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The Peril in Being Cool

He said “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

– The Velveteen Rabbit.

You ever go a string of days feeling a feeling you’re no stranger to, and then wake up one morning to decide you never want to feel like that again?
I think I’m about to. I’m about to never feel like that again. And I’ll tell you exactly how.

I’ve been in this situation before and I’ve been this person before and let’s just say the situation got the better of me. I argued with myself first. This is me. This is me at my rawest and purest and it’s who I am. If something doesn’t fit me, I discard it. As a rule.
I can’t change who I am at the very base.

Oh… but I can.

People can be complicated, yes, but I am people too. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are. It’s not about changing yourself so much as changing perspective, which is just a pretty way of saying growing up. I could spend my life shutting my windows to every thunderstorm that comes my way in fear, or I could wake up one day and use its roar to comfort myself with the thought that even nature needs to scream sometimes.
Perspective.

I’d say I’d like to stop thinking, for light hinders sight as much as it helps. But the world knows that’s easier said than done.
So I’ll say I’d like to feel more. Just feel, and if it feels like home, follow its path. Trust the vibes that you get. Energy doesn’t lie. Stop the moment the path feels unfamiliar. Explore it from a distance. Turn back the moment the path feels resistive. Of all the things you allow on this path, be it pain or loss or intolerable passion, the one thing you shouldn’t allow is mediocrity.

I enjoy controlled loneliness. I like wandering around the city alone. I’m not afraid of coming back to an empty house and lying down in an empty bed. What I am afraid of is having no one to miss. Nobody who stirs me up inside; the thought of whom puts everything else on hold. And with time and age and experience and heartbreak and all the maturity that comes with these, I’ve realized no one’s ‘the one’ unless you make them the one.

Can I promise to never get upset or show signs of neediness? No, I can’t. I wouldn’t call this love if that was something I could promise. I will melt inside when it’s called for and I will get bat-shit crazy when it’s uncalled for because what I choose to feel is all-consuming or nothing at all. It’s my definition of real. Real emotions and real people. With nothing to hide, only perspectives to change.

I feel younger today. Like time actually gave me time. I feel like I have the time it takes. And even if by the time I am Real, most of my hair has been loved off, and I get loose in the joints and very shabby, it won’t matter because once I’m Real, I can’t be ugly. Except to people who don’t understand.

And that’s precisely the peril in being cool. You won’t understand.

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The Soulmate

The clock ticks on. Five minutes to go.

He thinks of calling her, but he figures if it has to be her, she’ll call herself.

So he goes and opens the refrigerator for the twentieth time that hour, pulls out a slice of cheese, heads back to his laptop and plays some music. There’s beats in the background now. Beats and vibrations. No words. He closes his eyes and breathes in deep, then lets out a long sigh.

It’s about time he met her. The one. Whomever she was.

There was no guarantee that the astrologer had been right. But three years back when he’d been told by the old man in orange robes the exact date and time he’d meet his soul-mate, he’d laughed it off.
He couldn’t tell why, it hardly seemed funny anymore.

Four minutes to go, and his phone vibrates with a message from her.
Hey I’m coming over. Getting pizza.

He’d been with her for over five years now. Of course she knew about the prediction. He smiled to himself.  She’s making sure she’s with me at the time I’m supposed to meet my soul-mate.

“Maybe it’s the moment you realize I’m your soul-mate” she’d said, arguing against the astrologer’s prediction. “The orange dude didn’t say it’s the time you meet your soul-mate for the very first time!”

The orange dude did, actually, in so many words.

He finishes his slice of cheese and his phone beeps again.

Low battery. Three minutes to go.

He sets an alarm on his wrist watch for three minutes and just as he plugs in his phone to charge, he gets another message from her.
Almost there. Come downstairs.

He leaves his phone to charge, picks up the house keys and goes downstairs, his heart beating a little faster now. He did love her. Heck, he’d loved her for five years. Then why is he feeling uneasy? Almost as though he’s thinking he’ll meet someone new in the next two minutes, as ridiculous as that sounds.

He lands on the ground floor with one minute to go.

He sees her car approaching in the distance, waiting at the signal, and he lets out a bittersweet sigh.
So that’s that.

He’s walking out onto the road to greet her when a speeding car runs into him from the other side of the road and knocks him out cold. The girl driving it rushes out to gauge the damage, and as she holds his hand to check his pulse, his wristwatch alarm goes off. He looks into her eyes long and deep before he shuts his own forever.

***

As the hysterical girl from the approaching car at the signal accompanies her dead boyfriend into the ICU, the speeding lady orders Chinese in the hospital cafeteria.  It comes with a fortune cookie that reads “Oftentimes, your soul-mate and life partner aren’t the same person.”

***

Later that night, the speeding lady’s husband pulls off his orange robes and casually asks her whom she killed today.

***

Arrested Feelings

I slept on the couch last night. I felt like a visitor to my own life.

The coin spun thrice in the air before it landed on the cold marble floor. Even so, it continued spinning, displaying unnecessary theatrics as I held my breath waiting for it to decide for me. My head prayed it was tails and my heart prayed it was heads while my stomach and lungs prayed the coin would just stop spinning. It slowed down and I lowered my face so that my eyes were an inch away from the coin, a million thoughts passing through my head.

Do you know what the word xeno means? I chanced upon it once, a long time ago, I don’t even know what language it belongs to. It was explained to me as the smallest measurable unit of human connection. How beautiful it is that someone made a word for that. Moments that are fleeting and random, yet enchanting. Isn’t this a strange thought? That the people we’re walking right past are people that we could have real connections with. What happens if you just keep walking past people? How do we forgive ourselves for all the people we leave behind, all the people we don’t allow to affect us?

Cosmic collisions are uncertain, we find each other on accident, there is no meant to be. You don’t choose the tides, yet your heart chooses who you call. But then again, for something that single handedly keeps the body alive, the heart’s a pretty stupid organ, don’t you think? It continues to hold on while the head is letting go. It holds on to this person so eager to learn about the strange, dusty and awkward answers I offer so earnestly  as I mumble in my sleep about my inspirations and ambitions and insecurities. I bare my soul in staccato rhythm and he listens to all my disconnected stories.

There’s so much lost in between thought and action, half my feelings are just consumed in themselves in time. Yet, people underestimate how erotic it is to be understood, how divine it is to have someone respond with a passion you seek on utterly random chronicles. It’s exciting when you find parts of yourself in someone else. And at the end of the day, it’s always words that undress you.

Not everything is meant to last, but sometimes, just sometimes, you find someone who loves like you do. And it’s worth the fleeting moments. I ignore the coin and pick up my phone.

Xeno is a strong thing.