Chronicles of Romance Vol. 13

Are we too young to be chasing forever?

*I wrote most of this at 7.13am after a night out. I don’t recall the year. I found it last night and tried to conjure up as much of that morning as I could. I scribbled the ending whilst searching for sleep*

Whenever I talk to men about my singlehood life – often in varied states of  inebriation at the back of badly lit clubs, sitting on overused couches which smell of cigarette smoke – there is a common theme which dominates these conversations. I am asked by one – who has indirect intimate knowledge of how I choose to navigate the minefield of chemistry between two people- only because I am currently navigating said minefield with his ‘home-boy since we were ten’ – “why won’t you date him?”.

In my head a switch goes off and the sudden high pitched scream that pierces the slightly muddled calm in my mind slowly lowers to background noise level. In my head I yell “IT REALLY IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!”.  To his face, I say, very serenely, after taking an unnecessarily long sip of my beverage (in retrospect, I probably should have stopped drinking 2 hours prior, but I digress), “I don’t want to”.  I can almost see his braincells misfiring in an attempt to comprehend this simple statement of fact. I sip some more (again, should really noooot be drinking any more). He then asks me (rather audaciously because as already stated, it’s really none of his business)  “why?”.

In my head: I’m tired. My heart is tired. My body is tired. My heart has been riding an emotional roller-coaster (shoutout to Vivian Green) since I was 16 and I haven’t really listened to the bullhorns telling me to get off after each messy cycle. I just stay on when everyone else hops off and pray that there’s nothing left in my stomach to hurl out at the next ridiculous upside-down turn thingie.

Guess what? There’s always more.

It’s almost as if I’m a bottomless pit of emotions. At this point, they aren’t even my emotions anymore because “my” implies that they belong to me and that I exercise some sort of agency over them. Control.

I do not.

They happen to me. Violently. Completely. They overwhelm me and I can never seem to find the door through which I entered when I suddenly become (for however brief a moment) aware of just how far gone I am. But somehow,  I managed to disentangle myself from the last time, unbuckle my belt and run screaming for the turnstiles. I haven’t looked back since.

So, I’m not dating right now. I’m flirting with all the men. I smile at strangers at train stations. I stare too long at beautiful humans during my long commutes. I take tequila shots with long haired vactioners in dingy bars I normally wouldn’t frequent. I dance for a little longer than is appropriate with people whose names I have no intention of remembering in the morning. I kiss boys on steps and laugh when they ask for my number. I take down bartenders’ numbers on serviettes knowing full well I won’t be back. I buy energy drinks for bouncers and laugh at their lewd jokes in exchange for club entry. And when I’m done, I call your home-boy and do a different sort of dancing in the wee hours of the morning. No words. Just music.

He doesn’t need the words. All he wants is the music. And when the ride stops, he’s more than willing to help me off and wave at me from his car. It takes nothing from me but well practised sing-alongs and danceathons. I can still breathe. And see. I’m not trying to claw my way back to the surface and I’m never left shaking my head in an attempt to clear it of the dark tendrils of unrequited affection. I’m not left empty and tired of pulling the reigns of tired horses.

I don’t want to date. I’m worth gazillions more than the boys who proposition me are in possession of. Even together. Do you really think you want to run with me? I saw it in the eyes of those I tried with. The fear. Of being loved too much. Being seen and letting themselves see me. I mean really seen.

I’m a hurricane (irony of timing is not lost on me). I’m not a mild thunder storm in the middle of summer that passes after a bit of pomp and fan-fair. I’ll ruin you. And in the process, I’ll open up and let you ruin me and the cycle begins again.

Out Loud: I laugh coyly and bite on my straw (note, I’ve stopped drinking) in that well practised movie – pin – up – girl way and say, “we’re too young to be chasing forever. Besides, even if he wanted to date me, which I gather is the case, he hasn’t told me. I don’t want to be with a coward. A man who can trace the contours of a woman’s body for years but not whisper his feelings is a man I don’t want”.

The individual in question peeks through the door leading to the hideout at the back and winks. I wink back and point to my watch. He nods and I get up.

It’s time to dance.


The Empress


The Life and Times of a Black Middle Class Kid

I am black and proud.

Today a friend called me a “fake black person”. I immediately threw my toys and demanded they explain themselves. She proceeded to interrogate me with questions such as “what kind of neighbourhood did you grow up in?” and “have you ever held a gun?”. My answers to her questions were honest and I thought they gave me some street cred. (unfortunately (for me) the only gun I have ever held contained rubber bullets and was fired during a phys-ed class).

I grew up in a middle class suburb complete with private schools around the corner, a convenient shopping centre frequented by soccer moms and a durawall so high I used to imagine we were the only house on the street sometimes. Did I mention that my accuser is a young coloured lady who grew up in the rough, predominantly coloured populated neighbourhood of Hanover Park located in Cape Town?

The discussion arose from her aversion to a mutual friend and my constant use of the phrase “I’m black so check yourself”. The presumption that the colour of my skin somehow makes me the kind of person one does not mess with was thwarted thoroughly. My friend noted, rather astutely I might add, that in this day and age, being black does not automatically confer the status of an “untouchable”. The stereotype attached to my complexion includes the assumption that I have the potential to be a dangerous individual. She went on to point out that I grew up in a sheltered environment which provided me with a little more than the average child has. Whilst I was learning how to make pom-poms out of shiny paper, she was ducking bullets in her grandmother’s house.

Growing up in an area where gang violence is the norm and young children can tell the difference between cocaine and sherbet just by looking at the two is actually normal for some. I have yet to encounter a packet of cocaine let alone encounter it alongside one of sherbet. I have never heard a live gunshot and I have yet to witness my uncle get thrown into the back of a police truck for attempting to rape me. I have never visited a relative in prison and I highly doubt I shall ever be incarcerated.

These are realities that hundreds of non-black children experience before they turn twenty two. nowadays, more and more black children are blessed with the opportunity to attend good schools and learn how to spell correctly, how to handle themselves at dinner parties and when not to pick their noses-things that I took for granted because I did not know any different.

While I empathise with my friend, I cannot help but feel as though the masses who experienced a life very different to mine expect me to apologise for it. Yes, my spoken English is excellent and no, I do not sleep with an AK 47 (the only gun name I know) stashed underneath my pillow  just in case. Do these facts therefore make me less black?

I speak my mother tongue fluently and I write it with ease. I can sing my clan name with no errors whilst making a mean pot of isitshwala with immaculately manicured nails. Does this in any way reduce my level of blackness? Can it then be argued that the more close calls one has the more “black” they are?

Although my buddy was unable to answer some of my questions she did manage to convince me to stop running around making statements such as the one that started this debate, she did manage to make me sit up and realise that I had bought into a stereotype posited by “the house of they” (the people that say everything but can never be identified). I am black, but not a gangster. I am black and proud. I am also black and very afraid of being left alone in Park Station. But I am still a very black person who jumps up when my father plays Lovemore Majaivana and does a mean two-step.

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