Somebody that I used to know

This time last year I left Sri Lanka after learning how to surf and thinking that I had fallen in love.

As it turned out, only the waves stayed with me because that was the real love story.

The man that I met, and the man I’ve written about only fleetingly since, never kept his promise to make contact after our month spent together, which clearly I thought was something that ultimately he did not.

As a journalist, and therefore a deadline person, we’d set a date of two weeks hence for contact to be made after I left. I couldn’t contact him because he was “off the grid”, which at the time I thought was revolutionary. Now I just think he’s a lost little boy.

The two weeks came and went and unsurprisingly (in hindsight) no phone call, text message or email was forthcoming. It was like the whole thing was a mirage or, yes, a holiday romance that was never supposed to leave the island on which it was made.

Over that fortnight I drank too much wine and talked too much about him. I cried sometimes, too.

I couldn’t understand why someone who I thought I knew could be so cavalier with the feelings of someone he’d said had “brought him back to life”.

After the deadline passed, I did move forward slightly, but it’s embarrassing to admit I was a bit loony for a few more months still. I surfed obsessively, which helped me to sleep at night, but I also have to disclose that in the beginning I just wanted to get better so that I could proudly show him the next time I saw him. Delusional, maybe. As it turned out, peri-menopausal, definitely.

By the start of this year, I had created closure because I’d received none from him. Sometimes, when feeling especially hormonal, I’d fantasise about all manner of atrocities that may have befallen him, which thus had prevented him from contacting me. The most repetitive fantasy, however, was that he was just an arsehole.

Fast forward a few months and one of my best friends was going back to the place where it all started and asked me to come along, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to relive anything of last year because, I told myself, I’d moved on from all of that.

Then a few weeks later, I changed my mind. If I truly had closure, I thought, then I should return on my own terms and enjoy its wondrous remoteness, and waves, and create new memories. So that’s what I did.

Within two hours of arriving, my friend sheepishly informed me that my former paramour was there, too. Had been for a few weeks, he said. My friend hadn’t told me because he didn’t want me to get too anxious or axe a trip that he knew I really needed to make. He made the right call.

I think part of me knew my ex-lover would be there – he certainly knew we were supposed to return at that time – but that wasn’t the reason I went. Still, the news shook me to the core and I drank many beers after a 27-hour journey there. Surely a phone call would have been cheaper than flying to Sri Lanka to apologise I thought drunkenly?

Over the next two days, as we walked the single street of that small surfing village, I scanned as I strolled, but I don’t know whether I was hopeful or fearful of seeing him.

The first meeting happened by chance in a cafe and I’m proud to say that I didn’t punch him on the nose or slap his handsome face. I just said “hello” and politely joined the group conversation when necessary.

He sat opposite me and couldn’t look at me for a time. I liked watching him squirm. But strangely, what I had found so alluring the year before, had vanished. He still looked good, but not in the way that I remembered or in the way that I had dreamed about during those 12 long months of silence.

Later that night, at the local beachside bar, he arrived and was soon sitting next to me. My friends made excuses about being tired and left, knowing that I needed to hear what he had to say.

Without too much prompting he said “sorry” again and again. And that was about it. He never was the greatest conversationalist. Not that I’d noticed that last year.

I prompted him for more information and he started to list a whole bunch of reasons to justify his behaviour and then I realised I had stopped listening. I just didn’t care.

But before he started talking about himself a bit more, I said, “Look. There’s something I have to say.”

He waited and probably wondered whether that punch on the nose was imminent but I just said: “It wasn’t about the contents of the phone call. It was the phone call. A promise is a promise. If you had no intention of contacting me you should’ve just said so. It hurt me very much. I was upset for a long time,” I told him, “and I didn’t deserve it.”

He apologised profusely and sincerely again and then I told him that I’d actually forgiven him a long time ago. I also thanked him for the gift of surfing because it had given me something that I didn’t know I was missing – peace and a profound connection with the ocean, whether I actually catch a wave or not.

And that was it. The moment that I’d dreamed about was nothing like I’d thought it would be because I no longer wanted it to be that way. I’d finally moved on, but perhaps he hadn’t. I’ll never know because a few days later he disappeared from town like a thief in the night.

Maybe our paths will cross again one day or maybe they won’t.  It doesn’t really matter because now he’s just somebody that I used to know.


24 reasons why a vibrator is better than a man (for me at the moment)


For my birthday last month, two of my best friends conspired behind my “innocent” back to buy a vibrator for me.

While the thought of them giggling around a sex shop while asking numerous (and varied I’m sure) questions of the sales assistant was nearly as funny as the gift itself, the motivation behind the gesture was perhaps less so.

That night, after quite a few beers and with my dad, step-mum and numerous guests safely ensconced in the courtyard downstairs, they presented my new friend (which I guessed beforehand – in all fairness, it does have quite a recognisable shape) with the serious intonation that they bought it for me so I would stop sleeping with the wrong men. Roger that.

I think they meant one man in particular, whom I’ve only made scant reference to in this blog, and whom I haven’t slept with – let alone seen – for more than 100 days or so now anyway. Not that I’m counting or anything.

The reason I haven’t written more about him, and the mess that I temporarily became when our love affair abruptly obliterated after promises of a future that I know now he could never commit too, is because some days I love him still.

And other days, well, I wish and wish and wish for so many different things that writing about my schizophrenic feelings would likely make me seem more unhinged than usual.

So, the appearance of a vibrator, who was instantly christened Victor, was about much more than a potentially lonely vagina. It was about a potentially broken heart.

Of course, before anyone comes up with a list of reasons why a living, breathing man is better than Victor, the point is for me at this moment in my life, a vibrator is better than falling (again) for a broken dude who couldn’t love me – or anyone else.

But I do sometimes wonder if I’m a sadist or perhaps I just have a fetish for fractured human beings because they make me look more sane?

Whatever my deep-seated issues are, which no doubt have been lingering around since I was five, Victor’s entrance into my life has inspired me to come up with this helpful list so he knows why he’s so much better for me than men at this moment in time – not that he can read of course.

24 reasons why a vibrator is better than a man (for me at the moment)

  1. A vibrator always knows where your clitoris is – always.
  2. You don’t have to make small talk with a vibrator or compliment them on their appendage size (ditto, you’re never surprised by aforementioned appendage size the first time you get naked together).
  3. A vibrator never finishes before you do and then promptly falls asleep.
  4. You never have to watch sport with a vibrator.
  5. You never have to meet your vibrator’s mother.
  6. You don’t have to put up with a human jackhammer, racing to an orgasm finish-line of their own secret choosing, with a vibrator because the speed control is literally in your own hands.
  7. A vibrator will never try to come on your face, your boobs or literally anywhere at all.
  8. A vibrator will never “accidentally” confuse anal sex with dog-style.
  9. If you’re too tired for sex, a vibrator will never sulk around the house for days at a time.
  10. After you’re finished with your vibrator they don’t mind being coldly shut in the sock drawer – unlike most men I would presume.
  11. A vibrator is loyal and always finds you sexy, even if you’re wearing your ancient, holey, undies in bed.
  12. A vibrator never takes up most of the bed, hogs the blanket in winter, or tries to give you a Dutch Oven.
  13. You don’t care what your friends think of your vibrator.
  14. It would be supremely weird to introduce your vibrator to your parents – even if they were downstairs when you first met.
  15. If your vibrator gets a bit worn out, you just callously buy a new one and neither of them will care.
  16. A vibrator will never lie to you.
  17. A vibrator never gets performance anxiety.
  18. A vibrator never wants to come before you.
  19. A vibrator never complains that you’ve drunk too much.
  20. You never have to wonder where a vibrator is and whether they will call you because, well, it doesn’t have a phone or hands for that matter.
  21. A vibrator never gets too tired to finish the job – unless it runs out of batteries and then you just buy some more from down the corner shop.
  22. A vibrator never wants to sit around talking about their, or your, feelings.
  23. A vibrator will never spend every day of the best part of a month with you, tell you all their secrets, make promises, and then promptly disappear like it was     all some type of magical movie mirage.
  24. A vibrator will never ever break your heart.

Kiss goodbye to your darlings

A famous quote from William Faulkner is “in writing, you must kill all your darlings”, which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

Part of the reason is that I’m neck-deep in rewrite territory of my screenplay and I’ve cut out more than I’ve put back in, including a couple of scenes which (naturally) I thought were bloody brilliant and broke my heart to kiss goodbye too.

But as Faulkner continues to teach us, if a scene, a character or a “darling” doesn’t progress or add to the fictional story, then it or he or she must be “killed” in a literature, not a literal, sense.

Editing out the crap or superfluous pieces of a story, of course, makes it more seamless, coherent and exciting, which is why it’s called a story. It’s not real nor is it true. At best, stories that are based “on real events” can only ever be thus, because more exciting bits and pieces are usually added to pep up the story-line in places or to make the characters more interesting or “alive” – but perhaps not entirely real-life.

I’ve come to realise that some people practice this creative art-form in everyday life, too, but I’ve decided I have no desire to do so, even if it could helpfully vanquish some memories and experiences from my brain forever.

One of the many modern quandaries I struggle with daily, including using my television and my mobile phone, is how one should deal with Facebook after a breakup. I’ve had my personal profile for more than eight years now – which also means it has been around to witness two relationship ups and downs.

In the beginning I was probably guilty of over-sharing on it – although in the very early days not many of my friends were on Facebook as well so it was like I was transmitting my cougar joy and smugness to a relatively empty void.

After the relationship ended on mutually respectful terms, both of us left any shared posts or photos on our respective pages because it was our history. Many years on, we’re no longer friends on Facebook. I can’t remember why, but it was most probably me who unfriended him in a fit of temporary passive-aggressive ridiculousness when I no doubt struggled to see him moving on with his life with a new, much-younger-than-me love.

But I never deleted anything of our time together online and nor do I believe did he. I never kissed goodbye to my virtual ex-darling just because it might make my past seem more linear or neat.

The ragged course of my other relationship also still remains in my online and real-life history, even though I often wish I could white-wash a lot of it away to save myself the anguish.

But, again, while I might practice the art of story-telling for a living, it’s not in my psyche to try to misrepresent my past as more pleasant than it actually was or, in fact, pretend a relationship or a person didn’t exist in my days gone by.

But I know that not everyone thinks this way and some hit the delete button on every shared online memory that ever there was. Perhaps it’s their way of wiping the slate clean to start again but personally I think it’s borders on the creation of a fairy-tale – just like the stories we read in a fiction book or the movies we watch on a cinema screen.

But real life rarely has such Hollywood happy endings or smooth trajectories.

You see, a few days ago, I crossed paths with one of these two lovers but I don’t think he saw me. It had been five years since I’d seen his face and after so long rumbling around the same city without ever bumping into each other, seeing him so unexpectedly did temporarily knock me off my sanity axis.

He was with workmates, while I was meeting a couple of friends. As soon as I saw him, I rushed to the other side of the bar with my head spinning but stupidly ended up sitting right outside the men’s toilet. Good plan.

Over the course of the next hour or so, I tried to decide whether to say hello, while simultaneously quizzing my mates on whether they thought he’d seen me. In the end, however, I never did do anything about the two of us being at the same place at the very same time.

Since then, I’ve pondered why I acted that way. It’s not because I wasn’t happy to see him or that I’d deleted him from my memory (online or otherwise). Far from it. Perhaps it was because he still looked very good to me (which is not a bad thing I guess) but ultimately I hope it’s because he’s moved on with his life and so have I.

It is still strange to me, though, that you can spend a proportion of your life with someone and love them with everything you had, but still not feel comfortable saying hello when you bump into them down the pub. If there is a next time I hope that I’ll be more brave.

So, instead, I stared at his broad, powerful and loyal back – which six years ago he’d turned away from me at the same time as I’d turned away from him – and later that night I smiled at the memory of us, of what we gave each other, and of the many reminders of our history together that I can revisit and learn from whenever I want too.

I might have to kiss goodbye to my darlings on the pages that I create as a writer, but I’ll never do it in real life. I’ll take the light and shade of life experience any day – no matter how much it might sometimes confuse me.