Eyes Open #WorkForHappy

(Or Alternatively, “Turning Twenty And Realizing My Eyes Have Been Shut The Whole Time: A Brief Birthday Reflection”)

Ascending into the two-decade old plane of existence was almost anti-climactic, but to be fair, it had to close a rather turbulent turn of the globe. Since last year, August 31, 2017, I have taken four total double 10+ hour bus rides, snared a dream role at a start-up publication, and even started dating a rather dashing lad who has an affinity for calling me a water buffalo in his free time.

At the same time I have screamed, panicked, had a handful of crises (less in comparison, though), was ghosted, and learned what it’s like to be between jobs about… five times. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Mercury retrograde – I don’t even believe in that stuff and I still felt it in my bones that something was off in the heavens when I couldn’t even sip tea without burning my tongue.

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Artwork by Tanya Shatseva

I survived 20 years of life. That’s cause for celebration, even if the sky doesn’t glow for me. The main difference between this year and the year before that is probably just how much I have matured.

Once I turned 20, I was faced with a very real responsibility – growing the fuck up. Being 19 was the last time I could plead being a teenager.

Do I miss this trump card? I thought I would. Do I still reach for it as if it’s still in my pocket? You bet your ass, I do.

The earth didn’t exactly pause in its orbit the moment I was born one humid Monday night in a Lester hospital, and it didn’t twenty years later either. The occasion was marked poignantly by my mother, who not only was celebrating my birthday, but the moment she officially became a mother. Every milestone and accomplishment in my life belongs, in part, to her as well.

My eyes were closed for my teenage years, and my mother had to remind me again that my eyes are hers, and she will not let me screw them shut any longer. I opened my eyes, witnessed everything I chose to ignore about myself, and realized that there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut.

“You are my eyes, and I want you to see the world for me.” My mother never misses an opportunity to tell me this. Any moment I have self-doubt, or feel like a failure, I am reminded to open my eyes for her.

…there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut. [Click to tweet!]

I have survived twenty years of existence, and now I am now en route of my twenty-first, I have decided not only to survive, but thrive. This sounds a bit tired, since everyone has a bit of a resolution when they get older, usually more and more sombre with every passing year.

My resolution, however, isn’t just to sit down and grow up – I want to grow. Perhaps now I am resourceful enough to actually push myself to do so, now, with eyes wide open.

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Siren Song

I remember my first voyage into the eye of a storm.

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artwork by elesq

It began as an inbred curiosity, the sort of thing you repress until it feels like if you don’t venture out, you might as well shrivel into nothing. I untied myself from the dock, and let the waves carry me out to where I thought I might be meant to be.

I could taste the purple storm building on the horizon with familiar bitterness, clouding around me until I was roped into an inevitable disaster. Continue reading “Siren Song”

Before Him

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artwork by Dahui Wang

Date a boy who doesn’t love you.

Date a boy whose eyes hold the stars and the moon, a boy whose hands are warm because they hold the sun. Date a boy who looks through you, searching something else in the crowd. Date a boy who makes you realize your own inconsequence, a boy who takes and takes until you are left with nothing but dusty text messages that once made your world spin. Date a boy whom you love, but doesn’t love you back.

Date a boy whom you don’t love. Continue reading “Before Him”

Sugar Sweet

Poking his head out of his little gray room, he notices that her bed in the room across the hall is a mess. It’s also empty.

Fuck. 

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Artwork by Frederic Forest

He throws on a robe hanging on the bathroom door, heavy from the humidity of his hasty shower, and catches a glance of himself in the hallway mirror. He averts his gaze, and makes his way down to the kitchen.

Though he tries to go unnoticed by his better half, she turns her pretty head immediately and catches him descending the stairs. Her hair is too immaculate for the early hours of a Saturday, and the ring on her finger is glittering too harshly.

“Good morning, honey.”

Continue reading “Sugar Sweet”

Life Looks Gorgeous On You

When I sit on the train, I like to people watch. Their faces are like blank canvases to me. They stare with dead eyes at the advertisement that’s been plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head, some pensive, some exhausted, others wearing a simply inscrutable expression.

To pass the time, I begin to familiarize myself with these strangers in my head.

I picture these strangers laughing. Crying. Sighing. Seeing a blue sky after a rainy week, the soft expression of surprise when they get an unexpected call from someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.

I imagine anger, how it colors some people red or blue or purple or white, how they might sob out of frustration, or assume a dead rocky silence in the face of giving up on someone after a fighting match.

blob of the day by henrik aa uldalen
Blob Of The Day by Henrik Aa Uldalen

I envision hope. How these strangers might perk up at the sound of a loved one’s footsteps as they finally get home, or become shy when they see someone after they had gone out on their first date. How they might bite their lip as they open a much anticipated email, or grind their teeth when their team almost scores.

And what of the triumphant smirk that graces these strangers’ lips when they make several people laugh, or the shared pointed glare at fellow colleagues when the boss is being ridiculous again? Consider, the way they close their eyes and take a deep breath as they hug someone they missed, or the swell of pride in their chests when they begin to understand a complicated lesson and answer a question right.

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Life Studies, Emilio Villalba

I think about how gorgeous these strangers must look when they’re happy. How heart-broken I would be to see them sad. I think about how these people care for others, how they have dreams, aspirations, how absolute strangers can become the closest companions after relating about something or other, how they develop relationships that last entire lifetimes, all by accident.

I watch, almost with a hint of regret, when my fellow transit passengers, strangers who I’ve got to know so intimately in my mind, get off at their stop. I never see them again.

I will never get to see these strangers again, happy, sad, angry, hopeful, triumphant. I will never know them beyond the picture I drew of them, framed neatly in my mind until they blur, like the landscapes whizzing past outside my train window.

I will never know these strangers so deeply. I have to remind myself that even though I have known some people this way, a lot of them have faded out nonetheless. A once golden tapestry now dusty in the basement of my memory. What’s the point? Even I am a stranger to myself. Though I should arguably know myself better than anyone, I haven’t witnessed these imagined moments on my own face either. That’s up to others to enjoy.

I usually sigh and return my gaze to an advertisement plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head with a pensive, exhausted, or inscrutable expression.

Life looks so gorgeous on you, I think. I might have never seen it, but trust me.

I can imagine.

You Are The Sun, And I Am The Sea

The sun doesn’t cease its shining when it sets in the west. All it does is shine on somewhere else. Perhaps it throws light on the face of a child, breathing for the first time. Perhaps it shines on a patch of grass in a cemetery, smiling down on someone beyond this perceived dimension. Perhaps, still, it is simply brightening up a patch of the ocean, playing with the waves in mesmerizing synchronicity, ebbing, flowing.

You don’t stop existing when I turn the corner from your house. All you do is live on somewhere else. Perhaps you are taking a deep breath, about to dive into your next project, staring straight at a yellow light. Perhaps you are frowning, your forehead creasing in consideration of the bits and pieces of society that seem beyond advanced comprehension. Perhaps, still, you may simply be thinking of me. Existing with you in mesmerizing synchronicity. Ebbing. Flowing.

I put to you how strong I feel when your luminescence illuminates my complexion. The way I grip your wrist when I’m afraid of the worst – your neck, your hair. How patience is your constant companion, leaving the room with you for a while before bringing you back with a smile on your face. I put it all to you, how amazed I am when I see my own bemused expressions mirrored in yours.

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via x

The sun shines anyway, not in spite of, but because of the constant implosions taking place within it. It bursts with particles of light and heat and brilliance, sputtering everything we, you and I, need to live on. It’s spilling over, engulfing us in its light. All so that we can live and breathe and fight and play and be. All for the sake of mesmerizing synchronicity.

Ebbing.

Flowing.