“She burns bridges”

Apparently, I burn bridges
or maybe it was a wayward spark,
from you burning our candle at both ends.
It wouldn’t have taken much, to raze the dilapidated, crumbling scaffolding.
Not the once strong, steady, immovable Pont du Gard.

A bridge is no longer of use, when the destination is a person you no longer recognise.
A faceless friend,
a stranger in a crowd,
an unhappy hostage.

So maybe burning it was my only option.
Save up what little was left of my sanity; cut and run.
You say I no longer light up your sky,
but maybe my light was never yours to possess and claim as your own.
Maybe what burnt that bridge, was a flicker of my fire you could no longer control.

Well, I gathered up all the remaining timber,
anything I could salvage from the blaze,
and I built myself a fucking ladder
to pull myself out of the twisted ravine you left me in.

And now I’m up high, on a cliff top
and the view and the air is clear,
and now it all makes sense.

red flags

You always said you’d eventually learn how to dance with me, but you always had an excuse. You just didn’t care for the things I was passionate about. Red flag number 10.

You never cared for, or tried to understand, my love of Taylor Swift. I know that might sound petty. But it was important to me, and you openly mocked it. Red flag number 9.

You said you didn’t like tattoos, but you would make exceptions for my small ones. Well, now I have a big one. So fuck you. Red flag number 8.

We had similar tastes in music, but only when it came to folk and country. Anything else and I felt I had to filter my music choice around you. Because it was “too mainstream”. You always took the high ground when it came to music. Red flag number 7.

Your political views were the right ones, and no amount of debating would tell you otherwise. You took the high horse there too. Red flag number 6.

I was terrified of doing my pre-flight injections by myself, so I offered to pay for your megabus and the additional cost of the flight, for you to fly from Heathrow with me. To support me. But you outright refused. Red flag number 5.

You could never have a healthy disagreement. You’d bury your head in the sand at the first sign of conflict. Sweep it under the carpet. Until it blew up in our faces. Red flag number 4.

You made empty promises. The main one being that you’d always support me, no matter what. Red flag number 3.

One night, after weeks of my mental health rapidly declining, you said you’d rather go out and get drunk with another girl than come home to me. Red flag number 2.

You cheated on your girlfriend of four years to be with me.

Red flag number 1.

last november / behind a lens

Last November, I would walk down the beach
and populate my instagram with beautiful pictures of the sunsets,
all whilst crying, behind the lens.
You saw sunsets,
I saw a blur of oranges and pinks through tear-stained eyes

I would walk the beach, and mourn for what I’d lost.
My relationship, my friends, my career, my life that I knew.
I would watch the waves and sob behind unnecessary sunglasses.
My life had been up-ended in a way I never wanted to admit.

But the beach was my safe place, to cry.

I’ve just been for another walk down the beach,
a year and a bit on,
and took almost identical sunset photos for my instagram.
But I wasn’t crying behind the lens this time.

Instead, I sent you a voice note,
and over the washing of the waves and the calling of the seagulls,
I told you,
I can’t wait to bring you here and to watch the sunset together,
and maybe I’ll make you dance with me on the sand.

The beach is a pilgrimage for me; a checkpoint.
A chance to take stock, to literally bring things home.
This year, I take stock
and I’m happy with my lot ❤

come out, come out, wherever you are

(This is a difficult one for me to post, but here goes…)

“Well, when did you know?” 

It’s a question that a lot of people have asked me when coming out to them. 

I guess I knew around the age of 13. I found female celebrities attractive, beguiling, mesmerising, in a way that I knew wasn’t just admiration. Cheryl Cole, Megan Fox, 13 from House, Taylor Swift. But I instinctively knew there was something “wrong” about that. I knew it was unacceptable. I thought it was unacceptable. I wasn’t sure I was aware that bisexuality was an option, I thought it was either full gay, or full straight and nothing in-between. And I didn’t want to be gay. For one, I’d heard all the nasty comments made by my peers at school. “Gay” was a slur. And for a second, I felt I didn’t conform to what I’d been fed it meant to be a gay woman. Butch, tomboy, all the usual tropes. The openly gay kids in school all hung around together and had a similar style, listened to the same type of music. I felt I didn’t fit in. I played the fiddle, was into country music and was a fairly “normal”, if a nerdy straight-A, pupil. I didn’t know where I fit. 

When I got to college a few of my friends were openly, and confidently, out by then and had girlfriends. Part of me was jealous, part of me was curious. But all of me was still in denial and deliberately suppressing my identity. 

Then I got my first boyfriend, and started going out to parties drinking. And out of nowhere came the notion that drunkenly kissing your best girl friends was a cool thing to do. My boyfriend thought it was hot. He thought it was performative, like one of his teenage boy fantasies of watching two girls “lez-off”. Little did he know how much it turned me on. How I wanted more. More than just a drunken kiss on a night out. I distinctly remember how soft J’s lips were, and how I found that infinitely more arousing than my boyfriend’s beard stubble. 

My sexuality lay dormant for a while after college. Convinced myself it was just a phase and I was straight after all, phew. Yet still fawning over images of Cheryl Cole (why her?!) on my boyfriend’s pin-up calendar. 

The relationship ended. And that’s a whole nother story. And when I downloaded a dating app for the first time, I hovered over the toggle to say I was interested in women too. But I bottled it. I’d convinced myself for so long that I was straight, that I believed the lie. 

Then the next serious relationship happened, also with a man. There was nothing really niggling at me that I was lying about my sexuality (by this point I also knew what the B stood for in LGBTQ+). Except that sometimes I’d check women out on the street. Except sometimes I’d close my eyes during sex and picture a woman instead. Except sometimes (most times) when I’d masturbate I’d envisage a woman going down on me. But that was normal for a straight person, right? 

And then Chiang Mai happened. There were a lot of awful things that happened in Thailand. But one of it’s few saving graces, and one thing I am eternally grateful for, was it’s thriving queer community. With the drag nights, both queens and kings, with the spoken word poetry, the marches, and just the complete openness of everyone I met about the full spectrum and fluidity of both sexuality and gender. I’d make jokes to E about needing a “wet floor” sign, or a mop and bucket, when a particularly attractive female performer came on stage. And she never batted an eyelid, she just laughed along with me. And I’ve never felt more like I belonged. (It’s another one of the reasons I was so heartbroken to leave Thailand the way I had to – but again, that’s another story for another time.) 

I remember finally getting up the courage to say to E that I was bi. E had recently had her first fling with a girl and again, I was jealous and curious. It felt like the right time to finally tell someone, and I knew I wanted E to be the first to know. She laughed and said “Mate, I already knew, you kind of give off that vibe”. And that was that. 

I finally felt like I was with my people. I didn’t need to look a certain way, listen to certain bands, dress a certain way. I just needed to show up, authentically as myself. And I was accepted. 

I later told another friend, D, who was non-binary and queer. They had the same response as E – they already knew. They laughed at me (or with me) again. It was reassuring. However, they warned me against telling my then boyfriend. Because they said it’d plant a seed of doubt in his head about whether I wanted to see what a relationship with a woman would be like. 

Despite what D said, I made the choice to tell him. Through ashamed tears I told him the truth about my sexuality, and how I finally felt comfortable enough to talk about it. I reassured him I didn’t want to go off and experiment (which was definitely a lie – I had always longed for the touch of another woman, to feel her warm body pressed against mine, whoever she may be). So maybe it was a factor in him deciding to break up with me a few months later. Who knows, who cares. 

And also, separate note, but after everything I had to endure with my first boyfriend, and a subsequent rape and various sexual assaults, sexually I didn’t feel comfortable around men anymore. I didn’t feel safe. I associated sex with pain, I associated it with it being a performative act solely for the benefit of male pleasure. I started to lean more towards the safety of a woman, rather than the fear, embarrassment and degradation I associated with heterosexual sex. I constantly felt the pressure, no matter who I was with sexually, to always give them what they wanted. 

After that relationship ended, and I moved back to the UK, I ended up in a tumultuous “relationship” with an old school “friend”. He told me my sexuality was a phase, or I was just using the label to seem edgy. I’d told him I was unsure whether I was bisexual or pansexual (because I’d been attracted to a non-binary person in Chiang Mai), and instead of being supportive, his response was “Vegan? Pansexual? What other quirky labels do you want to add?”.

Thankfully, I cut all ties with him (stupidly after having sex with him twice though – truly appalling sex at that), and moved down south. When some new work colleagues persuaded me to download Hinge, this time I had no qualms about clicking the toggle “men and women”. 

The men I matched with were a disappointment. I was more fascinated by the fact that for the first time I had the opportunity to explore dating women. Still most of my home friends didn’t know, except maybe F. She knows everything. And I still experienced some prejudice even from within the queer community. I had one girl tell me I didn’t look gay enough, or looked like I was “new to this” or some other bullshit. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, in 2021, people were still trying to typecast a gay woman (or a bisexual), and from WITHIN the LGBTQ+ community as well. I brushed that remark off though and stopped speaking to that one particular girl. 

There were plenty of other girls I matched with. And then along came H. And something clicked into place almost immediately. It was easy, it was effortless. (See previous poems about how much I love her). Our first video chat date lasted almost four hours. 

After we’d made it official, on 6th February, before we’d even met up with each other (cheers lockdown, you massive cockblock (the irony that I just used that phrase)), I knew I needed to be honest with my family too.
My sister was initially quite quiet about it. But sure enough, the next morning all the questions came. The main one being “Well, when did you know?” and I guess that’s where I was at at the start of this piece of writing. 

My Mum and Dad didn’t have too many questions, they were just happy I was happy. But over the coming months I felt I had to repeatedly come out over and over again to different people or groups of people – friends from work, old colleagues, friends from school. It got a bit draining, and then it got a bit boring and eventually I’d whittled it down to “Oh, I have a girlfriend now, by the way” and that’s the end of it. 

I can’t express how much more comfortable I am being with H. Maybe it’s because we’re both in the exact same situation (we’d both never been with a girl before) or maybe it’s just her. I feel safe in bed with her. I trust her completely. I know I’m never going to be put in a situation where I feel uncomfortable sexually. Maybe it’s because we’re both female, or maybe it’s because I trust her enough to be completely open and honest with her. 

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. 

Also, boobs are great.

home

It’s mad
that it’s not even been 365 days yet
and yet
you feel like home.

And not like “four walls and a roof over my head” home
like a place deep within my soul feels like it belongs again
and I don’t feel so alone anymore.

You’re a warm cup of tea to my cold hands in winter,
You’re an extra blanket thawing the still frozen parts of me,
You’re the first sip of a cold beer on a hot summer’s day; refreshing and reminiscent all at once.

You’re an old book, with turned down pages to mark favourite spots,
Your body is poetry that I know line by line, off by heart.
You’re the last satisfying piece of a jigsaw puzzle; completing the picture.

No, I don’t want to say I was half a person before I met you,
because I like to believe we are born complete.
But you certainly made me realise I was living a half-life before you,
but unaware of it.

You think you’ve experienced love before,
you think you know what that word means,
but then someone comes along and
completely rewrites the whole script.

For me, that person is you.

You are all things that are good in this world,
and I still don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.

You are the coffee that wakes me up,
and the warm bath that winds me down,
and above all,
you are the call of the seagulls,
that finally remind me
I am coming home

to you.

Stay;

There will be plays you will see, poems you will read, sandwiches you will eat, new friends you will make, new dance moves you will learn. There will be hugs, and there will be kisses that stop time. There will be cups of tea on a balcony with a beautiful view of the sunset. There will be sunrises. There will be holding hands, running through the rain, sheltering under trees, and more kissing. There will be music you haven’t heard yet, that doesn’t even exist yet, that will move you to tears, or become your new favourite track to dance to. There will be weddings, your own included. There will be swimming in a clear blue sea. There will be cold, crisp glasses of New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, on hazy summers evenings. There will be dogs to pet. Films to laugh at. New mountains to climb. There will be warm cosy jumpers and mulled wine at Christmas. There will be a time you see your big sister again. There will be new books to read, that will take you on new adventures from the comfort of your bedroom. There will be more answers than questions. There will be poetry that flows out of you. There will be ceilidhs, and so much dancing. There will be gigs so incredible you lose your voice from screaming the words so loud. There will be new tunes to learn, and to pass on. There will be late nights you never want to end. There will be early morning runs that enrich your soul. There will be new songs to sing.
There will be a time when you no longer remember how bad it got.
Stay.

I completed the London Marathon!

I really can’t put Sunday into words. I finally did it! I completed a marathon for the first time in my life. And not just that but the London Marathon! After about a decade of watching the full coverage on TV and always saying “I could never do that!” I fucking did it! Yes, I was slow, but I didn’t stop running once. And I’m proud of that.

The crowd support was like nothing I have every experienced. Strangers shouting my name, cheering me on, telling me I’m “magnificent” or “a legend”. It almost brought me to tears at one point.

High point – overtaking a rhino
Low point – being overtaken by a submarine

The Mind cheering stations were the best, I just felt a connection to the cause and it felt amazing.

Little kids smiling and shouting your name. Strangers actually smiling at you and holding eye contact for a brief second whilst cheering you on. It made it all worth it.

And seeing my sister (the last time I will see her before she leaves to start her new life abroad – I sobbed into my girlfriend’s shoulder when I finally said goodbye), my girlfriend, my best friend and my Mum at the finish line ♥ AND I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse after I’d finished. I had my beer and chocolate and felt fucking triumphant!

The pain the next day – it was agony, but it felt like a trophy, like I’d truly earnt it. And I bloody had. I couldn’t be happier with myself ♥

I FUCKING DID IT!

sorry?

i had to ask for it
i had to spell it out to you
because you’d forgotten, like you do
all the hell you put me through

i had to spell it out
this is what you did to me
and was i supposed to accept that gratefully?
and let you off, so deservedly?

what i lost when i lost you
was so much more than just a relationship
i was a sinking battleship
already losing my grip

no, you didn’t recognise the full impact
that final straw, turned to one almighty blow
i was freefalling, but imperceptibly slow
no parachute, or safety net, into the ground below

does it really count as an apology
if i had to ask for it first?
if you were coerced?
for everything you said sounded performative and rehearsed

you say you’ve changed now
that you don’t do that anymore
don’t go back on words you swore
and isn’t she lucky, the girl you now call yours?

well, i don’t accept your apology
but i’ll pretend i do with grace
i’d rather you’d left me unanswered
but i’ll let you save your face.

i don’t relate to you

i don’t relate to you anymore.
i used to think we were always on the same page
reading from the same hymn sheet
but that was back in the day

i don’t relate to you,
and that’s not to say i think i’m better than you
the days before we started unravelling
i’m well aware of the shitty things i did too

i don’t relate to you,
because i could never promise someone a life together in one breath,
and then do a full one-eighty
and claim it was for my mental health

i don’t relate to you,
because i’d never lie to hide my feelings
the ones you were too afraid
to just deal with

i don’t relate to you,
because i’d never put someone in the position you put me in
and say it was for my own good
i’d never be that fucking mean

and it’s a shame,
because for almost four years you were the only one i could relate to,
i guess it’s true that people change
and i guess i’ve outgrown you.

no, i don’t relate to you, anymore.

not a poem, just love – day one

I’ll pick you up at the station, 12:18
We’ve been sending each other nervous selfies
I’ll have our playlist on in the car, and when we finally see each other
serendipitously,
our song comes on.
The one that’s been spinning round our heads for weeks.

You’re in my car now and I can’t quite believe it,
and I don’t know what confidence possesses me
but I say “come here” and lean over the parking brake
and kiss you for the first time.

I don’t think it’s even been 30 seconds since setting eyes on you,
but already something feels like it’s clicking into place.
A huge sigh of relief.
Or coming up for air.

I’ll drive you to the lake,
and even though I’m a nervous driver
with you in the car I feel safe.
You’ll laugh at my terrible maneuvers,
and tell me I’m doing great
(even though we both know I bumped the curb).

We’ll walk around the lake,
hand in hand, like we’ve spent the last month dreaming of,
stopping to kiss each other on the forehead or the cheek
and to finally say “I love you” out loud.

We’ll get back in the car,
and you’ll laugh and cheer me on as I rap the entirety of perfect gentleman to you on the journey back
to my place
to my bedroom.

My landlady isn’t home.
Thank god.
And we’re finally alone.
No screens and earphones,
real life and in person
and neither of us can barely contain ourselves.

We’ll punctuate our kisses with muffled “I love you”s
we’ll tentatively edge closer to each other,
we’re both giddy-drunk, swimming through a teenage-dream-like haze of
clothes and then not clothes
lips frantically covering every inch of skin possible
making up for lost time
until we’re both spent
but still wanting more.

And still wanting more is how we have to leave it,
as I drive you to the station at 6pm,
as we reluctantly kiss goodbye one more time, just one more time…

and that, that was the first date ♥