The Holiday House.

Butter melts in the ambient heat now, sliding off the sides of the aluminium wrapping.

Summer is coming or it’s here already, depending on who you ask. People like me, who are loathe to see Time pass, who cannot yet accept that Time has dragged them along without their noticing — we will tell you that the nights are still cold and long, even as the humidity cloys our skin, drawing out a sheen of sebum and perspiration. Even as we huff and puff and recoil at the prospect of sticky human touch.

Another summer, another year gone.

Now I live in distant visions of an island, a year ago. It’s nearly the anniversary of that trip, the second country I’ve ever been to.

I think there were a few reasons I never shared anything about this trip — chief of which was to not upset anyone. You must understand that a year ago, travelling for rest or leisure was something inconsiderate, rich people did. It was privilege. However, I was fortunate that it was perfectly safe for me to go.

But all the same, I should have written more about it, more than just a few journal entries. I should have tried to pin down these elusive feelings, this momentary experience before the wind could take it away.

But a year, a year it is no time at all when the sceneries and conversations, the ambiences and oddities, the people have ever so gently marked me, as though a flower left between the pages of an old book…An old book that I am opening a year later…

It was 4 or 5 days — I must see the plane tickets again — the duration of our stay. The whole trip had come about as unexpectedly as one could imagine. I had left my job after almost 3 years there and was about to take up a brand new position with another agency. In between one end and one beginning, was this sliver of time and space — a few, refreshing droplets of freedom.

It was thrilling, at first. Then all too suddenly it spiralled into something else.

How to fill it, how to fill it? This sudden gap. I was tempted at first to do the same as I’ve always done: to let the sands of time fill it up, and to squander the hours, lose them in useless pursuits. It was so tempting, to not make the effort. To think it wasn’t even worth it to try booking flights and rooms less than a week before the intended trip. A creature of comfort, this is who I am, most of the time. Someone who lets herself be moved and directed by life along the path of least resistance.

Still, unbelievably, my brother and I managed to get flights and rooms. All the ‘good’ hotels were booked already, and we were left with a relatively unknown one…with balconies overlooking the ocean, and holiday houses sat atop gentle hills, worn stone paths grazed by overgrown grass. Two pools, too. A vertiginous, stone-hewn infinity pool and the other one…I can’t recall, because we never did use that one.

It was so quiet…the kind of quietness that speaks to the restlessness of one’s soul. This very restlessness that we shove down every day of our lives, a part of us we actively succeed in ignoring. We make waves to avoid seeing our own reflections in the water. We can never stop. Never have a moment of quiet or else the water will settle, and that can’t happen. It can’t.

This island and its quietness…they sloughed off some of the layers, they lulled me into a gentle stop, the way you fall asleep one afternoon, warmed by sunlight.


And now…a few humble photos:

Note: So, it’s been a while…again. But I think I am back now, so I’m looking forward to catching up with everything I’ve missed while I was gone 🙂

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.”😂

Undo,undo,undo…

Young Adult Old Soul Writing Magic realism
Art by : Little Thunder

I feel strangely detached, unearthed.

As though my bones haven’t yet settled into my body and are relearning the shape of the person I have become. Or like maybe I’m just a floating skeleton and my flesh has yet to layer itself back onto my shaking self. My mind’s eye is closing in on the idea of my small everyday life, but my thoughts have been blown out of proportion by the overwhelming vastness of a metropolis. Reconciling the two is proving to be hard for someone like me, who lives in extremes.

Other hard-to-wrap-my-head-around things are: You can start the year, no, the week in London and still be back in time for the weekend in your small, floating piece of land.

It’s like my mother said : “Just yesterday you were phoning from England and today you’re already back. It’s almost like magic.”

And now, as my mind wrestles with old and new truths…nothing feels like it should be. Like I remember. Everything feels strange : my bed, my pillow, my desk, my notes, my scribbles. Any one thing will at one moment feel too small. Too deep, too on the right, too bright. Not like I remember. One world seems too foreign, the other not familiar enough.

But maybe nothing’s changed. Maybe it’s me. And maybe what I’m most scared of is how I don’t know myself. How I can’t find myself in the gap between new and old. And if I don’t, where to will my unfettered self run off ? What crazy thing will she do ?

Get an ear piercing, probably.

I mean, I actually did that.

And immediately felt more regret than physical pain.

What have I done to myself?

I have done things to myself that cannot be undone. I have changed myself beyond repair. There’s no going back.

And I am scared of that above all else. To not feel at home in my own skin. To feel like a grain of sand has infiltrated my skin and has bent my perfectly balanced world out of shape. I am so scared of never being able to go back to the person I used to be. To not have a home to return to after all is said and done.

Countless times I’ve looked at that piercing now, balancing delicately on my upper ear. At times I’ve hated it. Hated that I couldn’t remove it without leaving traces. If I could just make it vanish, things would fall back into place.

But they won’t. The past will not be changed.

And I have to be okay with that. Because travelling did the same to me; changed me beyond repair. Though nostalgia longs for the familiarity of days past, I have to keep moving. Because this is what I want, ultimately, if not immediately.

So I’m keeping the piercing. I’m getting used to my risk-taking, fanciful side. I tell myself it would never have come forward if it hadn’t been there in the first place. So maybe I’m still home within myself. Maybe that will never change. Perhaps I am just discovering new rooms I had left closed before.


Listening to :

Girl meets world.

Old Soul Writing Magic Realism
Art by : Federica Bordoni

I feel like I have experienced a big bang all alone in my mind.

That is how traveling has made me feel. For context, here’s something I haven’t mentioned on this blog : I am a small town girl from a small town place. Dreams are big and far-reaching where I live, but the hearts are warm and satisfied, not always willing (or finding reason) to brave the cold, to let go of the little comforts in order to live Great Adventures. Everything is small and cosy, and you can never get properly lost, because all roads but the ones to the sea lead home. Essentially, I live in the real version of The Shire.  I am the product of that kind of place. Raised with the love of small comforts, of the little things. A cup of tea after a long day, a soft sofa to sink in, good food and hearty portions shared with loved ones. Home.

3 weeks ago, though, I left home and stepped out into a storm to get on a plane I wasn’t sure I wanted to catch anymore.

Kerosene burned in the night and the world in my mind melted like candle wax. It disintegrated, simply. I could almost feel the remains flowing in smithereens under my skin. Every little thing collided within myself, every knowledge and memory, every wish and preconceived notion. All fused to form a much greater picture, a vaster world.

I had been thinking it before, how I now need to redefine reality. Because now I’ve discovered more of the world, where before it was blacked-out, a mere outline of an idea. Something that had a name, but needed desperately to be given depth and dimension. Experience has now fleshed out these missing parts. A whole other reality has awoken in me and stepped into the light.

I don’t think I am the person I used to be.

I feel I am fleshed out differently.

Above the skyscrapers.

kazuokasai
Art by : Kazuo Kasai

There is no written record of my time these past 7 days and what a shame because oh, how beautiful they’ve been.

I’ve been wandering and getting lost down marvelously foreign roads, entering and leaving with no history, no imprint. My steps washed away by the torrents of people. Unlike in my small town where anonymity does not come cheap or at all, really. Here, I breathe in the air of unimportant anonymity, this namelessness hovering on all our heads that I do not try to break out of, to raise above. I bask in being not so recognisably strange and yet a little bit foreign. Like something from a faraway land bringing its own distinct energy to this throbbing bundle of lights, all amassed in tangled heaps at the heart of the breathless city coagulating with people — different tongues and different minds and different hearts.

I find myself in the crux of all this, not alone, not struggling to stay afloat. Or to breathe, for that matter. Because interspersed in all this urban madness, clouds of green float over the heads of apartment complexes. Parks, gardens, havens of light and cool, crisp air.

And above all of that, above the skyscrapers and historic landmarks, the gratitude for the present moment and the soft, persistent glow of family.


Listening to:

London time.

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London has been all foggy breaths and muddled half-thoughts to me. No time to think, to overthink in the vastness of this old city. So caught in the old brick houses and the architecture of tens of centuries I am.

I do not think of Time here. Not a little, not at all. In all truth, even Big Ben is under renovation and really, how symbolic is that. The idea that there is no Time at all, and if there ever was, then it has stopped. Time is under construction in my cold hands, trembling lightly underneath dark gloves. Time is what I make of it, it is : christmas lights, people kissing under mistletoe, Westminster abbey in all its startling beauty, Richard Cœur de Lion, fish and chips, hummus and midnight adventures underground, Covent garden, smiles and awe.

Together, London and I unravel to each other. I discover her ancestral arteries and she lights up the doors to my consciousness.

I am running on London time now, and it is no time at all.


Note : Happy new year everyone!

The Adriatic Sea.

Young Adult Old Soul Writing Magic Realism
Art by 9jedit

I’ve made it to the other side of the world.

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 happy holidays!

Night flight

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Hajin Bae
Art by Hajin Bae

Any time now…any moment now, I will wake up to a whole new world, glittering beneath me like stars, constellations.

“Night flight”

There is something about this term I adore : voyaging under the cover of night, wearing midnight on your back like a hooded cape encrusted with stars (stars, stars, stars everywhere in my vision, these days). Something about it is simply so delightfully secretive, an endless source of wonder. What could happen in the night, I ask myself, that the morning would know nothing of? 

2 a.m. escapades to the city come to mind. When you and I burst out of a stuffy apartment filled with the moisture of summer and emerged into the fresh breath of night running down the streets. Hushed laughter, messy hair and pyjama bottoms made their way to one of those shops that are always open, no matter the time of night or day. The sound of fritters sizzling quietly in oil filled the night as we whispered for fear of breaking some sacred silence.

Night flight is…

Stumbling out of a club flashing all shades of colours, the walls outside booming, shaking with music. And us, drunk on nothing but adrenaline and freedom, waving our arms out of the car window, swinging and swerving around the scenery. Do you remember how we tried to grab fistfuls of the night to not let it turn into day? We wished ardently for the night not to slip from our fingers like sands of Time. So we grabbed onto night’s sleeve so that it would not turn into the day, but it did.

And now, I am simply counting the days. 8 to go until my night flight, my covert adventures. 8 days to go until I have the night for a companion. 8 days left until I somehow go right through the glass of the plane window reflecting my awed expression from the other side. And I will find myself floating next to the stars that have guided me all through my childhood, to my darkest days, to now.

“How lovely it is to finally meet you.” I will say to the stars.

To be able to graze them, even when separated by thick metal layers and engines, what an absolute privilege will that be.

I understand now why people call celebrities “stars” — they shine brightly and are so unattainable, yet so beautiful from afar, from where we gaze up at them from the gutter. I’m afraid that perhaps I am a little more old-fashioned and prefer the original kind of “star” — a fireball burning beautifully into the night, kindling the dreams of every dreamer of a child.

 

 

A Town With An Ocean View

We’ve moved yet again.

In the 8 months (yikes!) I’ve been working at this start-up, it’s the 4th time now that we are moving offices.

Ah, it tugs at my heartstrings to say it even now…But we’ve moved away from the town with an ocean view, where you could conduct business with sandy toes after lunch by the sea. We’ve bid farewell to walks on the beach, to the lure of the sea breeze teasing your nostrils when you step out onto the 4th floor balcony. And ah, I even miss that balcony layered in cigarette smoke and how it allowed me to gaze at a hundred lives busily unfolding below me, a priceless distraction from my own problems. And we’ve moved away from all too-long bus journeys, from weaving tiredly in and out of old villages vibrant with life. We’ve moved away from the silhouettes of an old man and his granddaughter throwing their fishing lines out at the setting sun.

Now we’ve reached all sandy-toed in a business park closer to the heart of the city.

There will be much to love about it, eventually: the silence, the terrace, eating underneath fruit-bearing trees, the nearby orchards…

Except right now, I feel a bit…young. A bit alone, slightly vulnerable while we try to relearn the bases of moving into a new place. I think maybe I feel…uprooted. Although even that may not be the right term. My colleagues and I used to wander a lot, before. And now we are being made to grow roots instead of wings.

It’s not bad though. It’s really not. But I miss seeing people going to work in shorts and I miss the one man I never talked to, who would go running after work, always dressed in the same neon yellow shirt and cowboy’s hat.

I feel homesick for the sea, for freedom, for feeling in control.

But I am not alone in this, and that’s a small comfort. Besides, I try to remind myself that I have a plane to catch soon and that I will be wandering far past all the places I have ever known.  I cannot get hung up about small changes…

A stretch of sweet eternity.

Magic realism writing blog young adult old soul
Gif by : Unknown

I want to live forever inside that moment and never have to say goodbye.

Living life inside a raindrop of a self-contained moment, sliding down a glass window past countless other raindrops — all these other moments being had by so many others. I never want any of it to end. Instead, I want to progress slowly, gently, because that is the only way I can reach the endless places I want to be. Journeys change the destination, I believe. Running and taking a stroll to someplace make for an entirely different experience. How much of what is around us do we miss when we run, how many times is the preamble lost on us, fast-paced and erratic as we are.

The places lacking Time, devoid of it — that is where I’ve always yearned to go. These places where it feels like the world is suspended inside another dimension, like a raindrop that is just about to fall but never does, frozen in mid-air.

Eternal

That is how these moments feel. Even as they last mere seconds, barely even minutes. It feels like Life has stretched the rules of Time to accommodate this one moment, to give me this one lingering thing : a taste of eternity in a life so ephemeral.

But all raindrops fall, all moments end in puddles on the floor.

It is a long time though before we reach the end of all things.

That is what I thought as I sat in an ever-transiting bus, head laid to rest against the glass pane, night-sky hair fluttering out of the window between two glinting metal bars.

In all sweet irony, this could look like a prison. As though I were trapped in movement, in transit, in travel and liberation would be to return home, to fall into the arms of the routine waiting for me at the bus station.

I would find myself trapped in routine and travel both if I was not careful. If I did not try to find the beauty in them, to not see them as prisons. Outside of my head though, there are forces greater than my will, my perception. Forces that reroute my trains of thoughts in one single movement.

For instance, the setting sun is pouring in my eyes, as though the sky had tipped and was emptying our universe’s largest star in my irises. Bit by bit, my dark-set eyes are absorbing the light from the sun, drinking it one ray at a time until ultimately, there is nothing left to take and the sky is left in darkness.

But we are not there yet, not yet home, not yet in darkness.

Light is flowing where Time is not, and I am floating a little ways above Earth, one or two parallel worlds away from real life. And ah, what a wonderful place to be : living inside a stretch of Eternity, like a raindrop perpetually about to fall. Falling, falling, falling gently; falling like night on the city.