Closure

In your mind you’ve got a bat and you go around the house, systematically smashing everything they left behind to bits. In reality, you know how much those things cost and maybe you’re cheap a coward, but you just don’t have the heart to do it. So you start to think about other ways, how to rid yourself of the hard lump that has lodged itself in your chest, threatening to stay there forever.

You think packing their stuff in a solitary box, to be left at their door -or to be handed over in a brief clandestine meeting- will do it.
It doesn’t.

Neither does burning.
All you’re left with is the acrid smell of smoke and a dark ring on your balcony…the shape and size of the cardboard box that was there 5 minutes ago.

If there’s no catharsis in tearing up their old notes, then deleting their texts, emails, pictures off your Instagram, their number…does less.

You wonder if there’s truth to the myth that a good scream can let it all out. So you try it. One day when it’s just you and the four walls of the house. You scream yourself hoarse. Then you wait for all the pain to evaporate.
It doesn’t.
When people ask what happened to your voice, you don’t have an answer prepared.

You get a tub of ice cream. You’ve always loved Ben & Jerry’s. You rent a movie. You don’t forget the box of tissues. You’re in your most comfy pyjamas. You dig in. The movie works its magic. You bawl your eyes out.
NOTHING.

Then you start to think. Maybe hearing why will make it better. To know the reason, even if it’s some fundamentally flawed aspect of your character, should be better than nothing.
So you set it up. Steel yourself for what you know is likely to be brutal. You sit through the small talk, willing them to get on with it. When they finally seem ready to, you sit up. Coffee/ tea/ liquor whatever form of dutch courage is your poison in hand. You listen intently, waiting for the one thing you can pinpoint and say “Aha! This is why.” But other than a series of half-truths and patronising lies meant to make you take the blame for their shortcomings and/ or feel like the one that got away, there is resoundingly…
NOTHING.

Now you’re worried, is this how it’s going to be forever? A hard lump stuck in your chest, freezing your insides so you don’t even have the patience to deal with anyone new?
Maybe you’ve just been a fool, buying into the myth of a reason setting you free. Maybe at the end of the day, that’s all closure really is, a myth sold to romantic fools.

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Can We Just Live?

You know how I wrote this post of mums and boyfriends about two years ago and it was a joking sturvs and I thought we were really all just playing? Well! turns out the pressure is real! What! Look, if you’re not in your mid-twenties yet you had better join some of us search for the anti-aging serum oh. Let us just stop the hands of time together.

The pressure is real oh! Notice how I said that twice? Yes, that’s how real the pressure is. I would say it  100 times but I feel like you’re smart, you get it. This pressure is not the light one your mother gives you. Those my in-law bants that she throws in when she feels like you’re pouring too much milk into your coffee or even the jokes about what she’ll be giving out as party favors at your engagement. It is not even the little jokes when male friends come home. Like hehe hehe ‘is he the one?’ type questions.

No oh! This is strangers, who have absolutely no business telling you how to live your life telling you how to live your damn life! Can you tell I’m pained? Okay not really, I mean someone had to write this, I am not angry or anything. I am not even crying. These? These are not tears….It’s just a reaction to the onions my sister is cutting in the kitchen at home. I am not home you say? Is it your eyes? Can a girl not have allergic reaction again? My friend my friend allow me get back to the story.

Aha! So as I was saying.It’s even worse when you look younger than you actually are not that I’m complaining, everyone and their grandmother think it’s okay to give you advice.

“When you meet a man…”

“As for Ghanaian men…”

“As a woman…”

You. will. hear. this. at. every. turn. You cannot even breathe at this point for fear that some auntie will say “all this air you’re breathing you should have been breathing in your husband’s house”. At social events, when people ask what you do, you will now have to start calculating because “as a woman you must not let men know that you have accomplished xyz, let them get to know you and then you can start to reveal your accomplishments.”

“Men don’t like these things.”

“These things scare men.”

Deep down you’re thinking it cannot be true. That the men in your generation know better, that they too want a woman who can bring something to the table. You believe that those weak-livered men who are threatened by an accomplished woman do not exist in your generation. You’re happy in these beliefs, smirking secretly at the aunty who is busy spewing ‘nonsense’ at you in the name of wisdom. Until you meet that one guy, who is your age by the way and is very concerned that your plans do not have a man at the forefront. So…who will make sure the children have been bathed? Who will make sure that there is breakfast on the table when he’s leaving home and dinner is ready by the time he gets home? He’s a big man U no.

The worst part is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This does not begin to cover the horrible amount of pressure girls go through because they have reached a certain age and nobody ‘put a ring on it’. This is not even their final form! This does not cover the expiry date jokes that they make for bants or the sermons you will hear that basically tell you “a woman may have a job, but her real place is in the kitchen”.

I said I am not crying!! These? They are not tears oh…something just fell in my eye.

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The Silent Monster

21 again! haha. Thanks everyone for all the well wishes, they are very appreciated. Today’s post is one I’ve been holding on to for a while. Seeing as I’m 21 again and everything, I thought today would be the perfect day to share it. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions on how to improve it. I hope you like it as much as I do. Loads of love,

AJ

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silent monster

The Silent Monster

I wish it came with jingling bells,

Something, anything, so I’d be prepared when it comes

Some warning, so I don’t feel the oomph in my chest

Some warning, so my heart doesn’t beat as fast.

 

I wish it didn’t lure me in,

Strap my feet to the ground,

Mire me in memories,

Burdened with longing and regret.

 

I wish it didn’t take my breath away

Creep in, while I try to enjoy a glass of wine,

Catch me mid-speech while I’m out with friends,

Silence me in the shower, in the middle of my best Adele.

 

I wish it didn’t hound me with images,

Insistent that I remember, when life seemed like perfection

They say closure is an illusion,

I say nostalgia is worse.

Somniloquy

I wrote this https://ajreads.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/somniloquy/ a couple of years ago, and then recently a new and improved version got published in the @KeeleCreativeWriting Society’s anthology of fiction. So I thought I’d share, especially since there’s now a sequel which I’ll put up pretty soon (don’t worry, I won’t flake out, it’s already written lol). There’s many ways this could have gone, and if you’ve got any ideas I’d love to hear them. For the moment, here’s the first part, I hope you enjoy it! :*

“Have I told you how much I love you?” Nathan asked, inching closer. Bree looked up from the book she was reading, one of the many books she kept on her bedside table for sleepless nights. She was surprised to find him still sleeping.

“It’s hard to find the words,” he said and snuggled in.

I should have known Bree thought, taking off her reading glasses and turning off her lamp. Nathan was never this expressive, especially these past few months. She didn’t mind hearing it this way though. When she was falling asleep a few minutes later, she still had a smile on her face and Nathan’s arm around her midsection.

She found him in the kitchen the next morning, already dressed for work. She stood for a moment and studied him as he wolfed down his cereal, taking in his broad shoulders and high cheekbones. He was wearing the blue shirt she bought him for their three-year anniversary. She loved how the shirt fit, the shade of blue complementing his dark skin. They had first met at Suzanne’s birthday dinner and with his rugged good looks and boundless charisma all her friends had thought he was too good to be true. Even she thought so when he wouldn’t stop calling her, until a month later when he finally convinced her to go on a date with him.

“Morning!” she said, still feeling quite chipper from the night before.

“Morning,” he replied. He looked up, and caught her looking at him. As if that was his cue, he dumped his bowl in the sink and grabbed his bag. He gave her a perfunctory peck on the cheek before heading out. Just like that, Bree felt the high spirits she had woken up with deflate. Rather than the leisurely breakfast she had envisioned, she rushed through her bowl of cereal and dressed up for work.

As senior analyst at her firm she could arrive later than everyone else. She liked to wait till the morning rush had died down before heading in. She arrived in time to catch the end of the junior analysts’ morning meeting before entering her cubicle. An hour later and she was still staring at the same page of today’s financial report, too distracted by thoughts of Nathan’s nighttime declarations and his attitude this morning to focus.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she heard behind her, making her jump in her seat. Nelly, one of the junior analysts, smiled at her from the cubicle adjacent to her own. Knowing Nelly would gossip if she told her, she laughed and told a joke instead. For the rest of the day she ploughed through the report, trying her best not to think of Nathan.

Before the clock struck five Bree was up and packing, in a hurry to get home before Nathan. She wanted a luxurious bubble bath and a glass of wine. As she drove home, she reminisced about the early part of their relationship. Nathan would meet her after work and they’d have a few drinks and a meal or, even watch a movie before saying goodnight. She missed those times, when Nathan couldn’t seem to get enough of her. It was his idea to move in together, a year after they became a couple. She wondered if this had been a mistake.

Lapsed catholic though she was, she had had reservations about moving in with a guy before she was married. Moving in with Nathan had caused arguments with her mother, who still had conventional views and disapproved of Bree’s decision. “I need this to work” she thought. She parked her Toyota Yaris in their two car garage, happy to see Nathan’s Nissan Rogue absent. She couldn’t bear the thought of what her mom and her cronies would say if this ended. Especially now that she had just turned thirty. Already there were subtle digs about when she and Nathan would tie the knot. Her mom never missed a chance to make her disapproval clear.

Two hours and a long soak in the bath later, she came downstairs to find Nathan stretched out on the couch watching football. He was no longer in his work clothes; he had clearly been home a while.

“Didn’t hear you come in,” she said to him.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” he said, studiously avoiding eye contact.

“When is that ever disturbing?” Bree asked him.

“Calm down Bree,” Nathan said.

Without another word she turned and went upstairs.

Halfway up the stairs she turned around again and headed back to the hall.

“I’m tired of this Nathan,” she said. “I don’t know how much longer I can take this.”

“Take what exactly,” Nathan said and looked at her.

“This coldness between us,” she said. “lately things just seem so off”

“They do?” he asked, pulling her into his arms. “Nothing’s off, I still feel the same; or have things changed for you?” he asked, nibbling on her ear.

Bree let out a sigh. It was just her imagination after all.

“You know they haven’t,” she replied, snuggling in closer. She tried to remember the last time they had done something like this.

A few hours later; with Nathan by her side, she was just about to turn off her night-light when she heard Nathan mumble something. Eager to hear what he would say this time, she inched closer her book and night-light all but forgotten.

“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before,” he said. Bree smiled. Take that mom! She thought. Perhaps she would always wait for Nathan to fall asleep first. Then she could hear all the lovely things he would never say to her when he was awake.

“I love you Megan,” he said.

Feeling as if she had just taken a bullet to the heart, Bree shot out of bed, knocking down her lamp and waking Nathan. For a moment she looked at him without speaking, her mom had won after all.

Why I Love……………….ZUMBA!

If you read One Month In! you may recall my mentioning joining a number of exercise classes in order to achieve my long time dream of not having to be rolled off of the plane when I eventually get back home. Not like I ever have been mind you;but whereas people have nightmares about normal things like being chased by monsters or featuring unwillingly in a family member’s pot of soup, I find that mine tend to be more about pounds that reflect on the weighing scale rather than their rightful place (my account) which brings me to the reason for today’s post: my love for zumba.

Prior to coming here, I had never really used the gym although like a lot of girls I know I had resolved several times that I would etc; and had actually made inquiries here and there but never actually got round to doing it. Which is why when I started eating all those desserts and realized that those pounds need to go somewhere other than my cheeks I had no idea which of the fitness regimes available at my gym to try. My flatmate (also Ghanaian) tried to persuade me to try zumba but- and this is something my friends know- I have this small issue with dancing in public. I am perfectly happy dancing away in a chair in public, or even dancing to a song in my room. However, get me off that chair in public and suddenly I am a pair of left feet, unable to bust a move to save my life. Of course under certain circumstances I forget that I supposedly have two left feet and dance like nobody’s watching but that’s a story for another day.

I had a feeling the treadmill wasn’t for me if I wanted this to be something that eventually became a habit (no, I’m not crazy…yes, I have heard that people meet cute boys at the gym but you’ll have to see how I look when I’m going to the gym to understand that this cute boy thing is probably not going to happen).

Anyway after reviewing all the facts, we decided to try a couple of classes before choosing which ones we would actually stick to. She was still for zumba but being the independent 21 year old woman I am, I decided I was going to try spinning first. Maybe I just overdid it that day (or not); whatever the case may be, let’s just say 3 days of an aching behind later, I realized that perhaps my behind did not quite provide the kind of cushioning one needs for such pursuits. Now, I quite love the behind I’ve got but I could not imagine continuing with spinning unless I somehow miraculously bulked up in that department before the next class.

So I decided to just suck it up and try this Zumba I had heard so much about. I must admit my first day was almost the disaster I imagined it would be, having sworn off of dancing for so many years as I had, I often found that while the class was doing one action I was still busily doing the previous one and when everyone was moving in/ facing one direction I was doing the opposite because I hadn’t grasped the most basic rule of Zumba i.e. keep your eye on the instructor, always.

But it was fun! Which was ultimately what I was looking for, a way to keep in shape while having fun. It does help that (especially in the Monday class) most of the music is upbeat and contemporary stuff I already like. Also, there’s a lot of shimmying and winding which I (and presumably the guys that come peeking to see what’s going on) quite enjoy. When songs like uptown funk come on, I can’t wipe the grin off my face; and the once or twice we’ve done Fuse ODG’s antenna, you’d think I’ve been pumped full of adrenaline with the sudden spring that comes into my step. I have since then tried yoga and aerobics which I quite like as well but Zumba! that’s what has my heart. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re looking for something that combines fun and weight loss, I suggest you give it a whirl. Especially if like me you’ve got a behind to protect 😉

It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad dancer either, everyone is too busy trying to keep up to care how you’re doing. You can stand in the back till you are confident in your moves but the more you keep going, the better you get so don’t get discouraged if your first class is a bit of a disaster. So go ahead, try it! Your behind will thank you, and even if those pounds don’t end up in your account, at least you know you won’t be seeing them on the scale either!

Smile

You’re sitting at a window seat in the new coffee shop down the road. It was a good decision to come here after all; you think. It’s very quiet for a Saturday.  You turn away from the window to look around the room, glad for the unexpected solitude the lack of clientele gives you.
You look back outside and see what seems like the umpteenth couple to pass by in the 30 minutes you’ve been sitting there. They walk past hand in hand. She’s smiling. It’s such a broad smile. A real expression of happiness.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a good idea to be sitting at the window.
You were happy once before.

Now your days are spent marking the hours till the day is over. You haven’t smiled in ages, sometimes you wonder if your mouth still remembers how.

Your mind drifts back to the last time. You turn your head a fraction to the left, not wanting to but unable to stop yourself from looking over at the spot where your life changed.

You can almost see yourself sitting at that table, laughing, happy. Digging into the chicken pasta Alfredo that was your usual fare whenever you came there.

Back when the coffee shop was an Italian restaurant of course.

Your favorite place to eat, the both of you.

You try to tear your eyes away, but it’s too late now.

The sequence plays out, almost like a movie.

One minute you’re laughing at some joke he’s told. You’re thinking about how good the pasta tastes, better than it’s been all week.

You look up and he’s slumped on the table.

“Get up,” you say, thinking it’s some macabre joke.

You wish it had been a joke.

Everything between then and the hospital is a blur. You can’t remember how the blanket you eventually found around your shoulders got there; or even how you got to the hospital. There’s a girl next to you, wearing the restaurant’s waitress uniform. You didn’t notice her before.

You can remember the pain though. The gut-wrenching pain. The pain that comes when the doctor comes to find you in the waiting room, somber.

You remember wondering whether it’s one of the things they get taught in school. The bad news look. The look that says it’s all gone to hell.

In your mind, you’re silently screaming.

You almost don’t hear him when he says “I’m afraid we lost him”.

You tuned him out after the first “I’m sorry”.

Those words jolt you back to reality.

They ask if there’s anyone you can call to be with you.

You take out your phone in a daze. Press 1 on your speed dial and it starts to ring. Your purse vibrates. Of course, you’ve got his phone. You must have grabbed it on your way to the hospital. That’s when it hits you. He’s never going to answer when you call. He’s gone, left you behind.

A ruptured aneurysm, the doctor says. You don’t know what that is. They’re hard to catch the doctor says. But you hardly hear him. You’re trying to remember the last thing you told him. You wish you could remember, but you can’t. You can’t even remember what the joke was. You can remember how good the pasta was, but you can’t remember his words. You start to laugh, you laugh so hard your shoulders are shaking. The doctor looks at you, alarmed. He can’t get away fast enough.

The sound of the door chime brings you back to the present.

You look up to see a large group trooping in. You sigh, your solitude is over.

You resign yourself to the thought of going back to your apartment, where your mother is waiting.

You came to the coffee shop to be away from her. You’re tired of having to explain that grieving your dead fiance a year later is only natural. Your mother’s extended visit which was a blessing in the beginning, when remembering to do normal things like eat was a hassle, has now become a pain. Still, you’re grateful. You at least had her to lean on in the worst of it. You pick up your cup of coffee with a sigh, intending to gulp it down and leave before the group settles in and the chatter becomes unbearable.

You look up and lock eyes with one of them, a guy.

He’s looking at you so intently, and he breaks into a smile.

Before you know it, your lips are moving.

Your mouth remembers after all, you smile.

You take a sip of your coffee and set your cup down.

Maybe you’ll stay a while.A_time_for_a_cup_of_coffee

of moms and boyfriends

Of mums and boyfriends….and why single girls over 21 should join the kpa kpa kpa movement.

clock

Rather than write the paper which is due in 2 days that I’m nowhere near through with, I decided to write this post which I promised on twitter on the 29th of November. Why? Well inspiration for me to write is often hard to come by although when I do I enjoy it tremendously. I often find myself writing elaborate stories in my head and never actually putting them down on paper.

Anyways, in this coming month – being my birth month and all- (yes, I turn 21 again!) I will be putting out more than my usual 1 post every 3 or so months. Which means I will post no less than 3 posts this month. I know people tend to do the whole 1 post a day thing and I would have loved to. However, I know myself, and I know how laziness aka writer’s block can catch me for long stretches of time. Which is why in order not set you (my lovely readers) up for disappointment I am making the modest estimate of 3. If it is more, glory hallelujah. If not, well I only promised 3… 😀

On to today’s post!

Before I go into all of that though, I just thought I should mention this. Just so you know, there is no grand sale of guys where I can just look through a great selection of boys at a discount and pick the one I fancy, with the option of returning him to the store within 30 days if I find he’s not to my satisfaction. Believe me I would know. So to all my loving friends out there, there’s no one. I’ll tell you when there is.

You know how they tell you when you are growing up all the pressure that comes with growing up? Well they weren’t lying. In the past few months, conversations with my friends back home have been nothing short of hilarious with all the mounting pressure for them to ‘produce’ a boyfriend. Not like they have a gun to their head……yet…but I believe it’s getting there.

Thankfully I have the greatest-mum-ever™ who will never give me pressure be it direct or indirect (yes this is a directed message to my mum who’s going to read this at some point) but some of my friends have already started to feel the heat.

Imagine my friend’s surprise when she told her mum she was going for a wedding and her mum’s response was “you’re always going for weddings when will you do yours?” You see what had happened was…she doesn’t even have a boyfriend!! Oh and best part is the question was NOT rhetorical, she had to give an estimate.

Another friend got sent the picture of a huge cooker. When she ventured to mention how huge the cooker was, the straight faced reply was “yes, big enough to cook for my in-laws and grandchildren”. In-laws and grandchildren who are merely theoretical at this point because my friend really does not have a boyfriend at this point.

Did I mention that there are boxes full of magic mugs in my garage? Imported by my mom (who I love with all my heart)? And did I also mention that the mugs are apparently for my engagement and my sisters’ engagements regardless of the fact that none of us at this point have a boyfriend (unless my sisters do and I don’t know)? Let’s just say my mum could probably host an engagement party for any of us tomorrow if we told her about it tonight.

Also, a friend of mine recently came into possession of a book titled “How to prepare for the wedding”, kindly gifted to her by her mother. I would think step 1 would be to find the groom and then buy the book but what do I know?

These are merely a handful of the things that are going on behind the scenes in the homes of those single girls that have turned 21 a few too many times. Weirdly though, the pressure doesn’t only come from the mums. If I were prone to feeling pressured, all the times my friends have asked me if I’ve found someone yet in the two short months I’ve been here would surely have done me in by now.

In closing, I would like to leave you with this totally random but hilarious conversation.

 

1

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A.T.N.A = All Talk No Action

PS: Apart from the magic mugs scenario, one other is mine but I won’t say which. Take a shot at guessing why don’t you? Oh and if I’ve told you this story before you’re out of the race please, no telling!

Have a great month everyone!