Lingerer.

I’ve earned quite the reputation of being a lingerer.

I was always caught a little too long in the warmth of morning sheets, and I took hours steaming up the shower, only to emerge, skin flushed and thoughts nebulous. Voted most likely to run into a pole while staring at the sky. Serial latecomer, eternal late bloomer.

I settle too comfortably into moments — I melt into them like candy on a summer’s day: messy, gooey and all over the place.

I can’t help it though: I’m just so in love with the idea of being. It is magic to just be. To be able to create thoughts. To move your hand just because you want to. And feelings — how deliciously complex they are! Like scents, they have undertones and influences that make them unique. But there are always the classics,too: love, sadness, fear, anger. And how intriguing to have a place for your thoughts, for your dreams, for every unspoken part of you. Do you realise that every idea you have first existed as a spark of electricity in your brain? All of the world’s greatest inventions and art were born in that liminal space. Inexistant to the rest of the world, to MRI scans and brain surgeons but so vivid for you.

There are worlds inside my head always calling me. The worlds I knew first.

And then, there’s the world world.

How it is both overwhelming and small at once.

The sweetness of it amid its acridity. A flower bursting from the concrete, flocks of birds flying over industrial zones, the lullaby of the ocean, minutes away from the national reserve bank.

So I linger. There is so much to take in, to admire.

A lifetime will never be enough for this purpose: there is too much out there.

The sun, the sky, the progression of the day, mountains, the rain, the unnamed stars that light up our nights. The people.

How am I expected to be on time when all these ideas orbit my head? How am I meant to just accept it all, to brush the world and myself under a carpet and pretend it’s all…normal?

It’s not.

It’s exceptional, all of it.

So I will linger, charmed by the world and its ways, entranced by the inner workings of my mind. And I will call the clock a liar for saying I’m late. Because I’m not, I’m always right on time somehow.


Note: Still alive! Very much enjoying it, too. I hope and pray you are all doing beautifully as well. Also, are you or someone you know also a lingerer? Please tell me I’m not the only one lol.

Listening to:

Someone like me.

Young adult old soul magic realism
Art by: Xuan Loc Xuan

I hadn’t known he lived so close by, all this time. A mere 5 minutes’ walk away, in one of these houses I often see during walks but never really take notice of.

We had been out enjoying the night and the freedom to be ourselves: young and a bit reckless, drunk on the boundlessness of night. That’s when M. noticed him on the balcony. A man so young and pale and delicate, he looked like a boy who had yet to know what the night held. And he was a boy, even though I know that, like M., he had already made his way to his twenties and was reaching to grasp a quarter of a decade. He had been exhaling the smoke from a cigarette, contemplating life in shorts and a sleeping shirt when M. called out to him.

I had always known there were others like me. Out there, in the vast world, in the endless night. Others with eyes so tender from dreams. Others who could enter other dimensions, who could stay rooted to the spot, stuck in ordinary scenes and still be so far away. But these others were never corporeal. They were always nebulous like the night, far away in time and space, in their own worlds, leagues away from me. The others weren’t meant to be a mere 5 minutes from me, from my own cold nights, my silent howling, my early mornings spent awaiting a reply that never came.

It was unmistakable, that look on his face.

I’ve never seen it on myself, but I know how it makes you feel — foggy and infinite, the body merely an illusion of presence, like a boat moored to land but whose sails have long flown into the night.

I could taste that moment, the gentle loneliness emanating from the scene, the kind that comes from being the only one of your kind.

But he doesn’t know does he, I wondered, that he’s not the only one?

I had known of him years before that, short and just as boylike, with a feathery mustache. Our circles had crossed, but we had never really interacted. I had known of him as just another boy, a face with barely a name attached to i.

Who would have known that somewhere in the future, we would share in so many sleepless nights, so many stars without knowing?

He was now talking to M., a soft, tired smile on his face as his cigarette burned away and the night breeze brushed through his shock of black hair.

This changes everything, I thought.

I wasn’t the only one to whom the night had whispered her secrets. I wasn’t the only one who had lived to see nights without end cross over into the early morning. The night was not mine alone to drown in anymore, to wander through aimlessly like a sleepwalker under the artificial glow of the streetlamps.

I watched as he took another drag of his cigarette.

Before long, before I could formulate a plan, his cigarette had burned out and M. returned to the car.

We left, accompanied by loud music and the vivid image of a cigarette being lit in the darkness.

I left him to his freedom as I went to seek out mine.

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 😂

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.

Now you see me.

 

Young Adult Old Soul Writing Magical Realism
Art by : 9jedit

I know that however life ends, I will not die deeply pained, aching, ever longing.

I have already been seen, been acknowledged. Not as myself necessarily (because how rare is that, that someone else would understand what you yourself cannot express?). But I’ve been seen nonetheless : there are stories, movies and music out in the world that make my truths go wild, hammering against the underside of my skin.

There are moments. God there are moments when I feel as though all the dots have connected and I can explain to myself that I was born to live this moment, however simple and solitary and ordinary-looking. I was made so one day I could gaze at the stars, shivering under the midnight drizzles-turned-showers that make you feel more alive than anything else has or could.

In nature, I find myself. It is that simple, that inexplicable. Perhaps it is also in the expression of their own selves that I find myself in others. And you know, maybe I’d like to do that, too. Maybe, maybe I’m hoping that this, whatever this is, can make someone feel that they aren’t the only one who feels the way they do.

It’s that simple, that unattainable. The feeling of being seen, understood.


Note : Can you tell I love 9jedit?

Listening to :

Today, as it is.

Young Adult Old Soul Writing Magic Realism

So naturally pink! It looks like the sky has been dyed in cotton candy colours, like you could reach out, pluck a piece of the sky and put it in your mouth. It is the exact shade I rave about endlessly in my blog posts and I cannot get enough of it.

I tried going up the roof to capture that colour without any inconvenience, but it just did not look the same. And I found myself being grateful for being exactly where I was in life. I was suddenly grateful for how the whole day had gone, for how it lead up to me looking up at the right place, at the right time to witness that sky.

Most days I have so many regrets. So many forever unanswered what-ifs that taunt me. Yet today, I was grateful to be just where I was. And to have been where I have been because without it, without the good and the bad, I would not have today, as it is.

Young Adult Old Soul Writing Magic Realism


Note : I realise on certain screens the pink colour does not really appear. Plus, I’m not really a photographer either so bear with me kindly.

Listening to :

A weightless wonder.

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Photograph by : Unknown

My heart is trepidating right now, as I write this.

I am on the cusp between two worlds, hanging at the very tip of a crescent moon, waiting to dive in beauty and adventures unknown. Between reality and dreams is a leap I have to take, a distance I have bridged thus far with hard work and a whole lot of luck. And now, here I am. At the very last bit of it, the last cornerstone, the last touch that brings everything together, without which all is incomplete.

I’m sure a lot of people do it everyday, mindlessly. A sort of routine : they buy plane tickets the way I pay for the bus. But I’ve never done this before, never experienced the thrill of buying yourself such an experience, of feeding your soul something that will nourish it for years to come. But here I am, a paved road trailing behind me, a door waiting to be unlocked under my trembling hand. And you just, you just have to take a moment during those times, you know?

Look at where I’ve come from and look at where I am going.

From this point on, nothing will ever be the same again; I will be unlocking parts of myself I’d never known about before. You just need that one moment to appreciate all of life, and the way in which it happened to you, the way every moment has led to this, to now. And here I am, shaky and disbelieving, waiting to wake up like I have so many times before, to dreams that turn bitter on my tongue as soon as reality sinks in. But I’m pinching myself and pinching myself, right? And it hurts every single time. It’s not a fake, it’s not a dream. This is reality. The very reality that denies me so many beautiful visions every day is giving me this. 20 or so odd years, reality has been a keen sting. But now even as I am pinching away, there is no pain.

Just a weightless wonder.

Something that has no reality to root itself to because it still belongs to the world of dreams. It has not yet transitioned into being, is still some fuzzy concept floating around, changing shapes in my mind’s eye. I am still expecting to wake up anytime now to a dreary routine and the same scenery I see everyday. I am expecting for time to stop the day I plan to go away. Maybe the world will end before I get to the airport. I don’t know. Because for the first time, I can’t imagine what it will be like.

Not even how it makes me feel.

I just have to wait for it to happen. To discover worlds unknown, outside and within.

 

Another name for wonder

“My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain…”

what_you_will_never_be_by_jmfenner91

Art by : James Fenner

Wonder is such a rare, rare resource. Somehow, it is something I’ve only realised now that I am losing mine. Wonder is something you cultivate, which you train your eyes to see even when it is hidden deep under a pile of grime and waste. It is to believe that there is good in the world, even when the actions of its people say otherwise. My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain, even after it was upended and prepared for the real world.

In a way, my wonder grew like an insurgence, a rebellion; like something that rose stronger after someone tried to kill it. A weed growing back with a vengeance, truly, wishing to overcome everything, to layer it in green. Or pink, as it so happens with wonder. But rose-tinted glasses do shatter, I’ve learnt. And when they do, the contrast is striking. Nauseating. All around is oozing darkness and filth, even the most beautiful souls host some kind of festering illness, most things seem ugly, ugly, ugly.

So, is this what I’ve not been seeing all along ?

Hidden behind bullet-proof, rose-tinted glasses, is this what the world truly looks like ?

Is wonder not just a deception, then? A weed, truly, growing over more than just your sight, but your vision, your perception? A truth-obscurer. How can anyone find any beauty in a world like this? A world that kills and hates, discriminates—a world that hurts so, so deeply; somewhere deeper than any muscle tissue, deeper than the very marrow of your bones. An ache so profound it continually rings through your skeleton, there with you at your every step, at your every glance at this desolate, capsizing world. And through your ache, you feel others’ aches, too. Millions, billions hiding their own pain. The old Earth even aches, and its pain is something so profoundly sad, most of all because it is a wordless cry. It is the sound of trees being felled, of the surface of the Earth being clawed at, of oceans being poisoned.

Beauty?

Beauty, if it ever was, is withering now.

Nothing is beautiful, nothing is good anymore.

The world is all one hollow crater resonating with the cries of all who find themselves in it.

Idealism was a beautiful lie, while it lasted.

Losing wonder is very much like losing one of your 5 senses. The world is never quite the same afterwards. Or maybe it is more like gold that loses its shine with the years.

As I trail past the abandoned Earth, past the desertification of this world, I realise I am not sure what to do at all. Where to start? With the starving, with the injured, the children, the old people? With…myself? The Earth is bleeding, and I only have two hands to stop a haemorrhage larger than all the life I have led up until now.

Soon, night falls in this deserted Earth, like everything else. Everything falls, and decays and dies. Life is a downward spiral, a slope too steep to climb. I let go of myself, slumping into the dunes, the biting cold of the desert at night.

Above me is this huge void, an all-encompassing darkness ready to swallow us whole. The sky will one day fall on our heads and take us all.

Tears, salty and cold and prickly sting my eyes. All of this desolation has welled up into something terrifyingly large on the inside, something that will come out one way or the other. And I can feel it already, lodged in my throat, straining, struggling to be let out.

Then, the first tear falls.

And another and another, and another.

As I rub furiously at my eyes, irritating them even further, something…stands out in the distance, in the corner of my eye.

There, scintillating in the void of night, the first star to appear in the night sky. Something you have to train your eyes to see amidst all the darkness.

Wonder. Wonder blooms in the night like a desert flower.

Quietly, another star alights.

And another and another, and another.

All of the night is alight with stars, blinking from light years away.

And it strikes me then, lightning-hot. Do you know what another name for wonder is? Hope.

Slowly, the blank spaces around me fill up with humans who are stargazers like me, too. The starlight reflects in their eyes, and they, we, can see clearer now.

You know what Hope and stars have in common? They help humans find their way in the dark.


Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 5. You can find Day 4 here. Also, if you thought this was going to have a bleak ending, well, surprise ! It does happen though, that our idealism dulls. Sometimes you realise again how messed up the world is. Like everything else, wonder has an ebb and flow. But it is so important to not be stuck at one stage or the other and to keep moving forward. Also, side-note, this is the most complete blog post I’ve ever written lol. One very relevant cover photo, a quote of the day AND a song to boot? #Productivity.

Quote of the day :

“There is some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

Listening to :

To All You Idealists, Dreamers and Lost Wanderers…

Gif Source: Tumblr (Artist Sadly Unknown)

The sun is shining down hard on my head today. My ears burn red under the heat, but I continue to wander my way through Life.  The people around, they all seem to know where they are going. No-nonsense business suits and straightened hair; their ties are smoother than the road ahead.

“Put-together”

They do not hesitate. Their gait is sure, their shoulders firm. They are not afraid of the road. They rule over it. They decide where the road will take them.

Which is why sometimes, it feels like their eyes are boring through me. As I slip in and out of alleyways like a needle through a piece of cloth, as I wander and then abruptly stop to look around me, panic-stricken and lost.

I am not yet like them. My hair is a tangle of dreams, my steps wobbly from fear at times. But also from joy, at others. And I don’t look at the road sometimes, because the huge palm tree that tickles the skies is too beautiful to ignore. Because the port is not too far away and if I strain my ears enough, I will hear the boats with their multicoloured flags rocking, splashing in the water. And the birds. The birds are soaring. The wind is blowing, carrying the smell of salt and the sea.

The sun is shining down so hard, but I’m still looking up.

And I wander.

I look on the world like a wayfarer.

I breathe in; I am not yet like them.

But every so often…Every so often, I will see a soul in a business suit. A young man with slicked back hair, still curling at the edges, still a little light from the sun. I can never look at the eyes. Full of drowned hopes and dying dreams. And yet eyes that are still searching.  Still searching the sea of people, still hoping with a last thread of Hope that the tide will bring something.

I am not yet like them.

But wanderers are a dying breed. And soon, soon… The sun will be too much. And I will stop looking up.