How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters
15 September 2009
Hello, from London.
When I arrived to Camden town, North London, it is a rainy and cold day. I dragged my huge suitcase around and quickly got drenched. Water dripped from my fringe and fell onto my glasses. It made the world appear as if under the ocean. It would have been beautiful had I not been tired, lost and grumpy.
A young man approaches me as I stand at the entrance to the tube station, cleaning my glasses. He has curly hair and a lovely accent.
‘Excuse me, have you recently become homeless?’
I laugh in surprise and reply. ‘No no, I just cannot find my hostel.’’
Which one are you looking for?’
I Tell him and he says he knows where it is.
‘Would you like me to carry your suitcase?’
‘Yes thank you so much!’ I reply. My arms were numb with cold and fatigue. We leave Camden high street and go down a smaller less busy side street.
‘Are you a social worker?’ I ask.
‘No, I’m a squatter.’ He replies. ‘I’m just gathering people up who have nowhere to go in the rain. There’s an abandoned building on Bayham st.
‘If you do ever become homeless.’ He says. ‘Come down to 21 Bayham st. You will be more than welcome.’
The rain kept falling and we trudged on. I am moved by this stranger’s kindness.
He helped me lug the suitcase up the front steps.
‘Thanks heaps,’ I said wanting to give him a hug. ‘Let me give you some money for the trouble.’
‘No way, it was nothing.’ He replied smiling into my eyes. He turned around and went back out into the torrential down pour to help others far worse of than me. I had the idea of going down to the abandoned building. It would be quite crass though, don’t you think? To go there without a need. Just so I could observe. There was also, the never relenting possibility of being sexually assaulted or worse, that stopped me.
While at the hostel in Camden, I made friends with three Irish boys. In the small tv room I was making sarcastic comments to the commercials on the television. The three of them were on the couch and it took me a while to notice I had an appreciative audience. They kept laughing at my cynical tongue. We introduced ourselves. The tall one Al but his friends call him Quigley. The hot one with similarities to Cilium Murphy is called Even and the one who needs more confidence is Brian.
I got back to The Hostel on Wednesday night after meeting Catherine and Lauren and some others, for drinks at a place on brick lane. I was drunk and the Irish boys sitting on the steps were drunk as well. It was a fervent gaggle of individuals all flung together by chance and overpriced crappy accommodation.
‘AH! To be sure, Little One. You’re the coolest wee ting.’ Brian told me as he offered the bottle of straight vodka that they were sharing. I accepted it with thanks.
‘Hmmm well I have made you laugh for a consecutive ten minutes at least.’ I said. ‘That’s got to be worth at least a pound.’
Brian laughed along with his friends as he reached into his pocket and gave me a one pound coin, with reverence.
‘Thank you.’ I seriously.
For the remainder of the drunken high jinx filled night. This little no hoper had three new best friends. We walked around Chalk Farm drinking vodka from a big bottle that we passed around.
At about 2am while walking down a near deserted street, Evan starts humming something and the other two boys started singing the words to Skinny love. They petered out and I jumped in to remind them the rest.
‘’in the morning I’ll be with you but it will be a different kind.”
And I’ll be holding all the tickets.’’
The boys joined me mournfully and together we sang the rest.
‘And I’ll BE HOLDING ALL THE FINES.’
‘How do you three twits know such a sad and heart broken song?’ I asked as the vodka was passed to me.
‘’Because we are all heart broken.’’ Quigley replied.
‘’We all recently broke up with our girlfriends.’’ Even explained.
‘’Can you tell us when it stops hurtin’?” Brian asked me.
‘When you find someone else that makes you feel like you could do it better the next time round.’ I replied.
‘What if you don’t want to find someone else? Brian says..
They all looked at me and a silence engulfed us in bittersweet contemplation.
I rubbed Brian’s arm affectionately and gave him the vodka.
I learnt a valuable lesson that night as we slowly got more and more desperate to find somewhere to drink. The water bottle of vodka was nearly gone. Those three did not care where they drink as long as they can continue drinking undisturbed. This is why I found myself following them into a near deserted club where truly awful and cheesy music was blasting.
‘Ok wee one. time for a shot!’ Quigley said gleefully. The barmen lined up four shots along the bar and we each took one counted down from three and drank them down. I am not sure if this was the smartest move as within half an hour my entire body seemed disconnected from my limbs. The music was no longer music, but tiny reverberations prickling my skin hairs. Somehow we all got separated and I found myself walking over the bridge towards Camden High street as the first cold rays of dawn started creeping up from the horizon. The French have a word for this: Flaneuring it refers to following ones own path and tripping upon happy accidents.
It’s finally happened. I have found a place to love that is not a hostel! I will be sharing a huge room with a friend from home. JP is tall with big dark eyes and an amazing singing voice. She is only here for two more months before returning home to her boyfriend of four years. She misses him terribly but I really hope she does not decide to go home early as I cant afford 160 quid a week. It’s a big house with 6 bedrooms and each bedroom has a couple of people staying. The house is in north west London, near Notting hill and Ladbroke Grove. I cannot wait to get out of this back packers. The morning after that big night with the Irishmen. The night watch guy at the front desk took Brian and I aside.
‘’You two are very funny.’ He said. ‘But next time I call the police.’
Last night the girl who showed up late and settled into bed below mine. She kept me awake all night with her sleep talking and weird sounds. It was unnerving. She would start the cycle of creepy sounds with heavy breathing and soft moaning all very sexual sounds then she would start to sigh a few times before the mumbling and snorting would start. I swear I heard her mutter a few times the words, ‘we have to kill him.’ Then the cycle would begin again. I lay there very anxious. I tried to think of ways I could protect myself if she tried to climb onto the top bunk. I could elbow her in the face. That could simply exacerbate her rage and resolve to finish me.
I got your text while exploring Notting Hill with JP.
‘He is texting you while you are so far away.’ She says. ‘Wow, that’s not cheap.’
I could not text you back (no credit as usual) the question regarding concussion and gin? Any answer I give you will arrive to late to help.
You managed to both worry and amuse me. So not much has changed since I became an ocean away. Till next time BE SAFE, SILLY.
Don’t touch me. I am too far away.
The one with Tiny Pockets