Dissonance in the Silence

The silence and I had once been one. We’d shared a mutual understanding and comfort in our moments of uninterrupted dialogue. It had examined the parts of me I was too scared to confront on my own. Had helped me realize there’d never been anything to be afraid of in the first place. During that moment of self-discovery, colored through with a little misery, I’d found a home in the stillness.

But somehow, that changed. It’s all fragmented bits and undone reflections of something I don’t recognize anymore. I keep running from it. The silence makes me uncomfortable. Its presence feels intrusive, though I remember it being gentle; a nurturing brush over my thoughts. Compelling. And I cannot pinpoint when this disconnect started to corrode what I’d come to love.

I chase the silence away at every chance. I crush it. Stamp it out. Drown it in frenetic waves of music, until my head pounds and my ears ache. It’s a monster, waiting in the staves to tear me to shreds as soon as the noise drifts away. I’m frightened by it. All over again. It’s something I cannot understand anymore. And I don’t know why.

Drinking Habits

Coffee has become quite symbolic to me over the past year; the picture and fragrance of productivity. The smell permeates almost every office space I’ve entered recently. Even in my workplace, casual glances over my coworkers’ desks reveal proprietary mugs with telling stains. And for the more serious drinkers, there’s a mini coffee pot, either full of stale or fresh coffee, standing to the right of their desk.

There are two close colleagues in particular who share a ritual of placing a mug of hot, fresh coffee on the other’s desk – it all depends on who gets into the office first. I find the gesture quite endearing and it would’ve been nice if I shared that sort of working relationship with a coworker. Arriving at my desk to find warm coffee waiting for me, starting my day with the required caffeine boost. But I’m not really a fan of coffee.

My home country produces some of the best-known coffee and there was a time I loved fixing myself a glass, iced and flavored with Bailey’s (I often got a headache from this, but it was worth it to me then). I’d developed a taste for Nescafe’s French vanilla instant coffee, but the aftertaste was always too sweet. Saccharine. As if my entire throat and stomach had been soaked in sugar. And at that time, the smell of coffee was very nauseating to me.

In spite of how I felt about coffee though, I often frequented the local café by my community college. That’s how the smell grew on me and I’d buy a mochaccino each time I went, until it became my usual drink.

I love the atmosphere inside cafés. It’s like being in a library, without the oppressive edge that you shouldn’t make even a pin drop. The relaxing calm; the soft, occasional whir and hum of machines making drinks; murmured conversation; the scratch of ballpoint pens against paper and the focused rhythm of fingers tapping away at a laptop keyboard. It’s a different sort of freeing harmony that can only be found there. And it was always the perfect place for me to write.

Some of my ideas came from being inside a café and though I don’t visit cafes as much anymore since I migrated, I’ll go on occasion alone or with a coworker. There’s a Starbucks on almost every block. The convenience stores wedged between buildings always let out strong breaths of coffee in the morning when the glass doors slide open. I smell it everywhere I go and it’s always the business folk clutching a paper cup as they scurry the pavement to work.

My new drink of choice is the caramel macchiato – I take it hot since I realized I don’t have to stick to the routine of buying iced beverages. I used to think coffee was the only drink Starbucks served hot without any sort of real variations. Even though I know that now, I still go for the caramel macchiato. Sometimes I’ll try out the seasonal drinks, but as a general rule, I’m the stick-to-what-you-know-and-like type of person.

As for me, when I’m at work, my hot beverage of choice is a good old cup of Lipton with some tea biscuits on hand for dipping.

Unintended Neglect

Emptied boxes scatter the misted floor, collecting dust from ideas left too long in the shed. She kneels among the disarray of forgotten words – unfinished syllables and meager remnants of starved inspiration. Rusted and frayed. Breaking away like ashen sediments at the slightest touch. And she feels the wilting all around her as if it were her own heart losing its rhythm. She never meant for things to get this bad — even the cobwebs have grown too thick, stretching beyond clandestine borders to nest in streams of revealing light. And it is much too late to salvage what she’s lost.

Where Happiness Is

Happiness seems a far way off, though it exists within. A pearl hidden in the framework of shifting bones, bouncing along every knob and groove to its own melodies of reverie. In and out of sight; elusive glimpses lost in the labyrinthine chasm where disappointments and failures intumesce. Trapping the mind into a helpless obsession to focus on what isn’t instead of what is. Seeking answers from without. Drawing comfort from wells of transience that never truly satisfy, while misery burrows itself even further into that hollow place. But happiness awaits, beckoning through the sanguine clearing — eager to be found.

A Glimpse of Cherry Blossoms

The cherry blossoms went as quickly as they came. An ephemeral wink of beauty; as if they had bloomed and taken a singular breath in the delicate flutter of a child’s lashes. The streets were awash in their petals, like neglected wishes that had spilled through the split seams of the air’s thin pockets.

She plucked as many as she could from the ground, imagining clipped moth wings within her cold palms. Fragile and translucent; evidence of hindered flight that had never reached its zenith. And it scared her to think that she could end up like these fallen blossoms. Because life always happened so quickly, its threads weaving and unraveling in patterns no-one could control. But she’d determined some time ago not to let her steps dwell too long in the mire of pessimistic thought.

Her heart was still warm with optimism, though the clouds gathered with a solemn murmur promising rain. She blew the petals on the wind, watched them swirl in a final dance that pushed her wishes upward to find a place – some day – in the tapestry constantly being woven by fate’s deft hands. And she prayed that next Spring, the wind would be a bit kinder and not so brusquely whisk away the serene blossoms that often carried her deepest dreams.

***

The Power of Words

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about words and the power they hold. Truthfully, they should have been as inconsequential as the pebbles and gravel at our feet, merely giving us that satisfying crunch beneath our shoes. Innocuous and benign. But they’re the fissures crumbling into wide jaws that can eat us alive, without remorse, or the poppy fields which flourish into the idyll of our deepest imaginings.

I have a love/hate relationship with words. Because on the one hand, it’s beautiful in the way it lends itself to art. How it caresses our thoughts and whispers over our mind with an elegance as transfixing as watching the effortless grace of ballerinas. Or how it reaches out to us in those dark places, rubbing away the tears often unseen by others. But in the next breath, like a charlatan, it can become the rapier that rends us to irreparable shreds of ourselves.

More than food, almost more than water, our lives hinge – to an extent – on the words of others. It’s the reason some of us work so hard, for this approval that can get us closer to a desired outcome. But this isn’t meant to analyze what others do, because each of us deals with unique circumstances. In my case, however, I found myself thirsting after someone’s praise and affection.

I needed it to feel contented. Without his words, I became so miserable; there was nothing that could replace that hollowness inside me. Not until he came and gave me my fill for the day. Isn’t that pathetic? Liking someone so much that everything suddenly seems off-kilter, as if the sun is full of mud reflecting bleak and ugly colors, the second you don’t hear a word from them? That was me. Still is, to an extent.

And what I want to do, is find that margin of balance, where it won’t feel as if my brain is fragmenting just because we may not speak. Sometimes he’s very compassionate and endearing, other times he treats me with a noncommittal indifference. And more than anything, I despise inconsistency. But I rationalize these things; he’s only human and this is something we do. Sometimes we have good days, other days we could care less about certain things. Yet, I’m conflicted because, towards him, I care all the time.

My only crutch in all this is that I’ve come to accept I can’t control anyone – only my reactions to what they do. And as a simple rule of nature, the body acclimatizes itself to different situations and can live without something it’s been deprived of for a long time. In the same way, I should learn not to always indulge my need to pick from the fruit of his lips and greedily sink my teeth into the flesh of his words. Sure, it’s nice in the moment, to lick at the nectar and relish the flavor, but such an addiction is never truly healthy.

I never want to get to a point where I feel irrevocably lost without him…

Writer’s Block

She kept going in circles

Frustration bruising through

The underbelly

Of her pensive breaths

As her muddy footprints

Left behind blotches

Of grey matter

Over uneven cobblestones;

A too-often trodden path

Eclipsed in an inert silence

Now leading to nowhere

Without rescue

From the rising sludge

Of spilled ink

If the World Stood Still

She saw the world as a massive steam engine. Its rusted gears and pivots grinding endlessly, sputtering exhaust that crudely chided at the wind’s back. And people had no choice but to be caught up — strung by their hands and feet — in the madness of an endless toil. Like scrambling ants teeming this way and that in contained yet chaotic streams toward some mindless goal that gave them no time to rest. No time to lift their faces to the sun; to be pampered by her caramel kisses and warm hugs, that could melt away the tension within their bones.

And there was a girl who stumbled on the crosswalk, her blunder a hiccup in the rough heaving that always filled the air. But her mortified gasp was lost in the multitude of footsteps, kicking away any pity for her. Apathy only hurried her along to find her place back within the busy mosaic.

This was how it always went. And it made her wonder what would happen if the world hissed out a breath that brought it to a standstill, so it could take another more deep and filling breath?

If people were given the reassurance that sometimes it was okay to just be still and sink within the folds of serenity, would they trust that notion or keep wearing themselves away, day after day?

Musings on Nostalgia

At first, the rain came like a flurry of snowflake kisses over my face. Light and gentle. It seemed only a palpable imagining from my thoughts. Of course, I don’t remember my head being full of such whimsy. But by the time I realized that it was in fact the clouds wringing themselves dry, I didn’t care to take my umbrella from my bag. I let the rain beat over my face and hands, watched the rivulets slide over the black nylon of my coat, and only rushed through the gates of my workplace when it got heavier.

Lately, I’ve been taken with a lot of thoughts that aren’t so positive-leaning. My mind has been soaked in nostalgia for some time now – there are nights too where all I feel is this restless awareness of death. This entry isn’t meant to be depressing in any way, because within every waking moment I do try to stretch the corners of my mind into wide smiles. Until somehow mirth tapers the melancholic gutters to more melodic drips of sound.

But I can’t shake this desperate and visceral longing. It’s as if my chest has been hollowed out; a bottomless well that cannot be filled by any present thing. I can distract myself from it for a time, yet I’m quickly reminded of it on every deep breath that is actually not deep enough for my thirsting lungs. Sometimes I breathe in until the oxygen balloons in my body, ready to burst. I’m pretty sure I could take in even more but because of perceived limitations, my brain forces me to stop. (It’s like the fact that we could easily bite off our fingers with the ease of munching through carrots, but our nerves stop us).

Although this feeling makes me so miserable most of the time, I often remember anime and how the Japanese seem to have always understood this feeling. I’ve always liked the opening sequence of a lot of anime series. The shudder of cherry blossoms on the crisp, spring breeze infusing the air with hope and an innocent expectation for life. The feeling of nostalgia in these openings is always immediate – for me anyway. It was for that evocation of bittersweet emotion that I’d fallen in love with anime.

There was a friend I had once. We’d discuss anime and the symbolism interspersed throughout the stories told. One time, he said to me that a lot of anime usually have adolescent protagonists with common themes of coming of age and finding one’s path/freedom because of the underlying desires of the creators to go back to those days. The carefree and indulgent era of childhood and adolescence that allowed us to just be without our knowing that the phantom shackles of adulthood were upon us.

I remember him and that conversation because I think at the heart of this feeling is indeed a yearning for the past. And sometimes I think it’s stupid to feel this way, to hope for time already spent – that somehow it will reach back for my searching hand. But it only brushes against the tips of my fingers; too small and distant to ever fit within my palm again. I understand that I cannot have the past back, that I can only relish the memories sitting within the many chambers of my mind.

But if it were possible, and a portal were to manifest itself in a cosmic swirl – the way it sometimes does in the movies – I’d jump in without a second’s hesitation. I wouldn’t change anything either. All I’d do is enjoy and appreciate my childhood and adolescence a bit more. Because I don’t think I truly did that enough…

***

Finding Myself

There’s a pendulum swinging somewhere beyond the hedges of my periphery. A tick-tocking that reverberates distantly through the still air. But it doesn’t shake my chest with panic or fear. No. It’s more the sound of time being on my side. A sound of reassurance through this slow process of rediscovering myself.

It’s a little maddening, how easy it was for me to lose sight of the thing I loved. And for the most part, I never truly felt myself slipping deeper within that ravine beyond the hollow of my soul – though I was well aware something wasn’t quite right. If that part of me had ever screamed out for me to notice her, I’d been deaf to every desperate cry. And I carried on, as if nothing was ever really out of place, even when I could feel this painful scratching at the back of my head.

There were several times I tried to write. Endless pages filled with this single line. Just this one, unanswered question: “What would it feel like to reemerge from obscurity?” 
Those words on spindly, fawn-like legs, aimlessly stumbled round and round the spiraling pathways in my head.

But now I know that it feels like coming up for air. Gulping oxygen within weary lungs. Like remembering how to breathe and being conscious of every deep and filling breath, wanting more of it until the air balloons, threatening to burst inside me because I don’t want to lose that feeling. The feeling of being alive again. And I want to write all the things overflowing my head so that my brain doesn’t choke on this rising flood of ideas.

I wondered when I’d know that I’d found myself again. But now I realize I’d been holding on to her all this time. That I’d never really lost myself or what was important to me.

The truth is, those things are never truly lost. Because they’re always right there, waiting for you to see them.