Happy Father’s Day, or Happy Bridal Awareness Day

In the age of social media, we use photos to celebrate everything – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Siblings’ Day, Best Friend’s Day, International Dog Day, International Donut Day – every little thing, every relationship, every meal can be celebrated and acknowledged with a post on Instagram. I love looking at old throwback photos people post honouring their familiar relationships. One of my favourite pictures I have ever posted of my siblings and me is a throwback. I am 7, my sister is 4, and my brother is just 7 months old. We are at the Tower of London for the first time, standing next to a bear dressed as a beefeater. I am wearing a blue and white pinafore dress over a white tshirt and grinning, my sister is sulking in purple and making her typical distressed face, while my brother is smiling his gummy baby smile. There is just something so adorable and wholesome about seeing a very dated photo of people you interact with on social media. It strips away your current perceptions and allows you to see them at their most innocent.

On that note, Father’s Day was this past Sunday. Although I was tempted to post the photo of a two-year-old me with my father, posing with disposable flower pots on our heads, I did not. He wouldn’t have seen it anyway, and when I told him he would receive his card on Friday (I’m meeting up with my family in Dubrovnik), he told me he would be out of town and unable to receive mail. I have always been my father’s daughter. My dad is a great man, and I love him very much. He has always offered me unconditional support. He has fulfilled various whims I’ve had over the years, such as “flying” me around the basement on a blanket during “A Whole New World”, ordering Chinese food and watching Mulan, buying my two-year-old self a massive plush Big Bird that I had begged my mum for for months, andgoing with me to see Paul McCartney last August – even though he’s seen him twice before – but the love for the Beatles that he instilled in me compelled him to go again. He has even fostered a love for Croatia within me, a country part of our history that he has shown me once before and is showing me different parts of it in three days. We have had many highs in our relationships and I have achieved so much that I credit him for enabling me to do – studying abroad, graduating college, pursuing my masters’ degree (in a foreign country, no less). These moments, moments that I could not have achieved without his unwavering love and support, these are the moments that I consider to be jewels in our relationship. These are the moments that should be celebrated.

So why was my Facebook feed full of girls my age posting their wedding photos? My best friend from high school said that maybe bridal photos are expensive and they want their money’s worth?

I mean, I get it. I’ve obviously thought for years about my dad walking me down the aisle someday, and what song we’d dance to for our father-daughter dance (I genuinely have no clue, because I would LOVE to use a Beatles song, I just have to find the perfect one that works. I’m definitely intending on having my dad and I dance traditionally because if I try anything more contemporary…well…my dad dances like a dad, let’s leave it at that). I get that this will be a significant moment in my relationship with my father because traditionally, it means I am no longer his. Same with him walking me down the aisle and “giving me away” (Side note on the father-daughter wedding moments – my best friends got married two years ago. She walked herself down the aisle and was met at the front by both parents. At the reception, she danced with her father and her new father-in-law, while her groom danced with his mother and new mother-in-law, to “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns’N’Roses. It was perfect and while I don’t think I’d do the same thing, it was a great way to really highlight the marriage as blending two families). But I don’t get why my peers seem to view this moment as the pinnacle of their father-daughter relationship, when there have been so many other milestones.

Maybe I’m just bitter because marriage is nowhere near on my horizon, but it seems to be on almost everyone else’s I know. This past weekend, two girls I graduated with got married. So many girls in the year above me have had their first baby – a girl who graduated two years ahead of me just had her second. Girls from my high school who were two years younger than me have gotten engaged, married and pregnant in the last year and a half. And I shouldn’t care. I’m getting a masters’. I’m living in Europe. It shouldn’t be any kind of problem that there is no ring on my finger.

I think I’m just frustrated with the fact that that particular lifestyle is considered to be superior. Marriage is seen as something to strive for, and before you assume I am anti-marriage and ultra-feminist, I have to admit that I am very guilty of viewing it as such. I ranted two years ago about how in the States, I feel like there is something wrong with me because I don’t have a fiancé, I don’t even have a boyfriend at the moment (another story for another day, I am in a committed relationship with energy and that is a long story that is difficult to explain to people who aren’t into reiki or messages from the universe). Over here in Europe, it is more normal to get married and reproduce later in life, and it makes me feel more at ease about everything. Unfortunately, most of my friends do live in the States and that means that is what I am seeing on my social media feeds at the moment.

Although I’ve gone super off-topic, but not really, my point is this – can we celebrate the milestones in our relationships with our fathers that don’t make it seem like marrying off a daughter should be a father’s proudest moment? Because I would like to celebrate my dad without feeling like I’m missing a key aspect in the father/daughter relationship.

 

 

Constant Companion

In a belated Mental Health Month post, I wrote a thing. What if I personified my mental illness? I know this is unlike anything I’ve ever posted on here, but I was bored. So here we go, a brief vignette imagining my mental illness as an entity.

Sometimes it feels like my depression and anxiety are another being and she will not leave me alone. She is my best friend. She is my worst enemy. But she is always there, and even when she’s not physically present, she is waiting in the shadows, gemstone eyes glinting and smile glowing, waiting for her chance to grow.

I open my eyes after a relatively sleepless night and the first thing I feel is her vise-like grip around my throat, preventing me from swallowing. She moves her hand down, pressing on my stomach and settling all of her weight there, like a stone. And I hear her whisper in my ear:

“Wake up, you’re pathetic. Everyone else has been awake for hours and you’re rotting up here in your tower, like some fucking delusional Disney princess.”

Her icy breath causes my stomach to sink. She’s right. I should get up. I suck at waking up.

I trudge over to my ensuite bathroom, my eyes bloodshot from the very little sleep I got last night.

Hands grasp my waist, pinching at any excess flesh before snaking down to my thighs. “You’re disgusting. Do you really think he’ll consider your bubble butt a prize if it’s attached to Monstro the Whale?” She’s right. I should definitely go to the gym and cut carbs. She curls her body around mine, resting her head on my shoulder. “You couldn’t function without me. You need me. I keep you interesting. Go on. Look at me. Tell me you wouldn’t be interesting or relevant without me.”

I look to meet her eyes in the mirror. The face that looks back at me is black. It’s inkier than an October midnight, with eyes the same colour as a garnet. Her jet-black hair hangs down her back and her jet-black fingers are spindly, pointed and created for grabbing on and not letting go. She smiles, showing off perfect white teeth. “Go on, then,” she practically hisses.

“I wouldn’t be relevant or interesting without you,” I whisper, fumbling to spread Crest onto my toothbrush.

She grins again. “That’s my girl.”

Watching HIMYM In Kitchens With Boys

I started watching How I Met Your Mother autumn semester of my junior year of college, while the show was in its eighth series – just one more before it ended. And I fell in love. I started watching it over my autumn break, sitting up in my parents’ family room, with my snoring yellow Lab at my feet. The clock would tick on – 1.00am, 2.00am, 2.30am – and I would power my way through just one more episode. This was before I had my own Netflix account, so I’d have to get my fix at home (side note: this is why I stopped watching Lost. I think I made it through 21 episodes of the first season one summer but then went back to school. By the time I could watch it again, I had completely forgotten what had happened and I didn’t feel like rewatching all 21 episodes). When I came home for winter break with a car full of stuff – I was leaving the country in January – I resumed my late night binges and managed to make it to series 5 by the time I arrived in Brighton.

Luckily, my flatmate was equally addicted to HIMYM but was far more caught up than I. He would leave me alone in my room to binge my way through two series before I could join him and our other housemate in the kitchen for their weekly episode. And we would sit up late at night, discussing how these 5 characters seamlessly represented us at different stages of our lives. He identified as the Ted at the time – the hopeless romantic desperately seeking a future and trying to push relationships from Point A to Point Z and bypassing the best parts. To this day, he is still the Ted to my Robin – at least, he was until that rubbish series finale in 2014 (an additional side note: I still love him oh so much, but not blue French horn level love). And I identified as Robin – jaded, cynical, tough exterior to crack but cracking that exterior would be worth it – I still identify with Robin to this day. He and I actually ended up predicting the series finale – which I’m still really angry about – but satisfied that we were right and saw the twist coming midway through series 8.

And that became the show I watched with my boys. How I Met Your Mother, Black Mirror, and Skins, but How I Met Your Mother was our cornerstone. When I returned to the states and when the final season aired, it was the three of us communicating via Whatsapp about every loose end that was resolved. And when the show ended, I didn’t revisit it. Until now.

And watching old episodes of HIMYM takes me back to a smoky kitchen with a tie-dyed tapestry on the wall. A kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink, that always felt cold no matter whether it was January or May, that always had empty vodka bottles and playing cards on the table. I can hear the crinkling of rolling papers as the boys rolled cigarettes that they would ash into an inch of water in empty tin of Heinz Baked Beans. And I can still hear their voices discussing the latest episode, the incredible harmonies between Ted and Barney during “The Longest Time,” and when they thought that Ted would finally meet the mother. But mostly, watching the show again reminds me of a time in my life when happiness came to me easily, when I felt secure, and when I met my family. How I Met My Family. How I Met My Boys.

Slán agaibh

As my actual course ends tomorrow and the work placement aspect begins, I would like to say how much I’ve enjoyed being a student again this year especially here in Ireland.

Class Kane for life.

All the love,

Mxx

A Rare But Brief Happy Post

Today, two of my Brighton squad members arrive in Cork to visit me for the next 3 days.

My heart is so full. I have missed them so much. But seriously. Full heart already.

It’s the little things, these little pieces of home that make me so incredibly freaking happy and make me feel in touch with where I belong.

M xxx

Losing and Finding Del Rey

Although I do fancy myself as quite indie, I have my moments where I can be classified as very, very basic. The sorority in college. The addiction to Starbucks. The massive crush on Harry Styles. The way I sometimes scream and run onto the dance floor when a song I love comes on at the club. The five flower crowns I own. And with this basic betchiness comes an obsession with Lana Del Rey, the throaty modern callback to a lounge singer era steeped in ethereal woodland fairy goodness.

After reading an article on Buzzfeed called ‘Don’t Let Men Steal Your Favourite Songs,’ I felt compelled to write this because I did just that. I let a boy who didn’t deserve me steal not only one of my favourite songs, but also one of my favourite artists. And he kept her without even really wanting her for nearly a year.

I met this significant boything right before I was accepted into a study abroad programme for the following term, so the timing was less than ideal. It was October 2012, Born to Die was incredibly popular and we bonded over a shared love of the album in a dark, smoky car. First, ‘Diet Mountain Dew’ was our song. Then it became ‘National Anthem’ and then ‘Radio.’ He would tuck my hair behind my ear, run his hand down the glittery sorority letters on the leg of my sweatpants, and whisper ‘You had me at Lana Del Rey.’ And I loved it.

When I went overseas, we decided to remain an item regardless of our short time knowing one another and it was hard. But we did it despite the ups and downs, and I loved that I could listen to Lana’s ethereal crooning just to feel closer to him from an ocean away. In May, one month before I was due to return stateside, I finally saw The Great Gatsby with my flatmate. That was it. ‘Young and Beautiful’ became our song. I envisioned myself standing on a beach as the song played, wearing a large sunhat, oversized Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, bright red lipstick and a floral bikini as a gossamer white sheet blew in the breeze behind me while he took photos of the sea . I imagined the song spinning lazily on his record player as we sat in front of a fire drinking whiskey sours in the home we would definitely own someday. I pictured using that song as our first dance at our wedding, when even in my highest heels, my face would be pressed in his chest – he was a good foot taller than I am. Because in my 21 year old heart I knew – I had seen the world (I left our tiny campus and lived alone in another country), done it all and was ready to be with him, he would still love me when I was no longer younger and beautiful, and there was no way I would ever fall out of love with his dark sapphire eyes and voice like thunder. We had just survived one of the hardest things that couples have to face – distance – and we had done it with the help of Lana Del Rey.

I’ve learned that it is very easy to let people see what you want them to see about you when you are separated while trying to grow a relationship. I’ve also learned that sometimes, distance gives us a way of keeping things alive when close proximity would have killed it. Our relationship was the canary and the cat – as long as we were separated, things were great. And, as with any cat that knows it will never swipe the canary from its cage, his interest waned. His interest waned enough that he moved on completely without even thinking to alert me. After a full 8 months of dreams and plans for a future together, he didn’t even have the courtesy to let me know this was no longer something he wanted. He waited until we were both on the same campus, in the same building on different floors, and then ended our 10 and a half month thing that had withstood an ocean with a text message. And I was destroyed.

Lana Del Rey, but especially ‘Young and Beautiful,’ became a punch in the stomach. It took the introductory notes and Lana’s breathy exhale to knock me to my feet, sobbing so hard it was silent. There is a photoset taken of me at a party roughly two months post-ending. I am standing with my friend who I haven’t seen since I left to study abroad. In the first one, she is grinning and I am in the throes of proceeding to sob. In the second photo, my grin matches hers. The reason? ‘Young and Beautiful’ started to play over the speakers at the party we were both at, and my friend Jen had to yell for the hostess to turn it off before I cried off all of my mascara. Slowly, songs from Born to Die were purged from my Recently Played and Top 25 Most Played iPod playlists. And I slowly let all the fantasies I had of him leaving his new girlfriend and reclaiming me fade away. I leaned on Best Coast’s then-brand new EP, Fade Away, which seemed to give a outer voice to my inner thoughts. I became the girl who blasted A$AP Rocky as loud as possible driving to and from class, because I was going to be damned if I let him take that artist from me. But I let him have the crowning gem in my musical coping crown. I let him have Lana Del Rey when it was clear that he and his new girlfriend preferred hard rap to anything remotely indie and sweet.

The months went on. I slowly found the wistful longing and utter desolation I felt for him turn into utter disdain. And I found myself listening to Lana Del Rey again – everything, except for one song. ‘Once Upon a Dream’ from the upcoming Maleficent? Done. ‘Damn You’ from her earliest demos? Done. But I couldn’t face ‘Young and Beautiful’ without thinking about how I had been thrown aside and left to rot by someone who was clearly subpar to me.

But then, it happened. One gorgeous morning in July, I was walking down Westbourne Park Grove. It had rained that night but the summer sky was a brilliant blue with perfect white-cotton clouds.  I had my iPod on shuffle as I walked towards Portobello Road. ‘Young and Beautiful’ started to play. I looked up at the London sky, thought of the night I saw The Great Gatsby at the Odeon the year before with my flatmate (who I actually love more than life itself), and I smiled, reclaiming my song.

 

 

Four.

Picture this: a petite brunette wearing a long-sleeved black t-shirt, a blue and grey plaid kilt, black tights and boots. She takes a look around her new bedroom the size of a cell and attempts to scrub the mascara tracks off of her cheeks. There is a threat of snow in the air as she stares out of her darkened window to a view she cannot see. She walks through the unfamiliar kitchen, taking in the absolute mess and inhaling the scent of sautéing vegetables. She stops, suddenly shy.

Picture this: a tall, redheaded male wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, sautéing vegetables in a tiny kitchen. He takes her in with those unblinking eyes of his, reading her soul with a simple gaze. And they talk. They make polite conversation, neither of them knowing that within 24 hours, she’ll find herself with him and a bass guitar at three in the morning, shivering from cold but also anticipation. And he doesn’t know, as he stares at her lips, that these lips will be the ones that he cannot stop thinking about kissing.

Picture this: the universe letting out an inaudible sigh of relief, as it has finally placed these two individuals into each other’s paths. It squares its shoulders, ready to take on their journey of ebb and flow, of running and chasing, of separation and togetherness. But it is ready, even if they aren’t. It is ready to help make them ready. But they don’t know this yet. They won’t know this for awhile. It smirks as it waits for them to realise their inevitability, that they cannot fight each other, that they were created together with the other one in mind.