First, a huge and heartfelt thank you for all the messages and emails I received in response to last week’s post. I’m moved beyond measure by the support and love. Really, thank you, thank you!
I’m doing my best to focus on writing my book, so this week for the blog, I’m sharing a piece of short fiction I wrote more than 20 (!) years ago. It captures my love of being on the road.
(I am keeping it in its original form of one uninterrupted passage, though I considered breaking it up into paragraphs so as not to overwhelm the online reader. I’d be curious to hear if reading it this way felt too “breathless”/difficult/annoying!)
The sweat of your arms, the arms of your sweater, your arms as they wrapped around me. The stench of stale beer at nightspots we favoured, pitstops of our road trips, the roads of our friendship spiralling until we fell together in step where smoky rooms dissolved into one another, glances melted into stares and the characters all became one. We conquered them all: the weirdos, misfits, rejects, nightcrawlers, debutantes with cigarettes dangling from their mouths, transvestites in orange sequins, pimps in pink sunglasses and glassy eyes. The long journeys in your car as we sped through suburbia, aiming straight for the sparkling concrete cities that rose out of the polluted mist. The police cars we dodged, screaming sirens that rang throughout alleyways and rang in our dreams and pushers who pushed past us, pinching our behinds as we stood in their way. The black and white snapshots of our coffee breaks, glamming it up in petrol station bathrooms, lipstick kisses on the mirror, perfume mists in my trail, clomping heels that crushed broken glass into moondust under our feet. The good times blurred, wrapping our present with a giant pink bow, our future stretching only as far as the next day. All we required was the optimism of our youth, and freedom we created by releasing baggage that prevented too many from too much. We believed in too much, excess, extremes, over the top, and any sort of moderation bored us. One door led to another and that one to a succession of many more. How glorious that we are right here right now, I thought, never tired of kissing belly laughs and adventures new. Can we bottle it up, I said? Can we be pretty young things forever? Can we live out of suitcases and mess up a hotel room or two? Can the two become a million before the old guards knock on our door? This is how I want to remember us forever: arm in arm, our faces facing the world, our souls rising higher than the boom and gloom of the urban jungle, our spirits conquering the weather. This is the way I always think it is and to think is to believe and to believe is to accept. We accepted all and we believed in everything. The beat making our ears dance, crowds warming our spines, your sideburns burning my face. Jukeboxes blaring as we walked by propped doors of overcrowded pubs, your face glowing under neon signs of cheap motels we passed, sweat shining under your sparkling eyes. You were one big shiny puppet, puppet! Your strings you let loose as I did mine and we watched them soar like helium balloons that fly starward.
• Memorabilia first appeared in Arts & Letters, Dhaka Tribune on 4 May 2014.