Smoke

We walked in the dew-soaked grass in the shadow of trees and out of reach of the streetlights. It was hours past midnight, and the dark had not yet spent itself.

“I’m not in the mood for wet feet right now. Couldn’t we walk on the road?” My feet slipped about in my sandals. I imagined my toes leaving little muddy crescents in my shoes when they would dry.

“I like it here,” she said. That settled it. We walked on in silence for a while.

“What was that on your shelf? It was wrapped in newspaper. Looked like mud.” My voice sounded detached and almost childlike as it broke the comfortable quiet.

There was a moment’s pause as she inhaled deeply from her cigarette.

“Oh, that? It’s this thing. You smoke it.” she said

A passing car illuminated the wisps of smoke hanging about her face like a swirling, silver mist. It was a beautiful sight- ethereal, haunting, dreamlike.

The car passed. In the dark once again, she was a dim silhouette and a tiny, hovering smudge of orange light. I felt strangely alone.

Departure

The moment passed slowly, as if in a dream.

As the door swung towards me, what I saw was like a series of frames, moving slowly, as if suspended in the jelly-like past.

The paper snowflake hanging above my single bed. The faint marks from when I painstakingly turned the ceiling into a glow-in-the-dark starry sky. My small, white desk and the funnily shaped lamp on it. The dent in the wall where I once hurled a Jawbreaker against it. The purple-red flourish on the warm yellow wood of the chest of drawers, from the nail polish flying, swooping out of the bottle as it broke. The faint ink stains on the marble floor from when I used fountain pens to write. The books lined up on the shelves in ascending alphabetical order of the surnames of the authors. Rectangular, blurry halos of blue on the balcony floor, a side product of a spray-painting spree. The round cane chair by the window, where I lay curved against its back, mechanically barreling through books when I couldn’t take the world beyond the window.

In that moment, I wanted to lock myself there, in my room, my refuge through eleven years of my life. I wanted to curl up in the chair by the window, surrounded by my little scratches and dents and my pieces of the world that I had obsessively arranged around myself.

The door swung shut on those blue walls and the green, rain-washed world beyond.  As I wheeled my little red suitcase down the hall, I pictured other halls, hours away, and red brick smothered in green ivy. I lifted my suitcase to carry it downstairs. It felt surprisingly light.

Distractible

My thoughts drift, spring, float, jump. Slippery tendrils wrap around one idea, only to slide off and voraciously grasp another, soon giving that up and tickling another, more colourful mental image. Sometimes I have the attention span of an octopus with ADHD and a hundred tentacles. My brain is a hundred-pus. It doesn’t matter if such a thing exists or not. It doesn’t matter if unicorns exist or not. Maybe they did, at one time. Perhaps instead of following the more evolutionarily acceptable path from water to land, they decided to go the opposite way and become narwhals.

On the Overratedness and Ubiquity of Profundity

When all of those around you are constantly lobbing their innermost feelings at you, the choice to not feel so intensely is almost a luxury. To not pretend to be deep when you’re out of your depth. To not mask the mundane and the hackneyed with meaningless, fabricated profundity.

I can be deep, yes. Everyone can. When I’m wallowing in the famed depths of despair, I become a poet, a writer, a philosopher. I drown in my own depth. I exult in my ability to articulate my twisted emotions in twisted sentences.  I believe it possible that I’m one of the greatest thinkers in existence.

I am shallow, too. I can’t, for the life of me, be bothered enough to relate the most beautifully captured photograph with the lyrics of the most beautiful song. A picture of me smiling is the same as another picture of me smiling. I smiled for the camera. Nothing profound there.

I admire sarcasm more than I do profundity. Profundity can be annoying. As can be pointing out way-too-obvious lapses in morality. As can be lyrical reflections on the ups and downs of life.

I can be shallow. It’s quite a relief to know that, really.

Just Another Winter Night

I gaze at the photograph on my laptop screen. It’s one of an inverted glass bottle stuck in an iron fence. I cock my head, stare at it a little more, squinting. There’s something about it that made me stop as I scrolled down, going through a photographer’s blog. Something that reminds me of something else, that fills me with a familiar and not altogether unwelcome feeling. I think of park benches in the morning, wet with dew, of coffee and of hand-knitted scarves.  Frowning, I give up trying to dissect what I feel and open the next tab: Facebook.

Photographs. More photographs. I click on the link to an album. I hover over a photograph for a moment. It’s one of friends, laughing, smiling. One of those pictures that have a yellow tungsten glow- a picture that you look at and smile as you remember a perfect day spent with perfect people.

But I don’t even know these people. I resist the perverse temptation to click on the photo to make it larger. There’s nothing like Facebook to make you realize how you hardly ever look good enough in photographs. And how alone you feel.

I give myself a mental shake, telling myself to shut up with the self-pitying thoughts already. I notice that I have a notification. I click on it. Somebody has ‘liked’ my profile picture. I stare at the photo. I look too pale. Maybe I should go out in the sun more, I think. Or turn off the tube-lights the next time I take a photo.

I sigh and sit back in my desk chair. It’s then that I realize that the electricity is gone. It’s been gone for a while, in fact. I’ve been hunched over the computer for some time, and my shoulders ache. With a pang of guilt over the time I’ve wasted, I realize that I’ve spent more than two hours online, doing what is best described as ‘nothing’. Stretching, I feel a pleasant kind of pain course down my spine. I sigh and shut my laptop, enveloping myself in complete darkness. After some blind groping around on my desk, I find my book light and turn it on. It’s funny how I use everything but a flashlight as a light source. I turn around and spot my mug of green tea, lying on a saucer on my bed. It’s ice-cold now. I turn to the bathroom to pour it down the drain, when I remember that I had put honey in my tea. Suddenly, I feel an intense craving for something sweet. I gulp it down, iciness and all, shuddering as it trickles down my throat.

My room is chilly. I touch the heater. With the electricity gone, it’s just a cold piece of metal. But my hands are so cold that I imagine that it has some warmth still. I curl up on the chair beside it, pulling my shawl tighter around me. I open a book, and clip my book light where it belongs. Maybe Jane Eyre will do for company until sleep rescues me from the frigid, solitary night.