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 😂

Lost Frequencies

elesq.jpg
Art by: Elesq

In the heart and solitude of the desert where echoes of nothingness sink into the dunes, my weary hand turns the radio button and catches onto something that is not the static. A thread of Fate, a wave from the Universe. For no reason at all, the radio tunes in to the frequency of you. Your voice, like an old record, scratches first and then promptly fills the space between morning and night. It reaches miles across the desert, floating around like lost words from an old language. Something that, idly, the now-rousing desert recognises. Something it allows.

Yet, I think, there is no greater meaning to this connection. Joy is a mere season of life. It comes, it goes. There is no need to question it. Neither this, nor sorrow nor solitude, either. Each must happen. Each must succeed the other. But like the winter brings frost, all other seasons bring change.

And so, for a while, your voice makes the desert flowers grow. It teases out the small animals from hiding. For a while, the birds fly back to the heart of an all-encompassing nowhere, bringing back news of the port and trade and the people who left. The static and loneliness are only mirrors now of what they used to be. For a while, the desert is anchored to the Earth, and not just a piece of land floating ever further away from it. It is grounded to the world by your voice that, in all fleeting irony, is carried over by the atmosphere and a random, snaking wire of Fate. And so it is that in the essence of the season, all else is forgotten. Everyday becomes a ritual of turning the button to the frequency your voice lives in.

108.3

And just like that, your voice fills the void.

Until one day, your voice turns loud and your words clash with mine. For a long time since you first spoke, the radio emits silence. Not static either, but smooth, cold silence. The next day, as I turn the radio on, the static is back.

108.3

Static. Static. Static.

You did arrive because of exceptional showers, because of a bored, sneaky thread of Fate that was let loose. No, it was never meant to be, let alone last.

Yet I call out your name in the desert, beg the birds to tell me where you are. But you’re just a lost frequency now. A season in time I can never get back to.


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Note: I actually came up with the idea/keyword of ‘Lost Frequencies’ almost a year back. I couldn’t do the idea justice at the time, so I just jotted it down. I actually might redo this later though, I’m not entirely satisfied with it >.< But if I don’t post this now, I never will, so…

Boring Sundays and Warm Loneliness

Before, there was no room for boredom. Only space for: “I am soul-deep tired. I want to stop.” But now that there is nothing to do, my mind seeks out dreams covered in dust, like old diaries.

‘If I can’t create a new feeling,’ my mind reasons, ‘why not visit an old one?’

“Sundays are boring.” my sister complains like she does every other Sunday of the year.

It could be true though. We, as a collective, as a family, rarely leave the house on Sundays. But as someone who has been known to enjoy laziness and quiet moments of introversion, Sundays such as those suit me just fine. Even if they are tinged with loneliness, it is a loneliness specific to Sundays, something I have known all my life. So, in its own twisted way, it is a comforting ache.

This warm kind of loneliness, I feel it especially now that I have yet to be taken by another engrossing project that does not let me sleep the dark circles away. I have time now, I guess. With the stress gone, I see more clearly what life is. I am not charging ahead, heart bursting, breathless and with eyes on the prize and nothing else. Now, the prize, the purpose is gone and I instead take walks that ease me back into slow movements and quieter states of mind.

When your eyes are not on the prize, when there is no prize, you suddenly find yourself in possession of a peripheral vision and of the empathy that comes with it too. Working for your dreams can be a horribly self-absorbed thing sometimes, I realise.

Eyes on the prize. And nothing else.

So now, I notice that the neighbour’s kids have grown. They have a dog, too. The thyme in the garden has flourished, the daisies are blooming a radiant orange and with a tinge I notice the joy is fading a little from my Mother’s eyes.

At noon, I reach the point of hazy, unsettling loneliness and think Sundays are boring. Before, there was no room for boredom. Only space for: “I am soul-deep tired. I want to stop.” But now that there is nothing to do, my mind seeks out dreams covered in dust, like old diaries.

‘If I can’t create a new feeling,’ my mind reasons, ‘why not visit an old one?’

‘You used to fly kites, remember?’ goes the memory ‘You’d gaze at the cheap thing, all fluttering plastic and frail sticks tied with some piece of string you found in the garage, feeling so proud. But then your gaze would be lost somewhere between the clouds, in the valley between the green mountains and you’d think: “I wonder if someone else is flying a kite somewhere in the world?”

‘Greece,’ you thought, unknowing, uncaring of time-zones or geography. ‘Yes, Greece, with its statues and fables — mythology, actually— someone must be flying a kite there. Or China: dragons and great walls, emperors and dynasties. They must have beautiful kites there: large, red and gold in the shape of a dragon or a swan spanning grand wings in the sky, a crimson dot in the open world. 

It’s evening when, like the kites I used to fly, I am reeled back to Earth. Back to this feeling of Sunday boredom, this dull loneliness punctuated by music coming in from the neighbours, the drifting clouds, the obvious wanderlust, the soft orange skies of sunset and the smell of chicken in the stove.

Yeah, all that, that’s the fragrance: Eau de Boring Sunday.

And yet, I won’t make plans for next Sunday, just like I don’t for many, many Sundays of the year.


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I am a boring person, y’all.

Letting Go

“But he realised he did not want to be fed to the Darkness. He did not want to help that monster grow and lure in other stray souls into that painless, lifeless vacuum. “

edwardhonaker_photography-11
Photography Credits: Edward Honaker Photography

And at that moment, he felt like giving in, like letting his body fall back into the eager arms of Darkness.

He could already imagine how delicious it would feel to not be lonely anymore—and who cared really, if his companion, the one to break the curse of all this sadness and melancholy, was a demon? …So long as he had someone, so long as he drove away the maddening loneliness, what did it all matter? Good,bad, dead or alive…

He could already taste the relief on his tongue, could feel the chill of Darkness seep into his bones. Who needed warmth when the cold could numb you over and never make you feel pain?

And just as he was about to let himself go limp in the waiting arms of Darkness…

He stopped.

He had been down this road before, knew what it entailed: momentary comfort in exchange for added pain. It was senseless; no one would agree to it. Yet all the same, it was so tempting to fall into Darkness’s loveless embrace.

But he realised he did not want to be fed to the Darkness. He did not want to help that monster grow and lure in other stray souls into that painless, lifeless vacuum. He did not want to add to numbers that were already so full of grief, did not want the sound of his name to evoke choked gasps ans watery words.

“But he looked so happy.” “He was so young.”

He wanted, he realised, to be as happy as he pretended to be.

As he walked away from the abysses that lied beneath his feet, he thought that perhaps happiness was worth suffering for.

Language of the lonely

lonelaaayzz
Illustration Credits: 미루 http://www.grafolio.com/works/107391

Do you ever get these complex feelings of loneliness?
The kind where you feel so empty, but not just anyone will do?

You’re left staring at a contact list full of names and green dots that say ‘available’.
And you think that you could send a friendly text; nothing too grand, nothing too fancy.
Just a little something to fill that pit in your heart.
But you don’t do it.

Because not everyone will do.
Because this loneliness is not about being alone.
It is not about companionship or lack of interaction.
It is about understanding.
It is about finding someone who not only acknowledges you,
but who also accepts and understands who you are.

The whole feeling is akin to the experience of being in a foreign country where no one understands your speech.
It is like ambling down busy streets and hearing others chatter excitedly in a tongue you do not speak.
It is, exactly, the envy that you feel as you watch them, wishing, wishing, that you too, had someone to talk to like that.

And this is how some of us feel.
Like foreigners, outsiders, wanderers who look on.
We feel the frustration, the barriers that stand between you and us,
when we explain the depths of our soul in a language we know too well,
but you have never heard of.

And it can feel tough when the others all speak the same language, but no one understands yours.

But rest assured, child, that one day,
the language you speak will roll off someone else’s tongue.

And it will be, to your soul, the sweetest sound.

The real 5 a.m.

2010-08-02-309959yo
Illustration Source

But now, my 5 a.m’s are not what I imagined them to be.
The mornings are cold and spiritless.
I wake up to the sight of four greying white walls
and to the feeling of a growing loneliness in my stomach.
I look around me, peer into the window,
but everyone is sleeping, and the world is cold, almost dead.
I would have liked to start a glowing fire,
to wake the world up to the sounds of hot breakfast and happiness.

But you can’t do that.

People will tell you to shut up. They have their 8 hours to catch up on.
They have a boss who will be on their backs.
I walk around aimlessly then, looking at the grey skies above.
My soul feels just like that.
Not thundering, not angry.
Just cold and grey.
Like an abandoned summer house which,over time,
gathers dust under which are buried years and years of happiness.

But the soul yearns; it is not dead. It can never be.
It calls for something similar to it,
emits a cry in the distance,
trying to reach the other soul up at 5 a.m.
But only silence reigns. The lonely kind.
Not today, I sigh.
And I close my eyes to another  5 a.m that is not what it should be.