The world is so big. I think I am special, but the world is so big that it doesn’t even matter. I’ve spent so many long hours, waiting for something terrifying yet so trivial. I shouldn’t be scared, but I’m a timid creature. It’s unnerving to put it into words. When you’re surrounded by strangers looming over you and passing by with airs of practiced confidence, having an existential crisis isn’t what I’d call ideal. But I am the most helpless animal in this little bubble I call a world. Worrying incessantly, trying to assure myself that everything will be alright, knowing fully that I have a track record of bad luck. Is it just a lack of sleep that’s got me rambling? Or is this who I really am, a rambling loner in a strange land wearing a mask of stoic indifference on the outside and having a tsunami of words running around the edges of my mind? I wish there really was an explosion. Deafening, chaos inducing, distracting. A distraction is what I need right now.
You ask me if I know what happiness means.
I tilt my head, not in confusion, but while searching for an answer that’ll make you feel like you’ve won.
Because I know happiness not by its surname, the way you do. I know happiness intimately, by its aliases, its forenames, its unmasked raw self. Happiness, to me, is an old friend, a familiar face in a crowd of strangers. A friend I don’t see everyday, but relish when I do. A friend whose company I yearn but am too weary to call and request, in case he might be pre occupied with people far more important to him than I.
I know happiness when I lean against a balcony wall, feet up against the railings, smoke rising between my fingers. I know happiness on an unexpected night of blurry moons and too many stars. I know happiness in a string of affectionate words spoken through unaffectionate lips. I know happiness on days of coherence, when sentences write themselves with the ease of a lit match.
I smile and shake my head slightly. I don’t know happiness as you do, it’s true. I need you to think you’ve won this round. Because what happiness is to me, you will never understand.
“You trust easily.” The words are uttered more from surprise than anything else.
“Perhaps so.” she allows.
People look downwards when they’re upset, someone once told me, or trying to hide emotion. But right here, right now, whatever emotion that had been wanted hidden had betrayed her long before she bowed her head.
When she’s not hiding, there’s bright, fiery energy in her eyes. It takes a little nudge to remember that this is still her— sneering and self-indulgent. It’s hard to recall, as if the years have sifted away like fine sand. As if all I know now is the person in front of me, who always looks serious and sad, who twists her hand nervously on her lap, who tries to fix herself by writing letters she’ll never send, who walks on clouds, looking for something.
Looking for herself, or maybe a memory. Maybe, after all this time, she’s just looking for a state of mind.
Nights when the waves come crashing over our feet, shushing our anxious minds, leaving no space for petty worries.
Where the calypsos soothe, the coconut trees shield, and the warm sand drag our feet along as it dances to an ancient tune.
Nights aren’t for the drolls; the carefree ones with smiles on their lips and sunlight in their minds, they’re for the dour; the ascetics with their puritan eyes and furrowed brows.
The strong, cold winds come to consume your fears, to calm your soul.
Allow it, for the good it does to you. Allow it, for the sake of old times.
Allow it, because if the nights can’t calm you, no one else can.
“How did work go, then?” I ask, switching topics.
He lights up as if it’s Christmas, eyes brightening as he leans forward. “You wouldn’t believe it. We’ve been trying to pitch this idea for months…” I think, listening to his story, wondering how much is exaggeration and how much is outright fabrication.
But a good story is a good story.
And, as I’ve learnt with time, a story can be found in the smallest details: a stitch in a shirt, a smile across a room, the faint tremble of a hand. I can pick a story out from the bruise dancing across his knuckles, from the droplets of blood on his collar, from the way his knee jitters as he spins his tale.
The easy thing about being who we are, I think, is that if we look at a picture and don’t see what we want, we change the picture.
It’s a funny thing, being human.
You were always so terrified of failure.
When you dream, do you dream of all the times you failed? And maybe you see all those times you ran away-3 years ago, 2 months ago, yesterday-as failures. Or maybe,to you, it seems like you’re getting better at winning. There’s something in the way you speak, the way you crack silly jokes, the way you point out the flaws in my argument with a wry smirk
you’re getting better.
And of course, as selfless as I seem to you, that makes me