and in many ways she was exactly how i had pictured her, the girl you loved when you were 17. wealthy, put-together, working in fashion, beautiful, thin, white, auburn red hair, tall.  nice smile. ambitious.

kept thinking about what it was like when you were 17. what you looked like. what you sounded like. what you feared. what you didn’t know to care about just yet. how serious was this.

do you still talk? ever taken her out for dinner? ever reminisced about young love? ever laughed about it afterwards? spoken about growing older. spoken about life in LA.

what does she think about what you do.  what does she think about the fact that you never quite grew up but somehow still found a way to grow so self-assured and unapologetic. what do you think about yourself in the context of your 17-year-old self.

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that in some ways i forgot,

had finally learned to unlearn my ways,

stopped wondering where you were, how you’ve been, what you’re thinking about right now. that in so many ways, I too had forgotten about you long enough to forget why I needed to.

because maybe it’s time that i write limericks for amusement for newspapers that want them, and stop sending you free-form nonsense silently begging you for a glance.

with you, i was always, always sure.

 

i think i need a break from the internet

there’s been a lot of things that i’ve read lately that require so much emotional labour.  like this world is extremely shitty and i don’t know why i feel like there is onus that i have to do something, and i think that’s a good thing to feel accountable, but these problems are so much bigger than me.  and what if these things eventually consume me?  i’ve been reading so much about what’s happening in Yemen in terms of the blockades on international aid and how it’s one of the worst famines if not THE worst famine in history, and so many people are dying purely out of self-interest and international relations between OTHER countries.  and all this stuff about the threat of a i t h a t i completely think is a merited conversation that needs to involve fewer white men and idk how you combat this if not with regulation but there is not enough expertise in regulation to truly do that. and so stories about disenfranchised people and homeless people in my city and in the cities that i visit, and i’m not sure what i’m supposed to do with those stories because they are so taxing. like i can’t help everyone. this is an institutional problem. how do i change it. how does one person change a system. how does a non-white person change the system. how do you overthrow everything. how does widespread anarchy start.

and on the topic of emotional labour, i’m getting really sick of being the friend who has to devote so much emotional labour into friendships like i am so through with that, i feel like people are wasting my time, i just don’t want to talk to you, i don’t want to get invested in your problems because it’s so taxing and there’s too much happening in my life and i don’t feel selfish about this because i’ve been made to feel guilty about too much.

and she brought him up a few weeks ago and i haven’ t quite shaken it off. like a story that you dig into the ground and somehow someone has dug it back up thinking it was some memorabilia you had meant to keep. and i don’t know how i feel about it.  weird. like it makes me sad, like wistful in some ways, and i just wish i could bury those feelings and those memories that have been holding me back from moving on with my life.  like i wasn’t lying when i said his white shadow follows me around everywhere in this city. that everything has an association with him. that i can’t. i just can’t bear this.

so overall i’m just so overwhelmed in my head. i want it all to turn off. i want to be at peace though i know nothing that goes so at peace and functions in so much quiet is a good thing. like the silence becomes unbearable. like i am typing mid-november, watching leaves die and peel themselves from branches with the nudge of gravity from my bedroom window, and i am so heavy in my heart and so confused and so so so frustrated by this world. and it’s like there is never a happy median, there is never a moment when you can truly be content, be alive, be omnipotent in your own capacity without understanding the toll that that happiness takes on the rest of the world. like you can’t rest until it is all fixed, like you can’t rest until justice is served in a land and time when that has never ever happened. like you can write stories and hope that you can type out this anger, this outrage, this exhaustion. hope that it lives through these words and no longer in your lungs.  like heartbreak is something that can be isolated from a heart and live on a page. like the broken glass is just diamonds and it’s all shining onto you. like how could i possibly be the person i am today without the trauma, frustration, and position that i have attained and have yet to attain and will never attain. like how income inequality is not a problem that a lot of people benefit from and does that make me complicit? like how happiness is a disillusion, like how can you look away and turn the other cheek when there is so much wrong in this world, and how do i sleep at night.

how did i ever fall asleep in the first place?

 

Dear 20 year-old Me,

Dear 20 year-old me,

I want you to know that your letter made me cry.  It made me relive some of those memories of what compelled me to write that letter in the first place, it brought me back on that cream-coloured white couch just past midnight while I typed my heartache and exhaustion away in the dark as my roommates slept, because I couldn’t sleep and you know why.  I have so much to tell you, but I don’t know how you’ll take it.  I hope you’ll smile through the tears welling up in your eyes, I hope you’ll burst out laughing, I hope you’ll lay back on that couch and know that life is funny, life is complicated, life is unpredictable, yet life is meant to be.

I’ll cut to what you want to know the most: you never said goodbye to him.  Notice that I didn’t say you never got to say goodbye.  You got your chance and you avoided it at all costs, but I promise you, it was the best thing you could do. You see, when you left the city for part of the summer, you learned something about him that absolutely broke you, thanks to your obsessive inquiries (decent euphemism, right?) about his life.  And it was probably the worst and best thing you could discover, because you ended up crying on A’s couch by yourself for four weeks straight and heading on 10 km walks, and it was torment but also the greatest relief, because despite how painful of a realization it was, it was the only thing that jump-started your recovery from your depression.  And yes, looking back, you were indeed depressed.  You couldn’t get out of bed, you couldn’t sleep, you had such low self-esteem hinged on what some boy thought you meant to him, you couldn’t get him off your mind in a manner that is unparalleled and dangerous.  And the storm blows past, because he became someone that you didn’t know anymore and didn’t care to know, and eventually he broke up with the Perfect Blonde Girl That You Were Never Going to Be.  And you are genuinely fine.  You are not heartbroken.  Trust me.  It gets better, your heart heals. He becomes but a statue that commemorates 2013 and nothing more.

On another note, I didn’t move to New York City, didn’t snag that dream internship at NBC, didn’t buy that PS1 bag, still don’t own a leather jacket, still single, and didn’t even end up applying ton Columbia.  Perhaps you are disappointed, and if I saw even a twitch in your face as your eyes welled up again, I would slap it right off of you.  You see, your skin did clear up with time and with less stress, you bought a Givenchy Pandora instead, you bought black Alexander Wang ankle boots and they’re so chic and bad-ass, and you just started a new job in a field that you don’t yet know about but by which you will become enamoured and fascinated after you graduate.  You started running for complicated reasons (let’s use the term “heartbreak” very loosely here) and you did lose weight -enough to occasionally fit into a size 2, you read like a fiend sometimes and you paid for a subscription to The Atlantic (which I know is weird, because you don’t even know much about The Atlantic right now).  You still read trashy teen fiction.  You bike to work sometimes and it’s a good 25 km trip.  You still write.  You dance briefly after you graduate, but you stop for a good reason.  You do a different type of dancing now that’s more casual and you love it. You cut your hair short (bet you never saw that coming) and you’ve been rocking that since you graduated and might never go back.  But that was the only way you got rid of the stringiness, and frankly, your hair doesn’t grow as shiny and long as you age.

You know, life has this funny way of going in full circles, of ending where it began, of beginning where it just ended.

First, you end up downloading this app called Vine and you spend countless hours on it, in A’s bed when you sublet her room, laughing at the videos in hopes of forgetting about him -and just so you know, it takes you about eight months to a year to fully get over it.  You share the videos with your friends, and the community of content creators later influence your life in very funny ways.  And in the fashion of things coming and going, Vine abruptly shuts down in 2015, and you’re not sure what to do.  It has gotten you out of an agonising heartbreak, and suddenly it is no longer there to amuse you.  You survive.  You start listening to this one kid’s two podcasts and you love it, and when some girls in his videos have hoop earrings and they look fantastic, you end up buying yourself a pair and you look superb.

The tricky thing between the person you want to become in your head and the one on paper is that they are starkly different versions of your expectations.  You want someone to be okay with themselves, but this same person to meet all of society’s expectations of what it means to be great, to have it all, to have that glamorous Blair Waldorf life.  But you come into your own in those five years: you learn who you are and who you are not, and who you want to be.  The first prompt stems from the act of buying lots of clothes that don’t really fit but you buy them because they look nice or seem expensive, especially a pair of mint Lanvin calf-skin ballet flats, which you liked since they were designer but in hindsight acknowledge that they were the worst purchase you have made in your life so far -they get dirty really fast, they were not meant for wearing outdoors, you walk funny and ruin the heel in about two weeks, and you really could have used that $600 for other things… badly. The second prompt comes from your experience at your new school, which is such a culture shock and humbling experience that you couldn’t possibly fathom it as you sit on that couch crying over a boy who will never love you.  It is this second prompt that is so sobering on the fact that you are NOT at the top of the food chain even though you feel like you and your friends own a corner of the school, which will make you re-examine everything about who you are and say you are, who your friends are, whether or not you have appreciated your friends enough, and who and what you want to be.  And these two things will force you to take inventory of your life, to reset your expectations to something more genuine and realistic (which is not equivalent to the act of settling), and become more comfortable with yourself.  Like how you are not wealthy and shouldn’t pretend to be, because it becomes apparent really quickly.  Like how you are quite introverted and hate going out.  Like how you have gained an incredible amount of weight from the lack of sleep and exercise, but pretend you haven’t until none of your clothes truly fit and you hate every recent photo of you on the Internet. But trust me, this takes years to figure out.  You’re only really coming into your own once you turn 25, and you still don’t have it all figured out, but you’re okay with that and you know you’re heading in the right direction.   And there comes this moment where it dawns on you that you need to be yourself, and for the first time, you understand what that means.

Besides that watershed moment of coming into your own, you also realize that life is bit more complicated than moving to New York and becoming a media mogul.  First, there’s the harsh realization that media jobs don’t pay well.  Second, there is something that you didn’t anticipate in your simplistic five-year timeline: the ramifications of the U.S. presidential election in 2016.  These have profound implications on where you eventually set your sights for your career: you want to work in media regulation, not the media business, and you ultimately want to help citizens.

You travel. You see the world, but not all of it. You finally get to see LA and all the places that you learned about when you were 15.  You saw the pole at Archer. You saw Santa Monica pier.  You go to New York several more times by yourself, and rarely the same places.  You watch gentrification unfold and it worries you.  You go to London, Paris, Costa Rica, DC for a conference that makes you question everything, Charleston.  You realize that you love travelling by yourself, and you also love your friends.  You know of a lot of places you want to visit, you learn that you are not a backpacker, you feel jealous for people like DJs who get to travel the world all the time, everywhere.  You don’t have severe wanderlust, but you know you cannot stay in this city forever.  And funnily enough, you start questioning if New York is even the city where you’d like to move.  Maybe you would like to move to the West Coast, but not San Francisco.

You remain friends with your college friends.  A goes off to school abroad and it feels super weird.  And the other A returns from school abroad and now she’s home and it feel super weird.  The friendships weaken, let’s be frank, and it’s sad, but it’s still there.  And it works.  And you all love each other in this complex web of relationships and drama that you’re not necessarily involved in but affects you nonetheless. You still see V on occasion, you make new friendships.  You realize that as an adult out of school, it’s actually quite difficult to make new friends let alone meet people. You grow very close to your high school friends, and this is a friendship that even now I hope will last forever.  That these are strong women (and men) who have grown up with a background like yours, who understand what it was like to grow up in this part of town, who are not ashamed of where they come from and where they will go, and you should never ever ever have to defend your neighborhood, defend your story.  Events will test your friends’ lives and composure, so be there for them.  Love them.  They love you.

Two men enter and exit your life in these five years.  None of them you truly love, but they change you.  They make you a better person: one of them makes you better after you no longer speak to him, and the other is like a rude awakening and a blessing at the same time.  You write so many poems and letters about the latter, he frustrates you, he haunts you.  He means well; he just… changed his mind.  The former is the reason you started running, he is the reason you started getting involved in the arts, he is the reason you got involved in your city.  Because he didn’t believe in the arts, he didn’t believe in the city. He made you realize that actually…. you might just be a socialist.  And an anarchist in Theory clothing. The latter was perfect, and that’s when you realized that you weren’t on the same page.  The latter made you rethink a lot about yourself, about your self-worth, made you stand up for yourself once.  The latter still hasn’t left you, still his shell comes up in casual conversations, his white shadow always present.  All you want to do is stop living in his shadow.

I’m not sure if I feel good enough now.  Instead, I think the conversation has evolved into whether or not I feel more comfortable with myself, and where I want to go next.  Because I’m ravenous for the next, I know that I cannot stay in one place, I cannot grow complacent.  And my goal is not to become something better than myself, but how to make myself better -there is a difference that you wouldn’t discern, my dear 20-year-old me. And so in many ways I have learned to trust myself, to know that I know myself better than anyone, that my direction is the best direction.  That I am proud of myself, but it took a long long time to feel this way.  And it was a long and arduous and tough journey that I felt like I would never overcome at times.  That I do not regret anything, because this is how my life has played out and I cannot change it.  That no, I do not wish things had changed with the boy, because I wouldn’t have grown the way I have grown, that I wouldn’t have known how to handle vulnerability otherwise.  And most of all, I am glad I left.  I am so so so glad that I left where you are right now, I am so so so so glad that I did not stay.  Had I stayed, I would never have had so many about-faces, I would have been even more lost. I would have perhaps never realized what I wanted to do and what I was capable of beyond the world that was composed of your house, locker, work, and school in that 20 km radius.  Maybe there is lost potential, but you learn to look forward, not backwards.  So as I am recounting all the things that have happened in your life, I also look at this letter to guide me forward, to figure out what is still left to do and what I might want to add or remove from that list.  And it always makes me smile to review all the things that I have accomplished, and all the things that I have achieved that were never part of some to-do list.

Thank you.  So much.  For this letter.  I love you, I love you, I love you.  Most of all, thank you for the advice.  I needed to hear it, I needed that reminder.  You’re not naive or dumb, you just don’t have the advantage of hindsight.  Life comes fast at you, kiddo.  Trust your own decision-making, laugh at yourself, go out with your friends, don’t watch Breaking Bad (please… oh please… the timing was so wrong for you to start bingeing this show), and focus on school.  Because doing well in school will pay off.  And be yourself because that will save you a lot of grief.  And have fun.  Have so much fun.

 

With so much love,

25 year-old Me.

they pass by so fast but i can’t let go

sitting on the aluminum roof of a french row house on a grey almost cloudless day. you can see all the other roofs for miles on end, and they’re all pale grey and white just like the one you’re sitting on.  it’s cool to the touch because the sun hasn’t touched its warmth here, but there is a serenity to it, a breeze, a feeling of insignificance.  the roof is slanted so you wonder if you’ll fall if you edge a bit too close, if your foot catches on something and your body starts to slide down. there is some mystical european beauty mixed with what may be esoteric bliss. it’s not super warm. but it it everything.

sitting on a hot cream sidewalk on a bright day around beverly hills roads. there’s almost no breeze. it’s almost quiet. plush green strips line your line of sight. time is endless, you have nowhere you need to go, but everywhere that you want to go.  this.  this is everything.

it’s raining and the fluorescent school ceiling lights above make the room bearable. there’s a slight dampness but nothing irritating. you can’t hear the rain drops because the bustle of the classmates around you is everything you can hear and see. the walls are white but they’re not perfect, lined with mahogany window frames. it’s warm inside, and it’s much cooler outside. it’s somewhere in england with navy-clad boys’ blazers and rain boots abound. it is everything your little mind can hold in this little world.  it is everything you can remember from your childhood’s rainy days.

the polaroid from the club with the graffiti’d walls. music loud, it’s warm. you remember the flash. it’s everything in that moment. and he grimaces while she smiles, and she twirls in her heels and eventually leaves, sits down at the diner with a bottomless cup of coffee in hand, waiting for the sun to rise, and somehow LA has become Seattle and Seattle becomes Cincinnati, and the girl with the blonde hair, one blue eye, and one brown eye, who laughs too loudly sometimes but also knows how to fill a whole room with quiet is looking out the window full of sunshine. and then she looks back at you. and her smile is worn -she’s wearing it like a soiled cardigan she hasn’t had time to change out of. and she smiles tiredly at him and says she is sorry with both her hands still on the white cup of coffee, but she must go away for a long time. and he braces for the blow in this jack-in-the-box of a woman. because the girl is a storm encroaching and she just won’t turn over the cards, won’t hand in her key to the cupboard of secrets, won’t take him along for the dance with sharks even though she will dance with him every night. even though she has danced with him getting lost in the sounds, in the people, in him.  she says she loves him but how can you really love someone if you won’t stop playing russian roulette with the devil? and she brushes his hand, traces her finger up his tattoos, stops weakly at his elbow, sighs, gulps, takes a breath, sighs again but this time it comes out like a stifled cry, says she is so sorry again, doesn’t know what to do with her hands because she does not deserve his touch. he asks when she will come back. she says soon. but don’t wait for me, she says. puts her coffee down, throws down a bill, swallows her pride, swallows everything, storms are a-brewing, she can’t look at him anymore because she doesn’t deserve to. he shouldn’t forgive her, but she knows he will even though she will never forget the guilt of that. she leaves. she doesn’t twirl out of the room this time. this time she walks. she doesn’t dare look back. she’s left more than him in that room. gets into the car that’s been chartered to Cincinnati to take her to a private airport. her stomach is in her hands, how can lungs drop so low? when the door closes, she lets herself cry. she knows she has done this all to herself, yet somehow hurt herself more than she has hurt him.  flash, and the polaroid comes out. flash again, and the whole world goes dark. flash again, and it’s all white like a blank page, unwritten. but don’t settle in too comfortably, because even though nothing has been written on the page does not mean the words that will fill them will be good.

maybe the feelings are passing. maybe the fear is overcome by the view, by the vastness, by you, by everything you have come to recall from those memories. those feelings. it feels like home, even though you are definitely, undeniably not home. it’s the taste of the air, its feel and temperature in your mouth, on your skin, tickling your nostrils as you breathe in, and then when you breathe out. it’s these moments you remember, that you cling to. that have long passed, but you cannot no matter how hard you try forget them. you do not grieve. you reminisce. and it’s nice.

I wrote this on Xanga on March 29, 2013. I found it again, like I’ve always thought I would, because I remember this poignant and eloquent letter so vividly; I remember reading it through tears, covered in a blanket of exhaustion on the living room couch of our house.

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Dear 25 year-old me,

Please tell me you got that dream internship at NBC and now you’re working for the big dogs in New York City.  Please tell me you live in a cool apartment in the Lower East Side, you own that PS1 bag you were constantly pining for, you have that leather jacket that you saw at the mall last month, and you go shopping with your friends regularly for new heels at Barneys.  You know, I became a 25 year old Blair Waldorf with less drama and more smarts?  Kind of like that girl in 13 going on 30: you have the glamorous life, which is what you always wanted since you were little.  Oh, which reminds me, did you end up getting into that program at Columbia?  Nice.  How about a boyfriend?  Nice.  I hope your skin cleared up too, you lost tons of weight, you fit in a size 2 now, and you look amazing in bodycon dresses.  You lost the tummy fat, your hair is less stringy, and you actually go to the gym on a regular basis.  I’m not even going to ask if you cook, because knowing you, the answer is no.  Besides, you probably go out for dinner every night.  Life’s good.

But beyond the tangible aspects of your life, what’s going on in your head?  Is it any better?  Do you feel good enough now?  Have you made it?  Are you happy?  Are you proud of yourself?  Are you finally okay with yourself after 25 years?  Do you still reminisce about lost potential?  Do you still compare yourself to others?  Do you regret anything?  Do you wish you had stayed/left?  Do you think you’re selfish because you chased after what you wanted?  Off topic, but how did you ever pay to go to school in New York City?  I hope you maintained integrity the whole way through; I pray for the both of us.

To be honest, I don’t really care what happened to you.  Well I DO… but I don’t know where you ended up.  You could be lying in a ditch right now near Cincinatti, living at home, or travelling the world.  All I know is that you exist somewhere down the timeline, and YOU know what happened to me.  All I want is for you to tell me that I will be okay.

Did it end in heartbreak?  Did I say goodbye or did he?  Or did we just grow apart without a goodbye, like it tends to end for me?  Did all of it lead to nothing?  Did something happen?  Did something BAD happen? Did it end just as badly as I thought it would?  Did we lose touch?  Did he ever tell me the truth?  Did I ever tell him how I felt?  Did I ever yell at him and tell him how I didn’t trust him and that he played me and I knew it and I kept letting him roll the dice?  I feel like it was never meant to be and I think I have willed myself into feeling vulnerable, just to live a little, and I’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.  I want to have my heartbroken, just to feel that.  Was it real? You know, how I felt about him.  Was it just lust or foolishness?  I hope it didn’t come to define me… it’s spreading through me and I’m fighting back, but I have no idea how this will end.  How’d you do it in the end?  How the fuck did you do it?  How did you move on?  Remember D?  Remember C?  Those were childhood friendships that ended so badly and it took you forever to be okay with it.  Sometimes, you still haven’t gotten over how badly things ended with C, so I can only pray extra hard that J won’t fucking destroy your life, your mind, your sense of self-worth.

In all honesty, I want to cry a little if there’s a good reason for it.  I want a good story that you can tell when you’re 23 and walking in a park alone with that guy from work.  I want you to feel that you can trust someone, you can open up, to be vulnerable, to let yourself lose sometimes.  I pray that you are stronger than I am right now; I pray that you can handle disappointment, you can have some guy string you along until he leaves you on the ground, and you slowly but surely help yourself up and dust yourself off.  I pray that no one will ever get in the way of your dreams and desires.  I pray that you will be wise in what constitutes selfishness and personal drive. I hope you are prepared for the real world in the way that I am not.  I hope you still write.  Otherwise, you’re probably insane. I hope you still sing and draw and play piano and maybe even dance.  And even now that you’re in NYC, I hope you still make some time to go biking.

Are you still close friends from people in college?  Besides, what happened to some of them?  Are they better than you now?  Are they happier than you?  Are you okay with that?

I hope you still read too.  I hope you love to read.  I hope you still love those trashy teen novels once in a while… because… well… you know us.  Fuck what everybody else has to say, we still love ’em.  I hope bad grades never stopped you from pursuing literature, that whatever a certain professor might say/do that enervates you, you can breathe and move on and get on with your life. I’m rooting for you kiddo.  I’m rooting for you to learn from all the mistakes I’m making right now and that you’ll make better mistakes in your life now.

It’s weird to give advice to someone older than you, because you’re less wise, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Please know that you’ll always be good enough.  Nobody’s perfect, regardless of how you might will yourself to believe that.  Please know that everything will end up all right, even if you cry at night, thinking about the same things over and over again.  Please know7 that no one knows you as well as you do; take people’s advice with a grain of salt and trust your superb intuition.  Please know that the people in your life do not define you, even though you used to say this proudly, but rather, you define yourself.

Please know that I won’t be too disappointed if you didn’t end up going to New York City (yet) to head Time Warner, but that day will come.

Please know that I love you, that I trust you with your decisions, and that all I want is for you to be happy.

 

With all my love,

20 year old me.

i don’t edit my posts

it’s not an aesthetic and it’s not a rule, as there are occasionally posts that I have revised

but i don’t edit them because they had been written at some moment in time and those sentiments, those thoughts, are frozen even if they are incoherent at parts and fraught with grammatical or spelling errors

i sometimes think about fixing them but i can’t. because it’s almost like ruining some artefact, meddling with the past.

i spent part of my evening reading some of my old posts. i just need to breathe a little now. i’m just absorbing the confessions that i’ve typed out and thinking about them in hindsight.

cody + charleston

cody

I’ve listened to a lot of Cody Ko’s vlogs (Orange is the New County, Insanely Chill) and really enjoy them because they make me laugh out loud in the most inappropriate places and they evoke this nostalgic Californian aesthetic that’s almost like this virtual high.  They’ made me think a lot about where I want to go in my life, and I’d like to process them, so here goes.

I like that Cody talks about what’s going on in his life in all its ups and downs.  It’s so neat to see how things work: how auditions work, how people fall in love (like the makings of Taco Tuesday girl), how shitty travelling can be, how he met his friends.  I find it very realistic, and I really need that because I tend to romanticize everything and have found Instagram to be so frustrating because I take everything at face value even though so many websites and people have warned me that these are edited highlight reels.  So in essence, Cody keeps me from falling into a deep depression, because he reminds me that things are not what they seem, that they aren’t always glamorous, and that having a life that seems as amusing as his is attainable.  And that I should laugh at myself a little bit more, I should love my friends a little bit more, that I should take a break and breathe.  And complain loudly to myself in my room sometimes.  That helps.

Also, his instagram aesthetic is amazing (good quality photos, fun, and don’t take themselves seriously) and if I had instagram, I would strive for an aesthetic like that.  It’s like a feel-good aesthetic… I find sometimes I find certain accounts/photos too unattainable and it makes me sad even though I shouldn’t be trying to live up to that expectation.  And it was actually his girlfriend Kelsey’s instagram (along with @c_bergs) that inspired me to buy my first pair of hoop earrings, and things have only gone uphill from there every since i started wearing them.  Like they literally transform you outfit, hair, and face. 10/10 would highly recommend gold hoops earrings.

Also, I have loooved learning about Cody’s friends.  They have such a genuine true friendship, and they’re so funny (especially Devon, Marcus, and Sam) and have great chemistry with each other -I’ve never had many close guy friends and I think by seeing how amazing their friendship and dynamic is, it’s helped me see what type of friendship I want to build with my friends.  And it’s also made me rethink how I feel about frats… imagine that!

I’ve long battled this need to feel/be good enough… for myself, for other people.  And although I may have started out watching Cody’s vines and much later on, his YouTube videos, out of pure amusement, I think watching his videos has actually helped me feel more comfortable about being who I am and helped me put aside this voice that tells me that I constantly have to compare myself to others, that I have to strive to be better, that I have to be someone I’m not, and to silence this nagging voice that everybody else has figured this whole “thing” out and that I’m the only one who hasn’t.  Because now I see that so many people haven’t, that everybody’s just wading through the “next”, through the “future”, without much foresight and are just as clueless as I am about what life has in store for them next.  But what I have realized is that you have to take risks in order to get somewhere you want to be, and it’s okay to have a little fun with that, to make mistakes as you go along.  That people are here to support you, that you don’t have to do this alone, that your worth is not measured by your social media presence and contents, and that in order to be happy, I need to focus on myself and stop focusing on comparing myself to others.

 

charleston

I also recently visited Charleston, and typically during trips that I embark alone, I engage in lots of self-discovery and reflection.  And oddly, I found that I didn’t have time for lots of self-reflection or perhaps I was unwilling to engage in it when I travelled to Charleston.  So I wanted to write in an attempt to pair some coherence to a lot of thoughts that are swimming in my head, so that maybe I can breathe better, to sigh and feel some relief or something, to feel refreshed, to find closure.  Here goes.

I find that I can’t relax, that I’ve been on this mission forward, to not dwell on the past and to think about progress forward exclusively, ever since Everything That Happened around February 2016.  While ETH wasn’t a remarkable event, it has shaped me and my trajectory over the past two years, I will reluctantly admit.  It inspired me to run, to get healthy, to have side projects outside of work, to think about where I wanted to go with my life: forward.  I had to figure out what forward looked for myself, and how I would get there.  In some ways, ETH made me a better person in that I was more productive, more ambitious, less bothered by a boy who had hurt me.   These metrics, I must point out, are rather limiting, and I wouldn’t say they are metrics that I would want to define me or that I would take as true indicators or parameters of my success.  Back to the trip: my trip was marked by the need to Go Places, to See Things, to Eat Things, to Drink Things.  It was all about these things that I had to do.   I never just sat and did nothing.  I would do that at night, I suppose. But it’s different.  I felt this urgency during the day to not waste time, but the whole purpose of my trip was to unwind, to relax, to relearn how to breathe. I never got to muse, I was constantly on a bike weary of ruining my brand new sneakers.  I never really got to muse, to take inventory of my life, to check up on myself to make sure I was okay.

I feel rather alone. I think part of it was going to Charleston where the demographics are so different from the place I call home.  I think part of it was travelling by myself.  I think part of it was wondering what holds for me in the future.  It’s scary.  I think being put in a position where you are fending for yourself puts you in survival mode, and there is little ease that’s required to open the door to self-enlightenment, getting lost in your own thoughts.  I mean… I certainly realized some things about myself: I am a city person at heart, I want to get to a place in my life where I am sitting in first-class, I liked the South as much as I had suspected, I am Not One of Them and I am OK and also Not Okay with that.

I sat at Husk (because I was told that it was a hot restaurant) and maybe it was fate, but I saw next to a mother-daughter pair having dinner.  The girl was a year younger than me, and she was telling her mother about the boy she was seeing, and getting frustrated that although her mother didn’t explicitly disapprove of the boy, she was judging him (asking what his family background was, what his goals were, how much she liked him from a scale of 1 to 10).  I kept thinking about how my mother and I don’t have this relationship: that we would never go to dinner alone, and even if we did, we would not have such a candid discussion about something so personal.  And maybe it’s a cultural thing.  I have never sought for a relationship like that because that is not something I’ve ever known.  But if I ever had a daughter, I hope that I will have these discussion with her.  To tell her stories about my life and for her to trust me enough to tell me about the things that scare her, about her own life, about the boys she has fallen in love with, about how I could help her.  Her mother was telling her about how her life had changed after she had met her father, how she had pressed pause on her corporate career to raise a family.  And I remember silently thinking that I didn’t agree with that… to halt your career ambitions to raise a family.  But what do I know? And I tried Madeira for the first time, and I think I preferred it more than wine.

When I sat next to the mother and daughter, I kept thinking about how they ended up here, about what their life was, what their relationship was like, where the father was, if the mother and father were still together, and how the mother had continued to build trust with her daughter so that they would end up there, seated on the Husk balcony eating dinner, talking about life and love.  And I wondered where I would be in 10 years.  Would I be in Charleston, all idyllic but narrow-minded, all manners but no backbone?  Who knows?  The city is so flawed, but I suppose I could live with some resignation in that idea because I don’t condone it.  But to what degree do I become complicit in letting things slide?  After all, what annoyed me the most about Charleston (but not to the point of rage) was that it simultaneously acknowledges and downplays the role of slavery in its origins.  This is a slave port, this is a slave city, the aristocrats of this city made their money directly and indirectly to the slave trade, and what the city touts to its tourists is its history that has been heavily edited and white-washed.  That left me very conflicted.

After a short run, I sat across from someone at the Black Tap Coffee communal table who told me that the city’s buildings aren’t allowed to be repainted in colors other than their original ones and even graffiti that’s over 75 years old must be repainted back on buildings.  And there it is: this selective conservation of history.  That the city is so insistent on preserving its history through its architecture, but not in other ways.  That it will flaunt its buildings, but not the stories of the bones that built it.  That it is undergoing a renaissance in the form of a white bourgeoisie gentrification, evident in the closing of music shops and grungy dive bars, in favor of instagrammable food shops and boutiques, but the alarming issue of affordable housing is completely absent from public discourse.  That this is America in its purest form, this is capitalism waving high above the epistle, that this is quintessentially the South, and how I love this Southern charm and its food and its weather and its beautiful, beautiful colonial homes and single houses, but its politics and narrow American Dream leave me conflicted.  And it’s so true: gentrification has its highs and lows, and it is so conflicting.  It is so, so, so conflicting.  Just like love, just like all the boys whom I’ve loved before and all the men that I’ve come to admire who are not perfect: where do you draw the line?  How far do you let things pass before you are on the verge of ending your balancing act and can no longer stand your ground?

When I am overcome with a frantic sadness, this is when I fight.

I fold the world inside-out with the smooth ease of wrist-flicking, I climb out of this hole with cuts and bruises but I get out and that’s all that matters. I set fire to the world and walk just fast enough to keep it nipping at my heels, tarring my skin, scarring me a little if I bothered to look. I skate over thin ice as if I slowed down I could walk on water, but there is no grace to it, because I am focused only on the goal, which is to get myself out of here.  In moments of desperation, when grief builds up, when panic rings through my whole body and I am forced to listen, when I am forced to hear soprano voice nastily ringing the need for self-realization and how little self-preservation I have left, I am set in motion and I can’t stop.

Idleness does me good even if I think it does my body bad. My mind will race into every corner, flick at all specks in the dust, try to find solutions with only sticks, stones, and other weapons that are meant to break me.  Idleness sets me into a run, a sprint towards an only goal of getting away from Here.  Getting away from the Idleness, from what I find too difficult to look at, to escape the grief, to spin around enough times that I’ll be different when I examine myself once again.

It has been a year and this still hurts.  It’s futile in so many ways.  I have gone on walks, gone on bike rides, hiked mountains and fallen down valleys of emotions to try to come to some closure that I can’t seem to zip up completely.  I have come to terms with the fact that I equated my happiness, my self-worth, my everything to his approval of me, to his decision to stay.  That this was not my fault and yet I can’t swallow this statement no matter how many times I knock it back like a shot.  It just comes back up and I’m retching, and I am a mess, and I don’t know whether or not I simply cannot accept this truth or I will not accept it. That there is someone better, just like what happened with J, that there is someone that I am absolutely not, and that is the reason.  That is the reason I am here on my bed, writing what is basically a paragraph designed for some love letter whose recipient cannot be found, whose address always bounces back. But maybe once you lick the stamp one too many times, it will stop sticking and you’ll stop trying to send it.  Is that even a good thing in the end?

I am in a search for excellence. I am exhausted. I am always exhausted, but now I am very physically exhausted. I have large, tall goals in the stratosphere that are shielded by the clouds and I’m not sure what to make of it.  I’m not sure what to make of this big dream, I am not sure how I will handle failure. I am not even sure how I will handle attaining the goal, of getting past one goal post in an enduring and long road to success.  I want to leave, I have ten million paths I want to pursue, and I find it difficult to choose because they all get me to the same goal of escaping Here, even though they all lead to different destinations. I cannot stay, I have said it for so long, but when is the right time to leave? Is it Now?  Is it because I am in fight-or-flight and I will fight anything and anyone to get the hell out of this town.  It’s not that I think I’m too good for this town even though I may have thought this when I was younger. I realize now that I must get away to preserve whatever sanity is left in my body, that I am slowly going insane and haven’t noticed it because it has been a slow degeneration, it has been the slowest dying.

I have read so many books, randomly selected and recommended, and boiled down to it, they are all about moving on with your life, going forward, exploring the world or another part of you.  And what is keeping me in this city? Just my ambition, just my willingness to leave.  But my feet are pounding pavement right now, and I can’t stop, I dare not stop, I cannot stop if I want to survive, if I want to move on from this grief, if I want to go somewhere else.  I am lost, but at least running will get me somewhere. I will not run in circles, and with that, I will compromise by allowing myself to fall. I am not shaking but my body knows, it knows that I cannot stay here, it knows that I need to get on the highway and gun 80 out of this town.  I know it too. I know it too.

I’ve been frustrated by the success of others, only because I don’t see any of that in myself. I have big goals, but have had such difficult in getting there.  I’m not sure where I’m going wrong, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. So I go back to my old pony tricks and hope one of them sticks, and they never stick for long.

I hope that the next time I write, I won’t be so anxious, my muscles won’t be so tense, I won’t have this need to escape. Maybe the next time I write, I will have some news to assuage you.

xx