Tag Archives: romance

love and power on a Melbourne tram

I was on the tram a week ago and a couple in their fifties sat opposite me, she better dressed and presented than he and both a tad flustered. My instinct tells me they are on their second marriage and it is ‘early days’. They appear to be seriously interested in each other and that’s nice. Let us call them Amy and Bill for no reason except for the fact they never used their names and I have to call them something. It occurs to me as I write that they used no endearments either and this is surprising. Perhaps they have been together for many moons?

Amy stops fiddling with her handbag and Bill squints at his phone in the way all us older folk do.

A conversation ensues on where they should leave the tram.

Amy. ‘Where do we get off?’

Bill. ‘Swanston Street.’ This is not a clever answer. It is a long street.

Amy. ‘But where?

Bill Googles. ‘Bourke Street.’

Amy. ‘Where did we get off Thursday?’

Bill. ‘Bourke.’

Amy. ‘Collins is better.’

Bill. ‘Okay.’

Amy looks out the window. ‘No, it’s fine.’

Bill. ‘Well, Collins then.’

Amy glances at me and looks out the tram window again. ‘That’s a nice building’.

It actually is not, however, it succeeds in throwing Bill off course.

Bill takes her hand, she lets him. ‘Where?’ He peers out.

Amy. ‘Bourke. It’s fine.’

Bill. ‘Collins is good.’

I am trying not to smile, this is like an amateur Pinter play where the silences and deviations mean more than the literal words.

Amy relents, looks at him, smiles. ‘Did you book?’

Bill. ‘No need.’

Amy. ‘It was busy Thursday night.’

Bill. ‘I’ll ring.’

Amy stiffens ever so slightly and looks out the window again. ‘It’s fine.’

I really want to applaud the way she’s playing him.

Bill. ‘You have a smudge here.’ He touches her face with love. A caress.

Amy rubs it off. ‘I’ve said to you before about that mirror.’

Ah, I think, so she was in his house last night and ‘wants a few changes’.

She glances at me again, I stay poker-faced and decide this will be great for my dialogue exercise with Writers Victoria in two weeks.

And so it goes. She is not being horrible and seems truly to like him and he adores her, though possibly is not up to the task.

Amy. ‘Which stop is it?

Bill. ‘After this one.’

Amy. ‘Here is good’.

She stands and he follows, she takes his hand and as they leave the tram, she looks back at me with the faintest of smiles and I allow myself a smile in return.

Bill was oblivious of my presence. For Amy, I was an audience and I understood that the little to and fro I witnessed had been for my benefit as much as an exchange between two lovers.
As I am ambled away at the next stop, I recalled my therapist saying years ago ‘David, all relationships are a struggle for power, at least in the beginning.’
BTW, Rosie the dog has been passed as ‘dog and child friendly’ and is up for adoption. She needs a more suitable home than we can give her, but she will be missed…

No, I do not want to be your ‘friend’

Last week you sent me a ‘friend’ request on Facebook. Seriously? After five years?
We were lovers in your little apartment, sex and alcohol our rocket fuel. Perhaps we were in love a little for a time and then we weren’t and I flew home.
You sent me a ‘fuck you’ email six months later saying you were married; was that number 3 or 4? I forget.
I did not answer, there was nothing to say.
I moved on, as they say.
Now you want to ‘friend’ me? We were never ‘friends’; I loved you, not sure I ever liked you.
Click ‘decline’.

My life and death in boxes

First the socks. Black ones bundled together next to the pink in the top drawer. Knickers in the next; everyday white here, black there, special occasion lacy separate. Not that I will need them again unless they bury me in them.  Damn, a blue pair muddled, bloody eyesight worse.

 Where are the wooden hangers for my shirts? So hard to reach, pain tearing my soul.

A place for everything and everything in its place. Once you start tossing your clothes any which way, ironed and unironed together, where does it all end? Like life, keep the bits separate, keep the parts contained. Compartments. Boxes. Control. Survival.

 I’m so bloody tired these days it would be easy not to bother, but what then? What would it say, to have lived my life in boxes and to fall apart at the end? 

 We don’t talk about the cancer. No point, doesn’t change anything. It eats my bones, eats my eyes, nothing to be done, nothing to stop it except time and that will be soon enough. Nothing left to say whereas once I couldn’t be stopped; a fountain of words and with Mark the words and sex binding us like honey. But I was married, still am and still to the wrong man and now I’m dying. You have to laugh. Or cry. Neither of us cried. Rob did, he was always the weakest. 

Damn, my good slacks are still marked, can’t wear them like this, have to wash them again – ah, bending down! That hurts, shouldn’t have done it. Shit!

Don’t leave a mess for others.

Don’t cry.

 Nearly finished, pullovers each folded in their plastic bags and laid in the wardrobe in their proper place, in their snug little homes.

Finished. All in order. Everything in its place.

Knives, forks, spoons, nobody throws them together them in one pile. Clothes the same. Life the same. Boxes each containing their secrets got me through Daddy, helped me survive Mark and it will get me through this. 

He’ll be home soon and I have to be finished.

Well, I was smart enough to keep quiet, not like telling about Daddy.

 We don’t talk about anything much, Rob and me and that suits me; silence fitted me like a glove when I stopped feeling after Mark. My navy blue silk dress and jacket became my armour. The ‘ice queen’ they all wanted to fuck.

He’ll be home soon, there’s leftovers and salad, that’ll do, he’ll be fine. I guess he won’t be hungry anyway.
Just a moment, rest for a moment, so bloody tired.

I learned my lesson and kept it in boxes: big or small, shiny or dull, old or new. Knickers, socks or love, it works the same way. Shove it in a box, push it under the bed where the monsters live and pretend. Simply pretend.

Ikea boxes are perfect. 

 He stopped loving me. Mark, I mean.

A life of boxes and compartments and one final box to unlock before he comes home and starts watching me with those doggy eyes. ‘What do you want of me?’ he asks. ‘I want you to be him!’ I scream silently. ‘Lives of quiet desperation’, who said that? I would have known once or Mark would have, finishing each other’s sentences, ricochet words of love and hate in our own world. 

 One final box, a pretty one. Open the lid, swallow the pills, close the lid and rest. Clean sheets, smoothed pillows. middle class manners to the end. So many words wasted on Mark and so many hours wasted waiting at the phone and now to rest in my box where nobody can touch me. I choose my last box and it is done.

The dance of love in 100 words

We see each other.
I step forward.
You step forward.
We circle each other.
I step forward.
You step forward.
We dance.
man and woman dancing
We move apart, watching each other, eyes locked as we circle the room.
We step to each other.
We dance the quadrille of love, the waltz of love and the tango of love.
We laugh and love, eyes for no other.
You step back.
I step forward.
You step back.
I step forward.
You stand still.
We watch each other.
I turn, you follow.
You stop. I turn back.
You turn away.
I leave.
The dance is over.
dance ended

a modern fairy story of infinite nothingness in 100 words

She brought him back to life. Not the usual chest pumping, sternum cracking, lip-to-lip resuscitation, instead she was kind and caring to him as other women had not or perhaps before he had no ability or experience to recognise and accept it. He began to trust and to feel again; to come from the shadows he knew well into the light which was unfamiliar and frightening.
She loved him in her way and he mistook this, unaccustomed as he was to friendship and compassion. He fell in love with her and told her so.
This time she could not save him.
broken heart

The romantically unemployed and free market economics

I read an article which used rational choice theory within economics to categorise those not in a relationship as being ‘romantically unemployed’. It referred specifically to the construction of the algorithms which underpin online dating sites and the matching of singletons to become couples.

Okay, at one level this is funny. Not ‘single’ or ‘looking’ or ‘not interested’ or’ perfectly happy with my dog, thank you’ or whatever, but unemployed. Romantically unemployed.
Dig a little deeper and it is unfunny. Unemployed equals ‘unproductive’ in free market thinking; that is, not contributing to society or the national economy. In the nasty jargon of the Australian government, these unemployed are ‘leaners, not lifters’ who sponge off the rest of society. imagesFGH768PA economics terms
The romantically unemployed? Do they need to apply like the labour market unemployed for a position/date forty times per month to avoid being pariahs on the economy? Should they be expected to travel far and wide searching for a date/position? Should they be doing productive local community work/dating locals in order not to be socially unacceptable?
At least they receive no government benefits for being romantically unemployed and will not live in constant fear of having benefits reduced or removed to ‘encourage’ them back into romantic entanglement.
Should they be interviewed by government officials every month to check that they are ‘genuine romantically unemployed’ and not simply leaners who have set their romantic standards too high to avoid the perils of the dating pool and the joys of coupledom? Being unrealistic and not genuine in their quest? Not prepared to accept ‘good enough’ or NQR?
What about the free market obsession with ‘efficiency dividends’, which simply means doing more with less? How could this be targeted at the slack ‘romantically unemployed’? Surely there is room for more efficient searching and dating?
Surely a free market can make revenue from the ‘romantically unemployed’? Oh, that’s right. That is what online dating is all about and we are back at square one.
I’m pondering how we can refine this ‘romantically unemployed’ category; the unemployable, the long term, the unskilled, those in need of skills upgrading and further training?
All very funny and all very sad. And guess what? Everything I have poked fun at here is already happening. Think of any absurdity these days and I guarantee it is out there somewhere.

Our first anniversary

I was reluctant, but my friends kept telling me that I had to get out there, get in the game, join the million other hopefuls. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So I agreed to give it a try despite my anxieties that I was too old for this sort of thing and had been to the trough a few too many times; better to put on my slippers and night cap, get a dog and close the blinds. But that has never been my style and, recalling the old adage that you should never die wondering and that remorse is better than regret, I let myself be persuaded.
It was scary and it was exciting getting to know each other; the familiar tingle, the anticipation of our meetings, the world suddenly a brighter and happier place of colour, aromas, sound and sensation. A special connection with another! Sigh. Every poetic cliché of every trashy romantic novel.
She seemed to feel the same and that was wonderful.
After a couple of months, however, I could feel our connection slipping away. Sure, we liked each other, missed each other when we could not meet, but there was something lacking – the age old cry of lovers, no?
In the middle of the year we travelled together for two months and we had the closeness I craved. It did not last. Back in Australia I was ready to give up and she felt the same. It was simply not working and in my heart I knew it was my fault because I was withholding and not being my true self with her. I was playing a role and felt paralysed from acting differently. Nor was it all my fault; there was a guardedness in her, a core of secrets which she was not showing me.
I was losing her and I hated it. Hated my own inadequacies.
Knowing I had to change, I began to reveal more of myself: my hopes and fears, wants and needs, wounds and scars – the usual stuff. I began to find my own voice, becoming recognisable to myself and thus to others. Although she is cautious, I can feel her responding to me as I learn to trust and to share and to be ‘authentic’ [I know, all very new age]. Others do it, so why not me? How hard can it be? Don’t answer that, we know how hard it is to stop pretending and role playing and going through the motions and instead to be truly present and honest.
Early days and I have much left to learn. It is getting better.
Yes, it is our first anniversary.
One year since I began on WordPress in utter naivety. It has taken me a year to get a feel for what I want to do here and what I want to say; in short, to find my voice. Next I must take another deep breath and interact with the blogging community and not be only a passive reader and receiver; I could not do this unless I first found what I wanted to do with my blog.
She has been patient and accepting and you know, I think we’ll make it to our second anniversary!
Wish us luck!