Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What someone should of told me at seventeen

You'll grow into your skin and into yourself. I promise. Years from now people will come to you with their insecurities and self-doubts like broken phones they want fixed because they'll see you as whole and brave and born-that-way. And you'll tell them you weren't, you aren't. That they should have seen you at seventeen. It is a continual battle between the waves of all your darker thoughts breaking on the solid shore of your beliefs and better self, you'll say.

There is a world bigger than the shots you take at the clubs you want to go to with the people you think you want to be with. Outside of the over-confident guys with the too tight t-shirts and girls you are jealous of because of their ability to attain the afore mentioned stereotype, there is a world of magic and wonder that will make everything else look paper thin and two dimensional. It is so wide that your mind's eye will not capture it in memory, so deep that you will fall giggling and disbelieving reaching for the floor. You will remember only with silliness the thumb sized club room you thought was the world before.

The right people are everything. You need to sift a little more. Be a bit more choosy. Remember that you are the company you keep. Make room for the kind that will be there when the photos aren't being taken and the conversation turns to something deeper than the puddle you like to see your reflection in.

Break out of your prejudice. Not everybody who wants to talk to a young filipino girl is or is becoming a creepy old man with a yellow fever complex. Not all the girls that don't look like you or talk like you are unlike, or vapid, or ignorant. Drop the paranoia, and even if it's justified, be civil. Being a bitch is unnecessary and does not mean you're strong, being mean is easy and that doesn't make you better it just makes you mean.

Read more non-fiction. Books from the real world do not all read like encyclopedias. They will kick-start a curiosity and awe that you did not believe could exist outside of the made-up.

Make up your own mind about everything. Challenge the definitions you were given even if you believe them to be true. Be open to the possibility that you may change. Be okay with life-long held definitions being scrapped and new ones be scribbled and scratched out dozens of times in their place. Don't feel ashamed or embarrassed about changing your mind - the shame and embarrassment is reserved for drunken ramblings in so-called spanish, losses in dignity you deeply regret and blanks in your memory that are filled in by friends who rightfully laugh the whole way through the story.

You'll have your turn. To be on planes over oceans, to have your tongue fumble over a foreign language, to fall deep into a search for purpose, to have your eyes opened to the light and dark of humanity, to be self-indulgent, to be selfless, to be challenged, to be reckless, to be loved, to discover the plethora of variations on what love is not, to decide what your life is going to look like and to dance your way there on a rainbow brick road fuelled by sweat and luck and gratitude and privilege and the incredible possibility of the universe that you will hold, twirling infinitely in your small brown hand.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Amiga, Amigo

Being an ex-pat in another country has all kinds of challenges. Learning the language, if you don't speak it. Learning the accent, if you speak the language. Making friends for coffee catch ups, dinner dates and much needed drunkenness. Meeting locals who will hang out with you sober and put up with your errors in grammar. Finding a place to live and people you can share a kitchen with. Figuring out what you're doing - whether it's volunteering or getting a job or just being the token gringo who goes to parties and hangs out while everybody wonders what it is you actually do. And saying goodbye to all the people you meet who are using the place the same way you are - as a kind of transitory life-experience factory.

That's been the hardest pill to swallow. The onslaught of Goodbyes. One of the things I'm learning over and over again is how to have people in your life and how to let them leave. How to separate the feeling that you want everything to last forever and the reality that there's always a closing scene before the next mini-movie of your life can begin. They say the decade of your twenties is the most transformative, we are all still delaying adulthood in different ways, changing jobs like we change hair styles, trying on relationships for size and not quite committing to anything one hundred percent. But people are the ones that attach themselves more permanently than most anything else. On the crazy spinning tea-cup carnival ride that is the decade of the twenties, there is the meeting of such an incredible volume of delightful characters and fast-friends that you will have trouble letting go of more than a job or a place or an opportunity.

That's the price to pay for all the spinning round, the dizziness when you have to take a moment to stop. In exchange for the two hour conversations at a cafe about whatthefuckisrealloveanyway and howdoesonehelpinanyrealsenseoftheword with the characters that pass through this city, in exchange for the fullness of a house of nine people plus those that seem permanently plastered on a couch or a seat at dinner - in exchange for this there are the bittersweet farewells. The wondering if, even though you say you will, you will really see these people again. The people that have formed the cushion of your life with every familiar question 'How was your day?' and 'What are we doing tonight?' It's that blanket warmth of community that makes it better when you get home tired after work, that makes you sleep deep after a night of drinks and stupidly hilarious laughter, that substitutes for a family of like-minded children who have not yet grown up all the way.

People are always the ones that steal your heart a little. Places in a different sense. Places in a way that is less real and more visceral. People in a way that has everything to do with conversation and small gestures as it does with shared experienced and the recognition of and admiration for the other persons deep and inherent awesomeness. Ain't no ship like friendship, yo. And it's always sad to see somebody else sailing away when you're the one standing on the shore but you get better, little by little, at letting people in and being okay with them leaving, letting go, letting go, letting go.