These Are The Words

It feels like I’ve got less and less to write about these days.

There’s little to moan about, I’m not sad, I’m not going through any crisis. I haven’t picked up any new exciting hobby, I haven’t fallen in or out of love, I haven’t traveled anywhere exotic. So I’ve been finding it fairly easy to resist my compulsion to record everything on the interwebs.

And then last night, we were at a John Bishop comedy show with a friend on Wembley Arena, and in between giggles and bouts of proper hysterical laughter, my phone was constantly buzzing in my lap with notifications from WordPress. Hours later, stuck on a tube as they were trying to remove a stray Black Friday enthusiast who was apparently strolling up and down the tracks a few stops ahead of us, well, I finally took my phone out of my bag and checked my blog’s dashboard.

People were reading, I realised. Real people, with lives and stories of their own to tell.

It’s exciting, if hard to believe. And scary, in so many ways.

I’m building myself into a shape strangers can look at and check for defects.

And then I thought. I mostly write when I’m a bit down or mad about something. It’s when it comes most naturally to me for some reason. I rarely document my happinesses, my good days, and that’s a pity, because I’ve got plenty of them to go around, and it’s what I’d surely rather read about when I’m old and grey and in a mood for looking back and poking fun at my silly moaning self. I’d appreciate being reminded of the happy times too, if only in passing.

So I’ll try to do that more often from now on, write about the good stuff.

Right now for instance, V and I are sitting in the living room, perfectly content. He’s playing Call of Duty against one of his buddies, and winning twenty-something to six, which makes him giggle, pinch or tap my leg and point to the updating score every other minute, at which I need to react by at least jumping up and down and waving my hands in the air like a maniac, or else I’ll have failed in my super important Call of Duty cheerleading responsibilities.

It’s been quiet today. A furniture delivery, the last one in a while now I hope, a trip to the car wash and the local shops. Then driving back with a huge, impossible-to-fit-in-the-car-and-still-reach-the-pedals potted Yucca plant, putting some music on and in between glasses of leftover wine, almost carbonising our dinner. It’s good to have a boring Saturday for once.

Last week we held our house warming shindig.

I’m not a manic party planner, I don’t drive myself crazy over putting together intricate culinary delicacies, or polishing every surface to perfection six times over. I’ve never been a good cook and I’ve always been quite tidy, so it doesn’t feel like I’ve got anything to worry too much about when we have people over, except maybe making sure we’ve got a couple of takeout menus close at hand. It feels to me though that everybody else takes these get-togethers a million times more seriously than I do. People dressed up. Brought gifts. Everything felt important, official. Like it marked something vital, this day, when it didn’t really. It was just a random day when neither of us had any better things to do.

We ate, drank, talked politics and about our many hopes and fears.

I sometimes can’t help feeling that most Romanians I know in this country are competing to prove to me that their lives are infinitely better and more exciting that mine.

The way I look at my relationships with fellow nationals has changed dramatically since I moved here. I used to feel so alone early on, and so I was really drawn to the few Romanian expats I knew in London. I overlooked their every flaw, and invested all I had into building and maintaining those pretend friendships, based on little more than the fact that we shared a language and had grown up watching the same TV shows. More than a few bumps in the road later, I’m more selective when it comes to who I spend my time with, Romanian or not.

And still I realised, as I was cooking breakfast the following morning for the few people who’d spent the night in our improvised guest beds, my social life here is still far from ideal. My relationships still lack something. We’re only connecting up to a certain level, and past that, I’m pretty much on my own. Maybe it really has nothing to do with being away from home, but more with a certain drifting apart that comes with growing old. You’ll never know then, I said to myself, and flipped the omelette with a pretend-expert turn of the spatula, burning my thumb in the process.

In other news, I found such incredible joy in not having enough chairs to accommodate everyone at our dining table. It’s tiny things like this that for a fraction of a second, make me feel like I’m slowly building something in this country.

Oh, and I completely forgot.

I found a job last week.

I don’t know how, I wasn’t really looking.

I mean I was, in a way. As in, I knew I’d have to start looking in a few months. I’d known for exactly four days. But I wasn’t, actively, doing anything yet. And then it just fell in my lap, this exciting thing there’s a chance I’ll be doing for the coming months, years, who knows, and when I learnt about it, I hung up the call and just stood there, in the middle of the deserted reception room at work, elevator doors blinking their floor numbers up and down the spine of the building, and felt afraid.

Things have been going well. Too well, I can’t help thinking.

It’s sad, isn’t it, how I’ve grown into this person who finds happiness, first and foremost, suspicious.

Poem to Start the Week #23: Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot–peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.



William Stafford