To Myself

I want you to remember this. When you’re long gone. When you’re sitting at a pub table in faraway sun sipping at your gin, remember this. When it’s summer. When you’ve left the frost far behind and all your oldest friends are spread out behind you again like a fan. Right now, this seems like everything. Your life. The flat. Instant coffee mornings and takeaway boxes stacking up around the couch. But I know I won’t always feel this way, so remember this. The slow drag of it all. The way things were before you got around to the rest of your life.

Right now you’re sitting in bed with your makeup half done. It’s cold, and last night the rain pounded on the skylight so loudly at some early hour that it woke you up. It’s the first week of January, and before that’s always meant heat. But not in England. The weather shrouds everything. Beginnings feel different in the cold. In the past you’ve always made your New Year’s Resolutions during long car journeys that drag towards the coast, sitting with your brother in the backseat. Open windows and hands drooping out of them. This year you made none except, perhaps, to write more. Everything else is fluid and it’s impossible to plan for a future that you can’t even make out through the fog yet. Last year your life changed more than it ever had. You’re still riding that skin-prickling feeling. You’ve never been so up in the air before.

In the same accidental fashion that you once found yourself living at a hostel, you’re now living in your boyfriend’s flat. Decorating the place with tinsel for Christmas. Sharing a pair of keys. It’s lead to a slight apprehension from the people you’ve told, little sideways quips and courageous mentions of ‘too soon’. And on a normal timeline, of course it would be. But the two of you are not normal. The entity that you have become runs on the knowledge that your university year starts in March, in Australia, and that you’re meant to be going back for it. You can’t commit to another lease. There is no long term. So with things all frantic you live much the same, and it works. Looking too far into the future makes you dizzy, so you soften the blow, you cover each other’s eyes. You save up all the sad looks and keep them in a box, knowing that one day you’ll open it and pour through them together. In the living room. In an airport lobby. At the train station waiting to be taken away.

But that is not now. Now is a rhythm you’ve been drawn into by accident, with people you’ve found much the same. The flat is never clean and there are always dishes in the sink. Between you and Ellen, the bathroom is splattered with a different colour of hair dye every week. Someone breaks a window just before New Years and you spend the next few days tiptoeing around in socks, but not carefully enough. On the first day of January you reel in pain mid cigarette and pull a long, thin shard the shape of a needle out of your heel. Shaun dabs the blood away with a tissue. The stragglers from last night all sit on the couch, a trail of belongings and cans dripping from their pockets all around the room. New Year New Me is the general consensus, but for once you’d just like to stay a little while. Sit happy and drunk in your sameness. Keep leaving wine bottles in the shower and trail around the world with your laces undone and wrists facing up towards the sky.

Because this is the stuff you’re meant to look back on fondly. All the little things, all the little days. Together they’re big. Like how on New Years you wore a low-backed dress and couldn’t even remember getting back to the flat in a terrible state before midnight. When you opened the door, the rooms were full of partygoers you’d forgotten were going to be there. Friends of a friend. Bubbling up and spilling over the edge of the glass, darting from room to room, making introductions you’d forget in an instant. The year tried to creep away slowly while you were smoking in the courtyard but you realised just in time to find a pair of eyes from across the room, take three quick steps towards him. All it takes to close the gap between you and the future.

You constantly tread the line between poor and broke, but so does everyone else. One day you’ll have time for opulence. But for now it’s broken bulbs and hair curlers from the pound store. It’s radiators you’ve never turned on because heating is expensive. Right now, you’d eat instant noodles every night for dinner so long as you’re able to see the world. To see the way you change in it, catching light like a kaleidoscope. You have a home now, but you’ve never stopped living out of suitcases. Not really. They sit around your room like propped up wardrobes, clothes falling out and onto the floor. The material diary of every place you’ve been and lost yourself a little to. Brighton has sipped away at you like a cold drink through a through a straw. But the losing feels like gaining because whenever you start to feel hollow, there's room for newness to rush in. You document the days with piercings and bleach, the nights, with empty bottles. You learn more here than you ever did in school.
Last year you tried to stop time, but you couldn’t. Now you’re smarter. You dig your claws into it so deep that you leave scars. Now is a rhythm you’ve been drawn into by accident, and you’re consumed by it. These friends. This love. These days of being twenty with your chapters not in order yet. One day these words will seem ridiculous to you, but we always feel that way about the person we used to be. Even though we’re one and the same. So for now, I want neatly lined pages. Exploding stars. To trade a million summers for this winter and its strangeness. I want clean highs and indulgent lows and shaky hands at night. Always. I want you to remember this.

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