I left my heart in Terminal 3
I left my heart in whiskey cokes and tea with two sugars; on trains rides with good friends and disposable cameras; on the sofa with my best friend talking about the lives we want to live; on the motorway at 5 am with my dad and Bruce Springsteen on repeat; in a house party filled with 70 people dressed up in Halloween costumes; on a trampoline with an intelligent boy discussing literature and SpongeBob; in kind embraces and late night banter with new friends; in sarcastic conversations and quick comebacks; in fish and chips with salt and vinegar; in endless tube stations and horrible coffee; in the cab as he kissed me one final time.
I left my heart all over the place, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
You are the curator of words; stringing together letters with the beat of your steady heart and free flowing hand. I fall slowly into a daze, breathing in your heavy words, exhaling out every ounce of uncertainty that I have carried with me for as long as I can remember. I can see the difference in the stars tonight; I see them shining every bit brighter, reminding my nerves that I am every bit alive.
I let your voice surround me with maps of future roads, while looking back at photographs that have gathered dust in the corners. The same boy who laughed too loud is beside me, and we are both young again. We are both teenagers sitting in the park, wide eye and dying to move – to feel something that will consume us late into the night. Teenagers who didn’t know better than to wish upon 11:11 and airplanes in the sky. The locations may have changed, but we are still the odd pair wishing on empty tomorrows and writing down stories on paper napkins.
Wearing your coat, I let my skin feel the weight of your world through layer after layer. I breathe in your familiar smell, a mixture of cigarettes and coffee, and feel the knots inside me let loose. I can feel the love that keeps rushing back to me, deep within my bones; the kind that fills me up to the brim and reminds me that souls are worth loving, that even the ugly parts are worth loving. All of our roads have taken us here, after years of the-right-person-but-wrong-timing. But yet, I find comfort and peace within each of our reunions, a celebration that time has lost the battle of disconnecting two beating hearts.
As we grabbed the quiet moments of the morning, I feel you in everything that goes and comes around. I feel you in the sun rays that touch my arms, teasing me with the promise of a beautiful day; I feel you in your soft voice, whispering smiles and lullabies gently into my skin. I even feel you in my laugh, loud but sincere. I see the long forgotten version of you in your wide-eyed and hopeful look. I should have spoken beautiful words as the morning sun placed a golden hue on your soft face, but my heavy eyelids were winning the fight with my heavy heart. Five more minutes I told myself; five more to bring with me on the road; five more to hold me until I see you again. Because these delicate moments are the memories I would remember you as when I am 6,000 miles away; when I can’t hear your heart racing as I kiss you, when I forget how your soft touch feels at the curve of my back. These are the moments I will grow old with.
The airhostess is pointing to the safety exits closest to me, and I think of my friends and living in this city; the space and life I could create in the great unknown. The trains and buses I could take that would bring me to them, and most of all, to you. They would bring me autumn nights and Christmas with holly; new years with too much champagne and summers with your family down South. I wish my life away until I run out of letters to thread together thoughts, so I use numbers to calculate how I feel - the distance between us, the days until I see you again and years we spent trying to piece together two brittle lives. Numbers are absolute with little room for error, where as words dress up ideas in pretty dresses. Ironically, I told you to feed me your pretty words; to sing me songs that would fill my ribs up with hope.
With you, my bones had a place to call home; and without you, I will wear your words as a coat to protect me from all that I know.
Stephanie Martin is a collector of words and musical instruments. Some say she is fueled by coffee and tacos. She also has a degree in Film and Music from the University of Liverpool, which now sits proudly above her toilet. Her writing can be found on www.stephchowmartin.blogspot.com. She also hates writing about herself in third person and can’t take writing her bio seriously.
Q: What surprised you most during the process of composing and revising this piece?
A: The serenity that one can find writing in the transit area of airports. Who would have thought?
But on a serious note, I was also surprised at how quick the words poured out onto paper. It was as if my pen wasn’t quick enough to catch them falling out of my brain.
Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve received? Did you follow it? Why, or why not?
A: ‘Write because others can’t.’
The Editor-in-Chief at a newspaper I worked at told me this when I was an intern there years ago. (I guess I struck gold at an early age.) This probably falls more into the context of journalism; but regardless, it has pushed me to write passionately for myself, and those bounded by social limitations that restrict them.
Also, ‘just write’. It’s really is just that simple.
Q: What three to five authors and/or books have inspired your journey as a writer?
A: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath and The Lord of the Flies. The first because it shook the way I viewed narrative structure and ways to express the complicated workings of the mind; the later because it was the first book I read that scared me. John Green because he made me fall in love with YA fiction. Lastly, David Wallace Foster, because he taught me what a real novel should be like.
Q: Describe your writing space for us. Are you someone who finds the muse in a public space such as a café, or in a cave of one’s own?
A: I usually start out on paper, but end up finishing the final piece on my laptop (because my spelling is horrendous and spell-check is possibly the best invention known to man). Also cafes seem to distract me, so I usually sit at my desk at home and write until frustration takes over – then I drink too many cups of coffee and start all over again.