bittersweet…

about an ice-age ago in terms of internet time, there was a site called bittersweet which invited submissions – usually short fictional autobiography or autobiographical fiction. these were a few of my submissions about, i guess, what you could call *submissions*. they’ve been lying forgotten in the fossilized strata of my computer till i stumbled upon them recently and i thought i’d excavate and exhibit them here.

bittersweet

i’m lying there wondering why i can’t get him the hell out of my head. it’s been forever and we live on opposite sides of the ocean now, but for some reason he’s suddenly all i can think about.

the phone rings and the cacophony in my head is shocked into silence by his voice on the line.

”where are you?” i finally manage to stammer.

“on your door-step.”

———————————

it’s been over for a long time. we’re both involved in long-distance relationships. he’s come into town without his girlfriend and i’m leaving in two days to meet the new lover whose face i can barely remember because of the old one i can’t yet forget.

after a long night talking and drinking infront of the fire, there is an invitation to share a platonic bed.

in the morning, while my stomach still lurches from what evolved into a very non-platonic night, i turn to him and say, “it was the way we spooned, the way your arm across my body drew me close, the familiarity of it all, that undid me.”

he looks at me with real alarm and says,”oh no, we don’t want you coming undone, now do we?”

————————-

in the restaurant he leans across the candle-lit table with that old puppy-dog expression that used to melt my insides, still does, and tells me how beautiful i am.

i shake my head in disbelief and turn away,  to which he responds,

“you know, just because i had my head turned by another woman, doesn’t mean that i can’t still appreciate how incredible you are.”

in the morning, he invites me to their engagement party.

————————-

on sundays he usually makes the croissant-run – a trip to the local bakery to buy breakfast pastry.

i awake to a paper-bag and a note at my front-door.

at my kitchen-table, with my coffee and croissant, i read the note. it says,

“you asked me to write you a letter. how about the letter ‘I’ with a little bit of  ‘LOVE’ in between, followed by my favourite letter, ‘U’.”

at the bottom, accompanied by two x’d kisses, it is signed, “me”.

i read it again while in my mind i can see him sitting down to sunday brunch with his wife and kids. i nearly toss my croissant in the trash, but instead i eat it slowly  till all that’s left are the crumbs of pastry-flakes.

i don’t even cry.

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running out…

oh my poor neglected blog! i can hardly remember when last i came here for a visit, let alone to post anything!

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. guilty as my fast-discharging batteries…

may i say in mitigation that my life has been a rocket ship on full blast, careening through a space filled with much debris – and no,  i’m not running around painting the town red,  i’ve just  been busy, busy, busy. you know, doing grown up stuff. getting my house in order – metaphorically speaking of course, seeing that i’m basically camped out in someone else’s while i drag crates back and forth from storage in woodland hills to venice (a 45 minute drive one way. i did it twice today).

i have spent most of the past 6 weeks going through my past life and much as i imagined that parts of it could be for sale  – “and here, our next item, one slightly soiled life, being sold off in bits…”, i just haven’t had the energy to put stuff up on ebay or craigslist. i’ve ended up giving a lot of it away and taking what my friends haven’t wanted, as a donation to charity stores. and there’s plenty more where that came from.

so tomorrow, the about-to-be ex-husband and i are heading to the santa monica court-house to file for divorce. it’s been really weird. we’ve spent a fair amount of time together while i’ve been here, eaten lots of sushi, gone to see a few movies and eaten at some of our favorite restaurants we used to go to. we’ve taken a couple of trips to the storage unit together. and that’s kinda weird, our confused, yet strangely lucid present colliding with our past life jumping out of drawers and crates like a jack-in-the-pandora’s box…. everybody mouthing, “i’m so sorry”s…

last week, after i spent most of my time here, pulling stuff out of storage, he decided that he wanted to keep the unit, so today  we carted most of the boxes back, juggled them around and stacked them back up, dismembered skeleton pieces clacking as we shoved them back in the closet…

i’ve found myself surprisingly emotional the last few days. yesterday i had to take a moment when an old friend arrived with her newborn. i’ve mostly ignored the fact that i had a miscarriage less than 3 months ago, so i’m taken aback when i have an emotional response to babies around me. and today, after locking the storage unit back up, after another early sushi dinner, we went and saw “julie and julia” – good movie, with meryl streep, the actor’s actor. watching the trailers was unexpectedly emotional though and i found myself wiping away tears during more than one… so many movies about relationships, about  people getting divorced and getting back together…. one was a trailer for a comedy with meryl streep and alec baldwin, about a couple who divorce, the guy gets married and then has an affair with his ex-wife.

not about to happen here, but still…

so, the short of it is that i’m exhausted. i’ve hardly seen any of my friends. i’ve watched maybe 1/2 hour of tv while i’ve been here, so so much for catching up with what’s new.  and i’m running out of time. i’ve yet to collect some of my stuff i left with people and the 3 minute egg-timer is at 02:55.

i so need a holiday. seriously.

seriously?

seriously.

taking a trip down…

sometimes i wonder about myself, you know. sometimes i really worry.

tv plus magazine flies me down to cape town for all of 48 hours, to once again be one of the judges for their high school drama competition. i fly in somewhere around midnight on friday night. i have every intention of reading scripts on the plane, but instead i sink down in my seat, pull my cap over my eyes and hopefully don’t snore for the duration of the 2 hour flight. upon landing i, surprise!, don’t wait an eternity for my bag and when i get to the counter at budget, my paperwork is all done. i give them my cell phone number and the nissan tiida is mine for 2 days.
just like that.
paul is waiting up for me and wolf gets up out of bed when i make it to claremont. we make chai tea and eat mint chocolate balls while we catch up till about 2 a.m. i marvel at what hugo, their spca pavement special, looks like now. just goes to show, one never knows what one will get when one gets one of these lucky dip dogs. originally a dark brown ball, he now has curly ginger hair and is a marvel of hard to place features. one of those adorable mutts that wins your heart in movies.
saturday late morning i head into town to check out the afro coffee cafe to see if they have any more of the fabulous colorful bags like the one i’ve worn to death. i check the website for their address, only to discover when i get there that afro coffee no longer exists. their website says they do, but they don’t. guys. time to update your website. please.
i wander back down to miriam’s kitchen, one of the best places to buy salomies. (some kind of curry filling wrapped in a roti – a south african version of a burrito). i get a chicken salomie even though i don’t eat chicken 98% of the time. when i eventually get home, wolfgang and i polish it off with some tomato jam. all gone. yummy!
before that though, i walk through the greenmarket square flea market to get to my car. it used to be my all time favorite place for all kinds of unique items, but now it’s pretty much all curios and not much more. some leather jackets catch my eye and i spend some times going through the tchatchkes on the guys’ table. i buy an antique looking pencil even though it’s not working. imagine my surprise when i get home and google the marking on the pencil.
 
S. MORDAN & CO. MAKERS
and i discover that this pencil, according to it’s markings, was made before 1850, i.e., 160 or so years ago! wow! score! probably worth way more than the hundred bucks i reluctantly parted with for it, though my intention is not resale, but personal use.
and then… and this is the part that really worries me, i proceed to clean the keys on my laptop. granted, the guys have left by now and i’m at the house all alone, and i’ve been meaning to do it for months, but please. i’m in cape town for the first time in 4 months. i should be out making the most of it, but instead i. am. cleaning. the. keys. on. my. keyboard. . . . . .
and i’m aware as i’m doing it, that this is weird. i. am. weird.
i leave an hour early for the theatre. i’ve decided to see if i can find ronald’s old flat where i stayed with him in 1981 and where wolfgang and i parted with our cherries. i drive to rosebank and find liesbeeck road. i walk through the now graffiti’d subway to get to the other side of the railway line and i’m surprised that i don’t really remember it. the elision of chunks of memory is scary…(i, unlike clinton, inhaled).  i don’t see the flat. it’s not where i think it was, so i stop to ask a family walking into their big old rambling house, whether they know a bridgebank road or bridgebank court. they point next door. i wander over there, but the blocks of flats across the road look more familiar than the building i’m looking for. it’s been renovated, but it’s not an improvement. i stand infront of it and stare, just as the occupants of a car parked infront of the building stare at me. i decide that i must look odd just standing there staring, so i move off.
i don’t know what i’m feeling.
from there i head into town, but on the way i have to pass the university of cape town,

where i spent 5 long years. on the spur of the moment i find myself on the ivy-walled campus. driving around and marvelling at how much and how little i remember after all the time i spent there. i finally head my car towards town, but when i get to the artscape complex. i am still almost half an hour early. i decide to head to beach road, mouille point, across the road from my friend ineke’s old apartment. i park my car and head out towards the ocean. i stand in the twilight and watch the waves crashing against the mostly submerged rocks where we scattered the ashes of one of my best friends in the world last november. i flew down to cape town almost every month last year saying a protracted goodbye to someone i found it impossible to part from, but finally i didn’t have a choice. i stand there. the last time i was in that same place, i had the gritty charcoal of ini’s cremains still clinging to my fingers, dusty smudges on my white pants.
i don’t know what i’m feeling.
introspective. sad? yes. i miss her crazy, wise, funny, penetrating, quirky self. i always will. i’m wondering about friendship. about the amazing people i’ve been privileged to have in my life. i think about about how though my friendships are consistent, my contact with those friends is not always so. something to change. i am getting old enough to have my best friends die. i don’t like this.
i get in the car and drive through the twilit city, the mountain a cardboard cut-out against the sky. i head to artscape where i am going to be one of the judges deciding, in essence, what direction a number of young actors’ lives will take. they are young and earnest and inexperienced and all pale in comparison to last year’s winner. i write my notes, i write down percentages. at the end of the night, we sit on the stage waiting for the results to be read out and winners announced. it is strange to see one of my high school teachers whom i used to dote on, in the audience. time contracts and expands and somehow is all the same moment. a winner is chosen. the girl who was 3rd last year, does not make top 3 this year. she walks off the stage, trying to disguise her emotions. i feel for her. around me the extremes of joy and disappointment. cameras flash. kisses, handshakes. the mask of comedy. the mask of tragedy. side by side.
i gather my masks and head back across the mountain.