Clothes

I was wearing a white dress the night we met.
I wore a black and white striped lace shirt on our first date.
I wore a floral sweater on our second date.
And I wore a grey shirt the last time we met.

The white dress was paired with nude heels. You accompanied me as I ordered a glass of water at the bar. When I tripped in my heels, you warned me “might want to take it slow with that water. Had a drop too many hey!” And when I hobbled around in the early hours of the morning, you imitated me with bent legs and arms locked in an awkward position. “Like a cripple”, you joked. You said something like: “If you had come up to me like this, I would’ve just been like “yep, sorry, think I’m gonna leave now’”. And I wanted to be your friend.

Your thumb rested on my side as we rode up the escalator and I didn’t dare make known that I was hyper-aware of the fact that it was there. I saw it in my mind’s eye, on my lacy shirt. And again, when we rode the elevator up on a quest to the find the roof of the mall, I saw us in the silvery reflection. There was no roof but we took our time trespassing.  We kicked our white-plimsolled legs under the table as I drank my Oreo smoothie and you, your disgusting blueberry tea. Out of all the possible selections, including a peanut butter Oreo milkshake drizzled in chocolate, you chose blueberry tea… Should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out between us.

You showed me the mirror you woke up to. It was on the floor and propped up against the wall. You joked about your routine of flexing into the mirror with “epic music” playing in the background. You put on ‘Time’ by Hans Zimmer from Inception and showed me what you meant. When I lay on your chest, with the laptop balanced on my knees playing the first episode of Game of Thrones, your arms folded around me, hands clasped between my ribs. I don’t know if you were paying attention to what was on the screen or to the rise and fall of the flowery fabric.

You asked me what I’d wish for if I only had one wish. You’d already thought this one through. You’d like the ability to travel backwards and forwards in time to different stages of your life, at any given moment. I was stuck. We then sat down in Starbucks and I had lemon tea whilst we gossiped. I saw myself in the reflection behind your head. Smiling in my grey shirt. You were giving me that look- the one that makes people feel special.

Today when I looked through my closet, I remembered you. I don’t usually remember what I wear to events, much less what other people wear, unless there are copious pictures I can look through. But hey, good times. Unexpectedly vivid memories. Banter with you was the best banter to date.

To remember.

Family chatter

When searching for a roomie, it’s so easy to second-guess myself. I worry about being too awkward, too weird, and too dumb for these UCLA people. When my brother stayed during Christmas break, he confided in me the difficulties he had socializing with people in University. Besides feeling like I had finally arrived at a clearing with my brother (he showed me vulnerability), I could imagine the three of us (including my sister) in the same bubble. Growing up in a household with plentiful silence and spatial divisions (mum in the corner, me in the room, dad downstairs, brother in computer room etc), communication issues outside of the family domain shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Thankfully, I’ve always been more of an extrovert with an easy-going temperament, and I threw myself into my friendships. These friends allowed me to develop the more out-going part of myself during my prepubescent years, which may be why I don’t have as hard a time as my brother does interacting with strangers. My brother and sister on the other hand, are naturally more introverted and quiet, and they both spent more time with their hobbies than with people. Combine that with our family setting, and as my brother noted, the compulsory Sunday School sessions where people were drawn together solely based on our religion (we had nothing else in common), and the result is someone who feels irrelevant in conversations. Someone who feels like they have nothing worth sharing; a listener rather than a talker. Apparently, if you don’t talk, you’re considered a little weird. My brother’s been having to push himself to get a word or two out. He’s forced to try- what a trooper! Good family relationships are obviously important during formative years to gain the skills and confidence to deal with people in general. I think every prospective parent should take mandatory parenting classes.

Speaking of insecurity…

When I don’t really know how to behave and I feel a bit out of place, or when I don’t know how to react to a situation, like saying goodbye on the phone or on skype, or when I’m suddenly self conscious for whatever reason (like, what I’m about to say/am saying could be considered weird), my voice goes up. The cadence swoops into a gentle, ‘just kidding’ head voice. If you know me, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. My voice betrays me.

 

Blogging

Whether it be on the clean side of a soiled napkin, in a journal kept for 18 years, or on skin when you’re lacking basic stationery and paper, writing is a form of release. But blogging takes it a step further. There’s something incredibly cathartic about putting things out there. Hitting ‘Publish Post’ is like letting go of a balloon, sending off a lantern and watching a part of ourselves drift away and meld into the universe. We long to be heard, to be acknowledged.  We’re significant and insignificant at the same time.

We spend too much time alone with our thoughts. Blogging is like being alone with an audience– only the audience’s reactions don’t matter as much as the mere possibility of an audience existing. And even if no one were to read any of my posts, they’re still out there. This is my space.

Onwards

At first I was going to attribute my lack of feeling to how surreal it is to finally be out of high school. I feel like I’m on holiday (which… is bad as I should be working towards my final exams). I haven’t thought much about loss, and maybe it’s because I’d already disconnected a while ago. Set my eyes forward, bags packed and ready.

I don’t yearn for another day in the quads occupied by kids playing downball, partitioning chair space with a friend (like, I’ll take the arm-rest this time, you take the seat) in the Senior School Center, or waiting in line for Teriyaki Chicken Rice in the pouring rain (ain’t nothing gonna stop us). I wouldn’t trade all my tomorrow’s for a gossip session during lunch to catch up on weekend festivities, or last-minute revision with coffee and a panicky friend. But I regard the memories with something like respect. I don’t and won’t discredit what the school and the people I’ve grown up with have done for me. I can’t be thankful enough for the people (even the ones I won’t miss) who made my school experience what it was, and more than that, for forming the pillars of my adolescence- for giving me stability. Somehow, I’ve gone from being completely naive and terrified of algebra, to being a little more critical, a little more skeptical (perhaps even cynical) and grudgingly accepting of mathematics. From annoying teachers to wasted supervision lessons, the incredibly frustrating moments are what I can look back on with a certain fondness.

At first, I wondered why I was immune to it all: the bawling, the sentimental posts that keep popping up left and right. People are coming to the realization that I’ve had ever since summer. Those who love me and matter to me will stay in my life; we’ll keep in touch. I have confidence in my friendships as of now. Those who once loved me and who I once loved will be left in the past. Some people from the first category will transition into the second. I’ve acknowledged this and I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve met some truly amazing people that I’d like to keep for as long as I can and I’ve been blessed with moments of elation, inspiration, and connection. But what once would have shattered me no longer fazes me. I have learned to let go.

So, on graduation day, I smiled gleefully towards the sea of faces in the assembly hall, sporting a quality hangover and bedraggled hair, feeling as though I had just run a marathon. As we sang ‘Keep Holding On’, I was surrounded by pink, tear-streaked faces and a flurry of hands rushing to cover them. I just kept on smiling, happy to be at the end with everyone, this class of 2014 that I belong to. Happy it’s a beginning in disguise. I smiled as if to say sayonara suckaas! I’m outta here, and it’s been an awesome ride. Let the end credits roll, the cheesy trumpets swell, and finally, the velvety curtains drop with a heavy sigh. I’m on the edge of my seat for the next big thing.

Ego-dystonic

For so long I’ve been fighting myself. Kicked myself after every indulgence, scolded myself, then repeated the cycle.
But change is good. Change is necessary. It breaks down the barrier between You and I, drawing me closer to you. I know I must leave myself behind, the safety in numbers, the path of least resistance.

The flesh is weak but the spirit is willing.

I choose You.

I got sat on

So I’m walking down the slope when an overweight, balding, forty-something-pushing-fifty year old man looks me in the eye and practically lunges at me. It feels like it’s happening in slow motion and I can’t escape because it’s happening. He’s drunk and suddenly sitting on me as I’m lying on top of a metal barricade that has toppled with me. I can feel the bruises forming as the bars dig into my thigh and shin. I struggle to push him off. I cannot get up and he doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. Nobody’s particularly helpful though I see and feel several pairs of eyes observing the situation. I completely give up and wait because it’s useless. Then finally somebody pulls him up (it felt like it lasted longer than it did) and I’m fuming. His friends are grinning. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I yell. His eyes are glazed over and I think to myself that maturity and self control surpass age and experience. Just because you’re way over the legal drinking age does not mean you should drink.

After I’d calmed down, it became a hilarious story to tell. Now that I’m bruised and battered (not really), I cannot believe I got sat on by a huge man. I had no chance. He was seriously fat. But it bothers me how “what is wrong with you” seemed too easy a question to ask. As in, the words came out so naturally. And it felt right at the time. I should be more careful with my words.

Funny how in drunken scenarios the bystander effect is so much more pronounced. Nobody cares. Only one woman asked if I was okay.

- -

Someone is lying on the floor. Another is hanging off a railing, like a shirt draped across a washing line. At first, I’m concerned. Maybe I should check to see if he’s okay, possibly call the police or something. Has he passed out? Is he breathing? How can this guy be taking a video of him if they are friends? He needs to get home. The floor is so nasty. I’m judging his useless friends as they do not even try to take him home. Then my friend points out that those two drunkards had it coming. True. They were responsible for how much they could drink and they went overboard. It baffles me how people let themselves get to a state where their lives are endangered when they’re hoping to have a good time with their friends. They ruin the night with stupidity. I grow impatient and frustrated with the situation, especially at this one friend who decides to sit next to the guy on the floor and make a scene. Shuddering dramatically, clutching the guy’s arm, probably crying instead of being helpful. Pathetic. I reflect upon the fact that I feel superior and I both enjoy it (it feels good to be better or at least think you are) and objectively don’t like it. I mean, if a person if a victim of his/her own actions, they may not ‘deserve’ sympathy, but compassion knows no reason. We all have our issues. Some actions are more idiotic than others but there’s something wrong with all of us. So I should remind myself of that and develop a willingness to serve and be compassionate- which still doesn’t mean that they are excused from responsibility. Break the law and you’ve got to deal with the consequences.

This is beautiful though:
“From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy.”
- Rachel Naomi Remen

To remember

Exponential growth

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. It’s like my feelings have experienced a time lapse; a lag. Being with you was like watching a glacier drop before it’s heard, and now that you’re gone the sound is deafening. My feelings work the way an audio track refuses to synchronize with murmuring lips on television. If that makes sense. I’m catching up and I miss you.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been granted time (from now to the indefinite forever) to uncover what I had missed when you were here. Maybe this is the unfurling of things that had passed me by- things that had gone largely unnoticed. Or maybe I’m recreating you based on inaccuracies and unreliable memory. Your absence makes you more here than ever, because when I hear a song and think oh, you’d probably like this, I can’t make you to listen to it and say “sorry but you have to” (I admit I’m pushy and opinionated when it comes to good music). When I received an offer from University and I was happy, I wanted to share it with you but I couldn’t. When I’m out and surrounded by strangers in a tiny room (clubbing is not a social affair), I want to hold your hand but I can’t. And what you can’t do will always be more salient than what you can do. Longing is a powerful thing.

Somehow, your little idiosyncrasies have become more endearing. Like the way you draw out and swoop your o’s in ‘nooo’ and carry a kind of lisp when you say “yes” with a nod of the head. Like the way you self consciously tuck your hair back into place with a brush of your hand. Like how you sing random lines of random songs randomly or seem to enjoy singing the instrumental, dub-step bits in pop music even more. Like how it’s just so you to say “alright? How we doing?” every time we meet. And let’s not forget your winsome smile- like a puppy.

I’ve been thinking how it’s close to impossible to find someone who regards me the way you do. That there are certain things you’d give up to be with me because for some reason, I’m worth it. I don’t understand it but I’m thankful for it. I don’t know what to say, save that it makes me miss you that much more.

Freedom

Happiness drops suddenly like the first baubles of rain after a relentless drought. It astounds like the unpredictable tremors of the earth that exceed all expectation, all preparation. Study the jagged lines of the seismograph, in awe of the speed at which the peak is reached, the gradient rocketing skyward. Know that it is not meant to be understood but felt by every shaking vessel. Happiness bursts momentarily like the spark of a match; like lit magnesium it glows and sparkles and illuminates with blinding intensity. It is the swelling of a euphoric, euphonious chorus, the collision of every song that has stirred your heart, a bubbling froth that cannot be contained. And it is whisked away by a slight of hand, the drop of a hat, a blink of an eye. Few and far between are these episodes- so cherish them with all your heart and let it consume you when it strikes.

Sadness sinks its claws into you and likes to sleep under your skin. It strokes your cheek and betrays you. It grows like the vines and weeds of an unkempt garden, snaking around your neck, choking, drowning. It blankets you and lingers like smoke caught in the fabric of your clothes. It is a muted drumming, a gentle pain that won’t let you forget. Sometimes it sets you on fire and burns ever so slowly – but it never quite burns through. It pushes against your organs so you struggle for air, stiffens your back and cripples your mind. It tires and chaffs until there is close to nothing left because it thrives on emptiness and hollow clavicles. It is a disease that tests your strength, your faith, your imagination. Remember, it is a test.

But joy… Joy is contentment. It is a steaming cup of coffee on a cold day, sitting on a roof on a Sunday or at the park on a Wednesday, watching the sun paint the sky and make way for the moon. It is cuddling with a book, your favourite movie or person. It is lying on the bed with speakers next to your ears, letting the vibrations surround you and lift you out of time and place. It is hearing mum’s slippers creak and slap against the floor, and dad’s whistle as he comes home from work. It’s the sound of your grandmother’s voice echoing down the stairs. It’s sitting up before sleep takes you, knowing God thinks I matter. It’s letting life loosen its grip, allowing yourself to untangle and unwind and observe the mess from a distance. It’s there when you’re feeling happy or feeling sad. It is not a passing state. It is a quiet knowing that nothing lasts and that you’ll be okay. Joy is, in other words, freedom.

Where do you find joy?