Love letter # 461

Of course this is a bit ridiculous. I mean, it’s so out of step with the modern age, isn’t it? – all this still loving you after all this time. I can almost see the look in your eyes, the shake of your head. Why don’t you just stop!?

Why don’t I just stop what? Thinking of you with tenderness? Feeling that incredible wave that first came over me when we were together? Understanding the irreversible knowing of love?

I know, I know – but what is love? Isn’t it just a kind of poetic selfishness, a euphemism for hormones and evolutionary imperatives? Maybe it’s those things as well, I wouldn’t doubt it, but here’s what it also is – for me at least. It’s that breathtaking connection; the one makes it seem, just for a moment, like you are breaking from the cell of the ego and really seeing the other and, in that, something profound about the nature of self.

So of course I still love you – how could I not? I still love all those who wandered into this channel, who opened the floodgates. The teenage siren of misty eyed memory, the undergraduate beauty I swore I wanted to die for, my ex-wife … and you, the one who blew the covers off everything.

I’m saying this to you now just in case. Because we never really ended, did we – it was just that drifting apart was easier, more sensible. The terrain never burned, it just got vacated. Left behind like something a little too difficult.

I fully get why this might appear absurd, even a bit crazy, but the kind of thing we had makes it worth the risk. Maybe I want you to unequivocally say it – the last rites and all that – but what I really wanted say was this: the light is still so dazzling and beautiful and humbling some days that I would rather risk the shuddering finality of no than the unbearable idea of if only.

Love letter # 350

We are, both of us, old enough to understand that some things can’t be fought – won’t be solved or made better with either wishing, ideology or just ‘going along’. It’s true, I could simply use you for the sex and kindness you are offering; but then, what happens when the deed is done and the generosity starts to seem one sided? And what kind of person would that make me?

Much as this moment is awkward, awful and a wrench for us, in a month – six months, a year – we will both be glad it happened this way. I realise that this is an easy and perhaps righteous thing to say but I also think that you know it’s true.

I will not apologise for not being ‘in love’ with you but I will say sorry if I inadvertently gave you hope or caused you pain. Maybe I tried too hard to be kind and, in indulging this weakness, I twisted the knife much more than it needed to be. I tried to limit what I knew had to be your suffering because, selfishly, I wanted to limit my own. I do not claim noble self-sacrifice as a motivation.

Yet neither do I wallow in the vain drama of middle class guilt. We are, none of us, perfect or above reproach, especially when feelings are high and desire clouds our judgement. I know that you came at this with the best intentions – with love, compassion, openness, good humour and a giving attitude – but if anything we are both at fault for failing to best manage the mis-match and losing our beautiful, extraordinary friendship along the way.

Love may well offer us everything we wish for but in its brightly shining eye it also blinds the mere mortals in its sway and asks us to render everything unto its power. We are but two more fools paying the price.

Love letter # 322

There are so many reasons to say no. Like the world. And bruises. Like all the busted myths we no longer believe. And the fact that it’s easier to be alone than to contemplate another wound. Cos we’re so over scars, aren’t we? I mean, who needs the drama. It’s just so fucking teenage. So vomitously Hollywood. No one in their right mind buys that rom-com, soulmate shit anymore. Least of all you and me.

So walk away, my cynical star. Turn around. Go home to your cat. To fucking Facebook. Me, I’ll just stay here. Bottle of red. A thousand songs of heartache. Bleeding like a river, despite all the clotting agents. But they’ll never break our hearts again, will they? Oh no.

For even though it melts me just to look at you sometimes, I’m far too cool and together to let it all become something as absurd as love. Not in a million years.

Which is just how you want it, right?

Letter to the random Chinese girl on the 96.

You will never know this – but by the accident of collision you breached the perimeter. Touched me. Gave me a shiver that I was not expecting. That has given me pause.

You will not remember this – but you sat next to me. Your arm against mine, our shoulders brushing, the smell of shampoo in your long black hair, the satin sheen of your stockings, the little curl at the end of your painted lashes. Almost imperceptible breaths.

I could never tell you this in person – but you squashing into the seat next to me not only made an ordinary tram ride memorable but made something else plain. The human warmth of a stranger’s forearm, an inconsequential intersection – yet still the sexiest thing that’s happened to me all year. It is this I took with me when my stop came.

You did not look up. Not even flinch. Just kept stabbing at your phone. WeChat. Instagram. Smiles for the things that meant something to you.

I can still imagine the softness of your mouth – the impossible aching quietness of a sigh. Gentle like those little breaths of yours. These, it’s true, are the chimera I dance with now. Invisible hands. Intangible motions. Whispers not of your uttering. Promises neither made nor unkept. A gorgeous Chinese girl on the 96 – sitting next to me in a pool of spring sunshine.

Whoever you are.

Love letter # 476

If we were younger we would be together by now. We would have found out. Now, we hover. Trying not to love. With no wish for bruising. Nor drama. Awareness as a form of inertia. Acknowledgement. Polite conciliation. Love within acceptable limits. Perhaps just enough to be torture.

But no – were not doing noble denial. We’re doing fear.

Neither of us wishes to break, yet both of us know we’re only half a thought away. Still, we cling to our slender edge. Because a stubborn fire is apt to burn the air between us. Fuelled by something in you and me. Something I can’t name. But am.

But what if we stumble from our great height? What if we fall?

Imagine right and wrong didn’t matter. Suppose this was all we had. To love one another. To find a way. What then?

Love letter # 1000

Let’s call this the end, shall we? Pack up our dreaming and go. Leave the scatterlings behind. All the odds and ends of our years. The ashes of our love and the exhausted batteries of our resistance to time’s inevitable and heedless smear of dust and forgetting.

Once we had a thing – a pact almost – an understanding formed in similarity. Together we held off the ravages of the world. Though we were surrounded by the stupid and the selfish, the vain and the righteous, there was a shield around us. A force we steeled with our dark hearted passion. With our particular and idiosyncratic take on the madness. Outside, cruelty, fear and denial reigned – but we dwelt in a house made of love. It was the only place we felt safe. The only room we were allowed.

But it is shattered now. The world has crushed its lovely walls to bits. Shaken us from our idyll. Made it plain that we have never, and most likely will never fit. What we hold sacred, the world thinks naive. And that magnificent fire we stood by – even we have fled from the intensity of its flame. As if somehow the dark and the cold would stop the black bells ringing in our ears. In our hearts.

Well it hasn’t, has it? For theirs is the music we will always dance to. Theirs the brutal beauty that sings from the heart of everything.

We have lived in the space where ecstasy and despair coalesce and we have surrendered to the awesome wave. And it was merciful. And we were blessed.

But we are alone now. All the gorgeous songs have turned to schlock. The promise to compromise. The golden light to stark white globes.

I really can’t be fucked with this anymore. Can you? If the banal and the dull and the unfeeling must triumph, let them celebrate their victories without us. What need have we to applaud their tacky tricks and trinkets? Pin the medals to their chests, load them up with gold, furnish their prisons with shine. Their gods are not mine.

Rather our foolish love than their heartless jargon. Rather the unhinged narrative of our silly little vision than the clear eyed blindness we once chose to see through. Even though it has brought us to this.