner you know?”

My eyes start to sting and my vision is blurred with the tears welling up but I can still make out that Dad is looking at no direction in particular as he pops an olive into his mouth, the same way he does when he thinks Mum doesn’t see him sneak another piece of bread during dinner every night.

I try to distract myself and stuff a piece of prosciutto into my mouth and swallow without chewing. It hurts to swallow and I manage to get out a thank you.

“This area is buzzing! It was never like this when you were a little tacker. Did you know the tram used to run up to Windy Hill?” The moment had passed and we were onto the next topic.

“Yeah, I remember seeing the tracks when I was little, but it was kind of pointless because it was only a few hundred metres.” I said as I put my arm on his shoulder.