On Friday my heart received its final trauma in the soap opera that has been playing out in my life recently. A box arrived from LA that afternoon, at the factory I work at, and though I only opened it that evening, I knew its contents as did my heart. Knowing what was in that box, my heart, that open wound in my chest, began to bleed for the last time. Well, I fucking hope so! Sorry, I don’t normally swear so I hope you will forgive my language! But I love like a fucking teenager! It is just so all-consuming and all-encompassing, so Edward, so Jacob, so Romeo, it is my being and my World! When you love like that, you wear your heart on your sleeve where it can be damaged and brutalised and where it will bleed because it is there, exposed to everybody. I have always been this way and I know this because I am one the most self-aware people you will ever meet. Ironically however, in cruel juxtaposition, I am also one of the most clueless people as well, which is probably why my love life has been such a series of trainwrecks!
I tried to change the way I am once, it was after I had completed my two years of military service. My family didn’t have a lot of money so fortunately I managed to get a study loan through the government to study teaching. I attended a teachers’ training college called Edgewood (where my dear friend Denley was a legend already when I arrived as a fresher), and decided after two years of virtual incarceration that it was time to carpe diem the crap out of life! Being around such brutality, death and violence will do that to you. At school I had been the quiet spoken, sincere, conscientious boy-next-door type (much like I am now again I think). Well I wanted to stop caring and feeling so much, I just wanted to have fun and leave a young corpse! So I shoved sensitive Andrew down and buried him deep and raged and raged! To be superficial and purely act on one’s wants and needs, it was for awhile…liberating!
Dear reader I will return to these stories one day and share those experiences with you, but for now I will gloss over them and tell you that I fell in love and that changed everything again. I had my great varsity/college romance and that was sensitive Andrew’s territory and out he came again! Needless to say it ended traumatically, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t get Andrew to leave and that was a problem. You see, the problem with buying into this facade or persona or whatever you want to call it that you present to the world out there is that at the very least it is a watered-down version of who you really are and at the worst a total fabrication and nothing like who you are! Some people manage to go through life never having to face who they really are or manage to avoid having to make any real moral, ethical decisions: in extreme cases those are the people who lived in Germany and did nothing about the Nazis or much closer to home for me, Apartheid South Africa and the NATS (I will return to these stories). They are the people who have what seems to be a perfect life, and smile all the time and are always willing to lend ear and dish out quotes and a story but I guarantee you don’t really know them. In fact it is quite likely they don’t know themselves. So my two personas clashed epically in the aftermath of my breakup with my college love.
OK so let me return to Friday and the box and the contents. It was, as I said from LA, Los Angeles, and from the source of all my emotion at the moment, my lost love. Now understand, I appreciate that she sent it, but mostly I wish she hadn’t, because that box is quite possibly the last contact I will ever have with someone I believed to be my soulmate, and with its arrival I saw my dreams and future finally fade away. In the box were some of the clothes I could not fit in my suitcases on my return to South Africa: a pale cream linen jacket never worn. She and I were to go the Florida together to spend Fourth of July with mutual friends where we would ask them to be our Maid of Honour and Best Man at our wedding. I was going to wear that jacket that night, on what was to be one of the most special occasions of our life.
There were also approximately 50 photos in the box which I had taken over to LA with me. I wanted to put them on my studio wall, just photos that my love had sent to me on her Blackberry, of her smiling or blowing kisses, but all looking at me with those beautiful eyes of hers. Each had a special memory for me, of a moment in our struggle and long journey to be together. I wanted to be reminded of that so that I never forgot to tell her how much I loved and needed her, everyday, so that I never took her for granted! Plus every artist should have a muse, an inspiration, and she was to me all things beautiful.
Finally there was the engagement ring: once a symbol of hope and love and unity and promise of a wonderful future…now..? Well, a symbol of my utter failure, of the rejection of me; who I am, what I am. Of a sacrifice not wanted…not accepted. And on Friday evening, alone in my apartment I cried for the first time since my entire life fell apart. I will admit I have struggled to hold it together, but even in those dark days in LA, alone in her apartment I managed, because I knew if I fell apart there, that would be the end of me, the end. And again when I said goodbye to her at LAX, and at Dubai, alone for close to 18 surreal hours in that airport. And finally when I arrived back in SA, humiliated and shamed and lost, a pathetic, pitiful creature. I held it together.
So finally on Friday night I cried: not “snot running, saliva strands in mouth, great hiccuping howling” crying but soft tears of loss and grief and sadness. I saw my future with someone I loved more than myself fade away: growing old together with a lifetime of memories. Our children: Christiano, if a boy, and Charlotte Catherine, CC, if a girl. Anniversaries and birthdays and holidays; Christmas and New Year, o that New Year’s kiss! I cried because I would not get to see her walking down the aisle toward me nor hold her hand and look into her eyes and tell her of my eternal love for her and how happy I would make her. It is a terrible, terrible thing to see your very future, your life ahead fade away like mist in the sun…gone. So yes I cried and I felt it wash away the remnants of my broken heart.
What is left? I have no idea. Will that heart love again? I hope so because it is a good heart and it deserves some sort of happiness. Perhaps it is just meant to love the creation of things of beauty and emotion, and it is that that I will focus upon; my art. It is the one thing that gives me comfort, and I need to begin to emote and create again. I have something important to say as an artist, I feel it with the very essence of my being. And despite what you may think because I have subjected you to my morbid ramblings, I am not this pathetic, shattered person. I am so much more than that. Wait and see.