17 June 2002
My hand withdraws into its sleeve, conditioned by a dozen minor burns, and absent-mindedly strums a scale on the grille of the scorching radiator as I gaze around our living room and try to decide whether possession is defined by purchase or by usage. A nervous glance at the clock; cowardly, I know, and your pain and your confusion are still images chipping away at the barrier that I've erected, but I also know that if I wait until you get back and try to explain it face to face, this edgy resolve would dissolve in your tears and the inadequacy of my words, that we would nuzzle a greeting and I would never even try.
I raise a heated cuff to wipe away not moisture but sleep from an eye, all this activity replacing my usual warmth-induced siesta: the product a pile of bulging rucksacks heaped untidily in the hall. My guitar is slung across the top and the associations are immediate: plucking my stale repertoire, produced under the distant discipline of a lonely summer, at the end of another unconstructive afternoon as your key turns in the lock, laying it down on the bed as i feel your fingers in my hair and the half-hearted ambivalence of my day's mournful niddlings is lost in the comfort of our evening routine.
I falter, suddenly unable to understand my own intentions to throw away the fulfillment of everything I dreamed of as I boy, whose whispering paranoias and unspoken sadness were crushed beneath the weight of your flat chest on mine; our bodies were hot, glued together with mingled sweat, and the inch of air between our eloquent gazes thick with our mingled breath. We would stay like that as long as we could, my breaths coming shorter and shorter as, clinging onto your corporeality, I squeezed you down onto my struggling diaphragm, gasping with the blissful ache of our love.
It was the walks you could not understand, even when there was a destination you would rather dive for a taxi or the tube, still less leave your heated flat to join my aimless wanderings. I don't blame you, wouldn't wish your amiability shaken by the heightened awareness, the ambition and uncertainty, the energy and purpose, that crackle through me as, even popping out for a paper, the lungfuls of cold air flood my brain with ecstatic visions and I pass through the crowds of ordinary people, trailing sparks. Perhaps your bafflement was to blame for those pangs of reluctance each time I trudged back up the stairs, dreading the moment when the door seals closed behind me and at the brush of your hand I am earthed.
It's more than just you that I'm throwing away: the organic community of huddled acquaintances I found so hard to cultivate when i came to the city, the reassuring presences at reciprocated dinner parties (more experimentation in the kitchen than in the bedroom, these last few months) will adjust and, after restrained speculation, heal around my absence while I tumble through the gaps in the social circuits of urban self-preservation, an atomised individual, statically charged.
Maybe now my music can get more attention than those sparse bursts of panicked enthusiasm that quickly waned as you would wander in on my limp compositions and simply say "that's nice," proud of the new me your attentions had created, insecurities ironed out, so entranced by the novelty of happiness when I first swallowed your drug that I unthinkingly complied with each nightly renewed prescription. With your head on my lap as I continued to work, you were oblivious to my drowsy frustrations and I envied that simple contentment as your lips said goodnight and your smile said forever.
Another glance at the clock, I need to go. Outside I shiver as the air rubs abrasively across my face, it darts up sleeves, through holes and around my whole encumbered body as I stride towards the station feeling traitorous, alert and, for the first time in over two years, a little bit afraid.