Rust bucket

When I sold my old Golf to a breaker for fifty quid, we met at a junction in the middle of nowhere, and he drove it away illegally through the narrow Welsh backroads. It all felt terribly sudden.

I got a message half an hour later saying ‘I have no idea why but I absolutely love driving this car’. That car had a lot of fucking problems, and it was also my favourite place to be, so my heart soared at seeing him share this. My Golf was instilled with hours of carefree meandering over winding mountain roads, windows down, singing along to Jason Mraz. It was nights parked up in the Brecon Beacons, backseats down, halfway home from a gig in Cardiff. It was the illusion of power and competence I felt when changing gears, accelerating out of a bend, or reversing a whole mile down a country lane. And it was also the nagging worry of everything wrong with it that I couldn’t afford to fix. And all the really stupid low-speed collisions with inanimate objects. And the bad judgement calls that got me stuck in ditches for no good reason whatsoever.

It was an extension of me. It was tied to my identity. And it was also unfortunately tied to my self-worth, which was why I ended up selling it to a breaker for fifty quid. I have no doubt that, despite being such a joy to drive, my old Golf still got ripped apart. It could have had a better ending than that. The breaker himself admitted he was surprised I accepted his offer. But I couldn’t see it at the time. So instead of advocating for it, I folded.

There are too many times in my life, looking back, that I folded. Because I couldn’t see the value of what I brought to the table.

The Next Source

My friends organised a virtual murder mystery party the other night, and I was assigned a flamboyant celebrity character to embody for the night. And, not long into the night, I thought, yes, I’ve missed this.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about certain aspects of myself that I have disowned over the years. One of which being my attention-seeking, overtly unconventional, indulgently outrageous aspect. It used to be that I couldn’t help being that way, but being that way brought me so much pain, in the form of shame and self-hatred, that I eventually quashed it. I made myself less. I made myself smaller. I made myself easier to tolerate. It’s such a common fucking story that it’s hardly worth telling.

I thought the attention-seeking and the outlandishness were the wrong part. I thought the shame and self-hatred were caused by them. So I toned down the former and, indeed, the latter subsided.

In the subsequent years, I began to understand it was the shame and self-hatred that were, in fact, the problem, and over time I worked on them and, one way and another, disentangled myself from their grasp.

But, even though I still considered the playful rebel an intrinsic part of my identity, I couldn’t even admit to myself the extent to which I had diminished it. If I have ever fully embraced that side of myself, it could only have been in early childhood, because as far back as I remember, the reckless abandon, exaltation and satisfaction of its expression were always followed by excruciating self-consciousness and remorse, that prematurely cut them dead.

I believed, very potently, that it made me a bad person to indulge my desires so openly. And I also thought that maybe it shouldn’t. And I also didn’t want other people to think that I believed that it made me a bad person. I wanted them to believe that I didn’t care. I wanted to believe that I didn’t care. But I cared with such exquisite clarity that it gradually immobilised me.

I have been trying to unfuck myself for such a long time. My entire life’s endeavour has been trying to unfuck myself. And it’s funny, really, how the source of the fuck has been so very elusive all these years. I’ve tiptoed down so many shady back-alleys and climbed down so many winding ravines, tirelessly searching for the source of the fuck. There is always another source of the fuck. Like a desert mirage, the source of the fuck is always just out of reach.

To locate the next source of the fuck, I must first embrace my brashest, bluntest, boldest tendencies. I have been actively avoiding this my entire adult life. It’s been a limit I’ve been unwilling to cross, even though I’ve known I needed to. Because I don’t fucking want to. And I really fucking want to. And it’s all just very confusing.