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About love and conquering, from @thaabzeniko

Sometimes you stumble on something so pretty you have to share it. That’s how I felt about a thread of tweets I read yesterday. I followed and asked permission to share. @thaabzeniko’s twitter bio reads: “gay. they/ them. mostly in black. guzzling wine somewhere. this be ma corner on the interwebs”

Gotta love that. They (the pronoun the bio states to use) sent me this to add:

“I don’t consider myself a writer but I tend to write occasionally, at times through experience, but mostly through observation. I never knew I could write until I went through some things and I just couldn’t relate to anything out there so I started writing/ facilitating my own lived experiences and fantasies, and it’s been gravy ever since.”

Below are the tweets I’ve typed out, and used the full words in place of abbreviations.

 

One day, you’ll be in bed with your partner when your bodies stick to each other under the sweltering heat and your sighs are soft keys to a song.

They’ll be sleeping but you’ll be restless, trying to catch every speeding thought, thanking God you’re in love and alive through it all.

You’ve lost track of how many times it took you both to get here. But you’re here and there’s no more lies, bullshit and half-assing things.

You’ll stop wondering how much simpler things would be if feelings were easily altered, whether we’d bother to love at all. You’ve made it.

Silent moans of relief as you feel so close to them and the only way you can get closer is by letting them hold you even closer. Tighter even.

Caressing every part of you; existing peacefully between each other. Like Pablo Neruda they’ll catch glimpses of the moon alive under your skin.

Your skin will smell like sleep. Things will begin to make sense. Loving each other will feel like being heard after a lifetime of silence.

You’ll remember the times you spent your early 20s freaking out, believing you’re a mess when really you were always iridescent from the start.

You’ll forget about the exes that were into music/ poetry and wrote songs about everyone they fucked except you.

You’ll forget about the exes that made you feel so used to being second best – only inviting you over when they’re lonely and horny.

You’ll touch your lips, tasting the tendrils of the escaped Disney fairy tale you spent your early life searching for with exes that weren’t for you.

You’ll build a life with a love books don’t talk about. The one found in the spines of everything you’ve been taught to run away from.

You’re a hero with claws. It’s how you climbed out of darkness when you believed everything was disappearing and made of smoke.

It’s going to be the small moments here and there, however they arrive, look for them. Happiness will walk in and I hope it works out for you.

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Same old story

Then you wonder, is this not supposed to get easier with age? Is experience not doing its job if this is the effect? Is it arrogant to take this as a failure?

Oh its nothing new. You’ve heard it a million times. A little ‘like’ and some love slowly morphs into something unrecognisable until where you thought the shooting star would have landed, turns into a blob of longing.

A seething blob, that whimpers at the gentlest prod.

We met online – Twitter – January 2015, when I thought I saw someone that looked like him while jogging at UCT.

“I don’t go there,” he said. And that was that.

Cue 10 months later when he told me someone else messaged him to say they saw him on the train. We were dealing with a doppelganger. It was our story. It was whimsical and whenever I told it I would come alive.

My face lit up and people smirked at how cute I felt, and they laughed at how animated I told the beginnings of our tale.

As my current relationship wound down to its natural end, this burgeoning friendship took off. It was purely direct messages on Twitter. It was exciting and fun and innocent.

“Hey youre somewhat of a language expert, right?” he asked while I was out on an assignment.

“Whats a bottle job wanker?” he asked.

Another of our jokes.

I replied between glasses of water and walks around the block, upon waking and well into the night. I couldn’t wait for the messages. They became frequent and inquisitive – “hey” and “hey you!” were commonplace. I would light up when the chat conversation was initiated.

I was not pushing, nor was I hoping. This was new territory for me. Did I mention he is a scientist? Swoon! Later when we met he would tell me about his research and I thought how exciting that’s going to be when completed. He came alive as he explained his thesis topic and I loved it. But that was only much later.

Between October and December this was the routine. It wasn’t all perfect – there was the time I called him the Hitler of something. He didn’t take that analogy well. Granted. We got over it pretty quickly.

He offered to donate books for a charity drive I was helping out with. It turned out it was an excuse to meet and buy me a coffee. It worked, but never happened. Not just yet.

We spoke about movies all the time. He was a nerd. I thought I was one too.

“Say something in nerd,” he challenged.

“I think I’m more nerd lite,” I conceded.

He was competitive. We played thumb wars and he always won. We were the dream 30 Seconds team. Every team Ive played on has won. I looked forward to winning with him.

But before we got there, I passed the audition and went from direct message to WhatsApp. It was a triumph – a logical outcome for these things, but a triumph none the less. It felt well-earned and the next step.

We met at the theatre – nerds! – to watch Singin’ in the Rain at the Artscape. It was one night, and many chat conversations, where the courtship went completely over my head.

For someone who gets told that they’re smart, my brain would shut down and be completely oblivious to signals being thrown my way.

I was throwing myself at you, he would later say.

I look back and the lightbulbs pop all over my mind like a faulty fuse box.

“Its not as easy as you… me…date” I texted one day in the last week of December. We were talking about dating and how hard it is to find a decent man.

“Hey Jerome. You.. me… date,” he said.

I LOL’d. I was not used to forthright, candid and cute. I was used to being dealt assumptions and then next steps. Direct messages were direct!

“You could have just said no,” he said.

An awkward tug-and-pull set the tone for things to come, as I said “don’t go, come back, I misunderstood”.

The situation was placated.

That same night I got invited to the house he was house sitting. There was a hot tub. I had already started a process of spontaneity and better living. This “say yes” mantra coincided with my leaving my house at 11pm at his invitation, with work the next day and a half-hour drive to see him. It was worth it.

I met his brother, his cousin and her boyfriend. They seemed to like me.

“Oh you’re the journalist?!” was what greeted me by his slightly drunk cousin. “And you must look after him,” she said between getting to know me.

Yes, yes I will, I thought. He spoke about me! He must like me! She must sense something that I don’t yet! She was being maternal. They grew up together and this was a good sign! The exclamations were aplenty that night.

“Don’t laugh at my body,” I said.

“Don’t be silly,” he said.

I still thought I was a little too doughy and pale next to him. He had swum 70 laps that morning. I had sat at my desk and read tweets and made phone calls.

“Would you really not date me?!” he asked again in the pool.

This one is persistent, I thought.

But it paid off. After some jostling, and with my 1am curfew approaching, I left. But not before another “say yes” moment.

“I’m going now,” I said, half inside my car.

“Ok.”

“No really, I’m going now! I said. I have work in a few hours”

“Okaay,” he said unconvincingly.

I walked up to him and we kissed. Tentatively at first. Weary. Soft. Eyes closed. I was still speaking. The words escape me as they escaped me.

“You talk a lot,” he said, smiling, teasing more kisses from my lips.

I pushed him against the wall and I stopped talking.

“Where is he?” we heard his brother ask.

He jumped onto the wall and said, “I’m still here”. And the jostling continued until I forced myself to leave.

New years eve was the next night – “I want to see you.”

I jumped.

Work took forever. All I could think about was the impending night and seeing him. No expectations. I survived the dreaded new year’s shift and rushed home to shower.

“What should I bring?” I asked.

Condoms and vodka, he said.

Ok, I thought, not over thinking – my default setting.

It was a joke, made worse by the slow cellphone reception.

But the night was perfect, punctuated by hand holding, movie watching, talk of being serious and exclusive (he asked, I said yes) and drinking games. Getting-to-know-you games as we called them that night. There was truth and dare and skinny dipping. Say yes, remember?

Then the descent. Surely you didn’t think there was no descent?

Act three and the energy shifts. Messages take longer to be replied to. Time is negotiated. Jokes are taken out of context. Other jokes are made.

“I make myself too available to you,” I texted. “Im going to friend zone you, just to keep things fresh”.

“Are you serious?” (of course I wasn’t!)

“Of course not!”

“Don’t joke like that. That kind of thing will make me put up walls,” he said.

It was a shock. He was the one who said 90% of what he said shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“I’m the funny one. You’re the serious one,” he said.

I happen to think I am mildly amusing at best. At least! Hmph.

Dates were still fun, but the lightness had gone. We teased each other. Sometimes it went too far.

He rubber-necked when a hot guy would walk past. I humoured it. We all stare, I thought. But that much? In my presence? Surely I should be enough. It was not a question.

“You ARE enough,” said a friend. I doubted it.

Cue to more dates being planned, but with a weariness that proved waning interest.

“You cant dump me until after Valentine’s Day. Any time after that will be ok,” I joked. It was to be preemptively prophetic. 19 days after the new year had started, more misunderstandings and miscommunications.

“Are you comfortable with your sexuality?” was the message I received that got the ball rolling.

Of course I am, I thought.

“Yes,” I said.

I didn’t kiss him when I took him home. I didn’t get a kiss the previous time, so I went with what I knew and thought “Go with that. Read the signs. Respect the space and be content with boundaries”. His granny was sassy, and I didn’t want to cause any offence (even though that night it was dark and we were outside in my car), but I considered her and people who might have been around, instead of claiming my kiss.

It translated to an insult. I had offended the ego and it wrecked havoc with his self esteem.

I wasn’t affectionate enough. I didn’t place him on the pedestal, like his ex did. He later regretted comparing me to the ex, but it was out there.

The wistful mentions of said ex went over my head at the time, but the tentacles of doubt took hold. I never made a big deal, but they were there, hanging on. As was I.

As the conversation – THAT conversation – flexed and contorted down the rabbit hole like a falling cat, the clearer it became that it was over.

But we have a date in three days, I thought. What about V-day?! You cant break the binding clause of St Valentine!

But it was broken. As were we. It became clear later in the night, with my usual insomnia now in full lucidity, that while I was asking “Are we ok?” an d even “Are you awake?” despite that glaring “Online” sign, he was avoiding the issue at hand.

“But he could have fallen asleep while still online,” is the rationale of the desperate. I am not 19, I thought. I am not supposed to be feeling this way. But it was over.

“I am sorry” was one message.

“Didn’t mean for this to happen” was another.

I made my usual appeasing jokes and blocked him on all social media platforms. I was not taking any chances. My eyes were puffy and I still had work in the morning. I got up and prepared lunch, at 2am. Sleep was not coming anytime soon. More tears.

I thought I was special. A whole 19 days. Surely a world record. Do we even count the online time?

“Pen your thoughts down. Write,” was a text from my mother. It was her birthday. I was supposed to wish her, instead I was up and wondering where it all went (goes) wrong.

Everyone thinks they’re special when we collide into a wall. But as you approach, open your eyes. There are skid marks and dents where others have been before. Its just another love story with an aborted end. Others have been here. You may be alone, but you’re not the only one who was here. Its just the same old story.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

I’m a gypsy, hey?

Yes, it’s another blog post inspired by a Lady Gaga song. No, wait, come back! It’s only inspired by, not based on a true story!

Although that’s what I would like it to be. Allow me to explain.

How many of us are what we want to be?

In your mind, you might be Superman/ Batman/ Catwoman, but the truth is that many of us are really more Clark Kent/ Bruce Wayne / Selina Kyle (And the sexism of Clark and Bruce being kinda awesome as they are, while Selina pretty much sucks is another issue that I’m itching to scratch at, but another time)

But that’s ok. It’s not a sad, it just is. I’ve had this realization with my aspirations to be a gypsy.

In the song, Gypsy, she sings about being happy on the move, but also about the ambivalence of not wanting to be alone.

“Thought that I would be alone forever. But I won’t be tonight”

This ambivalence brings to mind the thought that I am a gypsy – carefree, unattached, roaming and ever-transient; a soul of the wind, directionless, my heart on a cloud.

The truth is, I’m only a mild version of this. I’m gypsy lite.

I love being out, on the road, in the air, a train with only a backpack and a notebook and pen (my staples) and no idea where I’m headed. But then the reality of the tracks taking me to an unsafe area, or the flashing red light of a car reminds me that freedom in the literal (or literary, Romantic) sense might not be as attainable as I’d thought.

Sometimes we think we want love and romance because that’s all we know. In our minds we are going to run through meadows, twirl, and gaze at each other’s eyes all day. In reality it’s a lot more Selina Kyle where we have clammy palms, morning breath, bloodshot eyes and petty arguments. And that’s fantastic! You might not be the expected version of what you thought you were meant to be, but that’s the beauty of it – your journey is all yours.

I might not be able to navigate my way through borders of expectations, or a sea of confusion, but I certainly know how to define and read my own map.

So yes, I am a gypsy. And I do it the best way I know how.

I'm on a fence.

I’m on a fence.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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I like you more than you like me

The curse. You wonder if this is how it’s meant to be for the rest of your life. The one who is always “too”: much, needy, emotional, cold. It hits you out of nowhere, but you know that the thought has been with you for a long time.

You look back at your dating life, the detritus of ten years, as you look back at what you have written. You write in pencil and wish that things were as easy to erase. But you know that even pencils leave marks. Every kiss is a stain, every touch a bruise. Even if it does not show at the time.

You start off by writing – about heartbreak in general – how the feeling hits you months, sometimes years after you thought you were over it; how you used to work out and look after yourself as revenge only to realise it was a sham and you worked on the wrong part of yourself (the outside); how heartache and loneliness are reluctant bedfellows walking hand in hand, not looking at each other, with you, their child torn between.
Until you realise the root cause of all the ruminating – I like you more than you like me. Like, that word so bastardised by social media, the phase when you know you are not infatuated anymore, but not yet in love. The transitionary period, the crucial time.

Your pencil moves faster than your hand will allow, but you know that no pencil or the fastest fingers on the best computers would be able to keep up if the heart was allowed a language, a voice, a chance to speak. But you’re grateful that the heart knows its own strength and spares you its sermons that would destroy you with its truths.

You think that giving is enough. You think that being there, being present is enough. Ultimately you realise that this is a poison you’re doomed to keep swallowing.

You feel stupid. Juvenile too. Stupid child.

You wonder why something that seems so simple can be so complicated – every single time.

Your eyes are now open to other people in relationships like this. Your thoughts vacillate between pity for the poor person in your shoes, and respect for their patience and determination to be with the one they want. Could this form of partnership grow to be love? Who says it isn’t?
All you did was over read the situation. Blame it on your star sign, maybe on your mind, family issues, past relationships, whatever. Truth is you like him more than he liked you, and that’s all there is to it.

Author Jerome Cornelius

Two Poems

This being the month of love…

These lips no longer belong to you,

especially not in this photo.

So put down your brown and shooing hand,

trying to get me up.

Behind the camera you direct me,

but my nose is in her shoulder.

I hide, second from the left, is where I’ll now remain.

Immortalised, they laugh with you,

as you click and snap.

But smiling lips, that curl to God, pink and slightly full,

are mine, all mine and mine alone, free to smile again.

Selfish I may call myself, but they belong to me.

These lips that I once gave so freely,

I’ll now keep to myself.

Image

Look into the eyes of the one you love

as he looks away.

Grab him, hold onto him

as he turns away.

Say goodbye, for now, forever

as he walks away.

You loved him, you left,

makes no difference anyway.

Look back, think back,

as it fades away.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Love – My Take

I began this entry with my usual mix of scepticism and hope. I straddle the line between the two with equal fervour, and lean over to either side from time to time. I thought back to my high school days when my Grade 11 teacher Mrs Holzhausen gave us the task of making a small (A4 sized) poster about love.  I, being the cheerful chap that I am, drew a big black heart and wrote “Love is… a cliché.” She did not like it.

I went back and regrouped and changed it to a beautiful split “screen” image with a man running from a heart and in the other side of the poster the heart caught him and little hearts emanated as the man rolled his eyes. That’s totally me! Accepting of it when it comes, yet still rolling my pessimistic eyes for all they are worth. The tag line was, for those not paying attention or not in advertising like I am, “Love is… a feeling you can’t escape.” Cue the “awwww” and me running away from all those cries. Hug me and I’ll stab you. With love, of course.

This made me think about the current state of my love life. Desolate wasteland. However I always seem to have a pinch of salt to add to every pot. So I want to share a little excerpt from a speech I made at my cousins wedding last year. I was the best man and had the obligatory duty of making that infamous speech. It was surprisingly decent.

I made it clear that I was nervous and that my shaking hands and croaky voice were all part of the spiel. I made a few stupid jokes to embarrass him (because at this point it became clear that this event was about my burgeoning comedy career). I told the audience that I had some key words of advice, because I, as many may know, am a relationship expert.

My main advice was that so often I see couples who give their lives over to a partner and lose themselves, and perspective. This is why a relationship, and particularly a marriage, should always be a convergence of two souls and never a conflation. Got that? Convergence, not conflation.

I made a few other stupid jokes about the woman always being right and that lies are a matter of definition. Also, an omission is as good as a lie. Are you listening all stereotypical men? Hey women, how about creating a safe environment for the guy to be honest? Ok now I’m just being mean. Let’s all strive for equality and respect?

I’ll conclude with my L’s for a successful relationship, besides Love.

Listen – actively, do it often, do it now, do it always. If you don’t, you will never…

Learn – about your partner, about yourself, about everything. Don’t let your love life be your life, or you will never…

Live – on your own and out loud. You will never be able to share your life with someone if you have never done so on your own, and even then, you independence must be maintained.

Larry King – because he’s been married like 18 times and who wants THAT?!

So that is my two cents on that hideous word beginning with “L”. If it didn’t make any sense, you are welcome to tell me. Just don’t hug me. That would be a cliché.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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