Weightless in the afterglow

The best part of the holiday season this year, I am realizing, is that the afterglow — the dying of the tree; the saran wrap you put over your Christmas feast as your last guest is leaving; that moment when snow stops being this magical substance, but just frozen water — is actually the part I relished the most.

I came back home, fresh from the icy biome of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I realized, my pain is gone. There is a weight that has been lifted that somehow got flushed away by the cold winds. I realized the last few weeks that my angst over  my past is gone, and what’s left in its place is an acceptance of what happened to me.

For most of my thinking life, I have grasped my pain close to me, like a blanket. I was desperate to retain my anger, thinking it would shield me from this thing called positivity, which was this evil, smug, smiling light that would take my blanket away from me. But in doing this, what I was denying myself was the grace and strength that comes from truly letting things go.

I don’t need to be a sulking martyr who is constantly blaming my past transgressors for my current faults. I am a human, some things have happened to me, but things happen to everybody. What is the point behind letting old wounds fester? All of a sudden, self-acceptance is feeling more natural to me.

As I sat in my morning commute, watching people board and un-board, I felt this innate sense of content; I realize my story is just one in millions. My pain is valid; but it is also heavy. Why did I carry it all with me all these years? By some perfect storm of happenings—all the tears, the unrest, the gut-churning conversations—I feel freer.

* * *





What a beautiful, apropos word for my mouth to capture. Even in speaking the word does my tongue perform a dance that lends credence to its meaning; the three delicate t‘s are timid pecks of the tongue to the roof of my mouth, each touch asking a question. Do you want me? Are you with me? Do you understand me? It is then followed by the slow-burn buzz of the v, almost like a love letter to indecision.

Oh, such uncertainty and possibility captured in one lovely word.

Daily Post prompt: Tentative

Memorization is for basic b*tches

The first thing I could remember memorizing was my multiplication tables in the third grade. I spent three full evenings trying to cement those numbers in their neat little columns into my brain. I recited them like a mantra, for that was what brought me nirvana at the time — pleasing my teacher, Ms. Betty.

Since then, life has been a blurred montage of things to memorize: best friends’ phone numbers so I could call them right after school, addresses, birthdays, street directions, credit card numbers, my passport number when I am lucky enough to travel … all of these a random jumble of letters and numbers. We leave a trail of them as we shuffle through life, walking through doors that only these alpha-numeric keys can open. I look at my trail behind me and I see evidence of someone who has lost several credit cards, moved many times, owned a couple different cars, has had a few boyfriends whose birthdays she has cared enough for to remember. It’s a seemingly ordinary life, if you were to look at my record.

Just remember, it’s the stuff you don’t memorize that make your life incredible, precious, and uniquely yours. It’s the stuff you wrote down, like journal entries you’ll forget and look at twenty years later and chuckle at how much of a hot mess you were. It’s the stuff you felt with your own skin, like the very first time your newborn wrapped her whole hand around your finger. It’s the stuff you utter out of your own mouth, gone into the air and never to be said exactly the same by anyone else on Earth ever again.

Memorize the rudimentaries, but leave enough of your mind uncluttered to experience life at its most complex and messy and beautiful.

Daily Post prompt: Memorize

FOMO: The digital version

There are just some days when synchronizing with the world feels too damn tiring.

* * *

I went camping for the first time in my life just a few days ago. I slept outside, surrounded by the buzz of insects and the hard ground beneath me. That part of camping will take some getting used to. But one of my favorite parts about camping was being out of reach of any cell phone towers. Those tall, ominous beacons couldn’t find me. And therefore, no one could find me. No one who cared enough to message me. Yesss, I sighed with relief as my phone finally comatosed into silence a few hours into the trip.

The mental vacation lasted about 4 days.

Driving back from the trip, my phone returned to civilization — and the madness started. My phone took a life of its own as the landscape around me got busier. It started buzzing and ding-ing as messages and event notifications came pouring in, reminding me of the “life” I had been missing out on while I was “gone”. I felt the anxiety I had been delaying for days, full of dread at the level of decay my relationships must have suffered at my non-presence, feeling this enigmatic inadequacy wash over me all of a sudden.

I felt like a dam had broken, no longer shielding me from the inevitable deluge.

* * *

Every time I go offline, I feel refuge from the flood of notifications, messages, and daily mental comparisons I make of my life to others’ seemingly more copacetic ones.

In our modern world, we are inundated with opportunities to “synchronize”:

  • Read the same headlines as everybody else
  • Find common ground with complete strangers in a heated forum discussion
  • Admire the same glittering social media accounts that someone else does, recommended to you by some algorithm
  • Take pictures of the same waterfall as someone else — that waterfall now has no soul
  • Share your location and find yet other people who have been to the same place

This causes me to backtrack mentally sometimes: are human beings meant to be this social? Are we really meant to be trapped in these webs of interaction, lured in by FOMO — the fear of missing out? These attempts to connect with the world at large — are they as tangible as the wiry feeling of moss on a tree branch, or the scatter of moonlight on the forest floor? Are they as genuine as a close friend that tells me what’s real in his everyday world?

I say this, tired, and yet, here I am, throwing my thoughts at other people like e-confetti.

* * *

The world is run by hash tags and other identifiers that are meant to unite the world and bring some pattern to this otherwise meaningless chaos. I get it; it’s our way of feeling less alone, less isolated in this digital biome. But sometimes, it’s too much. The overstimulation, the almost competitive drive to be “caught up” — caught up with what, I really don’t know some days.

Sharks — they gotta keep swimming or they’ll just sink to the bottom and die. It just seems, in the world we live in today, that you will do just the same, if you don’t keep swimming in this sea of information overflow. Would I really miss out on life if I ignore my phone? Or would I actually experience it the way it’s meant to be? We can choose to be “offline” for any given number of time, but, outside of completely adopting a hermit lifestyle, it never really ends.

When can we just rest? When can we ever rest?

Daily Post prompt: Synchronize