Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'I adore my unconditional friendships, the closeness and intensity that I build up with the people that I love'
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The Independent Online

Today I have absolutely nothing to write about. My mind is so relaxed that it just feels like a big, soft puffball. This is the first time in I can't remember how long that part of my brain, skull, eyes, sinuses, jaw, teeth, neck some bit of my overall head area hasn't hurt. It's like part of me is at peace. Usually the only way I can experience that is through sleep, and then I'm plagued by an endless stream of dreams and nightmares. I wake up with my pillow saturated, looking like the Turin Shroud. (So odd, the marks in life that we make. The trail that we leave behind us.)

I'm sure it won't be long before we call up a company to remove all traces of our DNA from hotel rooms. I always look at soap that I leave behind, the hair on my hairbrush, the cast-off bits of toothpaste that I've spat out and even, on a lucky day, a token spot of blood. The whole blueprint of my existence left in room 242. One of my main problems when I leave hotel rooms is that I have to go into some wild rodent action, shredding by hand every single little piece of paper that I've doodled on, scribbled on, written on, for fear of the eBay swindler. This person (or these people, more accurately), make it their life's aim and occupation to gain from my private leftovers. What's really unfair is that innocent people purchase these minor, doodled misdemeanors, believing they've gained something of quality. Now this is a warning to all people who really, genuinely like my work. Be very careful about purchasing works from eBay because quite often they are forged or faked.

I didn't mean to write any of that. In fact, it's given me a bit of a downer. Ten minutes ago I was very happy, very hot and very sweaty. I think my endorphins were running riot. The thing that makes me happiest at the moment is cycling around the park. It's a really beautiful park, with little lakes, aqueducts, cricket pitches, copses of trees giant trees, small trees, pretty trees. It's a very romantic park. You could easily get lost there with a lover. Families gather on a Sunday, looking happy with their barbecues. Playing cricket and softball. Yellow dappled light bounces off their utopia. Before, I may have been cynical of this, an outsider looking in on happy families, but now I look on in wonder as I cycle around, gently puffing and panting. I have to ask: why them and not me?

I don't think there has ever been a time in my life where I've felt part of a happy family. It has always been dysfunctional and very broken, and at times quite weird with outsiders coming in and going out. My personal idea of family has never been unity, but always strife and separation, but anybody who knows me very well will tell you I build my friends up around me like a family. I create a structure, an understanding, a friendship that feels like a family. I have surrogate brothers and sisters, mums and dads, and even a younger brother or sister or two. I adore my unconditional friendships, the closeness and intensity that I build up with the people that I love.

It's true that some people just can't take it. It's too much, too needy, too clawing, too suffocating, but that's just a barrier that has to be broken. After that moment, it's friendship for ever and ever and ever. That's what I've been thinking about as I cycled around the park today. How lucky I am in terms of friends. How I've managed to accumulate such amazing people around me and I'm not easy to be with. Thinking about my brilliant, funny friends, and their warmth, gave me an effervescent glow. That's what's so wonderful about being so far from home, from everything you know. You can think about the people you love so intensely. I can mentally throw a kiss through the air and, in my heart, be sure that it reaches its destination because of the power of thought and love, combined with distance the idea of getting the message through, and not feeling alone.

Yes, today I feel very content. This week I've been to the cinema, I've been to a play, and I've seen Elton John perform on stage. A month ago, that would have been virtually impossible for me. My concentration span, in terms of being as a spectator, would have been no more than 40 minutes before I would have had to go to get a drink, nodded off to sleep, or (the worst-case scenario) got up on stage myself. I almost decided not to come back to London, maybe stay here a couple more months, but the truth is, alcohol is everywhere, and for the last few years it has been everywhere I go. I've been carrying it around in my blood, like a fucked-up distillery. I can't believe how bad my nerves were and how desperately and insanely I have been feeding my unhappiness.

I don't know how long this not-drinking is going to last. Last time I stopped drinking for a few weeks I thought I had got it all under control until I arrived at Heathrow and went on a 12-hour drinking binge. Part of me, at the moment, is still longing for that wild, insane, full-on, debauched party, culminating in the orgy of a lifetime, but the majority of me at the moment is very, very excited about this new beginning, this new feeling. It has an air of peaceful optimism. To think, just one hour ago, I was filled with euphoria from just thinking how much I love my friends. What a wonderful place to be.

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