Tumbleweed

The legendary tumbleweed is really a nurse crop that protects the growth of prairie grasses under its shade, and then sacrifices itself and blows away.

Almost everyone I know has something of an ancestral house. Somewhere they can always go back to from wherever fate decided to move them across the globe. A place where they could reunite with their families and friends and talk about childhood memories. Somewhere they feel safe and truly belonged. Most people have hometowns, alma maters, reunions, people they grew up with and neighbors who know them from babyhood. I know people who married their childhood sweethearts, the next-door neighbor or a sibling of their best friend. Their children know each other and go out together forming the next generation of youngsters who will follow the footsteps of their parents. Most people have a family and a home where their roots are firmly planted in a solid foundation, where their history lies and written. I don’t have those.

I don’t even come back to the place where I was born since we left before I was even a year old. Alma mater, what is that? I changed school like I change underwear. Same with hometowns. If I would like to visit where I grew up I have to go to hundreds of different places and meet thousands of different people who may not remember me at all since we leave before everything gets too familiar. Roots? What’s that? I was a tumbleweed rolling where the wind blows, no destination, without purpose.

Family is something alien to me. Not only I don’t have a place to go back to, but I have also no one to come back to. Don’t ask. It’s just the way it is. Likewise, with friends, I don’t have them either. What I had were familiar strangers whom I shared a one time experience with before I move to another chapter of my existence. Go back (even for a visit) I can’t. Somehow I always managed to burn bridges one way or the other. If I don’t someone will do it for me. It’s just the way it is.

Family, friends, hometowns, alma mater, childhood sweethearts, ancestral house, roots, If you have them, I envy you.

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ThumbelOona

You’re growing so fast Sunshine

Your clothes are getting smaller

Your face changing

You are getting bigger

Not in a conventional sense

But you are growing alright

Growing into Oona size

Thumbelina size

Forever

Compact slight petite

Tiny slight pint-sized

All elfin features perfect

A miniature person

Small beautiful Unique

I love the way your toes curl when I kiss them. I love how you look at people with your scrutinizing gaze as if you are studying them weighing knowing understanding. I love the sound of your voice when you are trying to convey your feelings in your own way, without words. I love how you smile when you hear your favorite song and how you listen attentively when your mother read you stories. I love the way your big eyes light up when you are happy and the way your eyelashes touch your cheeks when you’re asleep.

I want you to be happy and healthy Sunshine. I want you to be safe.  Remember that I will always be here when you need me. I love you my Oona. My ThumbelOona.

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The False Grinning Faces We All Wear

“I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room — I’ve felt suicidal. I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful — awful beyond all — but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me…or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude. It’s being at a party, or at a stadium full of people cheering for something, that I might feel loneliness. I’ll quote Ibsen, “The strongest men are the most alone.” I’ve never thought, “Well, some beautiful blonde will come in here and give me a fuck-job, rub my balls, and I’ll feel good.” No, that won’t help. You know the typical crowd, “Wow, it’s Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there?” Well, yeah. Because there’s nothing out there. It’s stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I’ve never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars because I didn’t want to hide in factories. That’s all. Sorry for all the millions, but I’ve never been lonely. I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have. Let’s drink more wine!”

― Charles Bukowski

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Self-Defense

When I cannot sleep or too agitated to rest, I fantasize. Conjuring up scenarios in my head to cheer me up and calm me down. But most of the time I ruined my own fantasy by wanting everything to be perfect. Every move, every word has to be precise, even the lighting has to be perfect or otherwise, I cannot move from one scene to another. The keyword is feeling. If a certain setting doesn’t evoke the emotion I want to achieve, it will not do for me. When a person in my fantasy look at me across the room, I want to feel something, when someone holds my hand, whisper in my ear, sing a song, tells a joke, I want to feel it inside, I want the gesture to move me, or otherwise I will repeat the scene over and over in my head till I get it right.

I know it’s craziness but I can’t help it. If I want to escape reality, the fantasy must be damn good, or otherwise, what’s the use?

Don’t judge me for escaping the stresses and cruelty of the world 

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The Past Comes Peeping Out Again

By accident, I came across a familiar name online, a name I know so well. A name I’ve seen written on railway sleepers outside our house once upon a time. A name which was converted into numbers as a part of coded messages written on walls around the neighborhood meant only to be understood by me but meaningless to others. A name that has now an extra name added to it, inserted in between and belonged to a familiar face of a stranger. How did it happen?

The face belonged to a friend. A son of one of my father’s workmates and buddies. His father was trying to couple him with me even before I set eyes on him. I always nod and politely smiled whenever the topic was brought up but deep inside I was not the least interested. Judging by the appearances of parents and siblings, this phantom boy who worked in the city will never be anything to me. And so I thought.

Till one sunny afternoon, I was trying to read and heard a commotion outside. Peeping through the slit on the wall I saw two young men carrying air guns chasing each other across the train tracks. I found their accent funny. Clearly, they were from the south and speaking a dialect I heard my father used sometimes. I wondered who they were.

I saw the older of the two boys again during an old fashioned barrio fiesta dance. He was more good looking than I remember, looking like a city boy that he was, fresh and modern. I was charmed.

I wish he wasn’t a show-off. I wish he didn’t dominate the dance floor, I wish he wasn’t so sure of himself the one hundred percent crush I initially had for him reduced by twenty-five percent after his performance that night. On the way home, he deliberately stayed behind to have a word with me he said and I thought: This is it! He gonna professed his undying love for me. But what he actually said was he got an eye for my friend Rose and could I possibly help him to win her heart. The seventy-five percent crush plummeted to fifty after that revelation. When I heard that he was the phantom son of my father’s co-worker, the remaining fifty percent went all the way down to zero and we became best of friends. That’s the face the familiar stranger belongs to.

The name is totally another matter.

It belongs to someone else entirely. Same town, same neighborhood, same young dreamers club (he was the president, the other the vice) but different looks, different age category; he was older. Twenty-six to be exact. I knew right away he fancied me. Actions speak louder than words, right? He showed it in so many little things but he never made an attempt to voice out his feelings or formally court me. I confronted him with it and to my surprise, he didn’t deny what I already knew. When I asked him why, he said he was not a teenager anymore to give in to impulse, too old to be foolish. I was a handful he said. Starting anything with me was like picking a rock to bash your own head. I was too much for him he said. I called him a pussy and he laughed about it. We laughed about the whole thing. I was not the least insulted nor angry. The whole conversation was bordering on funny, a joke. But we understood the seriousness of what being said and not said. We accepted it.

He was a frustrated engineer to be, dropped the dream in favor of drinks. He carries a big scar across his stomach. A souvenir from a street fight which almost killed him. If he learned some lessons from the experience, it didn’t show. Life goes on.

I went away in search of a better future. I lost track of the people I once knew. Forgotten almost. Never seen them again nor I set foot on the once familiar turf once more. Now I saw online a stranger who is carrying his name wearing a familiar face of another.  Too much of a coincidence. It piqued my curiosity and started to dig deeper.

Well, it turned out to be this: Mr. Frustrated Engineer married a sister of my once best friend. (Why they all ended up together eventually? Too little choice? Too lazy to cast the net wider? Whatever) Mixing the name and the looks perfectly well. There are six siblings to the familiar stranger. All good looking, all degree holder. Three of them engineers. Not bad I thought. And the familiar stranger who is bearing the name of his father, well, he is an engineer too. Surprise surprise. Kudos to him and to the sister. Despite circumstances, they managed to raise a family of well educated talented young people who will be parents to more successful future generations from my past. Making me wish I am thirty years younger and back to the place I tried all my life to escape from. Fancy that.

And to him, he made the right choice by not choosing me. It would never work out. I am too much of everything for somebody like him. For anybody for that matter. The best way to keep me is to set me free. Something my husband understands so well. And by the way, he’s also an engineer.

Well, Mr. Frustrated Engineer… Do you still remember the song you used to sing to me while strumming your guitar?

This is it:

Something New In My Life 

by Stephen Bishop

I guess I wanted something new in my life
A new key to fit a new door
To wake and see a different view in my life
The one I’ve been waiting for

Dreams like everyone I had a few in my life
Who knew that this one would come true in my life
I knew the moment when you touched me
You touched me

You’re like a sudden breeze that blew in my life
A new face, a new smile, a new song
And now I know I wanted you in my life all along

You’re like a chance I had to take in my life
I found you and couldn’t lose you
And all the difference that you make in my life
The feelings I never knew

I guess I must have saved an empty place in my heart
For you to come and fill the space in my heart
That long before I said, I loved you
I loved you

Whatever happens, this is true in my life
When all the springs have come and gone
Whatever doors I may go through in my life
Whatever else that I may do in my life

You’ll always be the something new in my life
From now on
I know there always will be you in my life
From now on…

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A Wet Man Does Not Fear The Rain

Is that so?

When you hit rock bottom the only way is up?

Dangerous are the people who got nothing to lose

They up the stake and go all the way.

I feel like that sometimes.

Other times I worry about everything and nothing.

But one thing is true

The more you have, the more scared you get of losing them.

Same with people I guess.

The more you love them, the greater the fear.

Watching thriller and detective films sometimes, I curse when I learned that the leading character has a family, children especially. I think to myself: How stupid you are to have an Achilles heel. In that line of work, better to live alone and have nothing you cannot walk away from when the situation calls for it.

If I have got my wish, I am living that kind of life. Solitary. Lone wolf. Always in transition, nothing to lose, never vulnerable.

I will be a Ronin.

Yeah. I like that. A secret fantasy of mine.

I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of.

And I never took a companion I cannot shoot in the head without a second thought.

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I owe myself the biggest apology for putting up with what I didn’t deserve.

I blame myself and no one else. I allowed it to happen therefore it is my fault. You see…

… you don’t have to wait for someone to treat you bad repeatedly. All it takes is once, and if they get away with it that once if they know they can treat you like that, then it sets the pattern for the future.

Are you familiar with the story of the frog in a pot of boiling water? That and those occasional good times that make you doubt if you are overreacting giving you the feeling that things are not so bad after all and a glimpse of hope that maybe someday it would actually get better.

But of course, it won’t!

And whose fault is that?

Mine!

One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.

Thank God for that.

I might have been abused, used, humiliated and insulted but my core is whole, undamaged and untouched. My integrity and dignity are intact. I’m still the same person I was. Only wiser, stronger, sober.

And the nightmares…

They come less and less frequent these days.

Perhaps someday it will stop altogether.

But I am not looking forward to that.

It’s okay as it is.

I know now that no one can hurt me unless I allowed it.

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How did sadness become so familiar I can almost hear it chanting my name

Sadness… It is more like melancholia which I believe I was born with. I was eight years old sitting on a breakwater that my father had fashioned to protect the dikes from the waves when I first realized that this world has nothing to offer to me. Even then the feeling of being been there done that twice over and back was prominent and constant. I was not sad nor depressed. Just an understanding of a fact. There are only two occasions in my whole life that I’ve felt that way. For the rest, I’m fairly okay. Melancholic but never lonely.

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HSP Tolerating Socializing

“Sometimes people who don’t socialize much aren’t actually antisocial. They just have no tolerance for drama and fake people.”

This is what I want to say to anybody who accuses me of being antisocial.

I’m in a point of my life where I don’t care anymore what people think of me. I just want peace and quiet away from all the cacophony of a crowd. 

“As a highly sensitive introvert, I need plenty of quiet alone time to recharge. Loud talking and music drain my energy and make me feel claustrophobic.”

“I can function quite well in public situations but find myself completely exhausted afterward. I struggled to make banal small talk with groups of people, much preferring a deeper discussion with one or two others. I can stand up and give a talk and lead a group discussion, no problem, but then I have to retreat and rest for a whole day.”

Worse still, I need at least three weeks to recuperate.

“I love my family, and I can tolerate people in my space for a little while, but if they stay for more than a day, I get stressed. Picking up on their feelings, having to be ‘on’ all the time, not having my own space to retreat to — it’s too much.”

“I cannot tolerate chaos and disorder especially in my personal space. I need everything organized and clean. I cannot do clutter. I must have the house put in order before I start for the day. Otherwise, I’m just so distracted by the extra sensory input.”

“Others seem to need a radio or TV on in the background ‘for company,’ but it drives me crazy. I love shops with no music. I can’t cope with the sound of power tools, lawnmowers, or leaf-blowers — it’s excruciating.”

“Strong smells especially from perfume or essential oils. I find them overpowering and they make me physically ill.”

“I absorb and hold on to other people’s emotions, which can leave me feeling sad, upset, or drained.”

Like now, I’ve been out too long yesterday and here I am, 6:30 in the morning and still awake typing despite taking a tranquilizer and a sleeping pill. I’m too stressed to sleep even though my body is exhausted and ready to give up.

People don’t understand that being with them takes too much effort and energy. They asked but don’t listen and all ready to judge. Better to keep away than to cause a discussion or misunderstanding even. I just don’t want to waste time explaining anymore.

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What happens when people open their hearts?

They get hurt. They get abused. They get used. They get taken advantage of.

Best not to let people get too close. Close enough to harm you. I learned that the best way to protect yourself and your core is to not to form an attachment with anything or anyone. People come and go, they change, their priorities change. Nothing last forever. The only constant in this life is_ changes. So better be prepared. Just keep yourself intact and you will survive whatever may come. You don’t need anyone for that.

“ I’m wounded, and I’m bruised.
But I’m not ashamed of admitting it.
It is a part of my healing process. And I’ll embrace it with a head held high.
One day I’ll stop touching the thorns,
and I’ll enjoy smelling the flowers.” –Rahma Djebbari

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