Do you remember Pavlos Maropoulos from school? Was in the same class as us all the way through middle school. I think you do, actually, because I seem to remember you seeing a girl for a while about ten years ago that you told me was Pavlos’ ex. I think. Wasn’t she the girl that used to live at the bottom of the hill next to the cemetery? It sticks out in my mind now for the fact that you told me at the time that she said Pavlos had beaten her up when they were together and that he was a loose cannon. I remember I believed it at the time, mostly because I hadn’t spoken to him since school but had seen him walking around the streets a few times and noted that he had looked angry and weird. He’d grown his hair long, was always dressed in black with angry slogans on his t-shirts, wore dog collars and spikes and stuff like that, and when he walked past you you could hear the tinny noise leakage emanating from the headphones that covered his ears, aggressive screamy metal music. And he had been lifting weights since we’d left school, had added a bit of bulk. He always looked like he might throw a brick through a glass bus shelter, just for the hell of it. So the idea that he would partake in a bit of domestic abuse was easy to buy into. Then again, though, at that age I used to pretty much believe anything I was told, so long as it was interesting. As I sit here now I’m not so sure that I believe the story. I’m not as prone to judge people on rumours as I once was. Especially considering how many tall tales used to get thrown around our neighbourhood. Anyway, the reason I ask if you remember him is that a couple of weeks ago he sent me a friend request on Facebook. Out of the blue. I hadn’t spoken to him in 15 years, not since we left school, and hadn’t thought of him in about ten years, not since you were seeing that girl.
Pain isn’t something I am skilled at dealing with. Escaping pain, however, I am as good at as an Irish traveller is at fighting. Shrooms being my route of choice these days. It’s where the love lives. When life gets too ugly for me to be able to look at it, I discreetly slip away from the world and pay a visit to the realm of contentedness. These past few weeks I’ve been going there more regularly than I would usually need to. I am feeling emptier than I have in years. My spirit has been extinguished. An ache that won’t shift. A constant nausea. Too many shit things all taking place at the same time. A friend, one of life’s good humans, is lying in a hospital bed while her young kids and husband can only sit and put their faith in doctors and medical technology. Christmas. New Year. And not to mention the rejection dealt to me by a woman, – well, two rejections. Just one woman. But I was fool enough to climb back into her bed the moment she let me and then in the morning deja vu – who has, although not intentionally, absolutely crushed any confidence or feeling of self-worth that I had in myself before I met her. Destroyed. Man, I was in such a good place before that girl came into my life and turned it upside down. These things combined have knocked me on my arse. Not that anyone will know it. I am not a talker. Friends trying to engage me in conversation about what’s going on in my life just make me recoil. They meet a brick wall. It is not my way. Nor am I a social user of anything. I don’t like to have company when I’m feeling the benefits of whatever it is that my body has ingested. I fly solo. A bit of Me Time. I wait until I know I have the flat to myself for a night, and if that situation doesn’t arrive I take a bus out to my mum’s house in the sticks. No city, no cars, no street lights, no noise, and most importantly no people. A retreat. A place where I can get under the covers, drink tea, get as stoned as I want without being disturbed, and float away with the aid of some shrooms and some psytrance. It gives me perspective. Helps me to remember, even if only for a short while, that I have been prescribed an extreme dose of good fortune and managed to escape the poverty by being given the opportunity to work again, after a few years of sitting in a damp corner, occasionally having food gifted me by charities, shoplifting at times, and at other times just going without nutrition. Makes me realise that surely that was a far less desirable situation to be in than the current one of emotional trauma over a woman. Emotion is forgotten when you’re starving. These days I can eat when I’m hungry. I can drink when I’m thirsty. And I can smoke weed when I’m…….. awake. Basically. This time last year I couldn’t do any of those things. Well, as my dad used to say to me as a kid, “There’s plenty of water in the tap.” So I could drink. But you get the point. Things have been worse. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.
A week or so ago when I didn’t have any work the next day, I travelled out to my mum’s with everything I needed to be able to chill out. In the evening I laid down on the settee in the living room, ate some shrooms, wrapped myself in a blanket, got comfortable, pulled my hood up over my head, put my music in my ears and closed my eyes to block out the telly in the corner of the room that my mum was sat on the other settee watching. She knew to leave me in peace to enjoy my trip. And then the usual vivid memories started to come over me. The ones where I am actually back there, experiencing it again but at the same time detached, like Scrooge stood next to the ghost of Christmas past. If that makes sense. I went back to a night almost 20 years ago.
Oi Palestine and Israel,
Come round to my mum’s house in Spain, the weather’s nice at the minute and we’re only a short drive from the sea, personally I walk it because I haven’t got a car. Or a driving licence. And I like a walk. But yea, come round. I know you two aren’t really talking at the moment, so rather than leave it up to you to arrange a night in, I’m taking the initiative. Next Friday. The house is gonna be empty, my mum’s going back to England to visit my sisters, so just come round about 9 in the evening, just the pair of you, and bring crisps. And biscuits. And cake. And some pizzas to stick in the oven. Normally I have to remind people not to bring pepperoni pizzas, cos I’m a vegetarian, you know, but I don’t think there’s too much danger of either of you turning up with that, is there? Bring olives as well, I don’t like them, but bring them anyway. And bring oranges, we’ll make juice. I will provide everything else for the evening. When I say everything else, I mean the biggest bag of homegrown you’ve ever seen. And cushions. And tunes. It’s pretty retro, I know, but I’ve got a decent CD stereo from the 90s here, and some good albums. So what we’re gonna do is sit down on the cushions, put the bong in the middle, stick some tunes on, eat the food, make and drink the juice, watch some funny comedy on Youtube, and just bond, man, like we seem to have forgotten how to. I don’t want either of you inviting any of your other mates. I don’t want them in the house. To be honest, I’m not sure how good mates they really are, but that’s for you to realise on your own. But they ain’t coming here, alright? Good. We’ll just get stoned, eat the food, drink the juice and listen to tunes. Simon and Garfunkel, and to show there’s no favouritism we’ll also listen to Cat Stevens, and we won’t get into any arguments about what name he should be referred to as. And we’ll listen to Bob Marley. He’s got a good message. And oi, Israel, don’t even think of trying to claim a Rastafarian as your own. That shit won’t wash. And if any one of us starts getting tired or nodding off, we’ll take it up a notch and stick some psytrance on and we’ll put Media Player on full screen and just stare at the moving pattern thingy, trying to work it out. It can never be worked out. It is a question without an answer. But this common search in our minds for the solution will connect us all. We’ll chat about old times, new times, imaginary times. We will not talk about religion. Whatsoever. You don’t even wanna get me started on that bullshit, you will both end up kissing and making up, united in your hatred for the new common enemy, me. So don’t bring any of that poison anywhere near my home. We’ll just get stoned, eat the food, drink the juice, listen to the tunes and watch some comedy. A bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and to show there’s no favouritism we’ll also watch some Omid Djalili, and we won’t get into any arguments about whether or not he counts as a Muslim, because it shouldn’t matter either way what someone’s religion, colour, race or anything else is, especially if that person is there to tell you jokes. And we’ll watch Mitch Hedberg, just because he cracks me up more than anyone else, and then if I can be bothered to get up, I’ll stick a Stewart Lee DVD on. Eventually we’ll have to crash, there’s a bedroom here for each of you, so don’t worry about that. We’ll sleep it off, and then when we wake up we’ll go out, get some food, bring it back, cook it up, eat it up, skin up, and carry on where we left off. I’ll let you guys do the cooking, your food is so much more fucking delicious than mine, but I might make some Angel Delight. Only joking. You guys are in control of the kitchen. Basically you’re coming here on Friday, you’re staying til Sunday, and we’re gonna just be in the moment. After that it’s up to you. I’m not gonna keep pulling strings to get us all in the same room together. We’re brothers, man! So after this weekend it is up to you. See how you feel about each other then. But for this weekend only, come to my house, just the pair of you, leave any negative feelings outside my door before you come in, bring crisps and biscuits and a cake and some pizzas and olives and oranges. And a toothbrush. And we’ll sit down on the cushions, put the bong in the middle, stick some tunes on, eat the food, make and drink the juice, watch some funny comedy on Youtube, and just bond. And if you don’t walk out of here having realised that what bonds us all far outweighs what divides us, even you two, then there’s something wrong with the pair of you. See if you’re not talking seriously about tearing down that apartheid wall once you two have had a smoke together. This is good weed guys. The kind that was created to be shared. You’ll see on Friday. See you then. Peace.
What? Sometimes you gotta be facetious. I have just been pretty fucking facetious. And why not?