I wrote ‘midnight on a coach’ at midnight…while on a coach. I took a red-eye coach from Winchester to London Gatwick airport to save some money on my way to Switzerland to see my dear friend Fabienne. At the time, I had only spent a few weeks in England and had only been dating my husband for about a week or two. It was my first time ever travelling anywhere completely by myself and I remember crying on the coach, thinking how grown up I felt and how far I had come in such a short time.
Around the time I went to Switzerland, I was recovering from some pretty horrible though typical stuff of an eighteen-year-old kid who’s never had to navigate the world on their own before. So getting on that coach and realizing that I was going places, all by myself, was like breathing again after feeling like I’d been drowning for several years.
At the time, I was both thrilled and terrified, so much so that I felt I had to scribble this down using only the light of my phone, while the few passengers around me snoozed away. It was such a liberating experience somehow. When I was a kid, I never really got to go on holiday very much, so making it to the point of my life that I could travel as far as Switzerland was immensely rewarding and emotional.
The colours in this poem refer to a few different things: black, blue, and purple refer to the colour markers I used to write poetry and song lyrics on my bedroom walls as an angsty teenager. Why I did that, I don’t know, but it used to make me feel better. I always felt like that room was a prison, and even now, I’m still grateful I’m not there anymore. The red is symbolic of my long-standing addiction with self-harm, which I struggled with throughout my adolescence up until about six months before this poem was written.
I was also in that pretentious stage that I think every writer goes through – I tried to focus on making my writing different and edgy, which explains all the random indentions and laboured descriptions. Even though the style makes me cringe, I still love it for everything that it is.
No, this poem isn’t great. It’s certainly not my best. I haven’t edited it since I wrote it in October 2013, but I have a good reason for that – to preserve that ‘I made it’ feeling. For me, poetry is not as much about rhythm and symmetry as it is purging. I could go back and edit this with a clear head, but I’ll lose the memory. I can still picture myself writing these same words on the coach, can still recall how it felt. When you overedit, you take that away.
It might be bad, but this poem had a lot to teach me. It was written in the very first moment I felt like a free woman. It’s a reminder of what I came from, a reminder to be grateful for the blessings I’ve received but sometimes don’t deserve. It’s proof of my own evolution as a writer. It’s also a moment frozen in time, something I can show my kids, my grandkids, and be proud of. And hopefully they’ll be proud of it too, even if they think I was being a little angsty.
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of the #BadPoetry series. Hopefully it wasn’t so bad that it scared you away. Remember, I’ll post new poems every Friday and rationales on Mondays. 😊