It was a great evening. I ate an exquisite Vietnamese dumpling, bought myself a great sweater, saw a good movie sitting next to a 80-something woman who munched her burger loud and consumed enough sugar from popcorn and coke to keep my body warm in this cold winter month. Hence, when I missed the metro back home, it was easy to not swear but take the next train that will allow me to walk one station home.
Cluck, cluck, cluck. The boots sounded heavy and my elongated shadow walked ahead under the dim evening lamp. I took my hood out to feel the chilly air on my face. It passed by me. But it didn’t know. It didn’t know that it cannot make me cold. It didn’t know that the warmth that I have been feeling the past weeks has risen to protect me. Perhaps, my boots hasn’t yet felt the lightness of the warmth.
I saw my favourite steps looming in front of me.
This warmth is a new friend. Whatever that was, it were cold in the beginning. An alien that formed within that I cannot relate. I started to feel its birth exactly a year ago. Yes, a year ago. That is when I was on my own. Completely. At the age of 27.
Oh, I have been alone before, though. In trains, buses, flights, lunch breaks, in bed, in toilet. But what did change now? I will tell you. What changed is that I decided to defy what the others laid out. I have had it before but now I decided fully, to drive, re-write and produce my own story. And for the first time in my life, I gave myself, fully and willingly, that license; a license I signed with my heart. It’s a big cloud nine-moment, if you have ever given yourself that opportunity with pride. Yet, at the same time, it’s one of the hardest moment; a moment you will understand, only if you have ever given yourself that opportunity with pride.
The ride is bumpy. Well, every ride in life is. But they do not tell you this in school. Your parents, grandparents, cousins, my lovely third grade teacher, no one will tell you the truth. Did you know that there is a grey zone and not just black or white? Did you know that we wore Kant’s rose tinted spectacles all this time? Do you fully understand the weight of your decisions and once you do, did you spend an entire night reading the stoics?
Yes, it is preferred to follow the concrete and not the mud. It is preferred to be tamed than to run in the wild. What if I encounter that bear I saw in my dreams in the wilderness? Concrete is practical, I know, but deep inside I see the bear chasing me, even in this tameness. So what is it to be afraid of in the wild then? Simply monsters of myself, I know but deep inside, I am no Seneca to walk down that path fearlessly. My monsters are worse than any wild bears! Nonetheless, how did I find myself here?
I woke up one day and decided to set sail on that beautiful yacht I found down by the river? No! As always in life, there is one element that will change the course of your sail. A triggering element. Well, I did see that beautiful yacht sleeping idly on the bank for months but it took that triggering element with months of debate, questioning and sleepless nights to actually withdraw all my savings to buy that yacht. I am thankful to that element now but those months before the purchase, were tragic. Kurt Vonnegut wrote, the truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is. The good news is that the beautiful yacht is all set to sail; to leave the boxy shores towards an alluring zenith. And the bad news is, that the sail is set to leave the safe shores towards a foggy zenith. Hence, I am torn. Torn as I am as uncertain about the uncertain future that I want to create and as sceptic about the ones that has been drawn for me. It is terrifying as there is no going back.
Albeit, it is alluring. It is seductive, empowering; this urge to be able to drive. The explorer in me has risen to sniff the morning air. Ahoy Captain!
Once I was ready to get past the fog, like an arrow leaving the bow, the warmth rushed in. It’s a waking up; a red cherry ripening in front of my very eyes, a crescendo d’orchestre. Slow and steady, the warmth spread, tickling my mind and body.
And as the steps loomed in front of me, connecting my street to the next, I climbed, with all my passion. I climbed, each step with a tinge of sadness and happiness. With each step, I slowly shed that little girl I once were. And finally, when I reached the top of the stairs, I looked back to see the remarkable city behind. The city that bore witness that night of a girl transforming into a woman.
As if welcoming a queen, the street lights turned green and I walked with head held high. At the letterbox, I saw my bold name written in black. I said, It is not you, my friend with all those tax letters, that set my sail. It is grey hair, solidarity and a cup of hot tea that did.
-Dedicated to all my fellow comrades, especially my grandmother, a remarkable one.