He’s been staring at me for a couple of minutes now and I’m getting uncomfortable. I tried to make a joke to show him that I’m fine, but he didn’t believe me. Of course he didn’t believe me.
‘What did he do to you this time?’
‘I don’t know,’ he shrugs. ‘I never know this.’
I give him the look, then look away.
‘Nothing,’ I say and take a deep breath.
‘Oh. Then what are you doing here with me?’
I rest my chin on my knees and stare at him from behind my curtain of hair. I know he expects me to say something, anything.
So what do I say? That people have stained me again with their sad endings, and their sadness mixed up with mine? That pieces of me were spread everywhere and I feel like an empty cardboard sheet where once used to be a beautiful puzzle? That I need him close because in a world as cold as ice, his warmth flows like lava and mine, like drops of blood coming from a paper cut? Do I say all of this? I’m not so sure.
‘I just came to talk,’ I mumble, almost to myself.
‘There we go,’ he smiles. ‘I’d like that. You have so much to say.’
I smile back.
‘But don’t give me facts, dates, definitions. Don’t tell me about somebody who hurt you, about somebody who loves you, about somebody who’s messing you up’ — he grabs my cup of coffee and drinks it before I can protest — ‘I don’t give a shit about that. We all have the same set of stories. Tell me about what you’ve learned out of it.’
‘Ah, I don’t think I’ve learned a thing this time around either,’ I laugh.
That’s all I can say.
He seems pleased.
I am transparent.
‘He did something to you again…’
‘People always do something to me,’ I laugh.’ Or they don’t do anything — which is even harder to swallow.’
‘Let me tell you something,’ he says in a soft voice and takes my hand into his. ‘Mel, you’re bouncing between extremes as we speak. I know you like to feel alive, but anybody can live a bad life. It’s not even life, it’s survival through shocks. Wild, yes, but still survival. You think that anger is the strongest drug to keep you on the go. It gives you drive and energy in exchange for peace and quiet. It gets you out of everyday’s misery to make you a heroine in your own world, where you fight windmills and guys you meet at the bar who offer you starts of great love stories. It’s a hell of a storyland, isn’t it? I look at you and see the most beautiful present somebody could get, but you’re already wrapped, ready for delivery. You become extravagant, ostentatious, unwanted. You make me question your value, since you give up on yourself so easily. I can see you. You’d do anything to get rid of yourself.’
I hold my breath.
‘You don’t see serene Mel,’ I protest.
‘You are not serene Mel. I’ve never met her either.’
His words are clever and always cut me open.
Perhaps the reason why sadistic Mel always comes back to him.
‘Your anger is starting to work against you. You’re turning cynical, beautiful. Immune to life. And you wanted it so badly.’
I keep looking at the ground, thinking of how I do indeed feel happily ever trapped in the illusion of freedom and boundless energy — the two things that were supposed to be the fuel to my fire. The two things I was too afraid to use, so that I don’t waste them too early and lose them forever. The two things that, when preserved in fear and kept out of freshness, rotted in me and I got indigestion and, eventually, depression.
But he quickly lifts my chin up.
‘I think you’re mind-numbingly bored lately, up there in your little waiting space, so you’re taking all the piles of magazines and wrong people and strong cigarettes and distractions you can find. But you’ve kind of exhausted all options, haven’t you?’
I put my arms around his neck and mumble something, but he doesn’t listen. I don’t blame him.
‘Mel, if the wreck of the day always turns into invaluable memories, how do you expect to keep an open heart?
‘Sad people are like blood clots, waiting there to kill you,’ he says and runs his fingers through my hair.
‘I love you the most,’ I don’t say.
‘You don’t need somebody to lick your wounds if you learn a few things.’
I take my empty mug and go sit by the window, but realise too late that it’s been emptied out.
He grabs a chair and comes next to me.
‘There always needs to be enough room in your heart to let the light in, to let new people in, to let better people in. To let yourself in. Never fill yourself up to the top with feelings.
Don’t compare. Something that you’ve filled up with feelings will always incline the balance in its favour. So let the new show you a few tricks before you reject it.
Put your heart into it, but don’t forget to take it back at the end of the day. Your life is the most precious thing you’ll ever have. Don’t give it away to anybody. Nobody needs it.
In the end, stop wishing for whatever it is that you once had. Be enthusiastic about how fast life goes, dig into experiences, dig into emotions, dig into dynamics, but never forget that there is a very fine line between curiosity and superficiality. Never cross it, or you might not find the way back.
Learn to live a beautiful life. Laugh at it and laugh with it, and anything you want — make it yours. Learn that life takes the good away from you only to give you better. If, by chance, you end up with nothing, then know that you are your own best gift.
Love more than you crave love, and know that if life takes and doesn’t give back it’s because you have the potential to be self-sufficient in that moment.
Don’t glue all those long-lost, rained over, half-broken pieces back together. You’re better off without them. Don’t dress-up. You work best as an empty canvas, a wide, airy, white room, a clean face — and a tan. Take only what is necessary, Mel. Take only what you love.’
‘I’m not sure about what I love anymore.’
‘Well, it’s two in the morning and you’re having a dumb conversation with me. I can point at one thing for start.’
I can feel his heart pounding hard, so I lean back and let him hold me tighter. There’s a sense of stillness in the air. I turn around to watch him. He is slowly moving his fingers up and down my shoulders. I love his touch. It’s always so gentle, so full of life. It fuels me up better than all the love the Universe is supposed to send back to me for being a good girl, and better than bitterness for sure. I mutter something about how sorry I am for driving him crazy. He says he’ll give me all of this in writing and let me have a read, then ask me questions. I want to know what kind of questions. He says the first question will be why am I still feeling sorry for myself and the things I do and say. I laugh and tell him that I wasn’t serious. He laughs with me and tells me I’d better not be lying.