Recognition

“You click with people who think you’re funny”. 
Yes. If you want to be my friend in 2.5 seconds, just laugh at something I said that even I don’t think is that funny. But of course, it goes beyond that. You click with people who understand your intention when you speak, who complement your strangeness with their own flavour you so happen to like. And most importantly, I think, you click with people who value your mind.

Sometimes, you say things you’d only tell your closest friends to a person you’ve just met. You feel like you’ve known them forever. They feel familiar. They bring you a comfort you’ve known; because you see yourself in them. They are the things you’ve always loved, found fascinating. You know how to appreciate them, the parts of them you find in the people you love most. These are people who have accepted you, and so you are free to be who you are.

Seems to be reminiscent of: 

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four legs, four arms, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them apart, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other half.
 – Plato
 
And this quote I love: 
“Art and love are the same thing. It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you”. 
- Chuck Klosterman 

Friends again

“What are you doing later?”
“I don’t know, let’s go chill on your roof”.
It had been years since we were close enough to do something like that. I made the suggestion and didn’t think twice about it— what else did I have to do so early in the morning? As the taxi rode away and we left the gentle buzz of people on the streets, I thought how strange it was that we’d do this on such a random night. It seemed so out of context, like a superficial, unofficial reunion. Were we just playing nice? But here’s the thing: it wasn’t awkward. Far from it, actually.
As I munched on my kebab and we laughed at each other’s quirks, it felt so easy. When we got to your house, we took the lift up and I was surprised that I could remember which stairs to take. We climbed the ladder to the upper part of the roof- where I’m sure people aren’t supposed to sit, but we went right up to the edge, where a ledge provided us with a false sense of security.
I finished the kebab and tossed it on the floor. We played music through your iPhone speakers and danced with each other. I didn’t care that I looked retarded because we both were. I watched your fit of seizures to the beat of Tove Lo’s song, against the backdrop of the buildings that stretched into the distance. I could see our Old School’s field. Street lamps and cars winked and scattered. The green of football pitches on television screens could be seen through people’s windows (World Cup) as the sun began to creep out from the clouds.
We sang and you rapped obnoxiously, imitating Drake with your flipping hands. Then we settled down and I blurted out all these questions whilst you lay on your back. You said you’d changed for the better. And I told you how sometimes, I can’t enjoy myself because I’m always thinking what if? Is this what I want to be doing with my time? Am I wasting my life? What am I suppose to do, who am I supposed to be with to make this worthwhile? But I realized I was so content to just be there, on the roof at six in the morning. It was as if we could just pick up where we left off. Before we stopped talking, before we reverted to friends who only chat at parties. It was weird how easy it was to talk to you. I kept thinking how crazy it was- how so much has changed, though give us a moment, a night like this and we can relive our friendship. Can this last? You said to me: let’s chill sometime, and that you thought it was my fault we stopped hanging out. It suddenly seemed a shame how we’d drifted, because when it happens gradually, it’s really not so bad.
You waited with me until I caught a cab, holding an umbrella since it started to rain. And I felt like we were really friends again.

Trust is a gamble

I’m not sorry for thinking this way. Respect is a given, but trust is earned. I’m not going to outrightly question your every motive, but I’m not going to be naive and believe what sounds genuine and what simply feels right and lovely. Does that make me bitter and cynical? Maybe, but it says something when we make a big deal out of altruistic, touching acts we read on the news or when a stranger unexpectedly gives us extra dollars when we’re short for the bus fare. “This gives me faith in humanity” points to the fact that humanity often sucks. Why do I assume the worst? Because I’ve learnt that trusting anyone is dangerous- you’re giving them the power to hurt you when they could give two shits about you. It’s like leaving your door unlocked, hoping that most strangers are good people who won’t touch your life savings stashed in the kitchen drawer. Nobody leaves their door unlocked when they have their life savings stashed in the kitchen drawer. Because most people aren’t that good and I’m not willing to risk it. Am I closing myself off and building an impenetrable wall for myself? No. I am still open to the idea of you, the possibility of getting to know you. But I will be a little guarded, because the benefit of the doubt always proves me wrong.

People are mercurial. Feelings change. It may have been cute of me to have once been so trusting, but I was also a fool, who could’ve done without unnecessary pain. We all want to believe that we’re a special case- that our first impressions are accurate and that we can find our soulmate, our love at first sight. In a perfect world, words, intentions and actions would all align. Trust would be given freely; what you see is what you get. But reality sucks! More often than not, we’re wrong. Very rarely are the ideas we have in our heads and the words we are fed the truth.

And that’s where time play’s its part within relationships to mature and ground the emotions, the feelings that are susceptible to change. The more in touch with reality you are, the more you can TRULY love. And those people who stick around are the ones who have proven to you that they are the real deal.

Every once in a blue moon, you will be surprised by how great someone can be. It’ll surpass your expectations and it will be a pleasant surprise- one that I’d take over the regret of putting my trust in the wrong place.

The park

We’re showing off our roley-poleys, spinning on the handle bars which old people like to use to stretch their legs. We’re gymnasts! Then we’re blowing bubbles from plastic goo to make transparent balls that reflect the rainbow. Who can make the biggest bubble? And we run around the playground, sliding sideways down the slides, greeting each other through what’s supposed to be a channel for our voices. Two purple metal poles with slits for our mouths to whisper into and for our ears to press up against.
We can’t resist the curry fish balls because it’s a local delicacy. Always five on a stick in a leaky paper bag.

- – – – -

The next minute, we’re illegally lighting candles on trays and staring up at the white face of the full moon. Neon lights hang from the trees and glow sticks adorn our heads, necks, and wrists. You can never wear enough of the glowing rings. My cousins scamper around me, each with their own noisy, bulbous lanterns. We aim to waste the batteries and set everything on fire! Alight! You must milk nights like these for all the magic they’re worth.

- – – – -

The green of the skating rink is olive in the shade. We’re on our backs, head on our folded arms- our makeshift pillows. It’s late and we breathe like we’re sleeping but we’re watching the clouds. We’re friends, though I’m thinking that if I loved a boy, I’d like this a lot.
Look at the stars. Did I know that they are already dead? But didn’t they once shine brilliantly.
And thinking back, didn’t we once?

- – – – -

We shouldn’t have been let out of the house in our attire, but we don’t care, and this is evident as we’re eating out of a variety of chip packets. Slumped on the bench, we perfectly juxtapose the glistening joggers, puffing to finish yet another round, and we quickly become familiar with this one guy who seems to appreciate the humor in what we’re doing. He waves and smiles as he passes and we wave back, as if to say we’re here most days of the week. It’s not strictly true, but this is our park.

- – – – -

I’m growing increasingly disgusted by him. The way he holds my hand and insists on a hand on my waist. The way he brushes hair behind my ear, away from my neck. It’s not romantic. And here comes the talk; it’s pretty much over. It starts to rain and it’s the best part of today. I love the feeling of rain on my skin, the feeling of reckless abandon. I’m a child again, with hair clinging to my cheeks and grass on my legs. It cools the intensity of my confusion. At the very least, he’s romantic enough to twirl me. Then he’s ready to leave before the rain hits harder.

- – – – -

We’re pacing back and forth, in our hoodies, carrying bottles of green tea. I have two phones in my pocket, because the buzz of a text makes her anxious. We talk about the possible futures and most probable ends of whatever we have with these guys. Would I like to kick back with a couple of beers and watch the sunset? Maybe. Would she like to see him again because he makes her feel different? But they’re meant to dip in only for a short while. We’ve only just turned seventeen.

- – – – -

I come here to clear my mind. I have with me a cup of tea, a notebook and a pen. I’ll sketch the trees, the curve of the skating rink. There’s a certain music here, where everything seems to fit together, sing to each other, like counter parts. The sky breaks over green, the wind brings me air, the ants scurry away from my foot. I am taking a break from the people I love, the pain of loving. I am content in being alone.

- – – – -

All the memories I have there are special in some way.

Thoughts on sex

Since I’m on a roll about Christianity, I’m going to talk about sex. Yay!!!!! It seems to be everybody’s favourite subject. With university less than a few months away, I can’t shy away from the lions den- that is, a massive meeting ground for hormonal men and women. Not to say that people can’t control themselves, but the hookup culture is very real.

I’ve heard anecdotes of christian girls becoming extremely promiscuous and guys who just want to bang. LOL I don’t like that word (but shag is worse). If you’re impressionable, you’re going to be swayed. And that is what worries me because I’ve always been a bit of a people-pleaser (trying to change that) and I do really like cute guys. See, a lot of people think christian girls just have no interest in sex whatsoever. As if we’re some kind of sub-species that wants nothing to do with sweaty boys with nice arms and muscular backs etc. But they’re so wrong HA HA and even if I want to wait until marriage, I know it’s going to be difficult. As embarrassed I am to admit it, (though I shouldn’t- it’s my biology), I know there will be times where I’ll want to just do the deed. And it’ll be tempting. So, for christian girls and guys, the #struggle for self control is #REAL.

At the very least, I want to love the person I share that part of myself with. I don’t really like the phrase ‘losing’, ‘giving’ or ‘taking’ someone’s virginity because it implies that by having sex with someone you love, you’re LOSING! The words are laced with aggression, like the virgin is subordinate, something to be conquered? And ‘giving’ makes it sound like ‘oh, here’s the privilege of having sexy times with me’. Well, yes and no. Because it should be as special to you as it is to me. It’s an intimate thing, making a beautiful connection physical. It’s sharing. 

Even with hooking up (kissing) I’ve made my mind up about it. Finally! It took me a lot of back-and-forths to realize what it is that I want. I want something real, genuine, emotional. And I don’t want to settle for anything less. How will I find a guy willing to wait? I guess I just have to trust God. If someone loves me, truly, and want me in their life, it won’t matter to them when I am willing. That’s how you pick out the good ones! Everyone who runs values sex more than they value other kinds of intimacies, and that is not what want. I can understand that sex is important. It may be naive to think this way in this day and age, but sex is not more important than 1) God and 2) Love.

If ya wanna kiss me, date me.

What do they know?

They’re always said casually, with a hint of disdain or displeasure. “Oh I never saw you as the type”, or “since when did you start ____?” or “didn’t know it was your thing”.  It’s hardest to make changes or make progressions when you’ve known someone long enough for them to grasp your character. Even when they’re the most trivial things, it’s uncomfortable, because they think they know you through and through, with no room to spare for any surprises. It reminds me of this scene from New York Minute when one of the Olsen twins turns to the other and is astonished at the fact that she is fluent in Chinese.

But I will not be somebody else’s idea of a person. I won’t be restricted to make someone else feel better about the way they perceive me. Nobody can argue with me about what I like, what I want to do and what I think about. And I don’t need to justify myself either.
To a question like “surfing? I didn’t think you were sporty”.
I’m going to answer “what, I’m broadening my horizons”. Let me grow! And then modify your view of me accordingly.

I am guilty of this -I don’t know- categorical thinking? One of my friends did something out of character, something we’d never had expected her to do. Maybe what makes it a bigger deal is the fact that I don’t agree with her actions- it seems like a turn for the worse. But I’m going to have to accept the change because she doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. Would her old-self approve? Not my place to say.

Mostly though, I’ve been affected by words of strangers. There was this man who looked like he was in his 30s, who questioned my friend and I for being at a club. People have this mistaken view of Christians, like they are bible-thumping prudes who can’t have fun. Stereotypical high school movies and shows like Awkward (even though I like the show) don’t shed a good light on Christianity- they make a parody of religion, as if believers are weird, cult members who have skewed ideas about ways to behave. They’re portrayed as air-headed, over-emotional and on the extreme end of boring. I suppose some people live up to the stereotype, but there are actually Christians who don’t condemn every non-believer and consign them to hell, hate homosexuals and sit at home all day too scared to have fun. Fun is not off limits! But I suppose it depends your definition of fun. Because believe it or not, getting drunk isn’t the only way to have fun, and neither is going home with a guy. Our main objective is to DANCE with our friends, chill out and have a few drinks. I get that the party-image may put some people off, and ignorant people may infer that going out = slut, but as long as I’m not breaking my own moral codes and am being sensible with the way I conduct myself, I’m happy. This concerns me only.

If the 30 year old man I had never spoken to in my life wanted to accuse us of being teases and shoot down our view on each and every male in the room, then I should’ve just left him blabbering. Sure, go ahead, think what you want. I shouldn’t have been as offended as I was, or as guilty as he made me feel. I will not be somebody else’s idea of a person just because he/she is too close-minded. Who cares! I don’t need to explain my life story to someone with such antiquated thinking.

I’m sure as hell not changing for you so why don’t you change your mind about me. No? We’ll agree to disagree.

Oops I’m cliche

Will I ever feel this free again?

Maybe, if I’m unemployed yet wealthy enough to travel alone. Sit for hours in a foreign country, without any real plans and without the urgency to make any. Sounds great to me. But deadlines are what we’re all used to, and movement looks a lot like fulfilment.

Anyhow, I’m excited. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being so hopeful and determined to make the most of my future- university as the most immediate next-big-thing. Wow I’m so cliche I could punch myself! Blank slate, new country, an adjustment to make the past a blurred background. And I’m really getting into the mindset that I can basically take control, find the things that make me happy, learn, and be who I want to be. Underline the parts of me I like and improve the bits I don’t. Reconstruct and take a shape that feels the most me. University will only be a repeat of high school if I let it, and university will only be a dead experience if I cruise it.

Why start now? I guess it’s the most obvious way to begin. Looking forward to a new home, being in a new environment, is like looking forward to a long soak in the bath. “…all freshly bathed and scented, and feeling like a brand new human being!” Blanche Dubois knows what she’s talking about.

It is the perfect time to try and resist groupthink, the push and pull of fads I don’t agree with, or changing myself for people I shouldn’t need to impress. I want to be secure in my values; unshaken, rather than passed along in a sea of opinions, where every obstacle crushes its head into me and manages to strip and polish me into something smooth- to settle in nicely with all the other dull, edge-less pebbles. Only for God am I willing to fully submit and put my sense of self aside.

I must share this quote because it is superlatively relevant:
I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me. – Tracee Ellis Ross

And I’m ready to know LA like the back of my hand. I want a new routine, to know where I’m going to get my morning/afternoon/midnight coffee. I want to know where I’m going to shop to replace my torn jeans (not stylishly torn but serious bum-showing-torn), where I’m going to get slippers (because I don’t actually have any) and other cute things. I’ll have a room that looks like my soul vomited on it and I’m going to learn to cook more than just pancakes, eggs, and noodles. I’m going to compile a list of all the things Los Angeles has to offer, and all the places I want to visit within the four years I’ll be there. Museums, art, Banksy, music, jazz, surf, beach, Chipotle, festivals, wine tasting (when I’m old enough), Hollywood, parks, cycling, Disneyland… And other hubs I’m sure I’ll pick up along the way.

Of course, I know the danger of looking towards future happiness. It’s the fruitless endeavour of chasing a dream that’s always out of reach, like trying to out-run the moon. It’s always a step ahead; hence why it’s the future… But a positive outlook doesn’t hurt, and I’m prepping myself more than prepping for outside events. I’m inspired, open to experience, change, and convinced that I can be the one to see to said changes.

The glass is half full

95.5%? Of course I was happy. Surprised, even. I thank God for I know I would not have done as well without Him. It’s hard to argue with the belief that those who work hard get the mark they deserve, that it’s an innate intelligence and a rigorous work ethic that brings forth a good grade. It’s hard to argue with those who believe that every ‘blessing’ and achievement is within my control. That it’s all me, my mind, my efforts. But I know that wisdom comes from Him- that much I have prayed for. It’s what my grandmother prays for. Sophie. Wisdom.

“Do your best and God will do the rest”. True. For the subjects that I struggled most with and worked hardest for, I received the best results. For the subjects I thought I was good at, and worked the least for (good ol complacency), I got lower marks. That ‘luck’ that you sometimes need in an exam? For me, that’s God’s working.

My thankful heart was quickly replaced with dissatisfaction when I broke the news to my parents. I have the possibility of obtaining 97.7% so shall I go for a remark or not? My parents had split attitudes about it. My mum thought: 97.7% is a very rare achievement, relative to most people who take the course; definitely worth the money and the slight risk of being marked lower than my original grade. My dad thought: what’s the point, you’re accepted by your University of choice and you’ve exceeded their (our) expectations.

But my mum’s thoughts nagged at me. 97.7% sounds a lot better than 95.5%. 97.7% is closer to perfect. It’s harder to obtain and a greater achievement. And it’s always about me in comparison to my cohort. Me in relation to the rest of the people in the world. WHY must I compare myself and think: how about those two extra marks? It’s like getting 99% and being unhappy for missing that 1%. I’ve always thought people like that were ridiculous, ungrateful and making their own lives shit. Why not celebrate what’s there instead of what’s lacking? And so, I’ve decided to push those thoughts away. If I give in and ask for a remark, I’ll never learn to be secure and happy with what I have. Being grateful is a step towards happiness. That at least, is in my control.

With rose tinted glasses

ON
This is how it happens. You look at me with those deep-set, electric eyes for a prolonged moment. Dark hair, white shirt, it’s easy to pick you out. I take a shot, you put your hand to your forehead, squinting as you would do on a sunny day at the summit of a mountain, and I flash a quick smile. I dance. You leave. And I’m lying if I say I’m not the least bit disappointed. Then, as you come back through the door, we smile at each other and you approach, as if it were the inevitable outcome, the necessary consequence of our relayed looks.
“How’re you doing?” I give a clipped answer. “And what’s your name?” I give you my name. “Sophie… That’s a lovely name”. I don’t get that often.
The light gives your skin a light blue polish and all I can focus on are your freckles. All over your face, your arms, speckling down your neck. I do love freckles. It makes you look warm. You ask about me but guess my mix within seconds- it turns out we’re both of the same breed. “Can you speak Cantonese, then?” I ask, and you respond with a line of flattery. Why thank you, not so bad yourself.
Do I want a drink? Just one. I tell you I never know what to order, like a rookie or an otherwise classy lady (I go for wines I don’t know the names of) and you seem to appreciate self deprecating jokes. You link arms with me, wink, and we take a sip from our glasses. I find out much later that it’s a wedding tradition.
You’ve got this mischievous grin, brimming with that douche-bag confidence you wear so well. “Since I’m taking Psychology, I can see right through you”, I joke. But it’s your turn to psycho-analyse me.”Bla bla bla” -I can barely hear you- “you’re confident. Which is a good thing”. Thanks babe, glad I made it seem effortless. You embolden me.  
You waggle your bum against me, because guys look silly grinding and you know it. You’re embarrassing; flexing across the bar, rolling up your shirt sleeves for the so-called banter. Your friends egg you on. And it works, because you’re fun. Because you could care less. You bite the hem of your shirt in this ridiculously teenage way and we christen one of your pecs with my name. Apparently, I get the bigger one. When your friends make some obscene gesture about us, you shield my eyes with your hands. “Ah, just ignore them”.
I tip the glass, chock-full of ice, for a sip of my drink and you say “that’s the Polar Bear Dip,” or something. Your finger brushes the tip of my nose and you smile. “See, cold”. And when you see that I’ve finished, you ask if I want another. “To be honest, I’m quite light-weight”, I say. “Me too,” you whisper, with a knowing look. “We’ll get you water instead”. How considerate of you!
When we dance, you look down at me through your lashes. Eyes soft, drowsy, tender. Tongue clamped between between your very slightly up-turned lips. And every so often, you take my hand and kiss my knuckles. I love that. Like I’m great to be around (and you make that known to your advancing friend).

OFF
You know how this works. I’m another girl strung onto a series of others, no doubt. First the eyes, then approach. I guess learned compliments (a bank of them) are useful when they’re your ticket to winning a smile from the next girl. Who cares about language proficiency- they’re all you need, really!
Look at that douche-bag confidence you think you can get away with (owing to your parents that face, that jaw of yours). Aren’t you a riot, behaving like a frat-boy who refuses to grow up. I let it slide that you KISSED ANOTHER MAN in front of me for the so-called banter. Charming, aren’t you, when you’re surrounded by your mates. Compared to them, you’re a saint. Your entourage makes you look good.
“We’ll get you water instead”. Thanks, that’s what I’d expect from someone I barely know. In fact, that’s what a decent human being should suggest- instead of taking advantage of some girl, in hope that she has a problem saying no to polite offers and free drinks.
You like fire too? Great. “Ah, something we have in common”. When you’re drunk, it’s really a moment of connection. But I let it slide that I’ve never found smoking very appealing. I’m making exceptions for you and who are you?

Maybe I really wouldn’t strike someone as being… worth getting to know under daylight. Only good for a laugh, a few lines like “where you from?” and “what do you do?” Just entertainment. To watch. To dance with. To kiss. Suspension of belief; like I’m not real (when all I want is to be real and for this to be real).

How to live?

What should an 18 year old be doing after high school, with months to kill before more school?

I’m figuring it out, but I think it has something to do with sitting by the harbour, gazing at the buildings, the reflections on the water, the waves that curl and rise and converge; ripples over ripples over ripples. Imagining the many people doing their own shit through each window, each tiny golden square, finding their own way, figuring it out. Sitting at Starbucks with somebody else’s finished drinks on the table – a Mocha and a Cappuccino- with our legs tucked in awkward positions (crotch to the world), talking about who we want to be and how we’re going to get there.

I think you should spend your time finding inspiration, or being receptive to it. I think you should be admiring beautiful things, learning something -in books, through people, about people, whatever. I think you should spend your time thinking about the mistakes you’ve made, and how you’re not going to make them again. I think you need to be thankful. Live to be thankful, and find reason to laugh. Don’t hold it back even when you’re on the train, surrounded by people with judgemental eyes. Be like the grandmother who laughs until she cries, or like the grandmother who chuckles after every sentence. They’ve had more of life than we have yet they’re happy with simple, quotidian things. Why? Because perspective is determinant and thank God for Things! Look for things that remind you of your friends and then treat yourself to a shirt on sale. Buy beer because you’re too cheap for wine, try a banana frappe and eat chocolate at 11pm. Listen to the girl busking by the sea, singing in what sounds like a european accent. Ask questions, listen, and remember how they’re answered.

“What are you most afraid of?”
“Not ending up happy”.
“What’s unforgivable?”
“I guess lying is kind of unforgivable, because you can’t really get that trust back”.
“What’s your take? On God?”
“I don’t know what to believe so I don’t really believe in anything. If I did, I’d want to be able to commit but I don’t know if I could right now”.

And know that finding any-old boyfriend is easy. Settling is easy whilst genuine happiness and fulfilment may take patience. And look for unconventional boys who carve out their own paths in life; they are guaranteed to be inspiring. Look for boys in real life, in the most mundane places, because you’ve always been romantic– like, in a grocery store (because apparently it means that they know how to cook). Up to luck? All the sweeter when you meet him. Listen to the advice you give other people: you don’t need to prove anything to anyone because you know what’s important, what’s true; only the people who matter, matter; give yourself credit- you deserve to be adored, loved. And ask yourself: BUT DO I REALLY CARE?

Finally, talk to your best friends, they know you better than you think. They may tell you things you already know but somehow it makes more sense coming from them. Theirs are but an affirming echo of your own voice.