I wonder sometimes if writing poetry is bad for me. I sit in front of my computer or one of my hundreds of half-filled notebooks and puzzle my feelings into neat little rhyming couplets that could roll off the tongue with ease. Except the problem is that they don’t roll of my tongue at all, they just roll onto the page and get stuck there.
They become scribbles in the margins of life about great ideas that you might eventually come back to. Before there was a global need for isolation, there was always too much life getting in the way of saying what you felt to the people you needed to hear it. It was so easy to think that there would be time enough in the future to ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’ (to quote a coffee mug I saw once).
I remember just before lockdown I had been attending this one bar fairly regularly, partially because it was close to my work and they stocked the one beer that I like but largely it was because I fancied the pants off of the bartender there. We talked a lot over my time taking up a bar stool and, as a friend later pointed out to me, they probably quite liked me as well. We even went out for a few after-shift drinks together. At the time, I knew I wanted to tell them that I thought they were really funny and say ‘wow, sometimes when we catch each other’s eyes my mouth forgets what it’s doing’. All through my time laughing and accidentally spilling drinks down my shirt I thought that maybe next time I would ask them out. I never did, though, and one day I went to go get a drink and the whole world had shut down in global crisis.
Obviously, my not getting to ask out the cute bartender was not the worst thing to come from the past year. I’m sure many of us have had to re-evaluate our definition of bad luck but the idea of missed opportunities has followed me around this year. I often say that time feels like it has stopped these days. It feels like we’re in a hibernation and waiting to thaw back to life, like the wood frog (very cool frog by the way). For better or worse, this is just simply not true. Time has been passing, people have been changing at the same rate, only under different circumstances. Even if the world went back to how it was tomorrow it still wouldn’t be the same. At this point it’s been a year and my butterfly-inducing crush on a cute bartender has dwindled to a ‘what if’ I ruminate on when I feel wistful.
I suppose I just thought that the time to say it would present itself out of the blue or, even better, maybe they would say it first? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but life often isn’t that convenient. I wish I had had been headstrong enough to follow through, even if it resulted in rejection. Rejection is a natural part of life; it can’t really hurt me but this ‘what if’ will haunt me for a long time. More so because I am disappointed in myself for not being honest and not reaching out. This prompt- ‘Connection in Disconnection’ – seemed a good place to talk about this. These are poems I have dredged out of the margins of my life because I finally found the time to say them. This pandemic has taught me that it’s important to tell a friend that you love and miss them, it’s important to tell a lover the way they make you feel and yeah, it’s important to tell a crush that your knees are goo when they brush past you. When have we ever suffered from hearing an honest and kind appreciation of our presence? It doesn’t have to come with expectation or reciprocation, but we should be reaching out now, as safely and with as much respect as we can. Life does go on, IS going on, whether we are actively taking part in it or not. As we go forward, I hope not to hold my feelings so close to my chest and maybe in a years’ time I’ll have more poems about blossoming connections, rather than missed ones.
Header image via unsplash.