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”

Paradise

When I left, I was given the task of deciding what my heaven should look like.

I would walk into heaven and decide it was green. Heaven would be lush with the creations that had fallen from His fingers. Paradise would be blooming, juices dripping from petals that sparkled when they caught the white sunlight. Heaven would be buzzing, whizzing through time and space. Golden hour brings silver showers, so that I am immersed in the natural artistry that He has created for His children.

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Artwork by Maria Uve

I would immerse myself in heaven and decide it was blue. The dance of the water would write messages in the shadows of the ripply sand, so that I can capture it, place it in a bottle, and set it adrift to the shores of the space I used to occupy when I was mortal. Schools of fish would scurry past, tokens of color amongst the coral reef that sways to the strong current enrapturing my heart. The weight of the ocean would feel like nothing on my shoulders, renewed through judgement, guided to the next world. A gigantic green turtle lets me rest my palm on her shell, a tiger shark pokes his head around the corner and swims through the schools of fish so that they part to reveal infinity, and I am pulled in as if I were flying.

I set my pencil down onto the pages of time, wishing to turn space into something beautiful. Now was the time to decide, once and for all, what my heaven would look like. [Click to Tweet!]

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Artwork by Maria Uve

I would fly into heaven and decide it was black. Shards of light would pierce through my eyelids, so that I open them with the strength to see. I would twirl dust and gas into a ball of light, and watch it explode into a million different pieces. My star would glow white hot, and I would let it swallow me whole. I would be resurrected, my body spread thin across the universe across a plane of existence I can only taste and feel. My star would be a beacon, a fire burning away at my edges until I am clean. My skin hisses, steam begins to rise, and I am placed like a puzzle piece back where I came from. From dust and ash, rocks and bones.

I ascended to heaven and decided it was mine. I took it and twisted it into my weapon of choice – a pencil. I held it poised, infused with the very dust, ash, rocks, and bones that made up my once physical body. I set my pencil down onto the pages of time, wishing to turn space into something beautiful. Now was the time to decide, once and for all, what my heaven would look like.

Without a single doubt I etched your name amongst the stars. Heaven was you all along.

A Jigsaw Puzzle

I struggle to take this apart and put it back together to create a picture that makes more sense for fear of ruining what I have already arranged. Two years ago a hurricane ripped me off the wall, out of my pristine plastic wrapping, and I was left scrambled on the floor. I struggle to understand why I didn’t at least glue my pieces to each other.

Let’s take a better look at me.

Related image
Gif by Audrey DeBruine for North by Northwestern

Here in one hand I hold a puzzle piece. In it, I can see my mothers fingers, outstretched to touch mine, still pink and stringy from being in the womb for too long before I grip hers like my new life depended on it. My eyes open for the first time.

In the other hand, I hold another piece where I can see the corner of his smile, the smile that I came home to after getting fired from a job I hated anyway, the smile I cried to like it was the first day I was born. His smile, however, stayed constant, the only constance I had left.

With wet eyes I let the pieces fall. Everything that fits in between them must be too varied, I fear it’s not all the same puzzle. Did I mix up boxes of different lives together by accident? Is this a trick puzzle, a 3D puzzle of Dracula? Or maybe this is a different game altogether. A game of monopoly, perhaps? Poker? Hungry Hungry Hippos?

I never knew I would be so mismatched. People talk about everything falling together perfectly, like a bubble being blown into existence by accident and flying up to be swallowed by a neon cyan sky. All I seem to have is a toddler’s take on a masterpiece, horrid and painful and juicy and colorful and blurry. None of it fits together, and it certainly cannot be framed – not in its entirety, at least.

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from x

My knees throb from kneeling on the ground for too long, but I let my fingers trail across the mess, the low light making it all heap into a giant dark mass I could never differentiate for its parts.

This is the sort of jigsaw you don’t put together, but rather just appreciate for its individual pieces, good and bad, rough and smooth. Though the idea might be a little avant-garde, I make peace with the pieces nonetheless.

After all, at least I am a mess left over by a puzzle ravaged by a hurricane, and not, say, a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.