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    9 MIN READ


    On the inequality of dating. 

    I am so tired of men and their raging pulses, pushed up too close against my ribcage. 

    Here, I say, take my bones, my grace, my fury. Take it and swallow me whole. 

    You can be the dinosaur but, 

    Let me whimper slowly, let me bow my head in honour. 

    I am so tired of men and their wide shoulders. Reaching for my body and pulling me tight into their embrace. I am so tired of existing on their peripheral, on their stern gaze, on their half-assed shrug. Of handing my body over on a platter, hearing them say “I’m not ready”, “We’re just friends”, 

    As if friends collide their bodies together every week. 

    As if friends sleep side by side, flesh by flesh, then wake and feel nothing of the merging. 

    I am so tired of men and their white lies, 

    Their alligator fears, 

    Their denial of all that burns true. 

    I am tired of their semantics, their outrageous laughs, their slow way of never giving enough but taking Taking 

    Oh, taking it all. 

    Oh, let me set the table for us. 

    How many sugars in your coffee? 

    Yeah, I’ll get up and turn off the light. 

    You’re right, my reaction was dramatic. 



    Give me the dinosaur’s jaw. 

    I’ll walk into it barefoot, 

    Hands open, 

    Knees bleeding. 

    You can hear the hollowed out echo of my chest, 

    Scooped clean by the shovel of his fingers. 

    Let the dinosaur lock his jaw, 

    I’ll make sure dinner is on the stove. 

    What is it, then? To be young and infallible once your bones have learnt aches? Is it his head on my shoulder? Is it his usual stoic frame curled into a ball beside mine, huddled in close to my warmth? Is it keeping the fire burning? Is it me ensuring the flames don’t touch our flesh but knowing that the presence of their heat can cause scorching wounds nonetheless? Is it carving out whatever space we can find to feel real?

    In the belly of the beast, I love you and in the dawn of tomorrow, I love you and your face is in my hands while you say you could not ever love me back the way I need you to

    And is this what growing older is? The palpable sensation that it doesn’t always work out the way our dreams dream? You buy me dinner and give me your weekdays. You offer to help pay my bills. You hold my hand when we walk through the streets. You jump headfirst into the ocean waves with me, lead me down the secluded path to the quiet spot we can sit and talk. You kiss my forehead, race your hands down my body. But we both know, with a distinct longing, that these days will end, despite the merging of our hearts, and I think for a small moment: this is what the innocence of youth wipes away, our indiscriminate hope for a different ending. 

    When I boarded the flight to a foreign country alone, with nothing but a suitcase and a bucket list, I had grand hopes for a magical time. Would I fall in love? Would I eat the greatest pastry of my life? Would I be so intimately touched by the centuries old history that I’d return to my homeland a little bigger than I’d left it? I had no plan except to walk the streets of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, and feel the feelings that inspired them. 

    While I am sitting alone on the plane, cramped and exhausted, I look around and think that everybody is nothing but a hardened body of longing. We are always sitting and waiting, putting our bags into the small compartments, offering each other small gestures of politeness while simultaneously shoving them to get ahead of the boarding line. When we are face-to-face with another’s humanness we have the capacity to offer kindness, but in the barrel of life and its intoxicating tightness, we are only focussed on getting to our next destination. Is love the same? 

    When we love, we hope for the best without thought of the destination. We reach out our fingers and pray that this will be something worth holding onto. With the torrent of age, our fingers are withered by the fingers that could not hold onto ours. But with an age-defying glare, we hold on anyway. We continue to hold on anyway even when the destination is clear. We let go when we only focus on the outcome that will lead to our demise. 

    In my university class the other day, my tutor made an off-the-hand comment about how Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own isn’t contextually relevant to our society today. Inside, I curled up. I wanted to tell him that a woman having her own space to create, to love, to be, will never not be relevant. Despite any love she has found, despite any hope she has curated, despite the liberties we think we are granted as a result of our contemporary society and the alleged emancipation of women: having our own room is an underestimated luxury. Instead of questioning him, I remained silent and listened to the tutor give a spiel on his latest work that is yet to be published. A fantastic work, nonetheless, but written by one with a perspective that is skewed. He said he can write at any desk, in any room, with any resources. A truth. He can.

    But for a woman, a moment of hope is often distilled in the duties she is expected to fulfil.

    For a woman in hope, finding a place to exist, yet alone create, is a difficult task.

    In the belly of the beast, I love the man to my fullest capacity. I spend weekends with him, I let him hold me. But in knowing that it will end, I find a small comfort in understanding that I have a home to get back to where I can unleash and find space in myself without him. In the belly of this beast, I know I can return home to find him waiting without waiting for me. A strange kind of intimacy that perhaps only the wrinkles of time can forge. A rigid kind of independence that can only be hammered into shape from constant slamming. 

    So, what is it, then? To grow older and gain a wisdom that can cause spikes around your greatest desires? Is it to poke your finger deeper into the spike or to let them roll by you? Does the furnace of age make you more prone to try harder, stay longer, dream deeper? Or do your edges gain a softness that is a whisper? Do the softened edges cut at your hope or make it stronger? The world yells at us, and repeats over and over again that a woman without a partner is destined for a house full of cats. As we inch closer to our expiration date, I have to wonder if our hope blooms from love or fear. 

    I land in the country I have always dreamed of. I do not care about the men I have loved, or the hope that has been vanquished. I only think of the grand adventure ahead of me and the promise it offers. I think life is like this: we always need something to look forward to. Not in an exciting way, just in a hopeful way. If there is something on the horizon, there is something to surge toward. Life must be a cornucopia of utopias, a sparkling body of water in the dry desert, an embrace to run into.

    I think life is like this: not letting the years eat away at our stern gaze of what the future can be is what keeps our bones strong. 

    I recently read I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman, and I thought: what would the years have done to me if I had never known men? Not just men, but their desires. Their slouched shoulders. Their dull remarks of what a woman must be. What kind of shape may I have taken on if my arms had never held their burdens? If I had never cooked them dinners and bent to their whims? I may stand taller. My hands may be less wrinkled. In a world where I had never known men, I may have found a different kind of freedom, one borne from a total capacity to fill my own cup before worrying if the man I love has enough to drink.

    The first drink I guzzle down in the foreign country is for my lips only. 

    The truth is, I am tired of men. Their raging pulses as they push up too close against my ribcage. Their willingness to take my bones, my grace, my fury. I am tired of whimpering slowly at their feet, watching their wide shoulders as they reach to the ground for my crouching body. Their half-assed shrug when you ask them what they want for dinner. Their white lies. Their insistence that friends do sleep side by side every night, then wake and feel nothing of the sacred merging. Their semantics and their outrageous laughs. I don’t want to keep asking them how many sugars they want in their coffee, turning off the light for them, walking into their jaws barefoot. I am tired of sitting in their classes as they blaspheme the work of Virginia Woolf while promoting their own work in the name of teaching. I am tired of men but I still appreciate them with a savagery that brings their brutality closer. 

    Currently, I am reading Vox by Christina Dalcher and I have been considering my voice amongst the sea of male echoes. In this novel, women have been stripped almost entirely of their words. A reality that is not so dystopian if we consider the shackles we wear in love and in life and in hope. If I sit back and agree that yes, we are just friends, yes Virginia Woolf is redundant, yes, you’re right, I am dramatic, am I not willingly shoving myself further into the dark belly of the beast without even letting out a scream?

    In the belly of the beast, I love the man, but is it worth cooking him breakfast just to be swallowed whole?

    How many more aches, age asks me, am I willing to endure? 

    I land in the country and walk freely. I indulge in coffee shops and market stalls. I buy trinkets, I visit the home where Virginia Woolf once lived. I think of the man I love and send him a photo, but I go on a date with a different man that I have met on Hinge. I convince myself this is part of the adventure for long enough to endure the date, but feel hollow once it has ended. I do a bookshop crawl. I buy a picture book for my son. I wonder if in the choosing of our loves we choose our own demise. I drink in every moment in its entirety but I cannot wait to return home to the room I have carved out for myself in my tiny mountain home, where I can pour myself a vodka and sit by the shisha as I write.

    I think life is like this: it is true that no matter where you go, you take yourself with you. It is true that you can find a space in any space. But it is also true that in those spaces, a woman must bellow loudly when she has been silenced. I think life is like this: when you are young, you think any sacrifice is worth it for love, but when your bones gain aches, you realise you must be selective in which further aches you take on. 

    So I ask again, what is it? To find love once you have realised the pains that love can bring you? To reach deeper when we have already tended to our oozing wounds and are still willing to risk gaining more? We scoop up our bones every morning just to love, and love again. 

    I am not an oracle. I have no grand answers. I am tired of men but I still invite them into my home. I still slip up and offer them my grace. To find love once you have realised the shrapnel it brings is to accept that in defiance of pain we must stand tall, not lose our voice, and find some kind of steady footing amongst the harrowing echoes. To have held love and lost love and still invite love in, to still offer them your bones, is to keep hope by your side and have unwavering faith that with a little more time, all will be revealed. It is to let him huddle closer to your warmth, fall asleep soundly beside him, while never losing sight of the fact that it is your warmth that has lured him in. 

    The ending can be foreseen, but in the belly of the beast, with a hardened body of longing, I love despite the fangs.