There is no summer in the Bay. I keep waiting and it never comes. There are warm days, or really just warm hours, when the sun subtly reveals herself and I wonder why I’m dragging my winter coat around, my oft slept-in olive green carapace. It smells like my punk friends from high school, and sage and weed and funky yoga studio, sweat and feet – all in a way that I like, because it is mine.
There are so many kinds of nights in this world. Nights when it thunderstorms. Nights when sleep will not come, because you can’t stop counting all the ways you’re not good enough yet. Pass-out-in-a-cab nights. One-night-stand nights. Nights you can’t remember. Nights you do not want to remember.
The Sunday afternoon Bloomsbury Group tour drifted past, their guide waxing posh and poetic about Mrs Dalloway. Floral summer dresses caught the sunlight through the leaves; bright, surreal and kaleidoscopic. I felt his hand on my hip and reached behind to guide him inside me, biting my T-shirt so as not to cry out.
The girl is in hospital, and the doctor tells her a story about a man who died in his bed at home, an old man. At the moment of death, he appeared to his estranged daughter. He was suddenly in the cafe where she worked, stood by a table for a moment with his hand resting on a bottle of ketchup. Before she could ask what he was doing there, he flickered out, like someone had thrown a switch.
I wonder what my ledger looks like, karma-wise. I imagine it to be squarely in the black before my move to America. On the debit side, some minor things like nicking a rose apple from my neighbour’s tree. On the credit side the charge I led at my first job when I found out all the girls were paid less than the boys.
Margate is a thirsty place. Its switchblade tide draws back so far that by the time it turns the shore is parched. Rude epithets, scrawled in chalk, line its coastal paths. Lustful and wayward, this town is wild. With a steady drip of London transplants fleeing the city’s rapacious capitalist appetite, it’s gentrifying fast. Yet Margate’s wildness persists.
She’d felt it all day. She didn’t need Gráinne Heaney – Roach? O’Malley? Whatever she was now – to make the word flesh. The diagnostic of her condition: notions. Tis far from big exhibitions and toyboys she was reared. One part charlatan, one part succubus. She hated to be crying because of Gráinne. That wagon was only happy when everyone else was miserable. But God, she was embarrassed.
Syllables are hard and round in my mouth but my self is a shape without edges. Sentences have speech marks and indentations, so I may know the difference between speaking and thinking. There are full stops and commas, so I may know the right time to draw breath. When I read words on a page, the markers are provided for me. Living in a body is different.
If there is anything millennials will be known for (besides avocados and flat whites,) it will be our unhealthy fixation with The Side Hustle—turning what should be hobbies into income. So, do you stay on the Titanic, because the Titanic has free eye tests and statutory sick pay, or do you risk floating to safety on a door while documenting it on Instagram video?
Bisexuality and promiscuity are often discussed simultaneously, as if one were simply a symptom of the other. It is a worn-out trope, that of the promiscuous bisexual. Being ‘just greedy’ was a joke that I played along with from my teens to my early twenties, because, Yes, I thought, I am a greedy person. I am touch-sensitive, extroverted, impulse driven. But these traits are inherent to me—not my sexuality.