A windy place.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Unknown artist

I am enjoying having lunch alone, under the swaying palm trees ripe with the promise of tranquillity, in the windy corridor between building A and B.

I love being here at odd lunch hours, it really cements what this place is about: nebulousness, off-the-mapness, in-betweens. It is the liminal space between the work world and individual life, a bridge where, crossing between two buildings, you stop being an employee for a hot second, the kind that can spill into infinity. You enter building A a worker, spill out into the windy corridor all-too human, all-too much of a star, all-too other and foreign even to yourself. Your self stretches out as though an accordion to showcase its multiple intricate layers, and the palm trees take you away to bygone summers. You are not a name on the payroll before you enter building B. No, you are an in-between, a free spirit. You become a kaleidoscope of yourself and the corridor is the light that shines so it may exist. You don’t think about work, you wonder about possibilities: maybes, perhapses, what-ifs.

I love going there for lunch at around 13:00 (start-up mentality lets me have lunch when I want basically) when the courtyard is free and deserted. For an hour long, it is all mine. Even now during the winter time, when it is too cold to be out, when common sense calls for warmth and safety, I somehow still find myself making my way to this windy place, peering through the gaps between the fronds of the palm trees to catch a look at a strip of sky or moving cloud.

1 p.m finds me gazing into the windows of building A, watching the reflection of clouds pass along one window, disappear into the concrete between the other window, then re-emerge into the next one.

Lunch tastes different too.

My senses are focused, attuned, at peace. I am in the moment as my nails dig into the fragrant skin of a clementine, peeling it and pulling out each plump, juicy wedge translucent with the promise of sweet citrusyness. And the spaghetti tasted more of home than tomatoes, every bite a step further inwards to the cherished, overgrown garden of memories. And oh, the melon iced tea in its glass bottle that tasted so sweetly, so gently of summer.

I wish I had brought a book with me today. It is this wondrous, ordinary-looking setting that has witnessed my exploring of “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. It is here that I have found myself over and over in his words and even in the spaces between them.

I am going to miss this when I leave one day, invariably. And even as I tell myself that this is neither here nor there, I am reminded that half the year has already passed and that I may well be leaving too soon.


Note: Alternate title for this blog post: “The one where I make up all the words.”😂

Advertisements

Sleepless world.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by : Hajin Bae

It is nights like these that I think of you most.

Hot summer nights when the humidity, exceeding the 80 percent bar, weighs on my skin and everything in life feels so heavy. Always, in those rare instances when I have managed to drop out of the routine that clings to my skin, an image of you comes unbidden to my mind. You must know them as well as I do, those kinds of nights when I pierce a hole into my “schedule” and can finally let some air in, as though life had become an airtight, windowless room.

Out on the balcony, I breathe in the night sky, feeling the cool outside air sliding down my arms, picking up my ample t-shirt dress, making it billow on my back as though it were the sail to a boat and I was about to be taken away. Like a ship sailing in an ocean of stars. To get to that place only we know. With my hair untied, loose for once from its bun, not even the railing could anchor me. Not even the warmth of the orange light behind me, not even the letters in my room.

In the developing coolness of the late night (01:16 a.m. where I am now), something constricts in my heart.

It has been so long since the last time, but I remember you. You and this feeling : light and hazy, confusing : it takes my whole mind apart in the gentlest of ways.

Somehow or other, I always come back to you. It is always this scene that lies in the background of all the stages of my life. Like a parallel life running alongside mine, that I can only see when I stop for a moment and look around me.

We know each other but I do not remember ever meeting you.

But I have thought of you too much as I breathed in lungfuls of loneliness on cold, star-speckled nights. I have imagined too deliberately what it would mean to meet someone like you, to not know you when you are right in front of me.

I have sent too many thoughts into the night that have only reached you in early morning sleep for you to not wonder why a stranger feels so familiar.

You see, I know you. I’ve known you all along. I have spoken with you, with the idea of someone like you at 2 a.m. when I could not find rest, in classrooms filled with friends as I looked out the window or in clattering buses as the sun set.

I know you. I don’t remember much about you; I don’t really know your name. But we know each other. A relationship held together by stars and nights willing to carry our heaviness, our ache for friendship to another blue soul somewhere in this vast, sleepless world.

I have shared so many moons with you, so many new years and eclipses; so many hours of sleep. Still, we have never met, not until now. Not until now when, for some reason, all of my life is pouring out to you in casual conversation. Not until now when opening up has never felt so right, when I speak in half-sentences and obscure references only for you to nod gently, a light of understanding glinting in your eyes.

27.10.18


Listening to :

Lonely stars and unnamed moons.

magic realism writing young adult old soul hajin bae
Art by : Hajin Bae

Did you know that during winter, you can still see stars at 05:30 a.m?

When I woke up to them, still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I thought I might still be dreaming or that I was seeing these strange light visions you get when you rub your eyes. I thought I might have woken up on one of Saturn’s 9 unnamed moons (out of a total of 62 moons with enthralling names: Thrymyr, Ijiraq, Telesto, Lapetus, Titan…) and was seeing the universe laid out before me, all engulfing darkness and lights that shine all the brighter for it.

It felt decidedly surreal, to be visiting the universe one dawn in my pyjamas, hair ruffled and warm from sleep, my fluffy eye mask snagged in one direction around my neck.

It was an honest mistake, and a beautiful one to boot. But the world was silent, the city young and asleep. Not even the sound of an altered motorcycle exhaust. Not even the barking of a dog. Nothing. It was quiet, like how I know the universe must be. In the hour before dawn, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, stars have this ethereal pinkish glow, something a little peachy and warm. I woke up to the universe outside my bedroom window, to moons hanging low in my backyard, grazing the balcony overlooking the city.

Or so it seemed.

Of course, I would realise they were stars as time went by.

And yet somehow, instead of disappointment, I felt all the more thankful for them. For how they accompany us even in the last hours of the night, fearing we might lose our way.

Finally, finally, after a lifetime of contemplation, under the protective glow of pinkish stars, I realised that stars are for me companions, friends, who see me through the darkness of night, holding my hand until the small hours and beyond.

I am never alone when the stars are with me, when the Universe sends them my way to guide me through the dark.

Slowly, reverently, I trace my fingertips over the patterns of stars in the lightening sky. One, two, three, four and a few hundred more. Though side by side, sharing the same skies, they never meet.

Perhaps it is true.

I trace over the patterns of lights on the apartment complex a few blocks away. Every window that is lit up is at least one person.

It really is true : that each star represents a connection I will never make, a friend I will never meet. We are all strangers under one big sky, learning our own orbits, navigating our loneliness.

That morning, there must have been someone else like me. Another one or more, staring at the pinkish lights, keeling under the revelation of 5 a.m. stars, their questions floating in the sky, not unheard but still unanswered.

Is there someone out there like me?


Quote of the day :

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

— Frida Kahlo

Note : I have to admit though, Lonely Stars and Unnamed Moons is a pretty amazing band name. 10/10 would listen to their music if they existed 😂

Time, spare change and pocket lint.

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.

Burning.

young adult old soul writing magic realism art
Art by : Levitann

At least once in your life, do something truly great. Something greater than you.

This thought came to disrupt my concentration, like a grain of sand in a well-oiled machine.I had been typing away an article about new tile collections (not as boring as it sounds) when it happened. So ensconced I was in my seat, in my thoughts and combination of words that it did not seem possible that this had come from me.

Yet left and right, everyone was as sucked into their own screens as I was.

It dawned on me then what caused it. All the generous amount of time I had been spending slowly, intentionally was reaping its fruits : creativity, disruption.

Doing “nothing” and being alone lets the mind wander. Instead of only exposing the mind to others’ ideas, you let the ones from your own sprout. They grow in silence until, one day out of the blue, their tender leaves tickle your clouds of thoughts and startle you awake.

“For even one time in your life,” some part of my brain pressed on, “see how far you can go for no other reason than to just know. Journey all the way to your last limit and discover, uncover new and old things about you. Push your small clay body to its earthly limits, show the universe what you’re made of. Don’t you want to experience even once the feeling of being the ultimate form you can be? What’s the point of being given a life if once at least, you don’t live it above and beyond the average? Set out to conquer yourself, to overcome the version of you that you are now!”

Be better, burn, burn in the pursuit of a nameless truth. Burn from passion, and do not ever satisfy yourself with the safety of a lukewarm life.

Wispy warmth.

young-adult-old-soul-magic-realism-art-alexandra-levasseur
Art by : Alexandra Levasseur

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.

A writer.

young-adult-old-soul-writing-cadmiumyellowdeep-
Art by : cadmiumyellowdeep

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.