Subreddit: What are some common things you’ve never done (or had done to you)?

Subreddit: What are some common things you’ve never done (or had done to you)?

I’ve never been pregnant (as far as I know).
I’ve never sent out invitations.
I’ve never felt desire for a handbag, baked an eclair,
or had a broken bone set.
I’ve never been ‘Mum’ to someone, and
I’ve never had someone I would call ‘Dad,”
although I’ve done parenting, and had a male parent.
No, ‘have’, not ‘had’.
I’ve never been paid for sex,
nor paid for it,
although I’ve been paid to perform in a fantasy.
I’ve not paid for that. Yet, anyway.
I’ve never touched a gun,
bet money on a game,
or published any writing,
(blogging’s not the same).
I’ve never made a pilgrimage
for religious reasons.
I’ve never been starved,
nor owned,
nor imprisoned.
I’ve never been tortured,
never fled my homeland in fear
never seen a bomb explode
or had to beg for a meal
never have I been spat on by a stranger
nor been stabbed, kidnapped or shot at
and til now, I had never listed
specifically how good I’ve got it.


Things I think while waiting for my bronchodilator to work.

Coughing, with a chest infection: the stinging rip of the gluey mess inside my chest being suction-stripped away from the lung walls, like stubborn blu-tac or chewing gum coming reluctantly unstuck from a bedroom wall. That picked-scab-fresh kind of pain in pieces of myself that see air but not light. Lifting my chin right up, like the cat Paulie does when you rub his throat, but I’m doing it not to luxuriate in the worship of my guardian biped, but to stretch out the airway and get to the air.  It feels like underwater, but under air. Thick, heavy air. Pulling my shoulders back, pushing my sternum up and out, straining my muscles to arrange my breathing apparatus for a little bit more oxygen.  Straining. Sucking. Trying.
In three weeks, when I no longer have to try, I will forget how much I like breathing.


The permadusk
of snow
wandering through the grey
on grey
outlined in charcoal
stark sentinel trees
tramlines firework
in the illuminated gloom
of the careful stepping
muffled shuffling
quieted city

hush hour.

People are people (even if they’re small).

I don’t have children (except for two great young people I had the pleasure and privilege of stepmothering), and I’m not going to, either. Some people assume that it’s because I don’t like children. I think that’s a ridiculous assumption, but only as ridiculous as the idea that you should like children. What for? Some of them aren’t very likeable. Some of them are lovely, just like there are lovely adults and much less lovely ones. Should I take a position on whether I like or dislike adults?

When we “love kids”, we’re pretty much saying that regardless of their personalities, their primary attribute is their child status, and we like or dislike them based on that. Even worse, when we love them just because they’re children, we’re giving them love based on an attribute that they can never expect to hold on to. Maybe we like the feeling of being needed that we get when we’re around people too young to be independent, but that doesn’t sound all that noble when you put it plainly – in fact it sounds a lot like a power thing. Luckily, there are many many adults out here loving their young family members for who they are .. but those people don’t usually ask me about why I “don’t like kids”.

(For the record, I like a lot of people who are currently children, and expect to continue liking them when they’re not.)

Young man in a railway station café.

Glances flick around the noisy room: noisy both in sound and vision, the bustle and hiss of the people and the coffee machines in the ears, the visual disarray of bags, tables, suitcases and chairs, and amid it all, a well of calm, he sits there, not fiddling with anything. Every pair of eyes, sending darting looks around alighting on the scribblers, the internet junkies tap-tapping on their tablets, the parents wearily calming tired toddlers: every restless gaze lands on him and pauses, at least, before flicking on. His earthy red hair, half-tamed into directed disorder, the lightly freckled pale of his early summer skin, the youthful angularity of his profile silhouetted by the early morning sun, all offer no reason to look away, but it was his grace, his contentment to just sit and be.. that was what kept you looking, risking the awkwardness of being noticed noticing.  Plenty of pairs of roaming eyes coursed the public space  looking for a safe place to land and stopped on him, and when he inevitably looked back, it wasn’t a look of pride in his attraction or of hostility in defence of his privacy; more of curiosity. Like he’d just answered the door.



I stood there, smiling that incongruous smile that you do when you’re not ok, where all the muscles do the right things (or at least, they do if you’re good at it) but you know with the certainty of having seen it many times in others, that the eyes are not going to lie for you. Lips are slick liars. Put your lips around the shapes that make phrases like “Get home safe” and “Was good to see you” and they will do it with all the nonchalance of “Move along now” and “Nothing to see here”, but you can’t stop your eyes just going on and on and on with the pitiful “Don’t go” and “But I still want you.”

Like I want him to see any of that. I don’t. So I blinked and looked away and made goodbye a blunted moment of brief and forced good cheer, one that still felt like an age of peeling and splitting painted-on bravado.

I played music in the car, stuff I know so well that I sing along without thinking; upbeat stuff that doesn’t let you sink into any long outbreaths.

At home, feeling like I’d made it, cleared the danger point and ready to push forward in some new direction. Maybe a couple of drinks with some friends, maybe do some work, straighten up the flat, maybe sort out some of these things lying around.
These things. Things you just somehow hold on to, not noticing for ages that you’re holding on, until you realise how hard it is to let go of them. Like the presence that’s just wrapped itself around me: the scent he left in my clothes that he wore, now lying limp in my hands, in my arms and against my cheek: rocking with me from side to side, an invisible man materialising inside my empty clothes, here in my empty arms, giving me hollow consolation for the vacancy he left in me.

Different boxes.

It’s a matter of closing or opening a circuit.  Or maybe a box. Knowing a thing, closing the loop and moving on, or not knowing it, and feeling the way the leaking mental energy continues to dripfeed you the question from its uncauterised bleeding edges.

It’s why I fail, constantly, to remember my to-do list (and I don’t mean remember what’s on it, I mean just remember it at all), my appointments, the things I have to take with me to complete my day.  I feel the nagging unfinishedness of each point, and it holds me in a defocused state of divided attention, so I close it down. Tie the ends together.  Maybe I put a reminder in some kind of system, maybe I just make a choice and tell myself it’s an answer.  Maybe I just forget.  One way or another I close it down. Why would I allow my attention to be sapped, dragged down by a thousand Lilliputian concerns? I need all of my energy to notice how his smile draws his top lip flat against his teeth, and how the azure of his eyes is cobalt at the spot where a windowful of blue sky is reflected.  How could I hold onto payment plan details and fuel price comparisons in the face of such fleeting detail? I can’t ever check up the acid sweetness of wild autumn fruit in any file or website, and no amount of knowing the best route and keeping all my appointments could ever compensate me for one intense second of my small, seven-year-old’s fingers on the deliciously prickly stubble of my stepdad’s face as he carried me on his shoulders. How the wind tried to knock us over, pulling my hair in all directions and robbing the breath from my mouth as I laughed. I know I felt it, completely. I probably didn’t think to practice my handwriting that day though, and my teacher probably continued to be unhappy with my writing. She definitely continued to report that I needed to focus more.

So I don’t know the registration number of my own car.  I’ve closed the loop, with good reason or none, I’ve shut the box. I still know, though, how my first lover used to rock us to sleep, how weird was the greyish taste of fear in my mouth when I fell out of a tree far enough from home to know no-one would come if I was hurt, and how surprised I was to find that in my solitude I had forgotten to cry out my fear and hurt to the dusk-lit trees. These boxes are open, leaking sense and feeling all over my mental landscape.

I know others choose differently. I see them, and on some days I envy their retention of the useful and applicable facts and data that smooth their paths in life. Some of them seem to have all the right boxes open. One friend knows the tram times, the conjugations and the exchange rates, but also the right tartness for a lemon curd and the smell of his daughter’s hair. I admire him. I love to visit him and wonder at his capabilities, and the wonder adds to my collection of moments I’ve lived. If everyone were like that then I could settle contentedly into my role of happy loser, cosy at the foot of the pile, but there are those far unluckier than me. Those who can’t handle the constant tugging any more than I can, but who started big, closing boxes starting not with “Where are my pencils?” but with “How should I live?” They talk about their certainties, their convictions and how they know the way things really are: they tell me who made the world, they tell me about men and women, rich and poor, and about The Way Things Are, and I ask them “Isn’t it a matter of perspective?”, and they tell me that no, I just need to open my eyes, that my wishy-washy bleeding-heart is not for The Real World.

I wonder if they’ve noticed how they close the distance between us as they say these things, how they throw their standing shadow tall and long over my seated form. If they will remember how my smile surrendered and reluctantly evacuated, leaving a face protectively expressionless. If they have seen how the low autumn sun has silhouetted my downturned head as I gave up on eye contact and shielded myself with disconnection.  Probably not.