Sometimes I find myself lost in paintings: the best pieces, I think, are transportive. You’re no longer in the pristine museum with white walled divides or the living room with its gaudy frames. You’re on some field instead, climbing over oil globs and brush marks and resting in blended shade. You’re on the rainbow trail dotted with pink painted flora. You’re somewhere else instead, dancing in visual reverie.
Reading journal entries from last year, and my, oh my, how things have changed. Thirteen months ago, I lamented joblessness, the friendzone, ghosts of friends past, nihilism and more. Topics of this blog would crop up regularly–what I was doing, what was up with the name, was it even worth posting on? I’d feel bouts of intense doubt over having started yet another blog (I forget that my photo blog was still up at the time)
15: WHEN LIFE is grey and routine you find a way through the parking lots. skip skip skip- to imagination land
18: when everything crowds out your senses/makes you stumble and cry, you miss the parking lots. skip skip skip: this time to nowhere.
Needless to say, things have changed. This summer, I’m working at a place I like with co-workers I like while doing tasks I like (as a writer!) My relationships haven’t changed drastically, save for some here or there (understatement). Nihilism is no longer something that hangs over my head like a blinding white cloud on a maddeningly slow summer day. And this blog has somehow transformed itself into a pulsating creative outlet on a bustling writing community that I’m happy to have joined.
I also feel differently this year than I did last year–less angsty, less nihilistic, less rambly and sleepy and sad. You know the kind of tiredness that washes over you when you’ve been on the road for too long and the sun’s beating down on your neck? when time hovers wiggly in the air, making heat waves of exhaustion? That was last summer.
This summer feels more like morning coffees, co-worker chit-chat, snuggles post errand-running, city explorations. It feels like every summer redoing itself to get things right, just right, this time. It’s summer 2015 balancing out work-and-life, summer 2014 knotting relationships together, summer 2016 erasing its own sense of meaninglessness.
The streets were bright and packed, a hive of buzzed affluent energy. Sidewalks were filled with girls tottering around in heels and guys in button-downs. Like college, essentially, except older and larger and less fratty (but maybe not).
Went out last weekend for the first time in a while. Despite the wait and warmth and fuzzy bar-hopping, the vibes were good. We laughed and danced and sang at the top of our lungs, drinks in hand (when they weren’t up in the air). The DJ played Humble by Kendrick Lamar; Mr. Brightside by The Killers, a party favorite; obscure rap songs with beats I tried to find while swaying in the sea of dancing bodies.
Comin’ out of my cage, and I’ve been doin’ just fine
Gotta gotta be down because I want it all
– Mr. Brightside, The Killers
The party ended somewhat abruptly around 2. Birthday girl best friend had partied her way ad nauseam–literally. By then, we’d all found our groove and realized, perhaps simultaneously, that hey, this is fun, we should do this again and with each other. As Mars wrote in her caption:
Things got wild. Things got cute. Let’s do it again.
light and shadow
To escape the city, venture deeper into the city; a necessary paradox when surrounded by people, crowds, movement and noise. Many weekends I’d escape into Center City, where I’d burrow myself in a coffeeshop or bookstore. Though I’d remain constantly surrounded by people, it was a way of finding solitude, an otherwise rare beast on the urban campus.
Cigarette smoke makes me think of China. I remember the way it’d fill up the room in my Uncle’s absence, then stay still, holding its breath for several hours. In the streets, in the markets, in the restaurants, there they’d be, the cigarettes clutched-clasped-dangling between people’s fingers.
Last summer we got caught by Mei Yu. The plum rain. The constant downpour of gloom that cooped us up at home. Monsoon season? I asked. No, responded Wiki: the East Asian Rainy Season.
So I cut my hair. I painted. After the rain, I ventured outside in some grey oversized sweater (so poorly underdressed in a city where women tottered around in heels over broken concrete and construction) to photograph people, strays and the occasional chicken.
Don’t you believe in a little magic? No, only neurobiological responses.
Only feel-good neurotransmitters spurting across synapse to neuron to whisper overused phrases outside
and under the stars
Only “electrical currents”. Only “Dante”. Only “the kind in museums” and “literary figures in the middle ages” preserved in oil and turpentine I stayed up last night to draw
a figure named Beatrice.
Art does all the immortalizing– not me, not you, not any of us.
Sometimes I feel tired in looking back, but I’m not sure why. There’s a videogame my boyfriend and I just started called Until Dawn, a survivalist horror drama game where, based on the decisions you make, you carve out the characters’ fate. In one portion of the game, the therapist, Dr. Hill, goes:
The past is beyond our control. You have to accept this in order to move forward. Everything you do, every decision you make from now on, will open doors to the future. I want you to remember this. Every single choice will affect your fate, and the fate of those around you.
I imagine the game creator had an epiphany while contemplating The Butterfly Effect, which the game hinges heavily on. It’s a part of Chaos Theory, The Butterfly Effect–the scientific notion that tiny changes, however minuscule, can “change the course of the universe forever” (Thanks, Urban Dictionary).
As Until Dawn writes, “a tiny butterfly flapping its wings today may lead to a devastating hurricane weeks from now. The smallest decision can dramatically change the future….Your story is one of many possibilities.”
Even though it refers to the game story, it echoes of our own lives, our own stories. We write them as we move forward, sans game programming.