Putting the stars back.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Chootalks

There are times when I need to leave my brain behind.

And I don’t just mean my overthinking, my overly critical mind. But everything. All of my brain, save for practical functions like recognising danger.

I just need to air my mind out, to not carry around all my thoughts and experiences and history with me wherever I go. Because there’s this person I have to be — that other people count on me to be. It is a person I have chosen myself, as we all do when faced with the challenges Life poses us. We all reach difficult situations, turning points where we have to decide what kind of person to be.

Are we the kind of friend who leaves well enough alone when an upset friend assures us they are fine? Are we the kind of person who probes? Are we the kind of significant other who hates conflict, who would rather wait for tension to pass, unaddressed? Or are we the kind of person to meet it head on, ready to make or break? Would we rather be hurt or hurt someone else?

We carry all this and a million more choices in our every step. Because that is who we choose to be.

But I’ve discovered I need a break from my choices.

Whether it is as a friend, a sister, an employee or a young woman, a twenty-something. I need to remove all these skins, these layers of identity and air out my inner self. It does me so much good to be anonymous like this: to be just a girl with no worries or concerns for the day.

So I walk and walk and walk until I can’t feel my feet, until I’ve forgotten they were aching or even there. I go where I want to go. This Saturday, it was an unknown city — a passing place along the motorway where people stop for a while and then…vanish. It’s hard to believe anyone lives here. It feels like a reflection of a city: a wavering image in a puddle somewhere in another world. Maybe this is all a dream, a scene playing in someone else’s mind.

I walk and I explore, I poke my nose in the unknown, tiptoe past too reasonable boundaries set by anxiety.

It feels like opening a window in a closed-off room, like putting the stars back in the sky.

An imaginary journey.

young adult old soul magic realism
Art by @lilmisch

Do you ever feel that this life is not really yours?

I have this deep, unsettling conviction sometimes that one day I will wake up, and it will all have been a dream.

I must have wandered off one late summer day, probably during a family picnic at the beach. Trying —without knowing— to touch a moment of infinity, to connect to the strange energy swirling inside of me. I tried to talk to the ocean, to understand the hidden language behind its ebb and flow, and the eons-old story it tells.

“Tell me what you know about the stars.” I whispered.

I let the washed up shells guide my steps, imagined waking up within one of them, bathed in a pinkish glow. All around me, the world was telling a story and I was listening. To the winds that told me where they go to rest, to the rocks that have only ever felt life, to the sands that murmured stories of when they were corals settled deep in the ocean.

I must have wandered so far as to get utterly lost. But I was unaware. Too taken by the secret magic of the world to notice. I wandered for years following that inner light, only looking up much later, far away from the beach, from any sounds of laughter, from any comfort of family.

And ever since, I’ve been trying to find my way back. Have been trying to connect to that same energy from that day on the beach, many summers ago, in the hopes that it will take me back.

So far, I have reached a desert, where seashells have been swapped for fennecs and other desert dwellers. The desert sand tells a different story : one of dunes and unfathomable mysteries buried in its breast. And again, losing a few years, I listen.

Once or twice, I think I collapsed from heatstroke. And in between my barely open eyelids, I glimpsed the beach from another world, another time. The backs of the people I love are turned to me, and even though I’m so near, they can’t see me, they don’t even know I’m gone. Or that I will be gone.

But then, on the third time, I wake up.

All the years I’ve lived in the desert dissolve into dust; they were never real. That is how life feels some days. An imaginary journey, something I was too young to embark on, something too dangerous. I’m constantly straying from the things that brought me warmth and comfort, and my whole life is spent seeking that lost haven, never knowing whether I will find it.


Note : Did that even make sense? 😂 I don’t know, but it’s good to be back posting.

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…

Sun-kissed and sun-loved

cassandrajean
Art by : Cassandra Jean

I need a break.

A day at the beach, swimming, marveling at the feeling of sand and the summer warmth reaching my toes. I want to be sinking into the gentleness of the summer that I have only known to be suffocating. Like a scornful person who has peeled back their layers and trusted me with the vulnerability within, I want my skin to soak in the tenderness of the previously burning sun, to be sun-kissed and sun-loved. I need some wild wanderlust and a jar of freedom bottled like perfume, something that diffuses in the air, wherever I go. I want freedom so fragrant everybody smells it. I want to smell like the froth of the sea, like deep-green forests after it has rained all night.

I want to smell like Nostalgia, like the wind that brings you the scents of your childhood. I want to be both familiar and strange, something that has you running after it to figure out what it is. I want to forget about spilled ink and paper and formal clothes — I, I just want to breathe and not have to do anything.

I want to be want to be so small so the world can seem so big again, so that I can slip inside an iridescent bubble for a while and watch the aggrandised world in ever-changing colours. Jumping from bubble to bubble, I want to rise, rise towards the skies and the sun like Icarus, getting too close, too high, too much and popping into a million tiny luminescent droplets and dropping back to Earth. Then landing somewhere under the sun, falling asleep under its soft blanket of warmth as a thousand moons blink in and out of view. I want to wake up and have nowhere to go, nothing to do except losing myself in the patterns of the leaves overhead, the patches of sky and light that swim through the foliage.

I want lazy afternoons spent in a nap-induced haze, I want stars and the cool blueness of night, I want soft orange lights to illuminate my 1 a.m.s…

I want, I want…

Endless things, endless free things. Free of too much worldliness, of duplicity or heaviness.

I just want to feel light again. And free.


Note : Here, we are currently dipping our toes in the first blistering heat of the summer,  and the atmosphere is so heavy it almost feels like something we’re carrying on our backs. Still, even writing things like this helps a bit.

Listening to :