“I’m all out of salt, I’m not gonna cry, won’t give you what you want ‘coz I look way too good tonight”
Ava Max’s rich voice croons through my speaker as I drive home from dinner with an old friend. I’ve taken a misinformed turn and ended up on the wrong side of the Thames. Jolted by disorientation, growing darkness and a splash of Limoncello, I steer back towards the vicinity of my flat and find myself driving beneath sheets of moody grey cloud: a thick duvet resting atop the London cityscape. Sometimes there are moments: solo ones in your grumbling ford fiesta where the night is cool and the music hits a nerve just so… and suddenly you feel like the main character in the weird, messy movie of your life.
I’m a lot of salt. A wave of nostalgia crashes through me. In that moment, I’m blasted back to six months ago. I’m taking a train to a large shopping centre. My airpods are brand new and I don’t really know how they work. I look amazing. A direct result of this fantastic but totally unsustainable breakup diet where your entire body is so swarmed with adrenaline that you feel full after your meal of one spring roll per day. I’m on my way to meet my best friend to buy Mac lipstick, drink pornstar martinis and flirt with the guy at the hot glazed donuts counter (just seeing if I’m still perceived as attractive to the opposite sex four years on). I’m wild but feeling weirdly capable. Somewhere in the depths of my chest, there’s a subtle but pervasive sense that I’m going to be okay.
I’m not gonna cry. I cried. That very night when I returned to my uncle’s house I sat at their breakfast bar in the kitchen and cried at the immensity of it. I’m about to lose everything and I’m in fucking purgatory and I don’t want to hurt anymore. It turns out that the short burst of crying I did then was one of the few times I really did weep for the loss of a life I never got to live. It also turns out that I’d done a lot of the crying already; in this gruelling therapy called EMDR where I relived every single one of my traumas for an entire year of my life. It transpires that when you’ve processed your internalised trauma and operate from a place of genuine, balanced self love- everything else suddenly feels manageable. Massive break-ups. Patients families complaining when you’ve done nothing but your best. Your mother. Your parents going through upheavals in their marriage. Bone deep loneliness stemming from solo living and singledom in a seemingly dystopian world. I look at my life and see the plethora of messes I’m surrounded by yet from where I stand I remain ferociously grounded.
Won’t give you what you want ‘coz I look way too good tonight. I’m suddenly in two places at once: six months ago and in the present moment. I take a mental journey to sew the thread of moments in between. The sky grows darker and the clouds convene. Water strewn beneath the bridges of the docklands glistens under city lights and the dome of the o2 arena floats magnificently from where I drive. I recall first cruising through these roads, terrified to claim a bit of this world, say it’s mine, say I’ve made it, say I’ve done it all on my own because what if it slips through my fingers? Quashing the thought, I walked into the abundance before me. The abundance I only know to claim now. The abundance that comes with making a choice to put the energy back onto myself each day and fiercely forgiving myself when I forget to.
The nature of the hedonic treadmill is such that the things that once felt like a miracle become the new norm and it’s easy for gratitude to wane. It makes nice, fertile soil for a melancholic sky and a nostalgic song to take root and germinate until gratitude blooms and fills your chest with the joy and hope of blessings granted and even more that lie in wait.