The Land of Eternal Summer: A Month

So here we are, a month into the new chapter of my life which has been a whirlwind from the start. Somehow, it is the most beautiful experience I could have asked for. It’s broken and messy and dark and light and just perfect. But sometimes I forget to breathe in the middle of it all and it gets so overwhelming that I have trouble walking straight. And then I have to do what I did today: take a step back. In fact, run away from everything as fast as I can as far as possible.

And then guilt envelopes me because I realise that I’m wasting time. It makes things even worse. Because time is something I feel I’m short on, here and in life. I’ll be turning 26 soon and that phantom has been raging over my head since a while now. It’s like I can turn my back towards it but when things fall apart, it is all that I can see: the glaring red clock just ticking away in a room with silence so deep it pierces the soul. And then comes the self doubt and the notion that I’m wasting resources and someone else in my shoes would have done so much better than I can imagine.

It’s funny that I feel this way, particularly today, because last year this time I was having the most terrible day of my life. And feeling pretty much the same way that I’m doing right now. In the end it’s always a damn circle. You come back to where you start, you reach the place you dreaded and you’re left clueless despite having been through so much as to what to do.

I don’t mean to cry. This is the best thing that could have happened to me. But it’s difficult to keep the clouds at bay when it begins to rain and pour.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2018.  All rights reserved.

I’m Caught in the Red but I’m Fading to Grey

A constant reminder that nothing stays the same,

but nothing ever really changes.

WordPress just reminded me that 4 years ago today, I started my blog in my college library, depressed, alone, fading, in need of hope and light.

This blog has been more than a friend to me. It has been a space to feel safe, to let out my fears and cries without judgment, to learn about myself and the way I write. It has helped me speak to people I may never meet from countries I may never travel to. Sometimes the echoes have brought back words, kind and tough that have helped me realize that no matter how much I feel the contrary is true, I am not alone.

So this calls for generic introspection.

What have I learnt over these last 4 years?

What has happened to me since?

Am I still the same person who started this blog?

What am I going to do?

Do birds fly to the moon?

 

(I’m not mainstream enough to be interviewed, so I’m going to go ahead and pretend this is what anyone would want to know.)

The textbook fairy-tale answer would be that my life has completely turned around, that life has magically fixed itself in these past 4 years, because 4 years is a really long time for a person to sort themselves out.

Bullshit.

Like Gemma Hayes’ beautiful lyrics quoted by me in the beginning of this post, I am both red and grey.  My life has changed but it’s still the same. I’m still as lost as I was, as alone as I was, as depressed as I was, although in different and more complex ways than before. All my old problems have sorted themselves out, but I’ve got new ones in their wake. More challenging ones, I would delude myself into saying mainly because I can’t see the solution yet.

As to what I have learnt in these past 4 years, it mostly consists of learning about myself. I have learnt to fight and lick my wounds, to bear pain and to build fire-proof shields. But I have also learnt to put my shield down and face the beauty with the pain, a decision I’m still in a debate about (with myself, if that wasn’t clear enough).

I’ve stopped praying for someone to come rescue me. Instead I’m learning (still) to equip myself to do that, to be my own hero. And I fall and stumble as I did before, even more so now that before. Which is to be expected if you walk faster than you did before, if you cover more ground than you did in the times ago.

It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It makes me wishes I was done already. It makes me sting others in my wake. But I don’t think I really have a choice anymore.

The only way I can go is forward, the only direction I can fall is down.

So that is what we are going to do for the next 4 years.

 

Thank you for being a part of this blog and a part of my world.

All my love,

That Girl in the Fray.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

Wait

I let the wind ripple through the curtains,

I wanted to be sure it existed.

I let the rain soak me to the bone,

I needed proof to comprehend it.

I let the flames melt my skin,

I wanted to confirm that fire wounded.

Now, I hold my breath,

Wishing that heaven is real.

 

I caressed the printed words of a clichéd novel,

I wanted to feel something as fragile as paper cut.

I travelled away from home,

I wanted to run till the city lights lost in dusky slumber.

I gave my food away,

I did anything not to feel so numb.

 

I didn’t find anything that was promised.

Where is the Second Coming predicted by Yates?

When will Lady Lazarus rise from the ashes?

I stare at paper thin walls because I’ve looked into the sun for too long

I embrace the stones on barren land because I’ve walked on grass forlorn

All this time, I hold my breath waiting for heaven to be real.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

Dear Chester

 

This is my second attempt at this. When I tried writing this before, I was so overwhelmed and out of words that this post turned out to be a mesh and I dumped it in my drafts folder until I could muster the strength to revisit it.

I don’t want to reiterate how amazing and talented Chester was and how much he influenced the world; that has been said before along with numerous things and I’m not going to get into any of it. Despite the title and the tags, this post is about me.

I’ve been depressed throughout most of my teenage and adult life. And as any book or movie about teenage depression will tell you, I have contemplated killing myself on numerous occasions. I remember the one time I even attempted it; I walked on the ledge of the roof of my house with my eyes closed, praying to God to kill me, because I was too chicken to do it myself. And I’m thankful I was.

The things that happened to me were neither too tragic nor too painful if you compare it to the sorrows enveloping the rest of the world. But they were too much for me to handle; they seemed like the end of the world to me and I just wanted the pain to end. The thing about depression is that it gives you a tunnel vision; your view of the world shrinks and it is as if you are in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, thinking you matter to no one and, in fact, the world would be a better place without you because no one cares. You start finding reasons why everyone hates you, adding to your own resentment and the million reasons you hate yourself. It’s a deep maze there seems to be no way out of. I’ve been there, stuck in the middle of it, with darkness engulfing every inch of my body while my screams drowned in the bottomless void of my soul. And I got out of it. It is this experience that has defined me for rest of my life, because I knew if I could come out of this hell, I could pretty much handle life.

Music helped me a lot. Numb by Linkin Park kept me alive and breathing. Every time I sang along to it, at the top of my voice, I felt my pain mattered. That I mattered. That I wasn’t alone in going through this. Iridescent got me through some horrible times as well, as I tried to hold on to hope and let go of my pain, failures and tears. As it did hundreds who swear by the band and its epicness. Leave Out All the Rest, In the End, What I’ve Done, Crawl and dozens of other songs defined a whole generation. It made us who we are.

The reason why I’m so broken by Chester’s death is that he died because of the same thing he saved me from. And no one could help him out of it, like he helped me. It is the irony of this twisted fate that brings me to the brink of tears every time I think about it. It’s wrong and it hurts.

Music and words helped me get out of my labyrinth and it has made me all the more strong. It has made me independent and suppressed my need to depend on other people in times when I’m going through things. Which has in turn improved my relationships because I’m not let down by them anymore; I have no expectations because I know I’m enough for me. I still feel a little unhinged at times and I’m still on the path of discovering who I am but I’m happy with where I am in life. All because I didn’t end my life on the ledge that day. I have a goal and I’m trying my best to work a path towards it, failing and flailing all along the way. I still get depressed at times, but I know how to pull myself out of it now.

If you think that you don’t matter, you are wrong. Talk to someone if you’re going through something that is too much for you to handle. Get help. Read as much as you can about people who are going through the same things. Meditate. Let go of the pain. Let it rebuild you from the core. Listening to music. Read books that speak to your soul. Paint. Dance. Sing. Do whatever that makes you feel alive. You don’t really need to care about the rest of the world. All you need to do is repair your soul, because you are made of the same cosmic dust that floats through the sun and stars.

You are the sun and stars.

You are strong enough.

I will miss Chester with all my heart. He saved my life and I will forever love him for it.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

All the fractures I’ve displayed

I hate it when the sky is that vulgar angry red at night. It chokes me. It’s nights like these that touch my soul, when the night sky is deep black, deeper than the depths of the ocean below me when I once scuba dived. I can breathe and feel the stars burn patches on my erratic skin. I can swallow the moon whole. The grip of those hands doesn’t feel too close to my throat anymore. But this feeling is fleeting, like the fireworks that start with a horrific bang, startling me to the core. And they end in silence. Their moment has passed. The sky is dark again. The hands are back around my neck. Slowly and slowly, the grip tightens. Inch by inch. I gasp. Breathless.

I’ve always wanted what everyone on this planet has: to be wanted. To be needed. To be loved, passionately, without any bounds, without any cemeteries. I’ve wanted to be wanted, to be missed, to be desired, to be cherished. I’ve wanted to be noticed when I’m missing. I’ve wanted my silence to be noticed. I’ve wanted to be the colour red. But it’s red that I see now, although the sky is pitch black. It’s red that I see as the last of the air in my lungs leaves my body. Breathless. I gasp harder.

Why can’t I be wanted the way I want you? Why can’t I burn into your skin like the cold does with every wisp of air that hisses among the trees. Why can’t you see just how broken my skin is now, with next to nothing left to clothe my soul. Did I give away too much. Did I give in too soon? Breathless. I choke.

The moon is full. The sky is black. The stars burn lies a million lights away. I see red. Breathless.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

 

Bon Voyage, Rory

My tears have almost dried and the sinking feeling in my chest is subsiding to numbness, slowly and steadily, although my heart feels as hollow as ever. The jar of peanut butter (because I was out of nutella) didn’t help me as much as I thought it would. Gilmore Girls ended. Rory left for her first job. Logan was left brokenhearted. Luke kissed Lorelei. Now what?

That’s the question that has been haunting my life over the past few weeks. It is ironic that I finished Gilmore Girls at this close in my life, this ending of a chapter, this dawning of an era. Gilmore Girls has taught me so much about love and life, about family and hope and every other thing that matters. I fell in love over and again with Dean, Jess, Logan, Luke, Christopher (until he left Lorelei), Sookie, Lane, Jackson, Zack. I fell in love with the complexity of Emily Gilmore, the complicated relationship she has with Lorelei and all that it brought with it. Richard Gilmore taught me about pursuing what you want and not letting go of opportunities. I partied with Logan and the Life and Death Brigade, fell in and out of love with him, swooned at his grand romantic gestures and most of all, appreciated him for becoming the man he grew up to be. Rory taught me that even the best of the best can have a melt down and not everything they touch has to turn to gold all the time. But getting back on track after life pushes you down is what defines the strength of your character and it is what I wish to possess.

I was at Yale with Rory, my favourite place on the planet, walking those streets of New Haven with her as I did last summer, the best summer of my life. And Lorelei taught me that sometimes the unexpected can grow to be the best thing to ever happen to you. Gilmore Girls gave me hope and courage and now that it has ended, I don’t know what to depend on anymore. Where do I run to when I want to escape?

I’m forgetting all of it. I’ve forgotten everything. Life is taking its toll on me. Lately, all I feel is the piercing hollowness of everything. The superficiality of relationships has been gripping my soul. Nothing has meaning anymore. What is anything even worth if it is just a mode of convenience for everyone, bent according to their whims and fancies and desires? My biggest problem is that when I reciprocate the same behaviour, the same fakeness they subject me to, guilt eats me alive, for that is not who I am. That is not who I want to be, although the alternative brings me pain.

Life is a conundrum I do not understand. Nothing means anything, and looking for meaning in people’s actions and the universe’s will is pure foolishness. Expecting reciprocation for your sincerity is stupid. The world is grey and I no longer have Gilmore Girls to turn to. Everything seems bleak and blank.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

A Tribute to all the Friendships that didn’t work out

Reaching the closing chapters of a novel makes you reminisce and analyze all that you’ve gone through, which in my case is quite involuntary. For now that the bedlam has subsided, I can honestly look at all that has happened and truly try to find meaning in the circus that was these last five years. So, this post is going to be me attempting to unveil the design of the cosmos.

Just like anyone else, I’ve lost and found and lost so many people in my life, the major part of which occurred these past five years. And as I sit and make a mental list of all these doomed friendships in my head in alphabetical order, I can’t bring myself to regret any of these relationships. Would I have been happier had I found the people I’m friends with at the moment earlier on in my life? Duh. But the thing is that I wouldn’t have been the same person that I am now without all those cogs in the wheel, and thus, wouldn’t have the same relationship with my friends that I have now. It was necessary to have been through it all.

Another thing that I’ve realized is that there isn’t a single former compadre that I’ve not had moments with, those beautiful moments that defined the friendship and some of which, still bring a smile to my face. It was amazing to have been close to such a different array of people, as they came into my life and walked away, for now I have a sharper insight into people. I would like to believe that I’ve learnt something good from all of them, imbibed traits of their character that attracted me in the first place. Moreover, I’ve learnt a lot about my own self having been through it all: what ticks me off, what makes me happy, what I look for in another person, how I judge people, how I let other people’s judgments affect me, what I like in a person, what I don’t like in a person, what not to say to a person, what never to say to a person, and the list is endless.

It’s like what they portrayed in the last episode of Cheese in the Trap: you have to keep dealing with the same types of people throughout the phases of your life. People are going to use you,  break you, step all over you, hit you in your gut at your weakest point and blame you for all of the shit, for the world is not an easy place to live in. You have to adapt. And that is what I’ve drawn from the last five years.

Almost all of these friends turned strangers are persona non grata in my life, but I’m thankful to all of them for everything. There are always as many sides to a story as the number of eyes affixed on it, and mine is just one of the numerous. All the people who fall under this category will have their own tales of woe against me, which in most cases will be valid, but at the end the prognosis would be the same: it didn’t work. These stories will always be lessons in the dark that will remind me of who I was and who I want to be.

It’s Spring (A Rant)

My google homepage no more has my blog as a shortcut and that pained me. I guess that serves me right for being too distracted by the hills and the mountains outside my window rather than my own life. So, this is me being distracted by my own life for a change.

This is going to be one of those posts that is utterly personal,(hence) deeply metaphorical and, to put it into perspective, kind of rant-y. It goes without saying that this is probably going to be a mess, and this might very well lie in my blog folder for months and months, before I decide to publish it. However, I want this post to be raw and actually communicate how and what I’m feeling at the moment. Most of all, I want to press this leaf in my diary, so as to never forget who I was and how I became my future self.

I’m at a close at my life, the end of an era, an act in a Shakespearean play of sorts to be honest. And… I do not know how I feel about it. One moment I’m drenched in pre-nostalgia, groping at every moment to stop it from flowing, or at least slow it down.  The next I’m glad that it’s finally over. I’ve swum the English Channel and I can finally catch my breath, wash off the algae and treat my wounds. So, there lies the conundrum. The only thing I pray for in that respect is that I regret nothing. I wish I miss nothing. I’ve lived in the past for too long, and it is not a good place to be in. It nearly destroyed me.

This place nearly destroyed me too. But I guess it was necessary to become the person I am today, and I for a fact am very happy with that person. I have highs and lows, but I do not feel that I’m constantly frayed in a war zone. Yes, I have my battles, but I think my armor is stronger and my reflexes are sharper than before. And that has made me comfortable, to an extent, about going to war now and then. I know how to deal with it, how to deal with my darkness. My knight in the shining armor turned out to be me myself, and that is exactly what I needed.

Moments like today, I miss Yale like crazy. It was not a cake walk to be honest, and there were times when I sat on the wooden floor staring at the fireplace in my dorm wondering whether I had done the right thing, but that all faded away with time and my summer turned out to be crazy-beautiful, rather than being the perfect-beautiful I had expected it to be. And it was what I needed. I’m doing all I can to get back there, because that is what I want.

The dirge of the dying year has lead to the advent of a new dawn. Winter has ended.

It’s Spring.

 

The 23 Poems Challenge- Poem #1

In the wee hours of 15th November this year, I would have breathed in this world for 23 years. And while the laugh lines around my mouth and the occasional appearance of grey strands do support the very fact, my soul is still puerile. I feel younger than I have before, and I do not mean this in a I-have-discovered-the-cure-to-ageism-kind-of-way, but that the more I see the world, the more I feel that I know nothing and have done nothing worth priding over. There really are miles to go before I breathe, let alone sleep.

I don’t know why but I’ve always found something magical about the number 23. (Maybe because it was Nathan Scott’s jersey number?) So to imbibe this feeling of equal amounts of dread and quintessential enthusiasm, I have decided to read 23 poems before I turn 23 and write about each and every one of them here. A fair warning to all ye who enter, what I write here will be based purely on how I see the world, and not how the world sees the world. I can guarantee there will be plenty who would disagree with my perception, but I in all honesty couldn’t care less how politically incorrect I am. Even the poets of the poems themselves can rise from their graves and chastise me, but I will not accept that my analysis is wrong because that is the very reason I am in utter incandescent love with poetry: the beauty of the words lies totally in the eyes and minds of the beholder.

Poem number 1

How could I even think of poetry without thinking about the man who made me fall in love with words. His words. So, I have decided to begin this sojourn with my beloved poet and my spirit guide incarnate, Pablo Neruda‘s poem I Like For You To Be Still.

The Poem:

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would’ve died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I’m happy;
Happy that it’s not true

My Thoughts:

I’m reading this poem from Pablo Neruda’s book, which is one of my most treasured possessions. The book ‘Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair’ is a beacon in the darkness of my life and it has got me through some rough times. Only the caressed pages of this book know my deepest sorrows and the taste of my tears.

For me, this poem encompasses the sorrow and pain that is felt when the love of your life is going through storm and thunder and all you can do is sit and watch. Pablo, rather than jumping into the fray and interfering in her life, wants to imbibe the peacefulness of her silence. He sees beauty in her struggle and respects her decision to deal with the demons of her life on her own. He respects her independence and accepts this dark shade of her character, which is exactly what I believe love is: it is embracing the bad and the ugly, and not just the pretty hills, the blue skies and the pastures shinning green in the never ending sunshine. The sunshine will end someday and night will fall; it is what you do during the darkness that determines the strength of any relationship, whether romantic or platonic.

To paraphrase Neruda, he rather feeling deserted likes it when the woman he loves is silent and far off because she is dealing with the troubles of her life. Rather being a damsel in distress and wanting Pablo to save her, she is the sort of person to prefers to suffer in silence. He understands her and he understands and accepts this, although it breaks his heart to see her suffer alone. He feels as if his words cannot reach her soul because her eyes seem lost and she is utterly silent and distant.

Neruda feels that if his soul was filled into cups and saucers and the world itself, she will emerge from all those things because she is his soul. He channelizes the beauty of her silence and turns it into a metaphor: she is as silent and beautiful as a butterfly in a dream. I think he refers to a dream because her silence and suffering is temporary and, with time, will be long forgotten. He thinks she is like the word melancholy, sad and beautiful and peaceful all at the same time. (This is how I feel when I think of the word ‘Melancholy’)

What moves my soul is Neruda asking to be silent with her, to be a partner in her suffering rather than plunging into her battle or leaving her in this dark time. He values her bravery so much that he compares her to the stillness of the stars in the darkness. He calls her candid, because rather than pretending that everything is alright with her, she is showing her true self to him. From experience, most people leave when you bare your soul and show your true self to them but Neruda glorifies her struggle. She is a mess and he embraces and accepts that mess.

She grows so silent and distant at one point that Neruda feels that he has lost her forever. Maybe she has left him. Her aloofness and distance makes him feel that she does not exist in this world anymore. But she does come back to him, maybe just by saying a word or smiling at him and all is right in his world again.

This is exactly the kind of love I pray to find, because I identify with the woman Neruda is in love with. I’ve become so used to fighting my battles on my own, mostly without allies, that being a lone warrior is all I know. I would feel cramped and suffocated if someone tried to interfere in my life and my problems. I detest being the damsel in distress. But having someone to stand with you rather than fight for you is the most beautiful expression of love and this poem melts my heart. It takes bravery to deal with the mess of another human soul and Neruda captures that beautifully. To be comfortable in each other’s silence is a sign of true love and that is what I hope for someday.

The Raven that Flew Far and Far and Far and Far Away

A Raven once flew too far away from home

It ended up in a barren iced wasteland, all alone

Miles and miles of white devoured the black of the little being

It saw nothing for years on that icy scene

Heard no voice nor felt the beat of another heart

No one to confide to, no one to help heal its scars

no heat

no heat

No Heat

The ache of the thirst.

Fading memories of smiles laughter and mirth .

Starved of love and food

and affection and hope that never renewed

For days it prayed for its breath to stop, its blood to choke in its veins

Anything to stop the blinding tears and the endless pure honest pain

Alas, silence was all that answered its screams

it screamed and screamed

and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed

The White haunted even its dreams

But it is all untrue.

It is all an illusion.

The battle had left her blind and deaf.