“I’m broken, i’ve wasted my life, being broken, and never learning how to fix myself”
The mornings meeting had been a positive one, potentially shooting for a big creative agency based near catherine de barnes. I had marvelled at their offices, the old wooden beams and stone floors, illuminated by large double glazed windows. It would be a dream to work in such a place i thought, hoping to one day come back, and taste their coffee, having been too polite to accept a cup prior to the meeting.
I mulled over all of the "shoulda coulda wouldas" while watching the last fifth of my coffee go cold, on the second floor of a cafe in Shirley, my hometown. The cafe is a cool place, newly built, and a breath of fresh air for the town. Something new, to give people something to claim as part of what was already theirs. I close my laptop, having been sat re-editing pictures for the past hour, i decided that really, i was never going to release any of the pictures, if i hated them the first time round, then i would hate them even more the second, the third, and so on. It had been dark all day, and not quite raining, but now it was getting darker, and the rain was starting to fall. I felt comfortable, warm and safe, regardless of my brain contemplating wether other people analyse their actions, as much as i do (thinking about any mistakes i made in the meeting). Either way, i felt myself leaving, having not really made a conscious decision to, it must be time.
"There is no lead on these church roofs, it has all been stolen"
The drizzle peppered my face, over time forming droplets that ran down from my hair, and dropped off my eyebrows, my nose, and my chin. I don't mind winter, in fact i enjoy it, it makes no false promises, arrives on time, and leaves having done its job, unlike summer which is a lying bastard, but that's another blog post. Near where i parked, i spotted a man sitting with his back against a wall, the top coat now falling off, exposing faded red brick beneath. He was in no way destitute, his hair was trimmed, his glasses were new, and the coat he wore had no holes or dirt on it. He stared through his glasses, into a puddle of murky water, of which a bit of petrol had leaked in to, the rain now, making the water dance, and the toxic rainbow of the petrol, twist and swirl in the murk. There was no vision in his sight, the kind of sight that makes the whole world turn off around you, apart from just this one thing, the puddle had become all, entranced by it's twisting and turning, he could have been there for hours. I think of my mom, Pete, and Bee, i think of the good they do in their jobs, helping people who need it most, and i think back to the darker days, and what i'd have wanted someone to do, and with that i asked, "Are you ok?"
"Me? son, i've never been ok" he spoke with a thick liverpool accent, as he shakily rose to his feet. He approached me and we started talking, he sounded like combo from "This is England" which combined with the dreary small town backdrop and the rain, seemed to create the right setting for our own little scene. I'm awful at introductions, i just dive right into conversations and my introduction usually comes after 5 minutes of talk, and after five minutes, right on schedule i put out my hand and gave him my name. "Morgan, i'm David" he replied, smiling and revealing his teeth, weathered from the drink, and the cigarettes.
Working through the night, and drinking through the day, David was now on his way back home to his bed, to sleep off the alcohol, and get ready for another night in a factory, somewhere south of Birmingham. "I fell in love with a mixed race girl that i work with, i was besotted by her" the ring on his finger clear for me to see "I love my wife, but i'm not IN love with her anymore, do you understand?" My part in this conversation was that of the ear, simply sat listening. "I don't know why i do this to myself, i'm confused, and i'm hurting, i have to have an operation next month, to sort out this fucking hernia, and if i'm honest, i hope i don't wake up, it would make it all go away" It's so hard to empathise when you're not as drunk as the person who is spilling their heart out to you, you can't possibly reach the same plane of emotion, it's an unfair match. The love of his life, was not his wife, and the wife had found out, made him pay for his infidelity, and then carried on playing wife anyway. "I'm too old to move on now, there's no life for me left to live" David is 56, being a believer in the philosophy that it's actually never too late, i encouraged him to fight for a life that he can be happy in leading, but the conversation turns back to the girl "I love her, i've never felt love until now, i feel broken, i’ve wasted my life being broken, and never learning how to fix myself” There's a genuine sadness to David, a real yearning for something, which i don't think he even knows what for. David spotted my tattoos creeping out from beneath the sleeve of my shirt, and in his drunk as fuck at 2-o-clock in the afternoon state, is quick to whip off his shirt (covering the hernia) to show me his. A smile for the photos he insisted that i take, and then we get back into it, he paints a picture of someone who has spent their life chasing something, but never reaching it, looking for love, but never feeling it, and asking for acceptance, but never receiving it. From time to time he would say that he is sorry for wasting my time, but my time isn't being wasted, and i hope that by him talking to me, it may have allowed him to re-organise his jumbled thoughts, to see why his life isn't where it should be.
"How often do you smile, and not mean it? how often does everyones assumption that you're ok, feel like someone is running knives along your neck?
We talk some more, David asks a little about me, but when you're drunk, it's so hard to keep those emotions from bubbling beneath the surface. I'm engaged, i'l be happily married, she makes me laugh. His voice starts to crack and croak again, and his eyes, now lined with tears, cast their sadness towards the ground "it's good to hear, it really warms me, hang on to that feeling son, hang on to it". We finish up our conversation, David has to get home to sleep for 3pm so he can be rested for work later on tonight. I watch him walk off, as i close the door to my car, sitting still, and breathing louder now than i did while he was talking. It's rare that i speak to people like this, and i walked away with what i felt was a friend in David, he was a nice guy, but a tortured soul nonetheless. I wonder how many men at that age regret their lives? have taken so many wrong turns that it's broken them as people, burdened with so much grief, feeling too young to simply throw the towel in, but too old to up and change things for the better. Trapped in a life that they never intended, staring at the light of the young, from the bottom of their bottles.
"It'll never be alright, it will never go away"
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