Act II. Chapter I: In Her Eyes

It’s 10:30 pm, and I’m flying high above the mountains of British Columbia. I’ve spent the last few days far away from my hometown of Toronto, in sleepy Vancouver.

Sleepy might be the wrong word to use – apathetic? If the city seemed to care enough to be tranquil, I might even chase the fleeting thoughts I have to move there and leave my past behind.

As the clouds clear off and I stare down at the lights dotting sparingly across the abyss below, I wax philosophical about my actions back at the airport. Anything that will stop me from torturing myself at the hands of the blank page, I suppose.

*******

It started off as one of those nearly missed connections. I’ve got headphones in, aviators on. I’m delirious. It’s been one of those few business trips where everything goes perfectly and you manage to avoid every possible manifestation of Murphy’s Law despite being overdue for karmic justice of the most severe degree.

As I step off the escalator, one of those new country generic songs runs headfirst into the chorus – you know the ones, about young love, alcohol, and fucking in trucks – and I nearly stumble headlong into this girl.

I freeze and halfway adjust, just barely glancing into her shoulder and sending us both turning and facing each other, both apologizing before we can even pull the headphones out. For one long second, our worlds are just loud cacophonies of background music while we dramatically mouth apologies and pull our bags back on our shoulders. Then suddenly, with a loud *pop*, we both jolt back into the present.

“I’m s-so sorry”, I say, because apparently stumbling over just my feet isn’t enough.

“No, no! My fault,” she says, laughing.

She’s got a nice laugh, I can see it now. She’s actually really pretty, and she’s wearing a U of T hoodie. Score.

“You go to U of T?” The first question that I throw is supposed to sound innocent, but the smirk on my face gives me away and for a long second, it floats in the open space between us like a strand of smoke that might just disappear in the breeze.

Her eyes open a little wider, and she puts out a hand, nearly but not quite reaching across the distance. “Life Sci!” She says, and a shred of doubt tears through the BC sunshine. Life Sci at U of T is a program that I’m fairly sure they only offer because suicide rates aren’t high enough at campus to keep the Ivy League of the North status.

Good pitch number two – fastball down the middle.

I lay on my best smirk and say, “I don’t believe you. You seem way too happy to be in Life Sci at U of T. Which campus?”

There it is. Her eyes open wide, and her mouth changes from a half open smile to a real laugh. Strike two. “UTSG! You’re U of T?”

“Sort of. I’m from the high school version, UTSC? You know, same soul crushing academic pressure, same amount of power outlets as World War 2?” I laugh a little, but I see her smile fade off a little and her eyes shift down.

Alright, rein it in cowboy. Little too much sarcasm can be caustic.

But instead, she points out my shoes and looks up at me inquisitively. “Dress shoes and sweatpants?” This time it’s her turn to float the question.

I wind up. Pitch three – let’s go with the fastball again.

“Yeah, I’m a [REDACTED]. Just here on business – I flew in wearing a suit, didn’t want to make the same mistake again.” I shrug at the bag on my shoulder for added effect, but she’s not paying attention.

“A [REDACTED]? But aren’t you in UTS-“

“Yeah, recently graduated. I got lucky in the post grad job sweepstakes.”

The conversation lulls. She takes a step back and her head cocks to the side, half smiling, and I feel self conscious. Four years is a long time to be off the market, have I lost my touch? I’m starting to feel the same jitters that I do right before a big contract comes in. It’s nauseating to me that it’s the closest comparison I have.

Strike that. Let’s go with, it’s the same thrilling fear as that pulse between heartbeats when you’re staring down the sights of a rifle, lining up a perfect shot. Timing your breath so that you’ll pull the trigger right when you finish exhaling and your heartbeat slows just long enough to contemplate all the right and wrong in the world.

There, less nauseating. I think.

Suddenly, a warbling voice blares through the airport PA system, droning unintelligibly about a last departure. I can almost feel it cut through our conversation, and the moment is gone. She was about to say something, but instead looks briefly over her shoulder, biting her lip.

“Hey, I gotta run, but you’re from Toronto right?” She says, pulling out her phone. Her headphones fall off her ears, and I find myself much more curious about what she’s listening to. “What’s your name?”

This is that moment, where she’s asking your name – not because you’re meeting for the first time and she wants to avoid an awkward interaction later on, but because she wants to know what name to put in her phone.

“It’s – wait, you have blue eyes. They’re really nice eyes,” I can hear myself say.

She says something back, but I don’t hear it. The socially anxious part of my brain wonders if I’ve rudely re-inserted my headphones because she’s talking but all I can hear is the sizzle and pop of a new record. Her eyes are really blue. Like a light, almost baby blue. That’s my favourite colour. All at once, I can see myself in her eyes.

I’m just some stranger in the airport. Some stranger who said the right things at the right time and knew when to shut up and when to smile. But this girl knows nothing about me. In her eyes, I’m a nicely packaged item, to be pursued and perused. In her eyes, I’m a faint reminder of academic comfort, shown up on the doorstep of her home town. A welcome interloper in the apathy of carefree Vancouver.

She doesn’t know what came before this. She has no idea of what led to all this, and what the context of it all is. She thinks I’m wearing dress shoes and sweatpants because I got a little lazy and I’ve got the style sense of a gnome. She doesn’t know the scheduling, the grueling exhaustion. Later, she’ll find out that I’m writing something and she might even want to read it, not understanding that I’ll trash it seven times over before I let anyone read it before it’s ready. She can’t possibly understand what it is that I’m after now because she never saw what I was aiming for before it all went wrong.

I don’t like her eyes.

“Sorry,” I say, interjecting in her sentence. I notice her hand is outstretched again, and I can almost feel the fingertips brushing my chest just a hair away. “Don’t live in Toronto anymore. Alberta now. Have a good one!” I quickly turn and plug the headphones back in, just in time to hear the starting raspy lines from Kenny Chesney’s Somewhere With You. 

If my face is calm, it’s only because I’ve gotten good at hiding facial cues for when I’ve just committed social harikari.

As I check the gate again, I hum along to the words that I’ve memorized over the course of a hundred nights. I’ve heard this song enough to carve the words into a tattoo, but this is the first time I’ve heard it and been able to actually relate to it. And here I am, somewhere without her.

Irony.

Apt.

*******

It’s 2:00 am. We’re touching down in Toronto soon, so I’m tapping away on this keyboard trying to finalize this before I use our arrival as a good reason to procrastinate further. Did I mention I had a few Long Islands at the airport bar before we left?

Ostensibly to help with writing. Now I’m thinking that all it did was contribute to my loud snoring around the 12:00 am mark.

I try to find some philosophical reason for why I didn’t give that girl my number. Why the idea of who I was in her eyes was so revolting to me. I guess there’s a lot of reasons. When I was unhappy, the idea of someone wanting to be a part of that was novel to me and a little alluring. It was someone seeing a hurricane and deciding that they weren’t scared and that they wanted to see what it felt like in the center of that storm.

Maybe that’s what the difference was. Her eyes were always like that. Curious in the face of pure insanity and bad decisions. A ferociousness that could match the tempest of a life gone awry and the strength to bring it back on course.

Too many writers always get it wrong – they focus on the colour. Her eyes swam in a sea of blue and dolphins jumped from pool to pool, deeper than the ice caps melting away into the ocean. A vivid, nearly effervescent green that mirrored Central Park at the first Spring bloom. All nonsense – it’s never the colour that gets you.

Typically hypocritical, I almost want to pull out my phone to make sure I describe hers correctly, as if I hadn’t just fallen asleep staring at them, swimming in the impossible thousands of pictures we shared over the years.

As if I wouldn’t know her eyes better than I know my own. Maybe that’s the anxiety in me firing off a final volley – I’ve accepted that perfection should never be a pre-requisite to love, especially not when it comes to loving yourself and being happy.

But when it comes to her, I stutter step and hesitate, crossing myself in strings of discord and anxiety. I want things to be perfect again. I want to reverse and correct the things that we did wrong, and tell her the story of how we fell apart as some kind of funny anecdote,”Honey you wouldn’t believe what happened to us in some horrific alternate timeline.”

What made her different wasn’t the colour. They were dark brown. Just like mine. What made them different was how wide her pupils always were. It didn’t matter – bright light or pitch dark, they were always dilated. Black pools of curiosity, almost as if she was trying to see all the happiness in the day before it slipped behind the veil of another night. The dark brown of her iris just hovering on the corners of her eyes, a dark eclipse.

They kept me alive, those eyes. Silver linings on the edge of a life that was nearly completely gone, that kept me swinging and ducking long after I was dead on my feet.

The choice to write here is intentional. The audience is long gone now, and there’s no more curious onlookers to see what comes next. I’m not sure what comes next either.

I’m here, with my eyes closed, finally playing the song I’ve been working on my entire life. This is happy. For the first time in my life, I’m happy with who I am. I’m happy with me.

When I open my eyes, I don’t know what I’ll see. Maybe an empty room, maybe more people than I’ve ever seen before.

All I know is that I hope that I’ll see those brown eyes, peering back from the darkness.

We’re touching down in Toronto now.

I’m home.

I can go out every night of the week, and go home with anybody I meet.
But it’s just a temporary high, ’cause every time I close my eyes,
I’m somewhere with you. 

Kenny Chesney, Somewhere With You

Satisfaction.

“Life loses its dynamism from the moment we lose the passion with which to live it. “

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What does one need to live and to be happy?

Money? Family? Luxury? Friends? I’m not talking about the basic necessities that one needs in order to live and lead a healthy life. I think ultimately what we need in order to lead a happy life is satisfaction with one’s life. At the end of the day if you can justify your actions and being to yourself in a way that it satisfies you then that’s all you really need…everything else just ties in with that.

You can have the money, family and friends that love and support you and that you love and support too, tangible goods and other luxuries…but what good is any of that if at the end of the day you’re sad anyways. I know I have all this, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need it. I’m not materialistic, but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t need money…much of everything we do and need revolves around it – it buys me things I need AND make me happy. I have a few good friends, and a family that loves me too.

What’s missing?

I’m happy; I am…most of the time, at least.

Okay…I’m lying. I’m not, I’m happy sometimes…and the rest of the time I’m just really not. I’m not happy with the quality of my life, and I’m beginning to think my existence is a waste of space and oxygen really. I’m having a very hard time justifying my life these days. That’s why I say what we really need is satisfaction with one’s life…because I know there are so many girls that would die to be in my place, and would be ecstatic leading the life that I am because they’ve been raised that way.

You get married, you dedicated the rest of your life and existence to making your husband happy and being a typical housewife and eventually a super-mom….and that’s it.

See there’s nothing wrong with that if doing all of that makes you happy…it’s just that I’ve always wanted more from life, this part of my life was supposed to come after and I feel like I skipped a whole lot in the middle. I don’t mind doing all that, I really don’t its why I got married in the first place…I’d love to make him happy and be super-mom some day, heck I love kids, I want four one day. The problem is that I’m not happy doing JUST this, there needs to be more.

I don’t want to define myself as someone’s wife, or mom, or so and so…that’s it right there.  There was a purpose, and there was a plan, and a morning drill and my day revolved around ME and what I wanted to do.

(Seeing as this rant could go on forever…let me try to sum it up)

BASICALLY…where I was going with this is that I need to come back, go back to school and do something with my life. NOT because we need all that to make US happy, but because I need to do all that to make myself happy – happiness varies from person to person, and how we’ve been conditioned and our outlook.

Self-actualization and inner satisfaction: much needed at any stage in your life!

heartbreak.

If I could go back and mark the time in my life where it all went wrong, when I screwed up, when I went downhill and started treading on the path of no return, I’d mark that moment as the moment that I met him.

If I could trace back, it’d be him.

He destroyed me without even knowing he did it, of course then I didn’t know it either.

This is a tale with more confessions that I am willing to make…so, this is all.

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Lessons Learnt

There was a time in my life when I was: careless, bubbly, happy-go-lucky and full of life. There is nothing wrong with that, but wait there’s more. I thought nothing could bring me down, that everything was fun and games. I was so naive. I thought I was invincible.

I hadn’t been acquainted with real life.

That was a long time ago and things are different now. Over the course of my life a lot has changed and so have I, and drastically too. I’ve learnt a lot in life, but sometimes I wish I could have learnt it differently. I wish my path had not been paved with lies, hurt, deceit, pain, manipulation and heartbreak. In hindsight, maybe the way it all played out is how it had to. Sometimes we must hurt, break, and fall in order to rise, learn and become better and stronger. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over the past few years. I’ve gotten hurt, lied and been lied to, and cried till I could no longer. I’ve fallen and broken down. It’s just never prevented me from getting up on my feet and rising again, even when I’ll admit I didn’t want to. I didn’t know it then, but I learnt a valuable lesson every time.

Love hurts, life’s strange, nothing lasts and people change.

High school: popularity skid. There is no better way to put it. I started off with so many friends it was unbelievable, that number decreased substantially. People came, and people went. I learnt people change…it used to get to me, I thought there was nothing worse than walking into a class full of familiar faces and realizing how many of them were your friends, and how many of them you were so close to and then have reality lurk in and say now they’re no one, not even acquaintances.

I started high school with plenty of friends too many. Over the last four years that number has decreased substantially. As the days progressed, we drifted, moved on, changed and grew apart. I’ve learnt people change. When I look back sometimes, it all really gets to me. There’s nothing worst then walking into a class full of familiar faces and realizing you talked to most of these people, half of them were people you called your friends, a handful of them were very close to you and have reality lurk in and say now they’re no one, not even acquaintance. I used to think there was nothing worse than that feeling but I learned soon that there is.

[The thing is, that doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. That’s life, I now believe that everyone serves a purpose in your life and you in theirs, and when that purpose has been fulfilled we move on. Some people are meant to be there for a short while, some are meant to be acquaintances while others are meant to be lifelong friends…and you can only have a couple. I walked away with my share, and that’s all that matters right now. It seemed a lot worse than it actually was back then of course.]

I’ve learnt that no matter what you do and how far you are willing to go for someone, you cannot make someone care for you, be there for you like you are for them or love you. I know…because I’ve tried. I have given my all, loved unconditionally – in hope that even half the amount of will be reciprocated – it never was, of course. I’ve learnt love hurts. Not everyone you like will like you back, not everyone will return the love either. I’ve learnt to come to terms with that. It wasn’t always easy though, not as easy as it sounds at all. It was always a war…to love, and not be loved. It’s a constant emotional battle.

I’ve always been there for people through thick and thin, in good times and in bad. I did my best to make things better and help in any way that I could. I’ve learnt you can only be the very best that you can be because you are all you can account for. I’ve given my best, my all. Believe me when I say that because there actually was a time in my life when I was so emotionally bankrupt that I had nothing left to give, nothing left to offer – because I gave, gave, and gave some more and never got back. I’ve learnt its okay to feel like that, because you must first heal yourself before you can heal others and it’s important to feel good about yourself before you can help others feel better.

I’ve learnt to heal, to feel, accept my feelings, and feel better about myself.

I’ve given too much credit. I let people lie to me, hurt me and get the best of me. I let things slide and made exceptions. I’ve been lied to simultaneously, sometimes by the same person but I gave them the benefit of the doubt for the sake of our friendship. But when it all came down to it, and I needed the same consideration I learnt sometimes what you do for people they won’t do for you.

Good times, bad times, friendships, relationships, clicks, groups, life– I learnt nothing lasts.

I’ve made mistakes. I’m not perfect. I’ve done things I wish I could take back. I know if I could go back and do it over, I’d do it all differently but I know that’s wishful thinking and the past cannot be reversed.

I have learnt with time and great difficulty, to forgive myself.

I have learnt:

  • People change and that it is inevitable
  • Love hurts and sometimes you’ll question it
  • Sometimes you will go unnoticed and unappreciated
  • Not everyone you like will like you back
  • Sometimes you must forgive and forget for your own sake
  • It’s important to forgive yourself
  • Sometimes moving on is in the best interest of you and those around you
  • Some risks are worth taking
  • It is important to rise when you fall
  • Life will knock you down more than once, you must get up
  • People will lie and betray you, you must learn to put your trust in yourself
  • Your trust will be broken many times, be careful who you trust
  • You have the ability to make or break yourself
  • Some people are selfish and materialistic
  • Sometimes people will put conditions on love, forever and unconditional
  • To apologize when necessary
  • To not hold grudges because they bring out the worst in me
  • To give second chances
  • You’ll get your heart broken and sometimes you’ll break someone’s heart
  • It’s okay to try and fail, just keep trying
  • You must heal, before you can help others
  • Sometimes the truth will hurt
  • Lying to protect someone doesn’t make it legit
  • You’re not obligated
  • You don’t owe anyone anything
  • The life you’re living could be taken away from you at any moment
  • To put my faith in god not humans
  • We make mistakes, we’re only human
  • Life’s not fair
  • We all make our own choices and decisions
  • To not judge
  • You must walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you have the right to judge them and see where they’re coming from
  • Behind every face, there’s a story waiting to be told
  • There are always two sides to a story
  • Karma’s a bitch, what goes around comes back around
  • To not take life for granted
  • Family is important
  • People will disappoint me and I’ll disappoint them
  • No matter what, life goes on
  • Sometimes you and anything you do is never good enough for someone
  • People will always want more
  • Life’s strange
  • Money can only buy you so much
  • The path less traveled is usually the right path
  • Sometimes people look right past you and through you
  • Sometimes you’ll be held liable for something you didn’t do, judged, and blamed even when you’re innocent
  • People can only hurt and betray you until you let them

I’ve also learnt there will always be someone that will stick by your side through thick and thin, come to your rescue and accept you for who you are. There will be someone that will love you unconditionally and look past your flaws. I’ve learnt family is always going to be there. I’ve learnt there are things that should be given elevated importance and to be more selfless. I’ve learnt sometimes it’s life and death and now or never.

I don’t think I would have been who I am today had it not been for these experiences. I am who I am today because of what I’ve been through, seen, and felt. All of it has helped mould me. I’m far from perfect, I have my flaws, my strengths, my weaknesses – but this me, and I’ve learnt to be proud of it.

I’ve learnt to move on and make the best of what I’ve got.

I’ve learnt it’s never too late for change.

I’ve learnt life’s too short for regrets.

I’ve learnt I’ll continue to learn until I take my last breath and with that I’ll continue to change.

I’ve learnt change is inevitable.

I’ve learnt no matter how much I change, I’ll still have a set of beliefs, morals, and opinions that define me – things no one could take away.

I’ve learnt, I’m learning.

Life – As We Know It.

Life – As We Know It.

I feel that at times life can be absolutely unexplainable and random…and yet, here we are living each moment one day at a time. I’d even go as far as to say that, that in itself is the hardest conceivable task that we do – to live, survive, to exist.

As Anton Chekov put it and brilliantly I have to add, “Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”

So why are we even here? Perhaps for some of us religion does half the explaining, and for others dwelling upon the matter. Maybe all of us as superior species do in fact have a purpose in life, I’d be willing to bet we do. I couldn’t imagine one without purpose. I don’t know about everyone else and I can only speak for myself. I know that sometimes when I’m down and the world makes no sense, and I wonder why we’re burdened with the discovery. I wish I just knew how my life was going to turn out, what I have to do, how I have to do it, how my actions will play out and at the end just see it all working out perfectly. It just seems as though the key to life is so visible and yet so out of our reach. Sometimes I wish I just knew, I mean what’s the harm right. Why can’t we just know? Of course we wish the answers to these, and perhaps many more, were conveniently served to us on a silver platter – it would eliminate several obstacles and save us from the emotional trauma.

I mean you’re here one moment and for all you know the next you’re gone. There is no life security what so ever. You can walk out of your house and get hit by a car, stabbed to death, shot or die a natural death. I don’t meant to sound sadistic pessimist, but it’s true right? No one really knows when they’ll take their last breath.

I don’t know what I want from my life, and I haven’t gotten it all figured out yet…and that scares me, because I’m only getting older and I just think by now I should be well on my way to wherever it is I should be going – I just don’t know where that is yet, you do see the dilemma here right?

There are things that I don’t know, that I want to know and that I know I will only find out with the passage of time. But what I do know with certainty is that I don’t want to die an unlived life. I don’t want to die with regrets, I don’t want to die a meaningless death, and I do not want to die as someone that I am not proud of and as the kind of person that I don’t want to be.

All my life I’ve been conditioned to believe how important education is, among other things…and I’m not a rebelling against the belief of how imperative higher education is in today’s world. That is definitely not what I’m doing, I’m all for education. What I’m saying is that all these years everyone focussed too much on education, graduating, grad school, getting accepted, finding a job, networking, and being someone and ignored all the little things. And let me just say this: little things add up. It’s the little things that mean the most.

In school we were taught to count by twos, and conjugate verbs. We were taught the mistakes of the past and the achievements of those who have come before us. We were taught to revolve our lives and futures around the massive realm of education.

How come we weren’t taught to be happy, lead a happy life, be better people, build healthy relationships? Why weren’t we taught emotions, love, the path to self-fulfillment and values?

Essentially what we’re taught in school is that education means work, and work means money and money means luxury and happiness. Of course none of them will ever admit it, but that’s the core idea isn’t it? Obviously this a controversial topic that could be debated, but that’s beside the point. I don’t want to revolve my life around grad school, getting a job, building a career and chase money all my life. I want to be a better person, have a family, enjoy the little moments in life…essentially be happy.

Be happy.

It actually is harder than it seems.

We spend so much time working towards a future, a career, and a life of luxuries, but for what? It can all be taken away from us in a snap of a finger. Why invest and secure our future when life itself has no security, no insurance, absolutely no guarantee that you’ll wake up the next morning. If there’s anything that I have realized it’s that half the time we’re chasing after things that don’t even matter and tend to ignore and overlook the things that do. Perhaps the greatest irony in life is that the more we achieve the more we lose. The more we have, the less we’ve got to lose. With every step forward we take two back. There’s more abhorrence then there is love. Nice gear and improved quarters but less homes and atrocious values. Things that should matter sadly don’t and things that shouldn’t are constantly emphasized… Paradoxical contrast, no? Life’s a gamble…the least we could to for ourselves at dusk is promise ourselves a life of no regrets for if and when we awaken at dawn.

– R

 

The Memories.

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The Snapshot’s of a Beautiful Day
I’m not just saying that for obvious reasons.
Undoubtedly the greenery was absolutely gorgeous and stunning.
I say this because I cannot explain the significance of what a day out with the family meant during that time in our lives. We stumbled upon this place unexpectedly and ended up having an amazing day regardless of how we felt about it.
It was like our very own “secret” picnic spot, because barely anyone was there the entire time that we had been there.
It was much-needed.
Definitely worth going back to.
I wanted to share these because it was indeed a special day.

And the pictures are proof of the memories,
and sometimes the memories are all we have,
to remind us it was real,
to remind us of the hell we went through,
one day at a time,
and we survived.

Sometimes the memories are all we have.

xox