Forever ago. (Part 2)

young adult old soul magical realism pascal campion
Art by: Pascal Campion

We are still at the foot of the mountain when the sky clears and the first hints of a sun appear.

And here it is.

The city and the paths of our lives.

Somewhere out there, our lives are unraveling in our absence. The baker is rushing on her feet, carrying out trays of bread for us to buy later. The hyperactive ophthalmologist is probably up already, checking to see that I have an appointment later today. The bank is investing my savings away; light sunrays must now be dancing in the spaces between my thick, bunched up duvet, left in a hurry earlier. Police officers are milling about by the barracks; stray dogs are already wandering the uneven streets of this reckless city in search of a life.

This is where we have been born, where we live, where we will die.

It’s a bizarre experience: to have lived in one place all your life.

Where others might associate a garden to one moment in time, one summer, one person, this whole landscape is a gallimaufry of memories to me, each one piled on top of the other. 24 years spread too thickly over these same buildings and streets. Memories from all the ages and transformations of our lives layer every corner of this city; every park bench, bus stop and hole-in-the-wall restaurant bears a distinct patina of nostalgia.

Out there in this maze of lives are the people we used to be, stored in the minds of people who once knew us. People who don’t know what we’ve become, for whom we slowly stopped existing, erased by absence.

I no longer have the courage to take the road where we walked together, forever ago now, a lifetime back. But there are days when I still have to. Days when I must push past the rush of memories, the thickness in my throat and walk all over my feelings because Life simply calls for it.

It’s never easy to be the one who stays. There is no place to hide, nowhere to run to.


Listening to:

Nurture.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing Luceferous
Art by : Luceferous

It is one of those Saturdays, quiet and warm and reflective. The smell of clean sheets rises in the air, mixed with the comforting scent of the summer breeze. Everything is soft, soft around me. Soft pillows, soft smells, soft memories.

My eyes are lost somewhere in the stream of light cascading through the window, following the ascension of dust particles in the atmosphere. Time melts around me, the barriers between past and present and future turn blurry, until they are but a point in the distance.

“You know, one day you’ll want children of your own…”

“Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll never be ready to have children, no matter how much I love them.”

I stared into the silence. Our outlooks were too different, our self-evident truths too disparate and we seemed only then to have come to that realisation.

“What’ll you do then?”

“Travel…I don’t know.” The answer, though truthful, felt lacking, missing a crucial part.

I was younger then, still unsure of countless things.

My gaze has not wavered from the open window. The sunlight must be warm and comforting.

I want to reach out and hold this light in my hands. Another part of me wants to cup it and…and let it grow.

I understand. Actually, I think I’ve known all along. There is a desire in all of us to nurture a life that is not our own. Children. But also pets, plants, art, projects. I believe we have this innate need to care for things, for people. We need it to survive, to feel needed and important. Caring for someone else gives meaning to life; it gives purpose to sacrifice. It is a reassuring thought : we may fade away, the day may come when we no longer have time to spend, but some part of us will always persist in someone, something else.

So yes, I want to cup that light and help it grow.

Right now, I also want to lean into it and close my eyes, letting my skin soak in all the wisdom of this ordinary-looking moment.

Oh simple saturdays, small saturdays and your great-life-realisations, I’ve missed you.

Watermelon pink.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing
Art by : Awanqi

Today, life is sweet and refreshing, lightly tinted pink. Like sipping watermelon juice that has run down the side of my hand. Cool, sweet without being sugary. And sticky too, but all the more memorable for it.

1 or 2 years ago, I never believed I would think this but even with all the things going wrong…I don’t think I can get enough of Life.

This is the summer of my life: beautiful, somehow timeless, not without its storms and rainy days, not without reasons to wear gratitude every day that goes by.

Fragile

Young Adult Old Soul magic realism writing Agata Wierzbicka
Art by: Agata Wierzbicka

I may be mistaken, but I think that the next part of my journey will be to set myself up for pain.

Because the pain carves the way for something deeper. It makes you fall apart at 2 a.m., strips away your layers, leaves you naked and shivering. And it is in this state, where everything else has been taken from you that you find yourself. The parts of you that you hid away so well you forgot about them. The tenderness, the undiluted emotion. The raw material that logic has not been applied to, that insecurities have not yet marred. Your emotions before they are dissolved in decency and the learned behaviour of: “I shouldn’t think that.”. Something true. So true that you had to hide it from the world for fear of it being plundered.

At this point, when the world is looking for your weakness, you join in the search and say: “I’ll help.”

Because you cannot have a fragile heart in a world this tough. You do not need a heart that flinches at the mere mention of pain. So you go against every learned reflex, every survival instinct and coping mechanism that has helped you throughout the years. You rise from the fetal position, square your shoulders, lift your gaze and look Life right in the eye. And when every last cell in your body is getting ready to fight, you surrender.

Aching and tender. Vulnerable.

“Do what you want,” You say “and I’ll do my best to survive.”

Because the aim in Life is not to remain unhurt. It is not to live and age on the same patch of earth, unchanged. Life is a metamorphosis. Just think, we are clay after all, how disappointing would it be if we never moulded ourselves into anything? And it is under pressure, as we are spun around that we gain shape. Otherwise, we are just a potential something. Otherwise, we are only could-be’s and maybes that will never live to see the world truly, as much as we are able.

 

Like A Child Lost In The Mall

hisachieguchi
Art by: Hisashi Eguchi

The world seems so big sometimes.

But no one else seems scared or lost.

No one seems to be stumbling, fidgeting. No one else has eyes lit with fear, with a look that says “Please help me”. I feel like a child lost in a mall whenever I enter the adult world. These places with grey buildings that tower over you, like reprimanding adults.  With their menacing, gleaming facades behind which men and women are watching, judging. The kind of place where people always have somewhere to be and you’re in the way.

I feel like an ambitious, overeager child lost in a world of grown-ups. I wanted to go wander by myself. To explore the great, big world the way a 7-year-old wants to know what happens behind the large, closed doors inside the supermarket where only staff members are allowed. But now that I’m alone, even the shelves have turned into threats. Everything is towering, looming. Even the shadows seem darker.

And have you noticed? There never seems to be 2 lost kids in one store at the same time. I’m alone, just drifting. Worry inflating with each step, hoping people won’t notice that I don’t know where I’m going. That I’m only in their way because I can’t find mine.

It is then that I feel like I am just masquerading. Just playing dress-up. Like I put on my father’s shoes to impersonate efficiency and, in too predictable ways, quickly stumbled and crashed. Because I can’t fill shoes this big with feet this small.

Small, small. I feel so small.

But I am learning that the only reason why there are never 2 kids lost in one store is that both are continually hiding from the other. Always pretending that they know where they’re going. For fear that they are the only ones who don’t.

But I know better now.  I have seen my friends hide their small, shaking selves behind bold makeup and clacking shoes. Or somewhere off-camera, in Instagram photos of their coffee and car keys.

And I have understood that age shouldn’t be used as a measure for growth. That, at 27 (which seems like a lot, even when you’re 21), you can still feel no older than 17. The thing with age is that it goes on without you. Like a train you’re running to catch but that flies by too fast. And yet, you’re still expected to make it on time.

(I wondered today, how many 17 year olds were living in 27 year old bodies.)

The point is, you can be 30, 40, and still feel like a child.

We’re all playing dress-up. We’re all trying and fidgeting. It’s alright. It’s alright to fumble with your things at 23, to not have a stable relationship by 25, to still stutter out your food order at 30, and to feel intimidated by other people at 35.

No one’s ever fully grown up, anyway.

 

 

 

Hiding In Between Worlds

Comfort-Zone

I have been feeling for some time now, dome-shaped glass pressing against my back. Something cool and constricting that has me twisting my spine to espouse its shape.

I am outgrowing my comfort zone. This place that started out as a getaway and then, piece by piece, turned into my whole world. This place where Time passes, but not really. This place where nothing ever grows.

Nothing, not even me. Certainly not me.

But every time I go out, I return more substantial. Greater than what I started out as.  And each time, my comfort zone seems smaller. Each time, I have to tuck in my limbs and bow my head, careful not to spill over.

A comfort zone is safe. And we all need that. During years where life is not easy, it is the only place you can breathe. It is the only way you can live. It is the kind of place that is separated from the world, like a Christmas ornament hanging on a tree, overlooking the world, connected to it via a single thread . The kind of place with its own stratosphere, where you can redefine all the laws of the world and turn physics upside down. A place that could be everything you want it to be—and yet, a place that is often small. A space fit for one. A space you have to shrink yourself to fit into. Like you’re stuck in the closet between two worlds.

But my heart is growing bigger now. My brain bubbling with new ideas and wild concepts. Itinerant bits of poetry and pieces of people are finding home in that body now. I am catching onto threads of destiny, getting ever linked to the outside world. I am turning out to be too much for that small place. I cannot contain myself, not anymore.

One day, soon, I will spill. I will burst.

And I will find out that that spherical comfort zone was actually contained in a larger one. That, like the Earth, it is composed of layers. And one day, I will outgrow that one, too. And the next, and the next…


Listening to:

Figuring Out Who You Are

 

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Art by Gunseli Sepici

You toss and turn the night away,
as if hoping that the movement will
cause all that’s wrong inside,
to finally fall back into place.

You’re restless, breathless and hopeless.
And I want to say: “You don’t have to be.”
Because it is when disassembling the pieces of a Lego house
that you have enough parts to create a bigger one.

Everything doesn’t have to be in place all the time,
else it means that things have never moved,
that they have never changed.
But you, you want to evolve.
You want to grow.
You want to be a better you.

So embrace the messiness.
Make out with the idea that you’re a work-in-progress.
We all are.
It’s just that some of us are building foundations,
and others are redoing the paint.
But even then, you never know when
you’ll want to knock the whole thing down
and start all over again.

 

When You’re Not What You’re Supposed To Be (Part II)

“It was stupid of him to ask the lily to grow and blossom like the rose had…Why then was he doing that to himself?”

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Illustration Credits: https://www.facebook.com/elesqart/

He had come up with an excuse to escape then, a sloppy one. One they would decidedly never believe. Surely, his phone would be ringing up in a few hours.

As he pushed open the door to his mess of an apartment, he numbly decided to ignore the clothes strewn all over the place and the balled-up pieces of paper that contained an incomplete masterpiece.

Instead, his feet took him to the balcony. It was the one thing in his life that looked like it had been given importance.

There were flowers of all kinds everywhere. Daisies, roses, poppies, lilies, hyacinths and many others surrounded him.

He sighed.

What about him?

What…Who was he? Where was he going?

His friends…they had all sat on the same school benches, had experienced happiness and heartbreak, had lived their youths together, all as one, and now…Now they all were on their paths to happiness whilst he was lost trying to find his.

And him, what about him!? He nearly cried.

His head hung in shame and sorrow, and blankly, almost lifelessly, he touched the lilies that had yet to bloom.

“Why can’t you just – just blossom already!” he cried in sudden anger.

He had bought the rose and lily seeds and had planted them at the same time, and yet, these lilies stubbornly refused…

But then, he remembered something.

On the back of the package, it had said that these would take longer to grow, simply because, well, lilies were lilies. Lilies could not grow as fast as roses, or else they might as well be roses. But they would eventually bloom.

It was just that they were…different, and so, they grew differently.

It was stupid of him to ask the lily to grow and blossom like the rose had…Why then was he doing that to himself?