places I don’t go anymore {fable}

Long ago while on the metro, I was seated adjacent to a middle-aged well dressed lady who had a small book open and was scribbling into it at a  steady pace. My curiosity had gotten the better of me and I stared at her without realizing I was.

You see, I love people watching. I love observing their little quirks, what makes them tick and one thing leads to another and am building tragic love stories into their lives or creating grander versions of where they came from and how the world will surprise them tomorrow. They didn’t call me a dreamer for nothing I suppose!

So the lady looked up and out the window, pursed her lips, squinted her eyes into a distance and her brow furrowed. There really was nothing out there to see, but the gray stony walls of the underground tunnel, but she stared into the distance alright. I watched her stare into the distance. Without a warning, she looked at my reflection in the glass window and smiled at me. Instinctively, I smiled back, and averted my eyes. Embarrassed at being caught staring, embarrassed for my own wild dreams for her.

She turned her neck back at me and asked me in a soft simple voice.

“Where are we? I lost track of time.” 

I mumbled the station and glanced up at the map to help me out, coz since I had to get off at the last stop anyway, I was not keeping track myself.

I had no idea why she explained herself but she did. “I write things down of the places I don’t want to go to anymore, and then I staple them down, so I don’t accidentally go there.” 

I nod my head, ike that made perfect sense,. As an adult, at once confused and on the verge of shame as I felt an intruder into her mind-space, and making what I think was a half-baked attempt to look nonchalant. Yet, there was that inquisitive child in me who wanted answers. What did she mean? Places? What places? Like travel? She didn’t look like she was traveling? Except from work, just like the rest of us? What are these places that she doesn’t want to go anymore?

..and without a blink, all of these questions steadily poured out of my wide brown eyes. The one outlier in my body language that I can most likely live without, but cannot. It’s a curse and a blessing depending on the answers I get from the recipients I aim those eyes at. This time it was a blessing, coz she miles again, a knowing smile, with her nose crinkling at the corners where her blue eyes met and drew themselves back into laughing lines, clear crows feet that belied the age that the rest of her assured.

Damn those eyes. They didn’t call them windows to our soul for nothing.

She started speaking, low and clear and drifting in and out of my path, like she was talking to no one in particular.

“There are places that our heart and mind takes us. Places that we don’t always want to go. Happy rolling hills and the meadows and the ferris wheels in the county fair, and the hot tub in our backyard and the family kitchen with the aromas of thanksgiving dinners, and the diaper smells mixed with baby formula during midnights. They are wonderful aren’t they? Pleasant and happy memories and flashes of life that wrote memoirs in our heart. The chapters by which we mark our lives in this journey. They don;t need reminders or jogs for us to bring back to our present and toss them around, play ball with them and then folks them neatly and tuck them away in their proper place, filed away for later references. Those are the places that we always want to go back to.”

I smile and nod at the steadiness with which she recounted them all, like she recited from a  script, a well worn script. One with dog ears and smudged pencil lines, and folded numerous times, going yellow with age.

“Then there are places that I don’t go anymore. You know the kind am taking about.” She paused and looked at me with an eyebrow raised, and a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

I sigh.

I knew where this conversation was going. I turn back at the window and stare out. Thinking back to the places that I didn’t want to go.

“Tears forming icicles, from harsh barren terrain. Without a living thing in sight. The places with such thick trees that they form a barricade hard to scale through. The kind of place where the only whisper is of the voice in your head that tells you repeatedly that you are alone and that no one will ever find you. Like when you are spinning on the top of that very same ferris wheel and everyone else has disappeared. Those places. I write those down and staple them down.”

“Does it help?”

“Mostly. If I go to the same place twice, I write and then burn the paper. Symbolic, but it helps me. I never go to those places again.”

She shrugs. I look through her holding me down yet failing.

“We are nomads. In our head. Yet, we are also survivors. We have to burn the bridges that we do not want to cross anymore.”

I nod and turn my misty eyes out through the window.

“Try it sometime, I can tell you visit the same dark places a lot.

She whispers into my ear as she gets up and slides off the train and gets lost in the crowd.

 

I no longer have patience

Of late, I have been reading voraciously. Just over the past few days, and exclusively on my phone. I used to not prefer that till last Thursday. I would mail in the material to myself and re-read it later on the laptop. Thursday, my laptop died. It refused to charge and it stayed dead. It was Saturday before I could take it to Best Buy and now Monday, before the Apple engineer restored it back up.
I didn’t miss it too much. I thought I would. Folks chalked every little snap or annoyance or brooding moment that reflected off my face over the past days to the possible withdrawals I was having from not tapping away at the laptop. Strangely, I wasn’t. The immediate explanation would be that I had the phone anyway. But no, the phone couldn’t and wouldn’t replace the laptop in many way. I missed the laptop to write here on the blog/a few writing assignments I’d undertaken, and to go google search, and plotting my cycle routes and calculating distances. I missed those in that moment, but after that it was okay.
When I let it sink in, it actually feels good.
It felt; and Ive always known it somewhere deep inside my sub-conscious that I am above a lot of the seemingly thick bonds I develop. With the people around me, and with some special objects I value. I am sensitive and I can get emotionally vested in relationships and values and people, but somehow when push comes to shove, I detach and watch the whole scene happen in an almost surreal ethereal unfolding of the drama. I know what will happen. I know the motions. I can sense it all, feel it deeply and yet not react.
Yes, am strange that way.
It’s probably my defense mechanism.
We all do.
Self-reservation and defenses I mean.
So in all my readings (not books, but tons of some fine incisive interesting articles that have flooded my thinking) I come across this fabulous piece, as said by Meryl Streep. She couldn’t have said it better. The words are exact, unapologetic and echo almost to the exact sentiment what I go through.  What the now older, mature 40 year old me thinks. It comes with age, nothing to do with maturity, wisdom or experiences, as much as we would like to believe.
It’s all of the above that comes with age.
When you really cannot take any more nonsense, coz it has struck a gong deep in your brain. The inner chamber, that the clock is ticking. The gong sets off roughly some time after you hit that FOUR -OH!
It’s when it hits you that you’ve lived half your life, adult life even, and everyone knows that when you reach the halfway point, the other half is usually a slope down. You could still peak differently, but going by the premise that life is a full circle, we all become acutely aware that the clock is ticking, and loudly, so we cannot ignore it any more.
Then you start looking inward and start making you the center of you.
You realize you don’t need anyone to be you.
You don’t particularly care for any acceptances, coz that doesn’t define you in anyway.
..and so on, till you really just cannot and will not take any crap. I realize now when I look back I never did take crap, but I had mellowed over the years, (the roles we play subdue us becoz of our vulnerabilities) but then we snap back again, secure in the knowledge that age is on our side, despite it not looking like it is!
I read this a few times. Twice aloud. When you read a written piece aloud, it sounds and rings strong and true. Try it sometime, you will realize. It’s the sound of your voice that your brain hears, affirmation so to speak.
Meryl Streep:
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature.
I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise.
I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement.
Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
Am not completely there yet, but I am nodding my head to what looks familiar, and almost everything is familiar. In varying degrees.
I have no patience.
Must live life like a droplet on the lotus leaf. There but not there. The luxury of freedom.

the wheels {fable}

The wheels: They never stop.

“Am scared” 

Icy cold sneaky fingers wrapped her fragile heart and squeezed it blue. She gasped, unable to breathe steady anymore. Her breath got shorter, her eyes wider. The tongue ran dry and she bit her upper lid hard, willing for the words that formed in her head to not spill. Once they spilled, they were out. They would escape, forming concrete words, visuals and audible. They became real. As long as they stayed in, they were not palpable. Still dismissive in nature. 

She wanted the fear gone.

“Am scared” 

She thought and shut her eyes tight. 

The words swirled. Like dark gray sinuous curls of smoke from a depressing English landscape, the words floated in her mind. 

“Friendships die, silently. Like dying embers of a flame. Painful and slow” 

The words struck her with a force. There was truth to it, she had to admit, even if she didn’t want to. 

A tear escaped her eyes and instinctively, she swallowed the rest down. She pushed a few wayward strands of her hair away from her face, blinked rapidly and drawing her mouth into a straight line, she breathed in deep a few times. With a firm turn of her head, her eyes opened, and she looked straight ahead, misty-eyed, but with a sharpness that belied her quivering lip and her now pink nose. 

*****

“No! No you don’t trust me anymore! If you did, you wouldn’t have rushed me out of the house in such a hurry. Not once, but every single time I came in, you couldn’t wait for me to leave!”

“I love you too you know, it hurts.”

“Are you really my best friend? Will you be my partner in crime?”

“You are scared of me right? I scare you! haha. You are scared what I will do with myself aren’t you?” 

“I am sorry I failed you. I didn’t do anything, am incapable of understanding and providing any value. Am sorry I failed you. I wish I knew more to help you.” 

“You are giving up on me aren’t you? You sound like you are. I can’t help being me, you know?” 

“You actually knew that? Wow!”

*

” We soul mates, remember?”

“No! Why would I give up? Good friends are hard to come by, and am not giving up on one of my best ones”

“Shush, NO one has done as much as you have, and I will never take you or your effort or time for granted” 

“No, you don’t scare me. In fact, I worry about you. You add on more to your plate and overthink more than it is necessary!”

“Yes, I am that kind of friend. I’ll help you get rid of the body even if I don’t approve of you killing in the first place”

“I love you da”

“I know you better than you know, and I know what you are capable of. I trust you more than I trust me”

*****

She wished she could go back to any of those conversation nuggets that fired her brain, making her recall the nuances, the intonations, the pause in the words, the mood of the moment.  Any one of them. They weren’t all pleasant. Some more emotional than others, some more playful than others, some more earnest than others. Regardless of the mood, thinking back made her eyes smile and tear alternately. 

Coz you see, those times were good times even if they were not perfect. 

They were friends. They were in touch. They were talking. The channels were open. They trusted and fought and made up and hugged and kissed and wanted to be with each other, however bad the disagreement was. 

….But time never stood still for anyone. The wheels are turning. Always. Every minute passed becomes a memory to think back fondly. Coz most memories bring a smile, some teary smiles, some happy smiles, but smiles they were. 

“The wheel turns and turns and turns: it never stops and stands still.” 

.but with every turn, one is racing to create the best possible memory. A lesson learnt after many bad turns of the wheel, that nothing was worth losing what was once precious. So, she opened a window and tapped out a single word and hit Send. 

With a smile on her now simple, calm face, she went to bed and for the first time in a long while, slept through the night. 

 

strange as they come {fable}

An essay: 

When folks you love and hold dear to your heart decide to move on, move away or carry on with their life and you know it in your heart that it is the right thing for them, and you want to hold on and cry and be on the same side and be simply sad and empathetic to the changing situation YET

..all that comes out is screaming and yelling and aggressive name-calling or blaming and doing everything possible to create a tantrum, and muddy waters that froth and get bitter and angry and churn in contorted ways that frankly wants those dear ones to run like the wind and away and far, far away as possible from you. Wanting to create a distance from the person that they want to hold close yet, want to actually stay away from the person you’ve become.

No?

What? No?

Seriously? It’s only me then?

Oh joy!

 

Oh well, that’s weird me.

I hold only a handful close to heart. Handful. I can count, and I will have fingers left to hold onto a spoon and shove large amounts of bhel puri into my angry, sullen mouth.

When any of them decide to throw some distance between us, even for a day,for that moment, I get frothy. I hate it when they come to say goodbye at the airports.  I act like a crazed maniac. I am a maniac. I am a weird maniac. 

I am way past the halfway mark, and a full blown adult and my ways are set in many ways and I know in my heart that I will die a lonely, cranky old woman. Unloved and unwanted. Not because I wasn;’t worthy of it or there aren’t enough folks who love me for who I am, but I would have successfully pushed them all away with one angry froth at a time. 

No one is to be blamed but me. 

I think it’s in my genes. I also think it’s a disorder that if I dig deep enough in the psychiatric annals, I will find a name for it. Cure? Maybe. Maybe not. 

Until then, am best keeping my safe distance and not allowing any more folks to come close to my heart. No vacancy as they say.. 

I must sound helpless. I am not. I am constantly trying to help myself and am constantly failing. Either am not trying hard enough or I am beyond repair. BUT, knowing how persistent I am, I know I will lose trying. 

What is it that you ask?

Does it hurt?

The hell it does. It hurts like hell. Not that I know how hell hurts, but I can guarantee you, that if I land in hell, it won’t hurt a bit coz I’d be used to it. It hurts. It hurts to be me. This is a burden I live with. A curse and a blessing. A curse coz I hurt myself more than I hurt my loved ones. A blessing coz I know and acknowledge and hence ensure I don’t hurt more by keeping safe distances from all. 

The curse of loving too much.