Holding On To Something

It was Saturday night and I was at a party.

It was an open venue party with loud music and drinking and singing and dancing.

The moon was bright and the cold wind was blowing my way.

I was standing in the middle of the room with a drink in hand. It was vodka lemon, I think. The loud music clouded my thoughts as I stared at the overly-enthusiastic teenagers grinding against each other and trying to move their bodies to the beat of the song.

I never quite understood the hype of parties – to me, they were just a chance to showcase your social awkwardness in public.

While I was enjoying my drink a girl wearing too much makeup approached me.

‘Would you like to dance with me?’ she said while winking my way.
‘No thanks.’
‘Come on, don’t be shy!’
‘You don’t understand,’ I said, ‘I’m a terrible dancer.’

And I walked away from her, still holding on to what was left of my drink. I finished it with a gulp, ordered another, and found a corner to stand in and enjoy my drink quietly.

The band was playing louder as we advanced into the night.

Outside, there was a deadly silence only interrupted by the calls of the powerful wind. It was getting colder, and as time passed, I started questioning my decision to come to this party more and more.

I finished my second drink, ordered a third and went back to my corner. The people were still partying wildly,
their eyes telling different stories, but they were all relieved to be here. You could sense this was their escape; a sanctuary where they were free from all kinds of responsibilities and judgment.

I observed them with envy and anger; they had all found their release in here. I was the only one who was left searching. I felt I didn’t fit in – I was too awkward and hesitant and nervous and uncertain that I felt my strangeness stood out in the sea of carefree people.

I gulped my drink and laid my back on one of the walls. A girl approached me.

‘Hi,’ she said half-drunk, ‘would you like to dance?’
‘No,’ I answered. And I started walking away.
‘Wait,’ she said, ‘what’s that sticking out of your right pocket?’

And she pointed at my pocket from where a small piece of paper was showing.

‘It’s just a poem,’ I confessed, taking out the paper.
‘May I read it?’
‘Sure.’

The paper was old, dirty and folded. She unfolded it a few times and, when she finally opened it, read aloud:

“And the mere sight of her made the
birds flap their wings and sing
in his heart”

‘That’s beautiful,’ she said. ‘You’re such a poetic and romantic man!’

She giggled.

‘It’s still unfinished,’ I told her. Then I snatched it away from her and left.

I headed to the other side of the room, found another corner away from the crowd and stood with the poem in hand.

I read it, re-read it and started thinking about the girl who made the birds flap their wings and sing. For a moment, I stopped hearing the music and the sounds of the party.

I saw her house, smelt her perfume, felt the touch of her hand, tasted her lips…

She was right there in front of me, in all her darkness and beauty and sadness.
Her broken smile was perfectly drawn underneath her captivating eyes.

I lurched forward to grab her but could only touch air. She was gone again – another vision from my dreams or possibly the excess of alcohol.

I started wondering how I’d get her back – if I’d get her back.

Before all this, there was no need for parties. There was no need for music. There was no need for other people.

She filled the void in me, saw the broken pieces that were my soul and slowly but surely spent her time rearranging them together. Some used to say she was one of the best things to ever happen to me – but between the alcohol, the whorehouses, the back alley fights and the rudimentary jobs, I was sure she was the best thing that happened to me.

I thought about a way to send her my poem – let her know I still cared. Let her know I still thought about her during empty nights in the middle of huge crowds. Let her know I still needed her to fix those parts that kept breaking in me.

I left the party and walked along the streets in the cold night. The moon was still bright, the stars were now showing, twinkling above me as I made my way home.

I folded the paper and put it back where it belonged – in my right pocket.

I thought about completing the poem. Then I thought about writing in general.

Why did we turn to art in our time of need? Why did we paint, write or make music?

Did these things erase our pain or make us feel better about ourselves?

The answer was they didn’t.

They were just something to hold on to; as people, we tended to hold on to those we cared most about in our lives.

And when these people were absent, we tended to drift towards art and music and poetry for support and comfort.

As I made it back to my place I felt an incredible urge to write. Just roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I was holding on to that craft like my life depended on it.

And that only made me realize how much I really wanted the girl who made the birds flap their wings and sing back in my life.

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