Soft is ugly in a concrete world
When you are in love or when you are somewhere familiar it is easy to be the velveteen, pink girls they all need you to be. It is easy to be softly spoken and to nod agreeably when people tell you are sweet and kind and gentle. You become apologetic, compromising and warm – and in return you are wrapped in satin, slipping easily through the cracks, over the bumps, quiet, and covered and safe.
But you cannot do it forever.
Especially not here where the concrete turns the soles of your feet black and blisters your heels. You cannot be fragile when it is hammering down rain and the gutters are flooded with murky brown water. It is impossible to be compromising when you are racing down footpaths filled with people who can’t walk in a straight line. If you gave way to everyone you would never move forward at all.
If you want to stay a peach you are going to bruise. Rotten to the touch everywhere that you let them all push you too far. The person in the mirror will not be pearly or glossy, just bruised. Purple under the eyes with plasters crisscrossing fingers and toes. You stand and watch your hair gain its own independence in the humidity, curling wild and thick under your chin. You see your skin peel off from where it has been hard scorched by the sun, leaving you weeping from the holes that it left.
This is a different kind of world. One that isn’t stuck in time or slow motion like the place that I came from. There is nothing under me to catch me if I fall – just rough concrete, a graze, a scar and a lesson. At first I cried a lot. Tears following the same dedicated path under my eyes. Carving familiar grooves of salt water down the edge of my nose and sour onto my tongue. But now I just fall less – and the times I do it is easier to get up.
I guess I miss it still. I miss the way it tasted like candy and berries and vanilla vodka. I miss being that girl. But I also can’t remember it the same.
All I know is this. And I’m proud of this.
You wouldn’t recognise me if you saw me now I think. All of my mistakes branded like triumphs across my face. I wear every battle like a prize, because I’m still here right? So somehow I am still winning even if winning only means staying in the game a little longer. But I can feel myself standing differently too. I lean forward instead on in, reach up instead of to you. There are new tan lines and sharp angles and clean lines.
But still the same eyeliner I guess, still a little bit wonky.