This is about no-one and everyone. This week, my carefully constructed mask was removed. People at University learnt that I am fighting Serious Illness. And of course, it’s relief. I no longer have to pretend, nor hide. They were brave in their questions and I must be brave in my answers. For that, I am so very grateful.
I have based this blog around the song ‘Skinny Love’, particularly the cover by Ed Sheeran. Listen to it here as you read, and maybe you will see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg5zqFZ_Dj8
My disease is my Skinny Love. Here is my experience of University while fighting for life and it’s quality.
And most of all, this is just me. It’s not sad and it’s not a tragedy.
The real tragedy is if you believe it is.
Come on Skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salts, we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my.
You chased me into the bathrooms. The music and splashes of beer only brought us closer. You chased me through the bar, and out into the air. It slaps us around, but you never did mind. And so I ran, but you only ran faster. Did you know that your eyes all look the same? Your lashes scratch at my throat with hunger. And for this, I cannot blame you; It was never cruel. You only wanted the truth.
So I stopped running.
And I stopped talking.
And I let you start.
There was a time before you knew, of course. There were whispers, but then again, there always is. I am your wisp, your mystery and your gossip. Spidering limbs of blonde kisses and green eyes, lips full and nipples pert. The scarred beauty always was the most delicious of conspiracy. I heard the stories, when you thought I wasn’t listening, much too caught up in my own raucous laughter. I was the model, a limber dance of suitcases and shoots. The mysterious absences, narrow paths of bones stretching from each synovial. But no, you would counter act. She is no model, for she cannot be. She is already the uncommitted, the wild and the erratic. She dreams of cocaine and flitters between classes when the mood takes her. She is troubled and wonderful, and for that she is away, her body finicky. And you awaited for the afternoon when I did not return, another bottle of girl splashed down the sink. But then he shouted. No, you have it all wrong. For don’t you see? She is the pretty and the strange. Don’t you see the scars, the purple bloodied punches taut against her canvas? She has a story, it is one of pain and wonder. And instead we must wait, and you will see. You will see she has a history.
And your stories make me smile. You were all so creative. And so when I smile at you from across the dark, I assure you that it’s ok. That it doesn’t matter. That I am fine with it. Because the truth is, I am.
I just wanted to make sure that you were too.
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer
I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My my my my my my my my
And because you were brave. Because you asked, here it is.
Here is my truth.
Here is my sickness.
Here is my disease.
See? The truth is never quite as exciting as we had hoped. And your discomfort scratches at your collar. There is no map for this land. Should you have asked? Should you have pretended that you never knew?
But of course not. Anyone can stare at splashes of paint and oil, an incomplete picture, horny for it’s caption. But you were different; you were brave. You asked me to join the dots, so that you could appreciate my Picasso in all it’s pretty tragedy.
So here it is.
There are the mornings, before class. It has been a long night; it always is. There was the screams and sobs as the disease bit at the bone and the lip, the muscle and the hip. It is spread, throughout, complete. Whatever word is your chosen poison, the effect remains the same. It is everywhere, at home in every layer, every cell, every inch of sponge and tissue. Maybe it was the infection which kept me awake. I sleep upright, and stumble to the sink in fits and gasps to drain all that my body cannot. There are solutions and salts. Bottles and splatters into the sink. There was cupping, to bring the infection to my kiss. My lungs are squeezed and pinched, until the rasp settles. Maybe it was something else all together. But I am tired all the same.
There is the morning sink routine. One, two, twelve cotton tips to remove the nights disease from the gum of my mouth. Blood tastes differently in the morning. I dress and race and sing powders and lipsticks upon my skin. I may be sick, but I am also very beautiful. I make sure you cannot forget it. And as I race out the door, Mummy screams. Do you remember those powdered tablets? The ones which keep you alive? I must swallow these now.
I remain late to every class. You don’t even blink now. I am commited, truly. But when my legs walk, my heart runs. I feel your glances as I rasp, bursting through the door. Let’s just pretend that I ran. Or maybe it was sex in the carpark. Anything is more interesting than the reality.
My silk shirt faints during the lecture, the sleeve of my top making way for skin. Now you see the patches of Morphine. I am ashamed, for they are unbeautiful. They fog my brain and fail my body. The drugs they use to save me are killing me. They send me to the hospital. Days of fluid treatment, cannulations. Together, we learn this in class. In private, I develop the most experience of all. I flirt my way out of surgery, and the lecturers shake their heads. And for so long, I never said a word.
Just for once, I wanted to be the one administering the hell.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I only ever wanted to be you.
And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And so my plan went. This year, there were to be no complications, and no disease. And I would not be the girl with the tubes down her throat. You would never need to speak about me, for I would forever share the room. I would not be left behind, and I would fill each and every invitation.
My doctors would be patient, and the results fine. The bloodwork would be balanced and my organs would be fine.
But it was only ever a song for the wet tiles, hair wet and teeth gleaming.
And in the morning I’ll be with you
But it will be a different kind
Because I’ll be holding all the tickets
And you’ll be owing all the fines
And as I have every morning for six years and two months, I woke to find the disease spooning my broken veins. The tickets piled and spilled. They blanketed my assignments and textbooks, and soon The Fundamentals of Nursing were but a memory. There were return tickets to hospital, and one way tickets to new specialist teams. Free passes to surgery and cameras down my throat, and a regulars card to a spattering of waiting rooms.
I could chase the fines. I could scream and splinter the wooden doors. You could hear me demand rainchecks and I would swarm upon the returns kiosk.
But I made my peace long ago. They say that you mustn’t cry over spilled milk. The same goes for spilled blood. You only hear the terrible. The statistics. You see me pale and fade into the disinfected shades of white.
Come on skinny love what happened here?
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My my my my my my my my
When you asked me what I have, I told you disease. But I didn’t tell you everything.
I have strength. My muscles may rest in wheelchairs from time to time, but I can talk dying over summer drinks. I can plan funerals with friends, and I can set us free. I can talk to Mummies when their babies have died, and I can fill them with love and light. I can bury best friends, and send letters into the night.
So do not weep for me. Because only my body is weak.
And there is laughter. Raucous and vicious in it’s intensity. When the girl trips, I will laugh the most inappropriately. And everyone follows. If I must fight, I shall laugh. So share my jokes and fall drunkenly with me through my finest lines.
It’s not all bad.
And of course there is love. You stared at me longingly before all this. I bit my lip at your stolen glances. We both knew that I caught you staring. That I caught you dreaming. Do not let the scans change all. I make love even more strongly than I fight. So my bones fuck morphine. Know that that is ok. Know that your nibbled lips will always fit in the curve of my collarbone and breast.
Know that when you kiss me, none of it matters.
And now all your love is wasted
Well then who the hell was I?
‘Cause now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines
It loves me, that much is clear. To engulf another, you must hunger for their touch. And how it starved before me. I was it’s feast of glory, the greatest of achievements. But like all wars it was a hopeless waste. Who was I to think that I could ever win? Stupid, perhaps. Naiive, if you are kind.
I know there is no cure. The doctor smiled at me two weeks ago. She said she was relieved I understood that there was no cure.
But it doesn’t mean I gave up.
Instead, I simply grabbed the IV lines and threaded them together to lace my broken heart.
And then I made a pretty ribbon.
Am I at the end? No. But you can take that how you wish.
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall, far behind?
These are the answers that I do not have. This is up to you now.
Whether you can love the student who makes love between fits of morphine.
It is you who must choose if you will be ok with my fight. I cannot ensure you are not frightened, nor can I ensure complete comfort. You just need to believe me when I say I am ok with being me. And I hope you can be too.
And of course, the greatest question. Who will fall far behind?
But you already know it won’t be me.
I will last the years.