The Matriarch's wisdom never reached me. They butchered her golden words and threw them to the pigs - wisdom turned to steaks on which they feasted in the long, cold, wine-drenched nights.
They cut her down. Crazy. Quarrelsome. Merciless. Emotional. Overreacting Hysterical. Too soft. Too harsh. Too little. Too much for their egos to accept. They cut her down to pieces until she was small enough not to scare them.
The Matriarch's wisdom lives on in my unwillingness to yield my own words to feed animals meant for steaks.
Then suddenly, the air was turning steely cold, the leaves were turning all shades of yellow and copper, while the souls were turning melancholy and longing.
In the moment, we humans have the tendency of fooling ourselves into believing that change is something reserved for others. On account of our biological need for stability (and it’s a stringent one, no doubt), we come to think it impossible for the good to ever change into bad, or for the bad to turn into good.
As it turns out, a recent study found very little correlation between the personality traits of the same people at ages 18 and 68. So, to quote the cliché, change is one of the few constants of everyone’s lives.
Almost a year ago to the T, I moved into my own place. This had been after more than a decade of sharing an apartment with both boys and girls, and after seeing and experiencing the good, the bad, the awkward, the heartwarming, the ugly, even the icky. It had been grand, it had been a huge part of my growing up from an awkward and introverted teen into an only slightly awkward and forcibly less introverted young adult. But change was something I could no longer avoid, no matter how gut wrenching it was to think about and enact.
So after a Halloween party which ran until later than advisable, involved too many glasses of wine, excessive dancing and some unnecessarily wasted time giggling at Youtube videos on the sidewalk, I decided the best time to make the big move was that very weekend. That next morning, I hauled myself out of bed, downed an ibuprofen along with two cups of coffee, all while my mother was doing her best not to press me to talk (let me tell you, being hungover in front of your mom is a special kind of torture in and of itself). Once I’d sufficiently regained my human form and was able to properly articulate to my dad that he shouldn’t touch any of the bags containing fragile objects (he protested, evidemment), the real fun began. By 11 PM that evening, though, I had somehow managed to carry all my stuff to my apartment and also store (almost) everything safely away in cupboards, dressers and drawers – one of my brand new plates sadly fell victim to my lingering hungover and state of exhaustion.
While the timing was quite unfortunate, it was a now or never type of situation. The initial plans had looked quite different and then turned to dust, which is why I had been devising excuses for myself, finding reasons to delay taking this step. I was afraid of the massive change that was staring me in the face because I had not even imagined it would turn into such a beast, nor that I would be facing it on my own. I had no sword to do battle with, only a stupid, rusty shield. So I made due, in my usual awkward fashion.
One of the hardest things to learn how to do – which my generation is taking a crash course on with no user manuals available, no guidance in most cases and much later in life than expected – is owning your emotions and feelings. I could have come up with innumerable reasons for which I should wait a bit more to move out on my own, I could have rationalised the hell out of a decision I was making out of pure fear – fear of change. It was my strange nature that got me out of the tar I was stuck in – overthinking lasts only so long in my case, after which a moment of impulsiveness will force a decision, one way or another. Thank All Hallows’ Eve for that!
When it comes to ownership of these complications called emotions, that is still being worked on, so please bear with us.
My curiosity setting being turned up to high this evening, I simply must ask the audience a question very unusual for the times we’re living: does anyone still write love letters these days?
Does the warm and fuzzy feeling in your chest not swell to such a degree sometimes that you have to find a proper outlet for the cheesiness, lest it might lead to your body turning into a useless mass of melted chocolate hearts?
Do you not once in a blue moon sense the need to express your affections as an imperative impossible to ignore? Yet wanting to avoid the awkwardness of hearing yourself utter words of longing while the possibility of ridicule looms, you decide to put them in writing (sure, having this in written form doesn’t seem like such a good idea in retrospect and it does nothing for your anxiety while you wait for a response to your outpour of emotions, but there’s no turning back now).
Myself, I’ve written some in the past. Would I think they’re embarrassing and childish if I were to read them again with today’s experience and mindset? Absolutely! Do I regret penning any of them? Maybe only for a split second, but in truth they accomplished the main goal I’d set out for them – perhaps unknowingly – to give voice to my heart; nothing more, nothing less. On this premise, I’m sure to write some more for years to come, starting with right now.
To you, the one I know is out there.
I’m maybe yet to find out your name, or you might be someone I’ve not looked at with this sort of interest so far. But I know this – there will be electricity in the air in the instant we truly look at each other for the first time, the instant the realization of who we are hits us.
You, my love, will know I’m an incurable idealist and will find it an inspiring thing to be, not something to dissuade me out of. You’ll make my heart go soft when I’d be tempted to surround it with one more layer of armour. Your kiss will give me butterflies to such a degree that I’ll become dizzy, dangerously close to falling. You’ll make me desperately want to stay even though I’d be freaking out of how deeply I’d fallen already. Against all odds, you’ll stop my frantic overthinking. But don’t worry too much for the times you won’t be able to achieve this near-impossible feat immediately – it’s still going to be you that my arms, my heart and my mind circle back to – my source of wild laughter and my quiet oasis.
When people bring up chemistry, they tend to imagine some mysterious force, ineffable and difficult to describe – though why even even try to, lest the magic dissipates into a boring string of facts?
We’re catalysts for one another, jump-starting emotional reactions and triggering the initiation of patterns that might have been lying dormant or that have remained unidentified for the longest of time.
Without uttering a single word of explicit encouragement, one person can pick you up from the lowest of moments and can make you feel seen without judgement. The way they approach the interaction is gentle even when they bring arguments which don’t align with your view in the moment. They listen to hear you, not to look for an opening to change the focus to their own conundrums. Like cool spring water on your face after a summer day hike, their words will clear your head and ease your heart. Let them.
Acknowledge these individuals. Relish their presence and the way they make you feel by just being. Maybe from time to time, give them a hug. And don’t forget to thank them.
Forgive me, Heart, for I have sinned - it's been too long since my last confession, whispers the girl of summer, anxious for her secret to remain her own.
I've walked the desert for months, for years - mirror on my back, only a glass shield to protect me from the unwanted emotions discarded like food past its expiration date for fear they will cause some type of poisoning.
I've sat and shared courage in glasses, words uncounted and dreams unhidden with princes lost to the world and to themselves. But it was when I turned my back to them and the scorching sun that they recognized their faces in the mirror.
Too early. Too late. Who can tell?
I've been preaching your gospel, dear Heart, whispers the girl of summer, but it's a wasteland, baby and I don't think they're ready.
I can see you whole despite the cracks in your armor from the latest war you waged against the world, against your own heart - won't you let me fill those cracks with the precious gold that you deserve?
I can see your beautiful, but I want you to show me your ugly, and stop the tik-tok of that damned grandfather clock for long enough that my soul can rest at last.
That grandfather clock with its cursed timing.
Always the timing, baby. Wrong one, right time, time lost. Right one, wrong time, hope lost.
I don’t know how others are, but my fascination with people is endless. I’ve developed this curiosity that I most times have trouble explaining a couple of years back. Leaving aside the general context, it started off with a very simple recommendation: be curious about the person in front of you; don’t assume, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t take it personal, just be curious. So even though I seemed to remember something about curiosity being the demise of the domestic feline, I clenched my fists around this piece of advice and started applying it pretty indiscriminately.
I can’t help myself from wanting to understand why people act the way they do, what lies behind the words they choose so carefully or behind the jokes they crack, what experiences have made them react with suspicion or, on the contrary, with such trust that you’d almost label them as naïve.
Q: Are you still naïve?
A: No, not anymore. That girl’s long dead. I know better now, so if I get fooled it’s because I allowed myself to be. Which is worse then? Being naïve or not being so?
Humans may be hard to read, but they are truly my favourite subject to study and I swear they sometimes show signs of possessing supernatural powers. For example, have you ever met up with someone and time became warped beyond recognition? Whole hours will pass without being compelled to look at your phone (ah, the modern dream of freedom!). Simultaneously, time will become contracted so that a conversation feels like it’s flown by faster than light takes to travel between two people sitting next to each other.
There will be ideas that you’ve discussed with certain magical individuals stuck to the frontal lobe of your brain more stubbornly than 10-year old gum to the underside of a school chair. There will be words they’ve uttered and phrases they’ve used so uniquely that these will linger with you and force you to re-position yourself in relation to none other than yourself. Then, it starts dawning on you that’s only the beginning.