Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 25 June 2017



(for J.)

Words can be filled
with all sorts of things:
meanings and feelings
and secrets and lies.

I found some of yours
in a sentence today
hiding in a letter
packed full of truths.

I wasn't sure what
they meant at first;
it scared me,
but I want you too.

26 June 1994

“‘I want’ doesn’t get.” My parents never said that to me. It’s the kind of thing they would’ve said had the expression been one they were familiar with. Instead I was told not to be covetous. I’ve always thought that an odd word to come out of my parents’ mouths—they both used it but I can only hear my mother saying it—because they were plain speakers the rest of the time. I don’t think I was an especially greedy child—except when it came to chocolate biscuits—and they did tell me my eyes were bigger than my belly on more than one occasion but they reserved ‘covetous’ for the times I took something off my little brother simply because I wanted it. It is the tenth commandment after all: “Thou shalt not covet.” I was never told growing up that wanting was bad per se but it wasn’t encouraged. Didn’t all the world’s problems begin with Eve wanting something that wasn’t hers? Which led to covetousness. Which led to theft. Which led to enticement. Which led to death. 

I had a dream a couple of nights ago. I don’t normally remember my dreams for long after waking and am seriously jealous of those who do but because I grabbed pencil and paper as soon as I woke up I have a clear record of one particular scene. I was in a car with Sean and two girls and we were each trying to tell the girls something. By “girls” I mean young women. I agreed to relocate and the next thing I know I’m out of the car and in bed—fully clothed—with my girl (who turned out to be B. but I don’t think that’s especially important; think of her more as a place-holder) and I was trying to explain how I felt about her. This is what I wrote down on waking: 
I need to clarify how I feel about you. It's not enough that I love you or want you—it's not enough that I possess you or dote on you—I want to be with you; I want to expand my notion of existence to encompass you so that when I think about going home at night I'm going home to you and when I think of getting up in the morning I'm getting up with you. I know this is probably the least romantic declaration of affection you'll ever hear but it will be the most honest. 
There was more but the above was all I got down. 

Had I written ‘Messages’ a few years earlier I would’ve written ‘love’ and not ‘want’ and not batted an eye but I wasn’t convinced what I felt for J. was love, at least not romantic love; I was on the rebound and didn’t trust my own feelings and this was all happening so quickly. The reason I chose ‘want’ rather than ‘love’ in the end—I do remember swithering—was because of the Bob Dylan song; the guy who ran off with my first wife was a big Dylan fan and one night explained to me why ‘want’ was more powerful than ‘love’.

No comments:

Ping services