You know, sometimes I want to be one of those odd objects you discover in abandoned gardens. Somewhere amidst the overgrown grass grazing your calf, a rusty bicycle or a tin box, an old chair with a gaping hole where there used to be a plush seat. A bicycle with vines twirling around the handles, almost struggling to breathe under the weight of the flowers wildly blooming over. The small, inedible mushrooms that poke through the chains, the dandelions that grow in between the crisscrossing wheel spokes. And the wheel itself, hanging in the air, unmoving, stopped by Time and rust a long time ago.
It’s something that feels like it has been pulled to the Earth. It seems such a peaceful thing to be. Bathed in warm sunlight, watered by rain, kept company by wildflowers that giggle in the wind. Overwhelmed by nature, uncaring of Time. For something that was formerly abandoned to bloom like this—Ah, it is wildly enchanting. Like something you could mistake for the beginning of a fairytale.
It is in this sort of garden that breathes eternity that we meet every now and then, in the realm of dreams that try very hard to be reality. We set up wooden swings on the wheel spokes, watch as the vines curl around metal and contemplate how Nature always takes over. We wonder if, when it happens to us, it will be as peaceful as this. Imperceptibly, your hand tightens around mine.
“We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. “
I can already imagine it, with starry complexity. We will linger at the space station, floating around to haunting piano music softly diffusing across the universe, echoing down lonely black holes and asteroid fields. We’ll hang the clothes to dry on one of Saturn’s rings. On Saturdays (Or however we decide to name it) we’ll have barbecues on the sun and plant artificial roses on dwarf planets and dying stars for a pilot whose plane has crashed to find someday. We’ll pluck stars from space and rearrange the cosmos, play tennis with asteroids and write messages with our fingers across nebulae for Earth to see.
We can hide on the moon, sometime. Lie down in the sea of tranquility and tell corny jokes about how we aimed for the moon. We can close our eyes and move to the dark side, and pretend Earth doesn’t exist. We’ll live out our days in an alcove on a planet no one will ever discover.
We’ll make paperboats, watch them sail and burn in a constellation of stars. We could even reach inside one of them, our hands travelling all the way to the molten core, and touch someone’s consciousness. We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. So, children if you want to say hi, all you have to do is shine bright and they will know who you are? I wonder if humans are star-ghosts?
We could also hollow out one of the planets, and make home inside.
Trust me, we will never get lost. I have the universe inside of me. Did you know that there are more synapses in the human brain than there are stars in our Milky Way? And there are more possible brain connectivity patterns than there are atoms in the Universe? Our minds are larger and more infinite than the Universe. We are multitudes, eternal matter in perishable bodies.
“When we die,” you ask “do you think we go back to being stars? Do you think that some part of us goes into space? Like, the parts that used to be our eyes, when they rot and become dirt and minerals in the Earth, then feed a tree that later gets turned into wood brought on a spaceship—do you think I could see the universe then? Do you think I could get to be a part of it then? That I will be welcomed, like a missing limb, and I will finally remember? And slowly, like that, the Universe will start being whole again.”
“But you’ll forget me then, you’ll forget Earth.” I say.
“Not if you come with me.” you smile “Then we’ll forget about the lives we had here. But it’s okay, because you and I, we go way back, we were stars together. Then, we can remember who we were meant to be all along.”
Note: This is Day 25 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I’m afraid with this one, I totally pretended like Science wasn’t a real thing. Don’t shove your hands down molten cores of stars, kids. You’ll be dead before you even get to try. You can read my previous entry for the challenge here. Also, ‘more infinite’ isn’t…really a thing. But eh, dramatics amirite.
How long has it been since I’ve written just for the sake of writing? Not to make something beautiful, not to get better at it, but just to let go?
Writing for the blog, I always try to make a point (consciously or not). But I am now going to write pointlessly again. To write a lot, to not erase one single thing I am writing as I write it because I think one word would be better suited than the other. I’ve removed all the barriers between me and writing, between me and myself. Between the me I present to the world, this façade and the me inside. Both are equally real but would not survive without the other.
I like having the liberty again to not make sense, to just conjure images that I like, that crop up in my head. I like writing and exploring my own unconscious desires, like just now I realise I really would like to visit a castle, to own a small island for solitary getaways and small adventures. I want to retreat more inside myself. Ironically that is the follow-up to my wanderlust. An acute sense of introspection, a desire to find within the things I witnessed outside. To point at a map and the feelings the location procured and finding it in myself.Like pointing at a star and then to its vestiges in myself.
Is it strange?
I don’t much care if it is.
I am writing for myself. In no way am I obliged to make any sense to anyone, not even myself. I write the way you test out a new pen: all scribbles and intelligible ink blots. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s freeing and word-vomit and nobody cares. Nobody should. How freeing to not have others’ opinions attached to something I do or write.
I love that I’ve found the door to this kind of writing again. It allows me to do what I’ve said I would this year: write the things that truly matter. So I don’t look back and wish I’d written this thing that is still on my mind. So I don’t look back and think that I can’t see myself in the things I have written or created. That’s also why I got the piercing : not to have regrets.
I’ve always had a little Rock’n’Roll in me. A little bit of an “I want to be different” kind of streak. A “rebel against the establishment” vibe even as I dutifully sat in a classroom made of neat rows and columns, even as I completed the picture, the perfect square. Something in me always cried “F the system.”.
So now, 20ish years later, as cliché as it sounds, the piercing is a way to go a little against the grain.
As though my bones haven’t yet settled into my body and are relearning the shape of the person I have become. Or like maybe I’m just a floating skeleton and my flesh has yet to layer itself back onto my shaking self. My mind’s eye is closing in on the idea of my small everyday life, but my thoughts have been blown out of proportion by the overwhelming vastness of a metropolis. Reconciling the two is proving to be hard for someone like me, who lives in extremes.
Other hard-to-wrap-my-head-around things are: You can start the year, no, the week in London and still be back in time for the weekend in your small, floating piece of land.
It’s like my mother said : “Just yesterday you were phoning from England and today you’re already back. It’s almost like magic.”
And now, as my mind wrestles with old and new truths…nothing feels like it should be. Like I remember. Everything feels strange : my bed, my pillow, my desk, my notes, my scribbles. Any one thing will at one moment feel too small. Too deep, too on the right, too bright. Not like I remember. One world seems too foreign, the other not familiar enough.
But maybe nothing’s changed. Maybe it’s me. And maybe what I’m most scared of is how I don’t know myself. How I can’t find myself in the gap between new and old. And if I don’t, where to will my unfettered self run off ? What crazy thing will she do ?
Get an ear piercing, probably.
I mean, I actually did that.
And immediately felt more regret than physical pain.
What have I done to myself?
I have done things to myself that cannot be undone. I have changed myself beyond repair. There’s no going back.
And I am scared of that above all else. To not feel at home in my own skin. To feel like a grain of sand has infiltrated my skin and has bent my perfectly balanced world out of shape. I am so scared of never being able to go back to the person I used to be. To not have a home to return to after all is said and done.
Countless times I’ve looked at that piercing now, balancing delicately on my upper ear. At times I’ve hated it. Hated that I couldn’t remove it without leaving traces. If I could just make it vanish, things would fall back into place.
But they won’t. The past will not be changed.
And I have to be okay with that. Because travelling did the same to me; changed me beyond repair. Though nostalgia longs for the familiarity of days past, I have to keep moving. Because this is what I want, ultimately, if not immediately.
So I’m keeping the piercing. I’m getting used to my risk-taking, fanciful side. I tell myself it would never have come forward if it hadn’t been there in the first place. So maybe I’m still home within myself. Maybe that will never change. Perhaps I am just discovering new rooms I had left closed before.
I feel like I have experienced a big bang all alone in my mind.
That is how traveling has made me feel. For context, here’s something I haven’t mentioned on this blog : I am a small town girl from a small town place. Dreams are big and far-reaching where I live, but the hearts are warm and satisfied, not always willing (or finding reason) to brave the cold, to let go of the little comforts in order to live Great Adventures. Everything is small and cosy, and you can never get properly lost, because all roads but the ones to the sea lead home. Essentially, I live in the real version of The Shire. I am the product of that kind of place. Raised with the love of small comforts, of the little things. A cup of tea after a long day, a soft sofa to sink in, good food and hearty portions shared with loved ones. Home.
3 weeks ago, though, I left home and stepped out into a storm to get on a plane I wasn’t sure I wanted to catch anymore.
Kerosene burned in the night and the world in my mind melted like candle wax. It disintegrated, simply. I could almost feel the remains flowing in smithereens under my skin. Every little thing collided within myself, every knowledge and memory, every wish and preconceived notion. All fused to form a much greater picture, a vaster world.
I had been thinking it before, how I now need to redefine reality. Because now I’ve discovered more of the world, where before it was blacked-out, a mere outline of an idea. Something that had a name, but needed desperately to be given depth and dimension. Experience has now fleshed out these missing parts. A whole other reality has awoken in me and stepped into the light.
There is no written record of my time these past 7 days and what a shame because oh, how beautiful they’ve been.
I’ve been wandering and getting lost down marvelously foreign roads, entering and leaving with no history, no imprint. My steps washed away by the torrents of people. Unlike in my small town where anonymity does not come cheap or at all, really. Here, I breathe in the air of unimportant anonymity, this namelessness hovering on all our heads that I do not try to break out of, to raise above. I bask in being not so recognisably strange and yet a little bit foreign. Like something from a faraway land bringing its own distinct energy to this throbbing bundle of lights, all amassed in tangled heaps at the heart of the breathless city coagulating with people — different tongues and different minds and different hearts.
I find myself in the crux of all this, not alone, not struggling to stay afloat. Or to breathe, for that matter. Because interspersed in all this urban madness, clouds of green float over the heads of apartment complexes. Parks, gardens, havens of light and cool, crisp air.
And above all of that, above the skyscrapers and historic landmarks, the gratitude for the present moment and the soft, persistent glow of family.
London has been all foggy breaths and muddled half-thoughts to me. No time to think, to overthink in the vastness of this old city. So caught in the old brick houses and the architecture of tens of centuries I am.
I do not think of Time here. Not a little, not at all. In all truth, even Big Ben is under renovation and really, how symbolic is that. The idea that there is no Time at all, and if there ever was, then it has stopped. Time is under construction in my cold hands, trembling lightly underneath dark gloves. Time is what I make of it, it is : christmas lights, people kissing under mistletoe, Westminster abbey in all its startling beauty, Richard Cœur de Lion, fish and chips, hummus and midnight adventures underground, Covent garden, smiles and awe.
Together, London and I unravel to each other. I discover her ancestral arteries and she lights up the doors to my consciousness.
I am running on London time now, and it is no time at all.
Across oceans, following the course of the Adriatic sea from above the clouds, watching Italy branch out into veins of light pulsating underneath my naked eyes.
I am changed forever, as though I’ve earned a scar. There’s a certain history to me now, carved into my veins, stored carefully into the drawers of my mind. Tattooed into my irises, the memory of not looking up at stars, instead gazing at them as equals, eye-to-eye.
“I’ve reached.” My mind whispers.
I could reach out and pick stars by millions, as though flowers in an interplanetary garden.
But I’ve learned better over the years. What would there be left for others to dream about if I picked all the flowers and reaped all the stars? Who would want to wake up to a decimated garden, a starless sky?
Instead, I will nurture what is left of the star in me. Kindling its fires with experiences like these, if I can.
Listening to :
Because I’m a huge nerd, this is the song I was listening to when we were flying over the Adriatic sea 😂
Have you ever started missing someone all of a sudden? Someone whose absence you have been used to, who has become a voice on the phone, a collection of distant memories or a set of highly specific things that remind you of them.
But then years down the line, something inside of you throbs out of the blue. You start missing them, missing, missing, like something’s just not right, like you’ve lost a limb or some crucial part of your life. Years of conditioning and being far from that person have lost all meaning. You just miss and life won’t go on as usual until you are fulfilled again, until everything falls back into place and the stray planet in your solar system realigns.
In that way, I really miss my sister.
She’s my eldest sister and quite honestly knows me better than I understand myself. She’s always been kind and caring and terribly proud of her siblings; the kind of big sister you find in movies. But now she lives terribly far away. I mean, if I ever missed her and decided to jump on a plane to get to where she lives, I would be travelling for about 2 days. I thought I’d gotten used to it, to her not being there most days, or months and eventually years.
But as I grow older, I value her more. And I add that love to my understanding of love as a whole. How naive it is to think that romantic love is somehow superior to all these other kinds of love. Or more powerful, more meaningful, more important — most important even.
I romanticise a lot of things, but not romantic love.
Romantic love is a facet of love, not the whole concept. I can think of so many other loves that have been as and even more important in my life. That’s also why I am not rushing into romance now, however wonderful the idea may be. Love will come, it will grow safely, steadily. Like a seed sprouting from the earth, it will lean toward the sun and with great care will unravel its colours, its leaves and flowers. Love will be slow and will take its time to grow roots, to progress naturally everyday.
Maybe I am boring for thinking that. Maybe I am boring because I don’t think romantic love is that special. But hey, I’m willing to run the risk of being boring if that means I get to be who I am.
At the very beginning of the year, stood on my rooftop and watching the fireworks explode from afar, I did not think I would be where I am today. Much of the year would pass as it had begun : with me staring far-off at something I would much rather have been a part of.
Hasn’t life mostly been this way, after all?
Slightly dreamy and all the more disappointing for it.
But Fate twists and turns, and takes its sweet time setting lives up. It’s funny how now that things are going in my favour, I think of Fate. Otherwise my thoughts are just a mumbo-jumbo of nihilist thoughts and awfully potent pessimism.
I mean, my “Why would life make me dream of things I can never have?” has turned into “Good things happen in life.” and even now, I don’t know which is right. If one is righter than the other, if both equally apply. But I am trying not to think too much though : if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that “happiness” (whatever it means) is precious and that one should give one’s full attention to it when it presents itself.
So, to myself I say :
Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Don’t wait for things to turn sour and then exclaim “Aha! I knew it!”. Maybe things turned sour because you weren’t paying them the right kind of attention. Besides, you know “happiness” doesn’t last, so savour it, every last bit of it like a juicy fruit you can’t get enough of, like a drink that makes you slurp so you can get the last drops of it.
Most of all, meet “happiness” half-way. I don’t think it likes to be met with mistrust and shifty eyes. Besides, even ephemeral “happiness” leaves lasting traces. Like scars, but the good kind.
Any time now…any moment now, I will wake up to a whole new world, glittering beneath me like stars, constellations.
There is something about this term I adore : voyaging under the cover of night, wearing midnight on your back like a hooded cape encrusted with stars (stars, stars, stars everywhere in my vision, these days). Something about it is simply so delightfully secretive, an endless source of wonder. What could happen in the night, I ask myself, that the morning would know nothing of?
2 a.m. escapades to the city come to mind. When you and I burst out of a stuffy apartment filled with the moisture of summer and emerged into the fresh breath of night running down the streets. Hushed laughter, messy hair and pyjama bottoms made their way to one of those shops that are always open, no matter the time of night or day. The sound of fritters sizzling quietly in oil filled the night as we whispered for fear of breaking some sacred silence.
Night flight is…
Stumbling out of a club flashing all shades of colours, the walls outside booming, shaking with music. And us, drunk on nothing but adrenaline and freedom, waving our arms out of the car window, swinging and swerving around the scenery. Do you remember how we tried to grab fistfuls of the night to not let it turn into day? We wished ardently for the night not to slip from our fingers like sands of Time. So we grabbed onto night’s sleeve so that it would not turn into the day, but it did.
And now, I am simply counting the days. 8 to go until my night flight, my covert adventures. 8 days to go until I have the night for a companion. 8 days left until I somehow go right through the glass of the plane window reflecting my awed expression from the other side. And I will find myself floating next to the stars that have guided me all through my childhood, to my darkest days, to now.
“How lovely it is to finally meet you.” I will say to the stars.
To be able to graze them, even when separated by thick metal layers and engines, what an absolute privilege will that be.
I understand now why people call celebrities “stars” — they shine brightly and are so unattainable, yet so beautiful from afar, from where we gaze up at them from the gutter. I’m afraid that perhaps I am a little more old-fashioned and prefer the original kind of “star” — a fireball burning beautifully into the night, kindling the dreams of every dreamer of a child.
In the 8 months (yikes!) I’ve been working at this start-up, it’s the 4th time now that we are moving offices.
Ah, it tugs at my heartstrings to say it even now…But we’ve moved away from the town with an ocean view, where you could conduct business with sandy toes after lunch by the sea. We’ve bid farewell to walks on the beach, to the lure of the sea breeze teasing your nostrils when you step out onto the 4th floor balcony. And ah, I even miss that balcony layered in cigarette smoke and how it allowed me to gaze at a hundred lives busily unfolding below me, a priceless distraction from my own problems. And we’ve moved away from all too-long bus journeys, from weaving tiredly in and out of old villages vibrant with life. We’ve moved away from the silhouettes of an old man and his granddaughter throwing their fishing lines out at the setting sun.
Now we’ve reached all sandy-toed in a business park closer to the heart of the city.
There will be much to love about it, eventually: the silence, the terrace, eating underneath fruit-bearing trees, the nearby orchards…
Except right now, I feel a bit…young. A bit alone, slightly vulnerable while we try to relearn the bases of moving into a new place. I think maybe I feel…uprooted. Although even that may not be the right term. My colleagues and I used to wander a lot, before. And now we are being made to grow roots instead of wings.
It’s not bad though. It’s really not. But I miss seeing people going to work in shorts and I miss the one man I never talked to, who would go running after work, always dressed in the same neon yellow shirt and cowboy’s hat.
I feel homesick for the sea, for freedom, for feeling in control.
But I am not alone in this, and that’s a small comfort. Besides, I try to remind myself that I have a plane to catch soon and that I will be wandering far past all the places I have ever known. I cannot get hung up about small changes…