In the wake of the world’s seemingly ceaseless tragedies, I have been preoccupied with my own mortality. The fragility of life. How quickly and easily it can all be washed away. Part of me feels stupid and cliche for that. It’s such a typical response. But this generation has always been a little too obsessed with our own deaths, a little too aware of an imminent end. So we distract ourselves. But, then, randomly, unshakingly, we remember. We are made to remember. It doesn’t matter how.
It leaves me asking endless questions. Going over my life in my head, time and time again. What am I doing? Am I happy? Does this really matter? What if I never do this? Why do I even care about that anymore? What am I going to regret? What do I really care about? WHAT DO I WANT? WHO AM I?
I deal with personal and entirely impersonal tragedies as if they are the moment the book turns, the story changes, something after which everything is different because nothing can ever be the same again.
More often than not, in this way and others, I narrate my life like I am writing my memoir, like it is all already over, like I’m at the end of it, right here and now. It makes me really think about what I want my story to be. What will make the cut and what will be omitted due to unimportance, or shame, or regret. I picture how it will read, what parts people would laugh at and cry at and understand and not understand. I see it all bound like that. If only in aspirations of one day being something that is whole.
Maybe it is just a part of growing up, becoming disillusioned with the world. After all, isn’t that what every coming of age story is really about?
Maybe we will never understand ourselves. Maybe we are not meant to.
Maybe happiness isn’t something to be had, a thing that can not be held or owned or taken, only felt — however fleetingly or not.
I am always amazed how sadness can find me no matter how far I travel or how many smiles I try on.
Sadness, fear, loneliness, they’re all a particular experience abroad. Because you feel so anonymous. So small. Unknown.
I already don’t have the language to explain this in my own tongue, let alone in a different one.
This is not to say that this is a bad thing.
But the more strangers I meet, the more of a stranger I become to myself. How I can see so many different lives laid out before me, how many people I could be, how many lives I can live or not live and still look up at the same stars like none of it matters to the universe who I become. Or what makes the story. Or that there is a story at all.
Sometimes, I am afraid I will not have a soul that is greiveable, a life that can be missed, be a person that is knowable and known.
Still, I take solace that I feel like less of a stranger when I cry on the subway after a long day because it’s the only time someone can really understand me, the way vulnerability is the same in every language.
And I keep asking myself those questions.
I act like every day is a defining moment.
Because it could be.
Depending on how you write it.
Maybe we are never supposed to have it all figured out. Maybe there are many defining moments. Maybe this could be the best day or the last day or the worst day or the first day or the day everything changes. And maybe tomorrow will be, too.
I think in the end we just want to love and be loved, to understand and be understood, to listen and be listened to. We are all the same, in this way. It’s always been that simple.
So I let the tears come on the metro. I question everything. I think about my own death often. I glorify the little things. I think every detail matters. I think these things might come together to mean that I matter. I am lost, looking for the words to get the story down right.
I try to live a life that is tellable.
That is all I know how to do.