Archive for January, 2008

… like a moth to a flame.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 28, 2008 by moderngatsby

 For once the all-day blackout wasn’t the cause of a woefully inapt utility cartel whose infamy for power shedding was even cause for reporting on CNN but my idiot next door neighbour. Deciding to chainsaw a row of trees without thinking one of them might actually fall onto the power line running right in the line of sight – he merrily set himself up for a morning of frustration – and my compounded irk. No hot water to shower, not kettle to boil water for coffee and no outlet for my laptop or frustration.

Having reorganised my study, clipped articles of interest from every edition of a certain pale pink weekend paper going back a few months and even caught up on filing I managed to exhaust my imagination to create more work to keep myself busy. And since it hadn’t stopped the downpour that has been on and off these past few days the perfect way to kill time would be to curl up back in bed with a tome of modern architecture I received from a potentially new boss for the holidays.

Dozing off after just a few paragraphs, not because the book was uninteresting but because I really was tired, I managed a few hours of leisurely dozing on and off throughout the afternoon. But when it became apparent that the growling was my stomach rather than my Great Dane I realised that food would be a great way to ease in the approaching dusk. And remembering that I had switched my phone off to conserve an already low battery I reached out to the world and found 5-messages waiting for me.

Of the many messages, the two that stood out were from a friend confirming lunch that Friday at the club and the other was from the Bradley Cooper-esq guy. We had kinda lost contact over the festive holiday period since my best mate was home and he was away at the Crags with family. Sure we had exchanged a few calls here and there but since being back his question still hung like a draw-bridge over an ever widening abyss of silence and fear. Silence in not asking for my answer and the fear of not knowing what to say.

In saying yes to dinner I had inadvertently agreed to a date with destiny. Mindful of a past experience I nipped the bud at the beginning of the dinner before the expectation of dessert wasn’t the choc chip brownie and ice cream but me in his bed in the early hours of the morning. But even my best intentions fall short of determination and I managed to find myself the recipient of the best sex I’ve had in a long, long time. But as the darkness turned to a curtained dawn the morning got better and better. As did the sex.

According to certain scientists whenever a woman, or a Streisand ticket carrying friend of Dorothy, has sex their body produces a chemical which causes her or him to emotionally attach. This chemical can also account for the series of terrifying questions that involuntarily pop into our mind after just one casual tryst. Questions like: ‘does he like me?’; ‘will he call again?’ and the classic ‘where is this all going?’ I couldn’t help but wonder when it comes to men – even when we try to keep it light – how do we wind up in the dark?

As a way to keep myself distracted and my hands busy not dialling his number, I agreed to drinks and dinner with a couple of friends that I’d known for forever but seldom see. As a way to make up an equal table reservation they invited a mutual friend. Realising that the last time I went out to dinner and this was the arrangement there was a power failure we ended up dancing the night away and moving in together. Albeit this guy was straight I must admit that there was a point where I wished it was a date. For years I had believed the gossip about him. I found him smart, sexy and deeply sarcastic. We may have been sitting in the dark but for the first time I saw him in a different light.

It didn’t bother me that the Bradley Cooper-esq guy didn’t call the next day, or the day after that but a week later when we did eventually meet up things seemed to have returned to the ‘friendship’ that I had wanted. Maybe he was waiting for me to call … maybe not … but either way I prefer things the way they are. After all he doesn’t want a relationship and I don’t think I can be trusted with one just yet. But in the meanwhile I have drinks on Friday with a friend, a box of candles to keep the shadows at bay and the promise that pretty soon I’m going to find the right guy for the darkness. After all how long can our utilities company get it wrong?

 

…two beds and a coffee machine.

Posted in Passion on January 22, 2008 by moderngatsby

The message on Facebook absorbed and left me feeling like a cheap moisturiser that you sometimes get as part of a ‘designer’ gift pack for pagan holidays or some other raison d’affair. Immediately it was shadowed with something I had recently read in a paper while sipping a latte somewhere. South Africa has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. More importantly 59% of married women would divorce if financially feasible. Statistically the chances of one of the engagements announced to me in the past month or so would fail. Or so the bookies would have us believe.

Personally I don’t like to bet on things like this, particularly when friends are the cause for joyous celebration, and you have only their best wishes at heart. But since the 3rd engagement was more the pot being stirred than momentous inclusion, I would in a drunken moment slap my hard earned money onto a table and take the odds as they came. But the news brought back a timeline in my recent past and I realised that the tea cup that once stormed was as empty as the memories. And like many of the people that I have said good-bye to in the past few months I turned the page and ended the chapter.

As I sat waiting for my flight to board back home, flipping through my magazine when really I was checking out the cute banker opposite me I started thinking about what it takes to make a relationship work till death do you part. Most singles have more long term success with friends so maybe it is a better strategy to marry a friend. However, in the absence of sex, whether that’s the arrangement or just what happens over a few years, what distinguishes this companion for many other companions? When it comes to saying I do, is a relationship a relationship without the zsa, zsa zsu?

That butterfly feeling in your stomach when you not only love the guy but just have to have him. Often mistaken for love is another of the deadly sins: lust. As it turns out the cute guy on the plane wasn’t a banker but a chartered accountant. Coffee turned into light bondage and afterwards as I stood watching the view from his cluster home in Morningside I was reminded of someone else who shared not just proximity but predilection. Perhaps subconsciously I could smell his musk like a dappled deer on the wind or just that he was ever present whenever I ventured this far out but the Squirrel always managed to get me to this place just with a smile.

I didn’t let my own cynicism spoil the moment of one particular couple as I sipped their champagne and floated away on a cloud of sweet potato puffs rolled in smoked salmon that were being passed about on silver trays. And in the darkness in the distance that is the Jo’burg Zoo their 100-or so nearest and dearest networked their happiness into financial prospects and it felt like we had merely exchanged 24 Central for the pool terrace of a certain pale pink hotel on the Westcliff. As the night progressed I became less certain about my own prospects in a town like Jo’burg. But I have a theory on that.

Just as dogs can smell fear subconsciously your partner in love can sense distance. And as the past few years have been the most productive I learnt that love wasn’t enough to carry it through the tough times. When you have to deal with your own shit you don’t want to have to deal with someone else’s as well do you? And when things like bonds, babies, and boredom set in and you’re relatively young you want something more. And that something usually means walking out the door. And leaving behind a trail of broken glass where a heart once sat on display.

Sure wanting someone to spend those Sunday mornings with walking around the roof-top market, enjoying coffee and the papers in Parkhurst, and even those nights coming home from the office and finding someone propped on your sofa are appealing but I’ve learnt that I need to be happy with me first before anyone else can be. Because when it comes to relationships we are all living in glass houses and shouldn’t throw polo balls. After all you can never really know … some people are settling down, some people are just settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.

… star light, star bright, first star I see tonight.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 6, 2008 by moderngatsby

As his words of playful enquiry sat displayed before me on the computer screen of my inbox I realised that something was missing. The silence of a thumping heart straining not to shatter into a million shards of crystal glass wasn’t there and neither was the hurt. Like broken wings of love still left behind they didn’t cause my stomach to flutter as before when I last saw him a few weeks ago. Perhaps I realised then that my heart had finally caught up with my head and the silliness of it all was over. I was no longer chained to the Squirrel and it felt good to be free. Since the only person who could appreciate this revelation was a couple of time zones behind me I had to wait some hours before I could share it with him. Talking to him would bridge the widening abyss that had somehow come between us these past few days since he left. Knowing me and knowing you* (*… a great title for a song) it was the only thing I could do. And so I did. Sneaking outside onto the cold stone terrace just beneath the cottage that I and my parents will occupy for the coming 3-weeks, I dialled the number that would connect me with my best friend. Going through similar things it felt strange being on opposite sides of the ocean again. I could sense in his voice that the realities of his world hadn’t waited a few days to reinsert themselves and it seemed as if he had never left them to come home. And while we shared news of the past few days since we last saw each other I knew as I spoke the words of my revelation it was a habit that I had to form to make it last. As was the case with the paper perfect person who failed to translate to lover I don’t think I loved him as much as I feared the rejection of friendship all over again. Later that night I got to thinking about fate. That crazy concept that we’re not really responsible for the course our lives take. That it’s all predestined. Written in the stars. Maybe that explains why if you live in a city where you can only see the stars your love life tends to feel a little more random. And even if our every man, every kiss and every heartache is pre-ordered from some cosmic catalogue can we still take a wrong step and wonder off our own personal milky way? As I sat looking up at the stars I couldn’t help but wonder can you make a mistake and miss your fate? As I sat there a little after I ended the phone call in the strange darkness of a not-so-foreign town I could hear that he felt that same. And it was official: a new year has begun for both of us that will determine our futures. Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate because without them what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course we wouldn’t fall in love or have babies or be who we are. After all seasons change. So do friends. People come into your life and people go but it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart. And if you’re very lucky … a plane ride away.

… so long and thanks for all the fish.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2008 by moderngatsby

It was just like the feeling you get when you know it’s going to rain even though it’s still hot outside and there is a perfect swell on the waves. It was the same feeling that I got one fine summer’s morning as I sat sipping my coffee talking to Nonna. Or perhaps it was a culmination of happenings that had built up into something like Lego blocks just like last year when I pretty much followed the same behaviour pattern and reaped similar consequences. The only difference was that this time around I wasn’t madly in love with the married private banker on holiday with his newly wed bride who was part of my party.

I think the sudden uneasiness I felt had something to do with a saying I’d heard many years before in Italy: ‘A house guest is like fish – only good for 3days.’ In my case it was a little more than 4days during which I was just too bone arse lazy to keep driving home at the pre-dawn hours of 5am. In my defence I was mostly drunk most of the time and after the habitual fast food take-outs, sickeningly sugary soft-drinks and a pint or two of cold water you just want to crawl out of your cloths and into a soft warm bed and sleep away the frustrations of a night filled with strangers and little substance.

Perhaps it was because I had, in the past 2weeks become a little too emotionally slutty and revealed more than I had intentionally intended particularly to people that I hardly knew. Sure my best mate was there and his family who are pretty used to the gays but still even fag-hags and their fag-stags are not usually in my circle of trust. Sure after your 6th or 9th Jaeger-bomb it was fun to play the guessing game of ‘who’s straight and who’s not’ if for no other reason than it narrowed the odds of getting laid that night. But it was the next morning that I really felt it as we lay around the pool sharing intimate secrets from our casual affairs.

As the nameless faces blurred into a gyrating mass on the dance floor nothing had changed in the 6mnths of self-imposed exile into the Shires. No that isn’t true I had changed. I may not have a million bucks in the bank anymore but I certainly looked it. As I made my way through the crowds to sit in the dark corners behind the velvet rope some of the dirty deeds done dirt cheep came back to me. And as I looked out and managed to pick-out some of these deeds on the dance floor looking more muscled than ever before I realised that I was falling into bad habits again.

When you’re young your whole life is about the pursuit of fun. Staying out late with your friends after meeting that tall dark and handsome stranger and when you’re done dragging your ass home at dawn. Then you grow up and learn to be cautious. After all you could break a bone or a heart. You look before you leap and sometimes you don’t leap at all because there is not always someone there to catch you. And in life there is no safety net. As I sat watching the sun set on New Years’ Eve I had to ask: when did it stop fun and start being scary?

From the first night we reluctantly travelled to our capital city to hang out with the Sons of Troy to walking home for the last time on the streets paved with gold in downtown Sandton, time wasn’t on our side. From certain loose women who prowl looking for no strings sex to uncertain Mephistopheles who look for sex as an excuse not face their own nature alcohol fuelled the frenzy that drove us through the night. Someone once said you have to ‘face your fear and do it anyway’ which is exactly what I did. I faced the fear of looking by a failure by dressing up and going out and getting off with the hottest guy in the club.

Walking up to the hottest thing there and showing no fear is what my life is now about: thinking big and kicking ass. I wish I could take credit for that philosophy but really it was my Dad’s holiday gift that has somehow clicked my thinking into what has happened these past few months. I want to make things mean something again and find the kind of passion that used to drive me, albeit in my bespoke bubble, every morning. I know that you shouldn’t put off today for tomorrow but this time around I’m putting off tomorrow for today. Life is scary but failure is even more so.