June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
In my head, twelfth grade was something that was over when it began. I can explain this phenomenon using my name. Before twelfth grade, my name was of little significance to the general population. Then I made something of it. I put it on the back of my rugby jersey. It was on the programme at every band concert next to the star that indicated section leader. It was honorably mentioned in the newspaper, on certificates. It was engraved on plaques and medals and who knows what else. My name was something so that meant I was something. Until the end when it wasn’t and I wasn’t and my name faded into something of little significance once again.
Sometimes I wish high school didn’t happen. That my name wasn’t associated with so many sensational words. Then people wouldn’t expect so much of a sad little girl like me. Then people would leave me alone. Then I wouldn’t feel so sad. Then I can figure out what I really want.
Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have a name.
Just as twelfth grade was over when it began, so was our friendship. It didn’t feel that way in the beginning because high school makes something of people behind its whitewashed walls. There we were, isolated in this little building in the suburbs seeing the same friendly faces every single day. We drank bubble tea, played video games, and watched horror movies. We Skype called each other until we fell blissfully asleep. It was hard not to form bonds. It was impossible not to love what we had.
The summer after we graduated, our lives picked up. I could see exactly where the seams would tear when we would inevitably fall apart. And I was right.
Maybe it was simply a coincidence that I was right. Maybe – and this used to be a horrifying thought for me – I was the reason we fell apart. Maybe I should have been more present. Maybe I was selfish for wishing for something more. Maybe if I hadn’t wanted more than small talk and casual banter and stupid, stupid laughter, we would still be a single unit.
(But maybe you shouldn’t have pretended that nothing was wrong when I locked myself away and didn’t see daylight for hours and hours.)
At first, it was scary. I was part of a whole and then I wasn’t. We used to walk side by side. We used to do everything together. Then “we” became “I”. I am wandering aimlessly looking for my class. I am pushing my own way past a large group of people waiting outside the lecture hall in one of the science buildings. I am waiting in line at Tim Horton’s to buy coffee to drink while I smoke. I am small. I am lost. I am terrified.
I don’t know when I stopped being scared, but it happened at some point in January. I had predicted exactly where the seams would tear and so I knew this would happen. Like my name in twelfth grade, my place in this unit was of little significance anyway. Maybe I wasn’t the first to be cut away, but I was probably the second. Or the third. That made me angry. I didn’t need you like I thought I did and you didn’t need me either so that made me angry for some vapid, inexplicable reason. Now I see that I became distant and that was my fault. But it was yours too until the moment when I decided that you didn’t really matter to me all that much anyway. So just as you cut me out, I cut you all out as well.
That anger eventually dissipated. But I was still kind of lost.
I became really good friends with another group of people. That was inevitable. We were forced to spend a great deal of time in each other’s company so we made the best of it. They are good people and I grew to love these new memories just as I grew to resent the older ones. It wasn’t until I formed bonds with these people that I realized how much I hated you for cutting me out. I blamed you for taking something really good – something that made me feel so not dead – away from me. My words were cruel, even if they were only spoken in my head. I put my mistakes on the spot and I was forced to confront them to change a lot of things about myself so that I can feel happier. I don’t need any of the negative feelings I feel when I think of you, so I expunged them. And I do feel happier now.
Granted, sometimes some of that anger comes back. Tears spring to my eyes. I feel shame, guilt, and other irrational emotions. It makes me sad to think about what was, but I am determined to let that make me sad for only a little while longer. What makes me happy is the thought that I don’t hate you anymore. If you call, I won’t hang up. If you text, I won’t ignore you. It was inevitable that we grow apart – it’s part of the life process.
It’s time to start making those memories good again.
June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Dr. Leah Webb stood, dressed in her finest black attire, among ten others who were also dressed for mourning before the grave of her late husband. Due to Hans’ profession and position in life, she wasn’t acquainted with many of these serious faced people. In fact, the only three people she knew in the party were the man on her left, who was her husband’s partner and good friend, her husband’s cousin, Sofia, and her daughter, Alandra.
Hans bought this plot of land when they got married and had requested to be buried in… what was it they called those who weren’t like them? Muggle soil. Muggle. Non-magical. Leah didn’t like being the only non-magical one here. Even her daughter seemed to be somewhat familiar with the others. Leah didn’t even know the man who spoke kind words about how her husband was a spectacular Auror (which she assumed was like a cop of some sort), how he brought about the capture of this dark wizard or that lunatic or whatever.
She didn’t particularly care what they said. Hans’ career was not who Hans was. Hans was grave. Hans was handsome. Hans was wise. Hans could be surprisingly kind. Hans took care of her. Hans watched over Alandra, even when their daughter didn’t know it. Hans was everything she wasn’t. They were an odd couple, she knew. So odd that even Alandra doubted their love. Her husband was not often affectionate, but affection was nothing compared to the mutual respect in their relationship. Leah loved that they always seemed to be on the same page, different as they were. They were each other’s rocks. Without him here, she felt totally lost, unbalanced.
Soon, the speaker finished speaking and the coffin was lowered into the ground. Her husband is dead. Leah wished she were too.
“… Don’t tell me you’re still in England,” Leah said dryly.
“I am,” replied the other voice on the phone. Sometimes, Leah was struck by how much Alandra resembled Hans. Oh, her daughter took after her in looks, but most of Alandra’s countenance was scarily reminiscent of her late husband. She was just as serious, just as direct. And they both spoke so eloquently.
“Why are you still in England?” Leah asked. “Is there not a war going on?”
“I am still arranging some of father’s affairs.”
“Surely, you could hire someone to take care of that for you. I was under the impression that your father left a sizeable amount of gold in that bank of his?”
“Mother, I’m going to stay in London if I like. I can’t just leave. I love London.”
Leah closed her eyes. She was reminded of a time thirty years ago when a handsome man from Germany with piercing blue eyes whisked her into his arms and told her those three words. I love London.
I love you.
“Don’t tell me you’re staying for a man, Alandra.”
Her daughter did not reply, but she didn’t need to. Leah heard some shuffling in the background and the sound of a deep male voice calling her daughter’s name.
“What about that job you had in Finland?” Leah asked, raising an eyebrow to form a shrewd expression often reserved for bureaucratic purposes.
“It’s still there. I haven’t quite figured everything out yet, you see. But I’ve got another job here too and I’m doing alright.”
Leah sighed, smiling sadly in spite of herself. So like Hans, she thought. “Do what you have to do, I suppose. Just… don’t put yourself in danger.”
“I won’t. I-I love you.”
They spoke intimately as mother and daughter so rarely. Leah registered it with a bit of shock. From the terse intake of breath on the other end of the line, she could tell her daughter was surprised too.
“Love you too, Alandra.”
Leah was never the one to call.
There were two reasons for that. One was that she couldn’t be bothered to count the difference in the hours between London time and Guelph time. The other reason was that she didn’t know the number to call because she didn’t know where Alandra was living (or rather, she suspected she knew where her daughter was living and she didn’t know the number to there either). So Alandra is the one to call.
Leah comes home, deposits her keys and her bag at the doorway and heads into the kitchen with the mail. Water bill… Hydro bill… Phone call.
She leaves the envelopes on the counter and heads into the living room with the cordless phone.
“Hello?” she says into the receiver.
“Mother, it’s Alandra.”
It has been roughly three weeks since their last conversation.
“Is everything all right, dear?”
A pause. A long pause. Not good.
“Are you all right, Alandra?”
Another long pause.
“How are – ”
“Will you tell me about you and dad?”
Leah freezes. She doesn’t bother asking why Alandra wants to know this now. There was trouble brewing, perhaps, between her daughter and the mysterious lover lurking about. Leah was still grieving and she still dreamed of Hans. Hans was everywhere, even here all the way across the Atlantic. [i]No. No. I’m not ready.[/i] But there’s no such thing as being ready. She’s seen enough of her patients’ families grapple with grief and death to know that there is never a right time. There’s only now.
So Leah sits on the couch, puts her feet up and begins the story. She tells her daughter about medical school. She tells of the coffee shop, of how Hans liked his coffee black, how she approached the man after much intrigue, how she coerced him into finally dating her. She recounts her pregnancy and recalls, with a smile, the small white wedding in Derbyshire and then moving into their townhouse in Islington.
“… He was a good man. He was quiet, and his eyes were sometimes sad, but he was a very good man. And he loved me and he loved you very much.”
Leah pretends not to hear the very audible swallow from the other line.
“Thank you,” said Alandra.
And then they said their goodbyes before hanging up.
“Is it serious?”
“I love him.”
“Does he love you?”
It’s the first time she hears her daughter laugh in a long time.
“So what’s the matter?”
“Things are a little complicated right now. A friend of ours died.”
“You are in the middle of a war.”
“And so are you.”
“I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”
“His agent wants him to do a movie in Korea.”
“Well, you have a career waiting in Helsinki.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Did you not tell him?”
“I never got around to it. He doesn’t even know why I’m here in the first place. I hadn’t planned on staying more than three months, you know.”
“You know what I think.”
“I know what you think.”
“So when am I going to meet this man?”
“You already have.”
“Summer holidays the year I turned sixteen.”
“The one you ran off with?”
“You make it sound like we were lovers.”
“Right. What’s his name?”
“Are you staying in Guelph?”
“Oh, I suppose so. It is a lovely city.”
“I’m staying in England.”
“Of course you are.”
“But you’ll come to the wedding?”
“You don’t even have to ask.”
May 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
Just the other day, I ran into a boy who went to my middle school and who I hadn’t seen in five years, give or take. I don’t remember much from middle school and I don’t really care to remember all that much, but I remembered him for the sole reason that his last name is my first name and he used to tease me about it. I would have been perfectly content walking right past him without a word. Quite unfortunately, and to my great surprise, he cocks his head to the side and exclaims, “Joyce! Last name girl!”
“Max,” I acknowledge with a sigh.
If you don’t know me, I am one of the most outgoing people you will ever meet. If you don’t know me, I am open and coy, all smiles and eager friendliness. If you don’t know me, I am an easy conversationalist and generally just happy to be meeting you. In short, I’m real nice and dandy if you’re just a recent acquaintance. If you don’t know me in the sense that we went to the same elementary school, the same middle school and the same high school, and you stood by the assumption that I was just a girl who was sad and serious all the time, then that’s a totally different case of not knowing me. And Max doesn’t know me in the latter way.
“You went to Viscount right?” he asks.
“Yeah. And you disappeared.”
“I moved schools.”
I know this already and I never really cared what happened to him, so I don’t know to say. I never know what to say to people I knew but never actually cared for in middle school. In fact, I feel a sort of apathetic resentment toward these people because middle school in my mind is covered by a great big black hole that has sucked away all of my memories from that period. All I know is that I was such a weird kid back then and I never felt as though I fit in.
“Right…” I say.
“You remember Josh right?”
“To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about middle school.”
“Oh… Well, you used to write all the damn time and your first name is my last name.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” I reply. I was beginning to get bored of the conversation.
“It’s too bad you don’t remember much, considering you were always writing in your diary.”
Just like that, we walk away from each other. I am left feeling like I had no idea what just happened, or whether it happened at all.
May 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
I wake up at precisely 7:30am after passing out in my bed only five hours earlier. I feel like crap. No, seriously. My mouth is dry and my breath tastes like stale garlic bread and spiced rum. My stomach feels sick. I book it into the bathroom so I can spill all of its contents. I wipe my face clean, and I stare at myself in the mirror. Eyeliner smudged, mascara everywhere, dry lips, disheveled hair. In short, I’m a hot mess. I’ve been called a lot of things, but I’ve never been called a hot mess.
Last night was the first night I’d been drunk since New Year’s, I think. I didn’t want to go. I always get this sick sort of feeling right before I go out and drink… a lot. I always feel like crap before the bar and I always feel like crap after the bar. It’s just one of those things that will always hold true — a fact, a law of science, an axiom. My best friend decided to bail at the last minute and opted instead to go watch a movie with some other friends whom we hadn’t seen in a while. I was at a crossroads. There was this longing in me that wanted simply to go back to this group of friends and yet I promised I’d go to the bar with the other engineering students for a drink.
I think you know what I did last night.
I arrived at the dive bar at about 8:30 after listening to multiple drunk voicemails on the way. Most people had been there for two hours already. My blonde friend who looks extremely out of place in the engineering faculty was already slurring her words. I don’t like beer, so I took some shots and downed a gin and tonic… and another one… and another one. I think I’d had about four by the time Greek Boy strutted in. Five when I tried to sit in his lap and was promptly pushed away. Six when I agreed to join the faculty marching band and go to North Dakota. I may have had a seventh, but at some point I decided to sober up somewhat so I could make my way home. And I did, with some difficulty.
The thing is, I don’t regret getting piss drunk with the friends I’ve made only this year. Sure, the hot mess in the mirror has a killer hangover and poor hygiene at the moment, but I don’t regret that at all. I went because I didn’t meet too many people throughout the year. I didn’t meet too many people in the last year because I was too busy either being completely scared of everybody or inexplicably angry at the world. In all my personal angst, I forgot that these were the people who were going through the exact same hell as me — challenging midterms and horrendous finals and complicated equations to memorize and all that. I wanted more than anything to have someone to relate to, someone to tell me that it’s okay. And if it happens over drinks, then so be it.
The last thing I remember is falling asleep to ‘good night’ texts from people I don’t remember.
March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
You are so unbelievably scrumptious. And I don’t mean it in a sexual way. Well, I do and I don’t. Mostly, I don’t. You swagger into our lab. You casually put your things down at your table and then you walk over to my table where I sit with my group. To be fair, it’s not my table. You’re free to sit with us when we’re not doing anything before the class starts. I look at you and I think about how I know many boys like you. I went to school with boys like you, all faceless and nameless and so utterly ordinary. They’ve got egos the size of their jeeps and they talk like they’re real men. But I know they’re not real men just like I know you’re not a real man because you’ve still got this boyish charm that oozes out from your lopsided grin. Your mouth just keeps spouting nonsensical talk. It’s half serious, but mostly half not. I don’t have much to say, so I look at your mouth and I notice the stubble littered along your jawline. You are not scrumptious, I think. A better word to describe you is scruffy. Just… just go away already.
I am sitting in the science lounge. My friend just left for class and I am left alone in this pit of couches cluttered with noise and people. I hate the science lounge unless it’s early morning or late afternoon. I don’t hate the noise. I hate the lack of space. I always feel as though I am bumping elbows with the people sitting next to me. But I’m sitting here because this is the way it is everywhere else and I never know what to do with myself when I have a bit of free time. Amidst the noise and the clutter, I hear a particularly loud someone from across the way. It is you and our eyes meet. You stare. I have no idea who the hell you are at first. Your face is forgettable and I have trouble pinning down facts in my head. Where do I know you from? Do we have a class together? A lab? Did you go to my school? Then you ask me my name and I tell you and I ask you yours and you tell me. You’re sitting with a lot of people. You have a lot of friends, I realize. But then, so do I.
It is only after I’ve left and waved goodbye to you, you stranger you, that I remembered who you were.
The first time I met you, you kind of just sat at my group’s table like you owned it. I know I went quiet because I always go quiet and retreat into my shell when strangers approach. I sort of wonder what your first impression was of me, but that doesn’t really matter. Out of respect for my new friend and fellow group member, I welcomed you to our table by simply letting you two have your mundane conversation. I didn’t like you then. You said something like, “My group is terrible. All they talk about are computer games. They’re such nerds.” I think I died a little inside and I decided you were a bad guy because I happen to like gaming and I happen to be a huge nerd. So I just stayed quiet some more. Somewhere along your conversation, the introductions were lost. And that is why you had to yell across the way at me to ask me my name in the science lounge that one time.
Boisterous is a good descriptor for you.You don’t seem like a jerk at all. But you seem lazy and scruffy and careless and no different than the boys I went to school with. You wear a gold chain around your neck, you listen to hip hop and the only thing that matters are the people you know and the people they know that you know. I’ve met a lot of people like you this year. I’d like to think you’re no different so I can just get on with my life. Please.
January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
Ever have those days when everything goes absolutely wrong? Ever broken everything you’ve touched? Ever felt like you just keep messing up, no matter what you do? It sucks, doesn’t it? Try failing at everything the first couple of months of adulthood — classes, social life, career, everything! At first, it sucked so much that it really got me down. After hours and hours of inspirational Youtube videos by people who are just like me, and making an effort to change my attitude in life, I picked up the pieces and made a gradual recovery to simply being me. All that was really wrong with me was… there was nothing wrong with me. I think that was part of the problem too — it was easy to think that there was something wrong with me, but it was just an excuse to avoid making a huge effort. It takes time for everyone to get adjusted to new environments, new people and altogether new circumstances, and the time it takes to do this is different for everybody.
Well, everyone needs to get knocked down a peg every once in a while. Here’s a list of ‘firsts’ that didn’t work out too well for me. Yet here I am, I am alive and breathing despite these screw-ups and misconceptions:
- First time I failed my road test.
Depending on how you look at it, learning to drive can either be a very exciting and uplifting experience… or it can be traumatizing. In my case, it was a bit traumatizing. I was under so much pressure to get my license. Failing the first time was horrifyingly disappointing. Passing the second time was like a nice, cool breeze on my face. Needless to say, don’t stress out about driving. Once you’ve got that license, there really isn’t much to it.
- First time asking out a guy… and getting rejected.
Let me tell you a story. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
Why does it feel like everywhere I look, people are either hooking up, getting into relationships, or getting married? Seriously! Everywhere I look! Okay, some of you might think that it’s just something I’ve been noticing a lot lately, as a consequence of turning eighteen. I mean, I’ve never been in a relationship before and I’m at an age where hormones are bound to be raging because I should be looking for my soulmate (which is something that’s not really working out for me at the moment). So, naturally, these particular things are going to be more potent in my mind than others like, say, what time I’m actually supposed to sleep so I don’t look like I’m hung over tomorrow.Right?
But bear with me. Please.
My friend’s got a blind date, another friend’s love life is sparking like it’s New Year’s Eve in Times Square, and yet another friend found his first love this summer! And that’s real life for you. In the movies, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy got it on and their real life counterparts, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, fell into the romance aisle of the love supermarket (yeah, I know that’s super lame). Then the other day, I went onto Youtube. Not much romance there, right? Well, at least not in the videos I usually watch. There are a lot of trolls on Youtube and a lot of funny stuff too… And a lot of silly cats. So I check out my subscriptions and I watch these videos and — HOLY CRAP! Someone is planning a wedding, another just got engaged, and someone else just announced that he was in a relationship. And I’m sitting here, staring at the screen with the stupidest ‘derp’ face because apparently the love bug has infected everybody in the world!
I’m not complaining about my lack of a love life or anything. I just think that seeing couples form one after the other within the span of two weeks is funny and weird and worth writing about. Actually, now that I’ve calmed down from the general explosion of the chemicals in my brain that make me overexcited, I think it’s really good for the world. The world needs a little more love. Like the Black Eyed Peas say in their song, Where Is the Love:
So, people of the world, keep looking at things positively and keep falling in love! It’s a much better sight than watching the Kardashians go about their lives. Really, it is.