I have been living in the city now for almost six months. Where my life before was largely dictated by my ex and when he would have a night off, waiting up for him to get home in the early hours of the evening, then suffering the following day. We lived where we lived because it was close to his work, so I lost many hours driving, from one coastline to the next. Well it is a little bit different now. Some of the changes are pretty extreme – night after night I would sit in a cold, oddly designed flat – with very little privacy. Sometimes I would join some of my braai obsessed neighbours around the fire – drinking copious amounts of really good wine. They pretended to be my friends and I pretended to be happy. Me – Happy! Around a braai, discussing Tupperware and curtain-making. Nodding my head in full agreement to the countless words of praise for my ex. In hindsight it was him they were befriending, not me – but I was his supposed significant other… and I could talk curtains!
Driving was painful on a daily basis and stole many hours from me – not that I took too much notice because all I was really missing out on was a couple of mundane hours in front of the TV. Waiting for him to get home. Sometimes I would enthusiastically visit him at work – determined to break the grinding routine. Too often my smile vanished quickly as I was greeted with something like an annoyed grimace. Whilst sitting in a corner I would start seething, the anger would start to rise. I would feel foolish, foolish for coming. Why did I allow myself to be in such an awful situation? Once I got up and left without letting him know – I figured it would be a while before he noticed anyway. With angry tears in my eyes and driving like a maniac I went down the road to a huge restaurant. I was wearing a long white strappy dress, thought maybe I could pass for a quirky tourist. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. I was approached by a sweet young guy asking me to join their table, I declined and sat there very happily on my own, watching the people around me. It has always been moments like this where I discover a source of strength that surprises me. It never fails to encourage me. Being Independent. Alone, but free. I tried to do this as often as possible, carve out a little bit of a life for myself, away from him – a different woman. Each time I did this it was like a seed taking root, a fire starting to burn inside. My dissatisfaction increased more and more. I hated feeling tearful and weak. Our nights together – instead of being special in their rarity became tense and thick with my dissatisfaction. He would take me to lousy restaurants because of their close proximity to home. (Funny that – after I had probably spent an average of seven hours driving during the week – the bistro down the road was as far as he could manage) He would be filled with talk of the job, our conversations became lacklustre. Then I started losing my temper; badly. For him that is where his side of the story began. My temper killed the romance – the blame always lay solidly at my feet.
There is a part of me that thinks I am still angry. Sometimes I get a fright when I look at myself in the mirror, too closely, and see this exposed vulnerability in my eyes. It is a vulnerability I have always tried hard to mask – be it with cigarettes or the gothic clothing. However futile the exercise, I think it has been a constant desire.
My life is very different now. Instead of a long weekend of solitude, I now barely have time to buy toothpaste. I have had nights spent with incredible people in beautiful places, painting the town a sexy red on just one long street, walking on the beach holding the hands of a one year old as she gets closer to taking that first step, drank Champagne, had oysters, danced with strangers and that is just one weekend. This is a bit more me, my kind of brand of life and I am loving it!! Filled with wonderful friends, uplifting conversation, always somewhere to be, something to do, but perhaps, to be honest with myself, there is still this sadness, the anger that hasn’t quite disappeared. I fear you can see it in my eyes.
Tonight my lovely friend is taking me out for Patron – hopefully it will shake up these ghosts creeping around in my head.