my youth spills on dancefloors by Téa Nicolae

*poem published in Kamena Magazine, 2022. written in 2019. from my ‘teenage angst’ collection.

pitch-black clubs,
dazed fridays.
my youth pumps through my veins.

high heels,
shiny fake ids.
my youth grounds me.

grimy dance floors,

my youth bursts inside of me

it glides through me

wildly

as my heart throbs beneath my skin
matching the music’s beat

i please my youth
bending my body obediently
with the deafening bass

midnight
the synth dismantles my mind
and my limbs are not mine anymore
they follow the sound

there is no past
or future
only my body
spinning madly
only the music
twisting in my ears
only my youth
spilling on dance floors
from the crashed bottles of wine at my feet

gasping for air in my bell jar,

i long for closure and i crave familiarity,

melded thoughts and warm hands.

i am desperate to connect.

i want to feel someone’s soul

glued to mine.

i dream of intimacy,

but i’m clumsy:

when people embrace me too tightly,

i hiss like a cornered snake.

i’m wary of being alone, but

i drift away during conversations,

i ignore messages,

i break friendships,

i feign smiles.

i find refuge

in my bell jar.

every night

i close the jar’s lid with shaky hands,

hug my knees

and blow air on the glass.

*poem published in scan lancaster, february 2020, in the column ‘four incantations for loss, joy and love’. i wrote it two years ago, as part of my second-year poetry collection ‘teenage angst’. i aimed to emulate the restlessness i felt as a young, teenage girl. i feel so touched reading it! wish i could hug that olden version of myself.

on graduating: a love letter to the past three years

from my journal, early may:

“i felt scattered this month. i’ve been self-isolating with almost 0 human contact since the end of march. i’ve been writing, writing and writing, embracing grief and fear, whilst struggling against the urge to hide myself in a cocoon. yesterday i revisited the fairy-tales my grandmother used to read to me and felt touchingly close to my favourite characters, bright witches and warrior princesses, who brim of courage and beauty. and as my Self reverberated in the imagery i loved so much as a child, i realised that, although at times i desperately want to hide my mind and my heart and my Self, words linger on my tongue and slip from my fingers. i want to write, to love, to share, to be seen, to receive beauty. i want to connect. my heart gently cowers inside of me. and with both hands, i touch my heart space and…

and *i feel my hair being pulled by the stars again.”

*quote from anaïs nin

i revisited this page from my journal today and decided it would be a lovely beginning for this post. it’s been two months since i wrote it, my final year deadlines were fast approaching and i was drained, distressed and tired. i deleted social media to focus on my dissertation and i was fantasising about disappearing (which hasn’t lost its enticement, haha!) so much has changed since then! i graduated, rested, read what my heart desired, danced, cried, laughed and seriously committed myself to dinacharya. my fears are softening into joy, into trust and my anxiety is sweetly turning back into a natural, organic surrender to life. i’ve been intensely transmuting shadows and working with two illustrious teachers, but more on this later, in perhaps a future text…

as a central chapter in my life is beautifully coming to an end, i found it fitting to write my first lengthy, unrefined post about myself here. i am quite happy to share so openly, especially because i mostly use this platform for my poetry. although my poems are intimate and confessional, poetic intimacy holds, in my view, a different flavour than a crass run through memories.

sooo…

i am very happy to be graduating with a first class honours and with an A in my dissertation!! 🙏i adored my degree so much and i’m eternally grateful for these beautiful three years, in which i taught myself to love {myself & others}, to forgive, to cook!, to hold myself accountable, to soften, to begin to be unafraid {and blissful}, to gently renounce fear, to trust and to surrender. 🌻

i grew so much as a woman, as a writer and as a scholar. i am humbled and grateful for the opportunities i was offered to challenge myself, to question, to learn and to become more aware of myself and of the unfoldings of the world. thank you to those i’ve laughed and danced and cried and shared and fell in love with. i will always hold you close to my heart. 

i felt called to take a big leap in my academic life / career, and i will be studying philosophy and religious studies. : ) i am so excited to deepen my knowledge of non-dual philosophy and of spiritual traditions, namely kashmir shaivism and śrī vidyā. my thesis will be centred on the direct path of the mahāvidyās, which i have been independently studying and practising for awhile now. i am grateful and humbled that i will be able to dedicate one year of my life to fully immersing myself in these exquisite teachings.

also, looking forward to further applying these principles and the concepts i will research and expand on during my ma in my poetry, as it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that my writing is my path of bhakti in this lifetime. : )

to the future! and to further merging the shadow into wholeness!

a few gentle lessons i have learned in these three years that i would love to share with others:

🦋 never sell yourself short for crumbs of love, as one of my teachers beautifully articulated – when the sense of lack curls in your belly, try to unearth the boundless love that is innately inside of you. let it blossom in your palms. relish in warmth, and melt, melt, melt…

“we melt. we just melt and melt and melt. the heart has to melt and when it does, an indescribable flow of love reveals itself. and we experience something mysterious, this incredible warmth and light and fire and opening that is real, that is not just a temporary emotion, but is a true breakthrough into our deeper self in the heart, when the contraction of the heart melts. and we feel, oh, this is so divine, so beautiful, so thrilling, it feels so sacred. it ennobles and uplifts and expands. it is the real movement of the consciousness within itself, long sought by all spiritual seekers, described by all the great mystics, that inflamed and ignited and radiant heart in which the smallness of the mind, small ideas, agitated thoughts, distracted thoughts, incoherent thoughts, thoughts that generate difference only, finite distinctions only that cannot contain or convey any form of the smooth rounded perfection of non-duality in them. all this melts and the heart is inflamed.” ~ paul muller-ortega : )

🦋 do not torture yourself over the past. make amends, forgive {yourself and others}, ask for forgiveness, be gentle with your mind and channel your regret into energy, into being the human you could not be then. there’s a wonderful quote from @the.holistic.psychologist that i absolutely adore, which goes like this:

“forgive yourself for what you did when you were still living in survival mode. healing allows us to transition from survival into choice. with more choice, we soften. we’re kinder. we have more empathy. forgive yourself for what the conditioned version of yourself did in an attempt to cope.”

*still working on this. : )

🦋 taking the time to appreciate and cultivate sensuality in art, in movement, in dance, in living, saturates life with endless beauty

🦋 you are whole, always have been, always will be, and experiencing it (moving from conceptual / intellectual understanding to direct experience) is ecstatic

🦋 routine may feel daunting but it is necessary (and authentic ayurveda is such a wellspring of wisdom for this!)

🦋 there is so much kindness and softness in people. i am aware that it often does not seem this way, and i often forget this truth too, which results into great suffering on my behalf. but, ultimately, i truly believe that few people intend to hurt others. instead, acting out & cruelty become distorted coping mechanisms. a teacher of mine proposed that hatred is triggered by the innate sense of lack we all experience during this life, which in his view arises automatically when our essence-nature is concealed as part of līlā – an idea worth mulling over, i believe

🦋 the poetry of hera lindsay bird, layli long soldier, hoa nguyen & rebecca tamás is so revolutionary, heart-breaking and beautiful, and it soothes the soul when in pain
🦋 burn-out is so, so real & mental health breaks are so, so important
🦋 therapy is hard and it requires dedication and commitment. it is an immense privilege to be able to heal yourself, but you shouldn’t torture yourself with guilt; you should acknowledge your position & let this awareness motivate you to confront your trauma with compassion, so that you can yourself show up for those who are the most vulnerable, who can’t afford to do the work, and by doing so holding space & easing the burden

🦋 animals are angels sent on earth (yes, i’m aware of how clumsy this phrasing is coming from a non-dual practitioner but i shall stick to it hehe!)

🦋 and a sneaky one: peak dissertation research is dreaming of jung & even dream-arguing with him about a concept of his !

and on a more personal level:

🦋 taking risks with my writing is scary but v. rewarding & it makes me fall in love with writing all over again

🦋 creativity & inspiration burst once i stop worrying about how others could receive my work

🦋 my openness is my strength and my vulnerability is my fuel

🦋 there is no need to hustle, no need to prove, no need to force

life unfolds wonderfully

and flows through me

when i trust and surrender

(*i love these lines written by alexandra roxo:

“i have learned to let my feelings flow through me freely as a gift to everyone around me. i have learned to let my experience of pleasure be a gift to those around me too. my experience of pain too. and rage. i have learned to stop clamping down, being stiff, rigid, controlled, hard.

and to let my heart be soft and open and raw and messy – even when it feels impossible, unbearable and frightening.

i am so different than the tight wound up woman who couldn’t trust life’s flow a few years back and was stuck in to do lists and ideas.

i am now soft and tender and wild and mushy and teeming with life and ideas from the deep parts of me instead of from my head.“)

A TENDER RUN THROUGH MEMORIES

starting this bit sweetly, with this poem i wrote for my poetry and experiment module last winter. : )

times i felt fleeting traces of joy

When:

  1. my friend put her head in my lap

underneath a colossal tree. it was pouring hard

and our minds were melting ((infused with divine moments of truth))

pupils dilated, she said: “i never imagined i would be so connected to anyone

as i am to you”

i stroked her hair

tears fell down my neck

  1. my rabbit nudged my cheeks with her wet nose

as i cried and prayed to ma

[to Kali the divine mother of the universe my goddess my mother my One]

and i curled my fingers in her soft fur

and she purred. my angel

  1. caught the 5 a.m. train with my friends

running on the slippery platform,

bare foot. dirt sticking to my toes

tripping in my long dress,

beaming

  1. (i was) awkwardly kissed in the middle of the sidewalk, hand cradling my neck

we parted,,, laughed til our bellies hurt

his cheeks flushed

i held his hand between mine

(and we walked in silence)

  1. drops of rain hit my face in berlin

as i danced frantically;; {high}

my mouth was smiling

my insides were smiling

  1. i felt deliciously beautiful

twirling in my rainbow tutu crocheted by my sister for the parade

sparkly stars on my eyelids on the top of my lips

love bubbling in my chest

  1. i slipped out of your bed,

tip-toeing to the door but you grabbed my waist,

pleaded (i) stay(ed)

and i did.

your kisses were tender, your feet were cold, you drooled in your sleep

and i was too jolly to close my eyelids

so i drew constellations on your sheets with my fingernails

  1. i burnt my tongue

taking a big bite of the first dish i ever cooked.

i called my grandma with my mouth full

and she giggled

  1. , fingers touching the cold shiny surface of my mirror,

i placed a kiss on my lips as if to say

“I love you. I’m sorry I’ve been mistreating you.”

  1. my grandma caressed my hair

as the sun beat down on our backs

in relentless waves.

her knees smelled like my childhood

  1. i held hands with my sisters in a hindu temple

seated in a circle with flowers in our hair, eyes closed, softly chanting to the Goddess

and for the first time in my life, i felt [deeply,

thoroughly]

LOVED. [ * AND not for the idea of me, but for who I truly AM.]

these three years i:

🌸 volunteered for unicef and became unicef’s chief of information officer in second year; me and my team fund-raised around £10.000 in two years for unicef’s emergency nutritional programmes which aid disadvantaged children in all parts of the world. it was such a blessing to be part of such a wonderful and impactful project, and this experience helped me in deconstructing my privilege and cemented my hope that one individual can help enact change. : )

🌸 joined precious plastic lu as the general secretary & later as one of the campaign officers; ppl is a lancaster university society that provides a student voice to tackling plastic pollution on campus and beyond. we are affiliated with precious plastic lancaster, a local organisation which creates objects out of discarded, single-use plastic. we went to climate strikes, organised documentary film screenings with the scope of raising awareness about climate change and sustainability, and sold reusable utensils at fairs / sales.

🌺 was part of the supercalifragilistic writers’ society, where i met one of my best friends. i later became their pr director and put together the society’s first social media pages + their first blog! so many beautiful moments have remained fond to me, such as open-mics and the writers’ residential in the mesmerising lake district. cannot wait to read the fantastic pieces these amazing authors will publish in the future!

🌸 finished university with a first class honours in film and creative writing; during my degree, i explored and experimented with my writing so much, and extended my knowledge of art, philosophy, politics and social issues. some of my favourite pieces that i wrote were:

  • an analysis of dada & futurism in relation to political art
  • an essay about the fetishisation of trauma bonds as explored in jean-luc godard’s “le mépris”
  • an essay about spike lee’s “she’s gotta have it” and feminism in black resistance movements
  • an analysis of agnès varda’s “le bonheur”, in which i explored its feminist ramifications and deconstructed the cinematic male gaze
  • a non-fiction portfolio about loss, which tore at my heart. i cried and trembled while writing it and often considered abandoning it, thus finishing it is perhaps my greatest achievement; a way of honouring my pain.
  • an essay about wong kar-wai and east asian queer cinema, in which i deconstructed problematic (but well-intended) queer tropes
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “teenage angst” which chronicled my sloppy teens & my cheesy wildness
  • an experimental poetry portfolio entitled “moon incantations” in which i explored poetry as spell craft, as inspired by the works of poetesses sarah shin and rebecca tamás
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “stanzas on pulsation” in which i explored core principles of kashmir shaivism (non-dual śaiva-śakta tantra)
  • my final poetry portfolio, entitled “hymns to the divine enchantress”, which is a subversive lyrical experimentation that constructs a metaphysical female gaze (much needed in spiritual literature imho) – my most precious piece that i’ve written, i poured my soul into every word!
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “my loss is my root” which chronicled the stages of loss one undergoes after losing a loved one
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “the in-between collection” (which also is the name of the first charitable event i organised!) which addressed loss, heartbreak and deteriorating mental health
  • an essay about the deep sentimentality of rainer warner fassbinder’s “fear eats the soul”
  • and, of course, my dissertation! –  “jungian reflections on mainstream cinema: a journey to the self”, which addressed the mythological, religious & archaic imagery that emerges in commercial cinema as seen through a jungian gaze & argued that such imagery unveils layers of the psyche.

*+i realised that a fairly useless (albeit fun!) talent of mine is turning any academic essay in an eulogy of godard. ^_^

🌸  nurtured beautiful and nourishing friendships, and kissed my friends’ faces, loved them dearly, confided in them, held them and let myself be held. i love my friends. so much

🌸 adopted a baby bunny doe, ivy, and we’ve had quite a journey together. she had an ear infection when i got her; i didn’t know about it, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. she had multiple injections and underwent different treatments with antibiotics, and was even sedated to have her ears flushed. bunnies are very delicate and fragile, so drastic, quick measures had to be taken. + she got spayed last summer, as female bunnies are at high risk of cancer if not spayed! my baby is / was such a brave fighter though, and recovered from all of these procedures swiftly, never ceasing to be her joyful, loppy, adorable self, hopping on my chair / bed and munching on the carpet as i sulked around and prayed for her health and happiness.

this process represented profound shadow work for me, as my attachment to beings, non-human or human, is (was?) great and deep-rooted, and at the time i was barely recovering from a painful string of losses that dominated my teens. i was teary, scared and wrecked almost incessantly, but i am proud to say that i faced and challenged the stories that i was clinging to (such as; “it is happening because i am a bad person”; “this is punishment”; “this is bad karma”). in the end, i managed to surrender my desperate need to be in control of the uncontrollable, and bowed to the reality which is that life is chaotic, and its reins are outside of our grasp. thankfully, my baby is safe and well, too! : )

very grateful for the amazing, kind & v. professional vets from lancaster: lancaster vets & bay vets, who tended to my baby with such great care and comforted me so kindly. i would highly recommend them!

💕 being responsible for her health and happiness is something i don’t take for granted and i will do whatever it takes to keep her safe and well. i love her so much and her innocence is so warm 💛

🌸 deepened my spiritual practice and committed myself to the path; was very blessed to fall in Her arms, to bathe Her feet with my tears, and to encounter the exquisite knowledge of non-dual śaiva-śakta tantra and śrī vidyā, and to learn from the illustrious teachers christopher hareesh wallis and kavitha chinnaiyan, whose words touched my heart so deeply. i cried as deep awareness jolted inside of me while reading their works, and i am humbled by the unfolding of my life and by the turn my seeking journey has taken.

🌸 and, of course, moved to the united kingdom, learned to take care of myself, and adored becoming independent and living by myself, and later with a friend // soul-sister : )

🌸 i travelled;

to:

thailand, my love, where i fed elephants bananas and visited sacred temple with bare feet

berlin, my soul, where i danced til my feet hurt and more with people i love deeply

cities of italy, where i cried, shed past stories, read baba ram dass’s “living the bhagavad gita” and searched for stillness in the midst of tumult & beauty

lisbon & around; i visited the magical boca do inferno in cascais, the place where the one and only aleister crowley faked his death.

barcelona & madrid, where i cried, drank sangria, fed pigeons and went on warm, long walks at dawn

cities and beaches of greece; where i hummed leonard cohen incessantly, walked into the sea in my long black dress, and where ! the @theveganchroniclesx project was birthed in a cosy vegan restaurant named “mama tierra”, where my best friend and i tried moussaka with coconut milk bechamel sauce (!)  and decided that such heavenly bites could not be kept secret, and that we needed to share our foodventures with other food lovers & vegan travellers!

🌸 had my work published in various magazines & read out poetry at open mics, clumsy at first and with red cheeks

🌸 learned to cook and started a vegan cooking page with my best friend, @theveganchroniclesx

began seeing cooking as a love language, spoken / dedicated to myself and others, and fell in love with this intimate act of giving, nourishing and sharing.

as nirrimi firebrace once said, “easy, nourishing, humble food makes me so happy”. : )

🌸 stayed in an ashram, where i was held, where i cried, prayed and danced ecstatically

🌸 fell in love, suffered from heart-break, mended my heart, fell in love

🌸 danced bare foot at festivals, sun in my mouth, long dresses sweeping the earth, untangling along with the thumping music

🌸 went to climate strikes, took the futuristic february challenge, committed to a low waste lifestyle – an imperfect one, albeit i’m trying

🌸 went to animal rights marches

🌸 danced my heart out at raves with people i love deeply; partied in london, manchester, egham and glasgow, and met a lovely warm soul & poet in brighton whom i met online (social media can be such a wonderful thing!) : )

🌸 visited london, where my best friend lives, so many wonderful times; wrote a poem about my dearest londonese night, in which i danced on the westminster bridge at 5.11 am, spiralling in sequins 

and the stars were closer

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🌼met an owl!! from corio raptor care, which is a charity that protects, cares for and aids injured birds of prey 🙂

🌼 visited lake district with my favourite writers

🌼 saw placebo live, three times, and on the night i turned nineteen i screamed at the top of my lungs:

just nineteen, a sucker’s dream

with my love, brian molko, feeling deliciously teenage angsty and relishing in it, 

being

unafraid and blissful

fully, completely

🌼went to pride parades where i felt free and sparkly and beautiful dancing with my hands above my head tulle pressed to my thighs (or so to quote myself from the previously offered poem)

🌼had my first internship in berlin, where i contributed to a travel-guide with articles about art, museums, glammy night-life and the delicious vegan food only berlin can offer

🌼was an editor and co-executive editor for flash journal lancaster, where i edited some fantastic pieces written by very talented people, and met some fantastic peeps

🌺 went to balls, swayed with my shoes in my hands in dresses that made me feel beautiful and alive

🌺 and, lastly, i started going to therapy again. i fought my mind and my habits, cried on the bathroom floor, meditated, opened, forgave, softened. it is an on-going process, but i am fully dedicated to it, and grateful that i was offered the privilege to do the healing work. i hope that i will be able to help others in the future. my dream is to become a silver-haired lady who wears flowy dresses and heals the wounds of young girls and helps them unlearn and unbecome : )

☀️ thank you to anyone who’s made it so far, hope my cheesy reflections brought a smile to your face!

here’s to the future

to growing

to loving

to breaking

to showing up

vulnerable and raw and messy

to digesting the sorrow

as life dances on the tip

of your tongue

// ^ or so to paraphrase a sonnet of mine recently published in the Writing Disorder here ❤ love!