Posted in family

The Waiting Game

Time is relative.

When you’re running late for work and every traffic light you come across is stuck on a red light, five minutes can seem like an eternity.

However, when your favourite band starts playing its signature song during the last five minutes of what had been a wonderful concert, 5 minutes feels like no time at all.

12 hours of the daily grind doing a job you hate can feel interminable.

However, the last 12 hours of the weekend, when you’re staring Monday in the face (and the beginning of another busy work week) never feels long enough.

A week’s vacation passes in the blink of an eye.

A week waiting to find out if a loved one will make it through multiple organ dysfunction feels like forever.

Waiting is agony. I’m not the most patient person to begin with. I’m a woman of action. I see a problem, I find a solution. Simple. If there’s something to fix, I would want a run through of all possible options for fixing it.

But there comes a point when you start to run out of options, and every action feels like you’re only prolonging the inevitable conclusion. Its a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that there are some things you just can’t fix.

During my more morbid moments, I often wonder whether its better to die suddenly, without any suffering whatsoever, or from a prolonged disease where you have to suffer constantly but you get the chance to say goodbye to everyone (and them to you).

If you ask me, I want neither option.

I would like to die from old age with a gin and tonic in my hand, surrounded by my family and all the boys I’ve loved who didn’t love me back and who have come to express their regrets on my deathbed, with Taylor Swift playing in the background.

I know the end will come for us all. This month has been difficult. Dealing with dad’s operation and my grandmother being very very ill has brought home just how fleeting life really is, and how few moments there are in between birth and dying. What is 50 or 60 odd years really, in the face of eternity? Its a single grain of sand in a massive desert.

But what a glorious grain it is, so much so that we cling to that single grain for as long as we can. We do all we can to survive, sometimes even beyond all reason. For those of us who work in one aspect of health care or the other, we choose to be aggressive with our treatments because its counterintuitive for us to let go when there are still things that can be done. Giving up goes against every training and every instinct we’ve developed as professionals.

Oh, but the waiting.

Sometimes I imagine I can literally hear the tick tick ticking of time passing and it freaks me out. There is so much I want to do and I’m well aware that I might not be able to do all of them. To me, time is a gift, and we often take it for granted up until the moment we run out of it.

I would want to give those I love the gift of time if I could.

But time is relative. And maybe waiting is relative too. When you’re only waiting for the end, the end could not come soon enough.

There’s a certain sense of relief that comes with knowing that all things will end, one way or the other. Mostly because it means an end to all the waiting, but also because an ending means that a new beginning could and will follow.

It means knowing, one way or the other, what comes after the end.

However which way you want to think about it though, the waiting is and always will be the hardest part.

You’re stationary, stuck in limbo, unable to process your emotions because you don’t know whether you should dare to hope or start to grieve.

You carry out your plans, knowing full well you’re running out of options, running out of time, but no one wants to be the first to say it, to say the truth that’s staring everyone in the face.

No one want to say that this could be it. That we should start saying our goodbyes, something made all the more painful because this stupid pandemic will not allow for even the slightest opportunity to mourn.

The waiting leads to thoughts like these, to blog posts that ramble and make no sense because when you’re only waiting, nothing makes sense.

Sigh. I will not be held responsible for the gibberish I will continue to write in the future. I blame the waiting.

Posted in dating, Music, pop culture, relationships

It Was Rare, and I Remember It All Too Well

Time check, its 4am on day 3 of my mandatory hotel quarantine and I’m slowly starting to go insane. I’m surprised my sister and I haven’t killed each other yet after being forced to tolerate each other’s company in such close quarters. I love my sister, and I’m sure she loves me too, but siblings were not meant to live in each other’s pockets all the damn time, especially if one of those siblings (AKA me) has a penchant for playing Taylor Swift songs on repeat.

Could you blame me though?

Ms. Swift has just released a re-recording of her Grammy-nominated album Red, which contains, among other hit songs, what is generally considered to be the best song she’s ever written: the magnificence that is All Too Well. And, just because she is the Queen of Extra, she’s released a 10-minute version of this ode to autumnal heartbreak and dancing in refrigerator lights and red scarfs, accompanied by a truly harrowing short film which she directed and starred in.

Since the song was released, I find my thoughts straying time and time again to Jake Gyllenhaal, widely believed to be the inspiration behind this song. It truly isn’t a good time to be Jake right now. He is being roasted in all corners of the internet, and is the subject of hilarious tweets and memes on social media. As a self-confessed Swiftie, I should be all over this. But more often than not, I find myself cringing just a little bit at the outpouring of hate and vitriol towards the other half of this supposed relationship.

Before I get blasted for supporting the patriarchy and defending a guy that the majority of the Twitter population now consider a scumbag, let me explain. I am not taking away Taylor’s right to express her feelings through her chosen medium. She’s a gifted songwriter, and that is due in large part to her ability to draw from her own experience and turn them into lyrics that perfectly capture moments that we can all relate to. When you listen to her songs, it makes you feel less alone, and less stupid. Because if someone like her can go through something like that and survive, then maybe there’s hope for you.

I think my discomfort stems from the fact that all this palaver over what is essentially – READ MY LIPS – a three-month relationship (yep, it boggles the mind) hits a little close to home. Taylor is re-treading the stomping grounds of her old heartbreak, the added verses to All Too Well giving us a better insight into what she went through whilst in that relationship.

This all happened 10 years ago and yet she’s still singing about it, still talking about it, and even though she’s moved on and is presumably a lot happier now, all evidence suggests that she will probably never get over it. She will be carrying those Mysterio-shaped scars to her grave, singing about little kids in glasses and twin-sized beds until her last dying breath.

And damn me if I’m not able to relate to that just a little.

We all have them, okay? Whether its the one that got away, or the ex that dumped you in the most brutal manner possible, or (in my case) the unrequited love that is the One Great Love of my life, we all have that one person we constantly bring up in conversations, whose name sounds different when it passes through our lips, whose impact peppers our lives even as the years pass without any meaningful contact from them whatsoever.

They become our inspiration and our muse. I for sure know that I’m at my best as a writer when I’m writing about Him, and I write about Him a lot. If everything I’ve written about that period of my life were to be compiled into a single volume it would be as thick as War and Peace.

At first, I wrote about him as a way of letting go of the past and all the feelings that came with it. There was a lot to unload. Love is at its most devastating when its unreciprocated, after all. Then, I wrote about him as a way of validating that it was love, albeit the one-sided kind. I think I wanted to convince myself that I didn’t waste my best years chasing after someone who could never love me back.

I felt the need to justify why I shouldn’t feel regret that I held on longer than I probably should have, and that at the end of the day it was better to have loved and lost and blah blah blah.

Then there came a time when writing about it just became fun. Yes, there are certain memories that still make me cringe, that make me want to go back in time so I can tell my younger self not to be so bloody stupid. BUT. There is a certain kind of exhilaration that comes over you when you realise that it doesn’t hurt so much anymore, that you can actually laugh about it and make fun of the experiences that have shaped so much of the person you become.

People always say that success is the sweetest revenge, but I think laughter is right up there with it.

I think a part of me objects to all this airing of dirty laundry in public. There should only be two people in a relationship, but we live in an age where we invite so many people (too many people, in my opinion) into what is essentially a sacred and private thing, regardless of whether you’re a celebrity or not. I think the best thing Taylor has ever done was to NOT talk about her current partner, and I think the older I get the more value I see in keeping aspects of my private life, well, private.

There’s a line towards the end of the 10-minute version that goes like this:

Just between us, do you remember it all too well?

I think that more than anything encapsulates Taylor’s original intentions for this song. Sure, the savvy businesswoman in her probably anticipated (and even encouraged) the publicity that came with the speculation over what happened with Jake, but the 31-year old who is reflecting back on the relationship shines through in the intimacy of those last few lyrics.

It’s worth mentioning that the last few verses of the 10-minute version felt more nostalgic than angry, and it gave me chills the first time I listened to it, and not just because I’m genetically programmed to love a Jack Antonoff production. No, its the same kind of feeling I get when I listen to Gwen Stefani’s Cool.

Its the peace that comes with knowing that when all is said and done, you’re okay with it all. Because at the end of the day, cheesy as it sounds, maybe it is better to have loved and lost and blah blah blah.

So here’s to you, you know who you are. Here’s to the memories, and for remembering them all too well.

Posted in family, Lifestyle, Self-Discovery

Why One Should Never Write A Blog at 2AM

I’m not sure how I got from walking down the busy streets of Oxford Circus watching as they start putting the Christmas lights up in anticipation of the holiday season, to waking up at 2am at some hotel in the Philippines, jet lagged and anxious as shit.

I’m the kind of person who likes to plan things, often to the point of lunacy. I’ve been told time and time again that I need to lighten up and allow life to happen instead of fixating on inconsequential things that, when all is said and done, don’t really count for much.

But I was never built for spontaneity and playing it by ear,

I think the devil is in the details, and that it never hurts to research as much as you can about something you’re planning to do. I like lists; disorganisation makes me incredibly twitchy, and I believe in never ever going to a restaurant or cinema without a reservation or pre-booking. It might not make me the most fun person to be around, but hey, someone has to be responsible.

This week, the universe has just sent one giant middle finger to that girl who thought that planning for everything meant you were prepared for the curveballs life throws your way. There are some things that you just can’t prepare for, some things that no matter what you do you’ll never be ready for.

It’s funny, if you had asked me before this week how I felt about being an adult, I would have had a more positive answer. I would have said that I loved the independence, that I loved being more or less financially secure, that I loved the fact that I can get my own groceries, eat fast food, go out drinking and come home late and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

But this week brought home the fact that being an adult also means being responsible. It means being in a room that may include your parents but having to make the big decisions. because everyone else is too distraught to think about the details. It means not having the luxury to break down crying because you have to make sure things are getting done.

Its realising that whatever plans you made might have to come secondary to taking care of your family’s needs, and having to grapple with the guilt of feeling sorry for yourself because you’re potentially missing out on a rare opportunity to move up the career ladder. Its having to convince yourself that you’re not a bad person for thinking about your own future, because life still has to move on for you even if the worst happens.

Being an adult is realising that nothing is ever black and white, and no one is all good or bad, that sometimes people just do the best they can with the circumstances they’re given, and no one should probably expect anything more of them than that, especially given how difficult the past couple of years have been.

I fucking hate being an adult.

I consider my childhood to be sacred. It’s like this giant marble statue I keep in the garden of my mind, full of memories that I take out every now and then when I need to bask in the warmth and comfort of the days when I had no bigger worries than what snack I might ask Papa to buy for me, or what movie we’d go see during the weekend, or how to spend 8 whole weeks of my summer vacation in the small, sleepy town where I spent all of my summers until I was 16.

But it feels like with every year that passes something happens to chip away at my childhood, until it feels like I’m so far away from the girl I once was, and it gets more difficult to see the world as full of wonder, and it gets harder to maintain the belief I’ve always held that every day is a chance for something extraordinary to happen.

You move to a new country and learn to fend for yourself, and the cracks start to show. The first time you realise the adults around you aren’t perfect, that they’re human and therefore fallible, and the cracks spread from head to toe.

When you realise that not all boys turn out to be Prince Charming, and that sometimes things just don’t work out, and you get your heart broken…a piece falls off.

You lose your job because of a mistake that can’t be undone, and suddenly you find yourself facing the yawning mouth of failure, and the prospect of going home to your family with nothing to show for your time away but the bitter taste of regret, and more of the pieces come crashing down around you.

It has to.

Because you have to grow up real quick if you want to turn your life around and stay in the city you’re only just realising you love so much.

A loved one dies, and another is diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly you start thinking about the big questions and facing the truth about your own mortality. You realise you can’t stay young forever. And suddenly your childhood is reduced to a small piece that you fight tooth and nail to retain.

I honestly don’t know where I’m going with this metaphor, or with this entire blog really. I realise that its morbid and a bit more morose than my usual offerings. But I guess I just feel the need to express my very real fears about the future, and my anxiety about the prospect of having to rearrange my life to make room for the changes coming my way.

I think I’m processing, with varying levels of success I might add, the truth that nothing lasts forever, and that I am at the age where I will start losing people I love, and even if that thought makes me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and weep, because that’s not something you ever want to actively think about, I know I somehow need to. I need to start coming to terms with it.

I don’t know, maybe things will turn out okay and I will not need to post something like this again until many many (please let it be many) years later.

Finally, I read somewhere that the thing about troubles, suffering and problems is that they always end, one way or the other. You just have to ride the wave until they do and pray you make it back to shore relatively intact.

I’m riding that wave, its coming up to a full crest but somehow I’m still hanging on. That’s about all I can do at the moment.