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Looking Back on Looking Forward
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Looking Back On Looking Forward 
Performance, 9 minutes 

Poppy, Poppy darling, would you come in here? Your grandmother would like to read you a story from her journal.




This one? I think, ah it’s the 14th February, 2024. Back when we used to write with a pen!


Alright, alright. Are you ready?


Its Valentine’s Day. Two days ago, I sat on the beer stained carpet of a pub floor, warming my back against the radiator. The rain fell in droves from a concrete sky outside the pane glass windows. We huddled tightly around a small circular table, and we talked about love. What is it exactly? How do we know where it we’re at the right stop? I'm not sure I heard the announcement signalling that we are now approaching our final destination, where this train terminates. Love.


I declared it to the group: “I'm not sure I know what love is. Every time I've supposedly been in its thralls, the physiological sensation has been different.” I ask the group whether to be in love means we also have to be in pain. And the general consensus from a group of 20 something year olds was, yes, of course! And I began to develop the simmerings of a frustration, from the fact that the language with one of the richest vocabularies has such a dearth of words for love. And I felt like a cliché sitting on a pub carpet as a writer, annoyed by the lack of vocabulary to describe one of the most cliché human emotional phenomena, love. Such a heavy word.


And then I noticed just how lightly it seemed to pass between people's lips around that small wooden table. Floating on the exhalations in mid conversation. Declarations of love. And I can't help but laugh as I sit here and write, looking out my window at a house I spent three and a half years in, with a man who seemed to require the Heimlich manoeuvre to release those same words from the depths of his musically trained diagram. Of course, there's only one word to describe it. Love. This, what we have cultivated around our small wooden table. That's the model, isn't it? That's what we aspire to achieve in our quote unquote romantic partnerships, isn't it? Love. It's suddenly so blindingly obvious, what it is.


It's in the unquestionable assumption that you'll be there at the end of the phone or draped around my shoulders after every heartbreak. It's in the ease at which I can be the most peculiar version of myself without an ounce of fear that you will judge me for it, or like me less. It's in your graceful acceptance of my flaws as a positive. Something that makes me, uniquely me. It's in the pride I see plastered across your faces every time I perform. In the willingness with which you help me put on those performances; build the set, photograph them, film them. It's in the encouragement you give for me to be the best version of myself, and the forgiveness when I'm being the worst. And it's in the laughter, in years to come, when I'm 80 and have a bag full of shared memories to flick through when my bones ache and I can't remember what day of the week it is anymore.


Of the fizz of our interlaced energies as we run through the inky hue, collapsing our bodies intermittently into the carpet of snow. The sound of our blended vocal cords within the confines of tin walls, as we steam over Vauxhall Bridge toward Box Hill. The embodied excitement of locking my bike up and stepping into that home with large white brilliant walls, and messy floors of Atlantic grey, and seeing your face, and your face, and your face, and your face, and your face, and your face, and your face, and so, this Valentine's Day I extend my embrace to the people who taught me what love is, and whose embrace I know I can lean into, no matter how brittle my bones become.


Hah. I wish somebody had told me that when I was your age. I have a vague memory of maybe doing that for a performance in my youth. Rings true, though.


Anyway, I'm tired, I'm old, and it's time for me to go to bed.


Good night, darling.

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