And now, the truth I have been unwilling to admit to myself: I am escaping. Sentenced to unexciting realities, my mind cooks up elaborate scenarios, my body busies itself in all ways it can think of.
I am living for dreams that have yet to be, trading the certainty of “now” for the maybes of tomorrow. I know that no matter how much I plan, there is always so much that is left in the air, so much I cannot control. These doubts infiltrate my small, ordinary day and grow large and looming until they fill up my breathing space and the only way away from them is distraction.
Daydreaming, entertaining the idea of smoking, putting music on every time silence stretches or boredom reaches to the bottom of my soul, risking myself in brazen speech, scrolling through social media, snacking on things I don’t even want to eat, texting “people”… All things I’ve done or attempted in an effort to escape from life, actions very much like the moments when, as a child, I would plug my fingers in my ear and go “Lalalalalalalala, I can’t hear you!” at the world.
So I’ve come to abhor silence; these thoughts only echo louder in it. Instead of facing them, I fill every moment of idleness with something else. I drown out my thoughts in loud music, I forget about my troubles through conversations, I escape reality with all the swiftness of a gazelle being chased by a lioness. This is nothing new, it is something I’ve always done. I just thought I was past it. That I had harnessed this proclivity to escape into something beautiful that I could use at will. But I am reminded that this is what it looks like when I mess up: I run away, I hide, I escape. All that’s left to do now is to understand, to look at the wreckage left of these few months and examine them without trying to criticise.
You won’t be hearing from me for a little while, and I hope that’s okay— is something I should have written 3 weeks ago, before my sister’s wedding completely engulfed my timetable, when I knew already that I would be too keen on 2 a.m. conversations and too tired from them to write anything, to want to write anything.
But in my defence, I didn’t worry about it much, entirely too concerned with living the present moment for everything it was. Man, I’ve lived these past 3 weeks. So much so that for a long minute, it seemed impossible that it had been 3 weeks and not 2. It’s like reading a novel and getting really into it, so that when you reach the end, you think : “Is it over already?”. In a way, it makes me think—why aren’t my weeks usually packed with as much meaning? Why is life wishy-washy, the waters so low and still that any movement, however small, becomes a major event? I should always be living. Be it in the great or small ways. This is the kind of battle I am leading these days : pushing meaninglessness out of my life. Making every second worth it.
This is something I’ve realised ever since traveling abroad for the first time, I’ve understood just how much a day can hold. I’ve re-evaluated my perception of Time, and —most amazingly, most importantly— of the realm of possibility. I’m not careless about my minutes now, I don’t leave them behind in my pockets with the lint and stray change, don’t forget them in the slack of the workload. Instead, I string them together like a beaded necklace, giving all moments this continuous flow, where they succeed one another in a stream of events that is memorable, that does not make me feel as though I’ve woken up from a 2 or 3 hour spell, not remembering where the time has gone and who has robbed me of it…
I am the worst planner I know, in my defence. All that daydreaming and world-building has to come at a cost, you know.
But I’m learning. I’m trying. It’ll work out, somehow.
I let my hair down at night so the stars will mistake it for the midnight sky and settle there. I think it works, because often I awake to stardust woven in my hair and galactic visions streaked in my mind’s eye.
My hair, I have noted, has grown out, giving an air of incredible softness to my face. A sort of gentle femininity I am unused to. For about a year now, I’ve been sporting what I call an office-girl hairstyle : shoulder length with long layers. But now I feel as though it’s all worn in, if a hairstyle can be that. The straight, sharp edges have mellowed out, the humidity is creating waves out of my hair, making it undulate with every nascent thought, every momentary, imagined world. My hair has seen one too many case of bedhead, has been too warm —spread out about my pillow during long, contemplative mornings— for it to be office-like.
An overlong fringe now brushes my cheekbones, long layers tickle the underside of my jaw all day long. My hair has ventured well past my clavicle. Can a hairstyle feel homey? Because this one does.
I have never known myself to be this soft-looking, even when I had hair tumbling all the way down my back. I’ve never woken up to so many stars caught in my hair. I want to think it’s this inner gentleness I have been working on, drawing it out gently from a well inside of me, wisp by wisp.
Now it’s time to cut this wispy warmth, but I feel in me that this won’t change a thing, that it won’t stop the stars from coming.
Since I stopped being a child, I’ve always taken care to keep my dreams and the real world separate.
Even if I would dip my toes back in the other worlds on bus journeys or open a window into daydream in the middle of class, both these worlds were left relatively estranged, sealed off from the other.
By day I slipped into reality and meandered down its labyrinthine alleyways. By night I flew into dreams, and strange visions awakened in me, tickling parts of my psyche I did not even know were alive. It felt strangely like I was sectioning myself, partitioning two opposing sides. Without need for any foul concoctions, I had somehow landed myself into a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of conundrum.
And yet, one without the other was incomplete : the real world without dreams felt hollow ; dreams that were not grounded in reality lost their meaning, fading like smoke in a gust of wind.
Still, it had to be done. My dreams were far too great to ever achieve. I didn’t, couldn’t possibly have what it takes — everyone else said so. Or rather, they didn’t have to. Their deep-held beliefs spoke for themselves. You see, my dreams bled into life every time I held a pen and while that meant I was good at languages and writing, it was not a very special skill to have. Everyone can write. Millions of people master two languages. At any point in time, your skill and therefore you, are replaceable. There are countless other people who are better at it than you anyway, who’ve been doing it for longer. How likely would it be that of all the writers in the world, I would be the one to make something out of my writing ? Not very, apparently. So if you have a replaceable skill like that, don’t turn it into a dream. Don’t take it seriously. Try something else, and do some writing on the side, if you want.
That’s what it started out as : “Writing is not a real skill. Languages are easy. Only the very few people who are really good at it ever succeed.”
For my own good, I should not dream big. I should settle for some average occupation or the other, safe in the knowledge that I would never have made it had I followed the inconsistent path of dreams. I would have lost momentum halfway through and would have fallen flat on my face. And yet, in spite of all that being drilled into me, in spite of me telling myself these things, dreams kept spilling onto the well-constructed reality others had built for me.
Disbelief met with determination, and after many years, my dreams infiltrated reality, and I am now a little of what I thought I would never be : a writer.
It didn’t turn out exactly how I pictured it, but it is what it is and it is more than what I ever thought I would get.
The greatest point of tension is that now the two worlds do not mix well. They are each wary of the other, unused to being anything but two separate entities. Now that my dreams are grounded in a kind of reality, I don’t know what to do next. I cannot tell apart the dreams I have just for the sake of having them from the ones I actually want to bring into the real world.
I mean, is writing even my thing anymore? I just happened to be good at it and did it. Could it be I’ve yet to find my “thing”? I don’t know.
I cannot keep being content, stagnating in the kind of joy I am experiencing now.
Because I am being gifted a luxury very few people have the privilege to experience : I have a little bit of everything, and the winds are in my favour. I have some time, some money, perspective, freedom, support… I am being given everything I need to achieve my dreams.
The question is, do I even have one?
I’m not sure what I want. All this time I’ve told myself dreams were impossible and now it turns out they aren’t all that unusual here in the real world.
It’s that feeling, you know, when you just want to make something out of yourself. It would be such a waste not to.
This weekend, find me at home, teetering over the edges of my own universe, immersed in tasks I do with love. Find me pouring all my skill in the very tip of my finger, in the slice-thin pointiness of a size 0 paintbrush, where I will be painting both daisies and pokemon alike on the cream paper of birthday cards.
Well actually, this weekend I do not plan to be found at all. I will lose myself instead in all the worlds I have been born into : my worlds of rainy days I long for, of carefree summer days, childhood scents, a hidden world of vulnerability…And all through this cosmos, these interlinked planets and blinking constellations, music will play, soft and tender, with words that ring true or beautiful and harmonies that make my own heartstrings vibrate.
Yes, this weekend I am in immersion, astronaut helmet and all. I won’t be answering the phone, because I’ll be making even more long-distance calls…Yeah, this weekend you won’t find me at all. Not on this planet, not in this world. My body will be somewhere in a cozy room, but my soul will be out there, longing for more.
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 😂
“And yet who is to say what kind of things churned behind your eyes ?”
Who even looks up anymore?
Some days I do; most days I don’t. I’m busy trying not to lose time, to make the few hours outside of work count double, triple. Honestly, I am a bit too busy planning my first trip abroad to pay attention to airplanes in the sky. Or to stop in the middle of the unending human flow of the city to gaze at planes weaving soundlessly through clouds. I must have missed more than a couple of these flights, these vanishing doors to daydreams. If this sends a twinge of disappointment in me, I am learning to ignore it. I cannot rise to every occasion. There are just some trains you are going to miss in life, some planes you will never catch.
But then again, there are those that you do seize.
Like today, in the late evening. The sun dipped its toes in the ocean and let out a sigh that was all golden light. A soft caress of warmth at the back of trees, an aureate glint on satellite dishes, a light underlining the otherwise anonymous beauty of you in this loud city.
Did you have any idea what kind of image you made for? You, on the fourth and last floor of an apartment building, sitting by the open window on the windowsill, pale blue curtains fluttering around you; your head resting on one knee, your face upturned. You, one human in a jungle of a city, unstirring where everyone else always moves, moves, moves. And yet who is to say what kind of things churned behind your eyes ? What kind of plane your small hand must have caught.
How many years have you been here, dreaming? To jump on the first plane to pass by your window and to fly away into the night, to wake up to some view other than the one you’ve come to know?
More beautiful than a plane in the clear blue sky, a girl with big dreams in the city, looking out of her window.
Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 6. You can find Day 5, “Another name for wonder” here ! 🙂