I remember London. I think I was the first student in a long time to go to London and not go to Paris. Sometimes I wish I had gone to the Mona Lisa. See if she looked anything like me. Namesakes are funny. People tell me, oh, I know a Mona, or oh my wife’s name is Mona, or oh Mona is my mother! Why do people do that, I wonder? Who decided that a name is anything more than just, a name? Just a coincidence? There are only so many names in the world I suppose. Only so many things to talk about. I have grown aged from finding things to talk about. I regret about 75% of everything I say. But still, this world traffics in syllables, the meritocracy only has ears and very bad eyesight it seems. You learn quickly, that being the loudest in the room doesn’t make you the smartest, when you are the loudest often. You learn slower, but perhaps easier, that being the loudest in the room is the loneliest of all. That doesn’t seem to make sense the first time they tell it to you. But then again, few things do, as I have also learned.
People think I am mean. I am, sometimes, but it is no longer most of the time. Most of the time I am just tired. Why can’t I be tired? Why must I be cheerful and upbeat all the time when I have barely enough energy to just be normal and dull and writing my papers? People are funny though. They see you and expect you to be loud with them, thats they they hung out with you in the first place. Its always uncomfortable to say, I didn’t mean to hang out with you, I didn’t mean to become friends, I wish I could take it back, this is strange, let me go. So I don’t ever do that. I just smile. And wish I could disappear.
This makes for good imagination. I have a wonderful imagination. I think it is the single-handedly greatest thing about me, is my imagination. I spend all my time experiencing discomfort and retesting into my mind to escape it. It works. Sometimes. Less than it used to. But still I hold onto it. I fail a test?: shut my eyes and imagine me, small and fragile, with no career worthy of an Ivy League diploma, and I can still see myself a tiny apartment pressing flowers and talking to candles. Experience humiliation?: imagine an island, a planet, a large round things surrounded by air and water and just me on it, with a yard full of animals. I would name them, a goat a sheep a cow a soft kitten who would never grow old. They would love me, I tell myself, I could still find a way to learn to bake banana bread.
The best thing about study abroad was that I spent 90% of my time alone. I think it was the best thing about anything at all. It wasn’t unhealthy. It was glorious. I slept and I ate and boy did I walk. Mostly I lived without a full length mirror. That is an important kind of life to try out every once in a while. It frees you.
I have never missed a place more than there. The small flat with a narrow shower / the freedom to walk the streets / the restaurants / the thick cigarette air, the bustling transportation / the cold and frigid classroom: they are all past romances to me now. I have forgotten how they felt when I held them but I have convinced my imagination that I loved every moment and all was beautiful.
People say I am sad. I am, sometimes, but most of the time I am just living. This is just normal. This is just how I feel the weather and pull my hair into a bun in the morning. There is nothing to see, nothing to mourn, nothing to brood over helplessly. This is just me. I am a still soul. I do this thing where I talk to myself as I walk. Some people say, oh that’s a coping mechanism, oh tell me your traumas, oh lets be friends and I can keep all your secrets and sell them for pennies. I say no, this is just how I walk. And I like it this way. This is the only way I know and it is what I like. I like the way things are. This is my best attempt at hope that feels beautiful and not plastic.
You see, in the end, you can’t run away from people. You have to confront them, the haphazard friends you let form, the old ones you let fray away, the people remembering your name, them remembering a parents name, them remembering a song that has nothing to do with you at all. You have to face them I guess. Give people answers to questions. You can disappear but thats not really disappearing. It’s just waiting out a storm that doesn’t pass. Mature creatures build houses even if it is hot outside. They know winter is coming. I didn’t do that enough. I forget about the cold the minute it passes… I forget about the summer once a first leaf falls from a tree.
Today was the first truly chilly day of the semester. Just 48 hours prior I complained about the heat. Today I frown at the brisk breeze on my foot. I spent half the day lamenting about a foreign country, and the other half writing essays for another school with probably the same heaviness of thick snow.
What a silly thing it is to be human and forget to know it. What a heavy thing it is too.