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.

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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.

 

I Would Like for You to Tell Me it’s Not Too Late

I would like for you to tell me it’s not too late

for me to start living my life

In entirety until now all I’ve done is count the stars in the sky,

and write about them in a book I hide under my pillow every night.

The pages that I set fire to every morning

and swallow the ashes.

 

I don’t care if you lie to me

I do not mind if your words are as hollow and paper thin as the world around me

I could not be bothered if what you tell me is straight out of the cliches of a cheap novel you read a while ago

or a bizarre dream that you half remember unsure

I just need you to say the words out loud

I just need your harrowed hope

 

Tell me that I still have time

No matter how illusionary, tell me there’s still a chance

No matter how untrue, tell me birds fly to the moon

Tell me that all I ever wanted will come true

 

I would like for you to tell me it’s not too late

If you don’t, I will believe what the coldness of December whispers in my ears

If you don’t, maybe I will embrace the reality and wither.

Or accept that I already have.

 

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

 

 

 

The Beauty of the Mess: Letter #1

(This is an epistolary fictional story-series)

Dear E.

It is very unlikely that this letter will ever find you. Besides the rare possibility of me getting over my vanity and finding the courage to send this to you, there is the glaring hiatus in our correspondence, of 2 years 4 months and 26 days to be precise, that dampens my hope. Then there is also the question of you using your old post box that forbids me from thinking otherwise. Or if you even live in the same city. Or country for that matter. There are a million reasons why this letter shouldn’t find you.

But life is a long shot. Life has never made sense to me, so I’ve given up trusting in reason or signs of any kind. I’m not the believer that I was once upon a time when you used to write to me. And even if the ink and paper from my hands lies in a rusted metal box for most of eternity, the paper yellowing, the ink fading off into the air like my words and emotions, I will find a sense of calm in it. It will satisfy me that I tried to renew our friendship before I grew old and died. I tried to fix things when the world around me fell apart.

I’ll come straight to where we left off. And in all honesty, I was as angry as I’ve ever been in my life. I waited for seven hours on that rusted black bench in the far left corner of the Rose Park in your precious city, where I was supposed to meet you. You had so eloquently described it in your letters to me as your favourite place in the world, or to quote you, “the world you knew”. I wonder if that has changed in the past two years, if you’ve traveled to the far away mystical lands you always adored and admired.

You’d said that the dilapidated park bench gave you hope in hopelessness whenever you sat there eavesdropping into people’s lives, forgetting about the dilemmas of your own. You used to call it “the beauty of the mess” that life was putting you through. I tried doing the same while waiting for you to show up, while imagining you in your contemplating colours: wondering, worrying, waning. It upset me even more, because it made it extremely hard for me to hate you. And I hated you for what you did to me. Loathed you. Detested you. I was disgusted by you.

The beauty of your city was dust to me. It was smoke and ashes and garbage. And I swore, as I sat there rotting away on a rotting park bench in a rotten city, to never write to you again. I swore to cut you off and forget you like you forgot me. I felt stupid for not asking for your address or phone number, or even your real name for that matter, before flying halfway across the country to meet you, a stranger I had never seen or spoken to in my life, except through letters written to a post box.

But here I am breaking my oath to myself, falling into the path of vulnerability again, for you to hurt me all over again.

In all that hurt and pain, I took another decision that I shouldn’t have, that I probably wouldn’t have had you showed up that fateful day. I can’t help but laugh at my sheer daftness; at the fact how my life would be completely different than it is now had I let the fire of hate and hurt burn down to ashes rather than adding more wood to it. I wouldn’t have been a broken man sitting in a lone cabin in the middle of an abandoned sea shore putting ink to paper in this flickering tangerine light. I don’t even have a phone or television here. It’s just me, my pain and a few empty canvases I plan to paint my pain on for my impending project.

Let us let go of what happened. You didn’t show up two years ago; I’ve accepted that now and all that has happened since then. But throughout all of it, through the anger and the impulsive decisions, the fleeting illusionary happiness and the everlasting agony, I’ve missed talking to you. I’ve missed looking at the world through your eyes. I’ve missed your metaphors and poetry. I’ve missed you.

I’m not asking for an explanation. I’m not even expecting a response. But if my words find you by a twist of fate, know that no matter what I’m thankful to have known you in this lifetime. I’m thankful to have stumbled across your pen name on that god awful pen-friends website. I’m glad I decided to write to you. I am glad you decided to write back to me.

Your friendly neighbourhood

Achilles

Ps: I hope you’ve read the Iliad by now.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. 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.

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 Cosmic Summer

Caress my fragile fingers into yours

As I let gravity embrace me as I fall into you,

beyond the realm of bruise bandages and remedial cures.

You are the black hole gulping every shred of my clarity

and I cannot but help give into you,

 

and fall

and dissolve into nothingness.

 

All I ask in return for my vulnerability,

for the key you hold that unlocks the obscurest parts of me

is that you take my hand and walk across the Bow Bridge

while lovers share a kiss

in a boat that rows beneath us.

 

I will lead you the meadow and lie with you among the blades of the grass

imbibing the serenity of the sapphire sky and the thistled leaves on bows and plants,

nestled together spend a quiet minute or two listening to the songs on my ipod.

 

Or I might take you to past the conservatory to the Bethesda Fountain

and ask a stranger to take a picture of us as we wrap our bodies together.

 

Or I might walk with you to the Belvedere Castle through the Shakespeare Garden.

Under the wooden arch, tucked away in the corner you might hear someone playing the violin;

you will laugh and tell me how this reminds you of a night many moons ago in Rome

and I will try to curb the pang of jealousy raging through me at the people in your life before me you called home.

 

I will pull you across the exceptionally narrow spiral stairs of the Castle

forbidding but one person at a time to pass through,

to give you a reason to rest your hand on the small of my back in the close quarters’ hassle.

 

Once atop of the highest tower, I will hear you sigh as you take in the breath taking view of Central Park in the Summer

 

and let you take my hand as you tell me bandages won’t work on you too now.

Whispers of December

First of all, I owe an apology to one and all who were following my “23 Poems Before I Turn 23” Challenge. But then again having a blog that is more of a quaint boutique rather than a Tiffany Store on the most expensive street in the world has its own perks. This blog is my bitch and I can do as I please.

I still do apologize for the unannounced hiatus and, most ardently, for not keeping my word. I had intended to blog about at least 23 poems before I could turn the age that is represented by two of my least favourite numbers, but alas, life got in the way and I horribly failed. But what I do intend and what I will do to make up for my laziness is turn the challenge a resolution for my 23rd year. I will finish the challenge while I’m of this age.

And if anybody ever reads this hollow voice into the void, I will be happy to talk about any poem of your choice. It could even be your own poem. So suggestions are most welcome!

To synopsize what has been going on in my life of recent would be fairly represented by a single sonorous word: finals *gong*. The fact that another phase of my life is at its close isn’t as comforting a thought as I had thought it would be. I guess what they say about forbidden love is true: it will end in tragedy. (Yes, I made that up *gong*.) I’m falling for a place I have loathed for a better part of my mortal life and instead of rainbows and butterflies, it is turning out to be rather difficult and would leave me broken in the end; I can prophesize that.

To continue ranting about my life, I think I’m still hung up on everything that has happened to me over the summer. I think I’ve lived through the entire chapter a hundred times over in my mind, going over the conversations over and over again. I know now how Cinderella felt after the clock had struck midnight.

I keep reliving it all, in my dreams and in my daydreams, and the problem with it is that I’ve romanticized it into this perfect godly sojourn, which it never was. It was full of mess and struggle, of moments of self doubt and frustration, and that is the reason why I loved it. I got to fight a war with my demons and defeat them. My deepest fear is that I’m going to turn it into something unreal and fictional. The words, the touches, the feelings. I want to remember everything unsullied.

Maybe December is a month for introspection, for whispers of the bygone year flowing in the wind weaving its way to the crypt at dusk. Or maybe I’ve just lost it.

*gong*