sleepingundertrees

A few thoughts

Courage in the face of your refrigerator 

I try to eat well; I really do. Today, I ate two chewy granola bars, Korean noodles, canned fish, and almonds. I also drank a Coke. Perhaps not the most well balanced meal, but so far I haven’t heard my stomach make much of a fuss.

I don’t mean to always deliberately eat like a college student. I tell myself, “This is the last time. Tomorrow I will not willingly pour down acid down my throat.” But I go to the grocery store and make these choices and find myself eating an eclectic mix of food, I pray doesn’t further traumatize my hypochondriac of a stomach. 

At this point in life, I pictured myself a strong, sensible woman with considerable authority over her dietary choices. My refrigerator would be a reflection of my life; well stocked with healthy choices and good living. 

And sometimes it is: there are periods when I go and buy fruits and veggies, and drink only water. Life looks good- I’m making wise, good decisions. Other times, my fridge doesn’t look so great – mostly bare, with the occasional leftovers, and a block of old cheese forgotten somewhere in the back.

 Life has looked that way too – lonely with fleeting relationships, and like the cheese, some things I should have thrown out long ago but somehow haven’t been able to let go.

And it’s okay, I think. All of the decisions as to put what in my fridge, as long as none of it festers. But if it does, making one more decision to find the source and having the courage to chuck it. 

Whoever said life is a box of chocolates probably never ate anything else. 

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Oh, the places you’ll go!

  

Bushwhacking

A couple of years ago, I went on an outdoor expedition trip as part of a college requirement. It was two weeks of hiking and backpacking through the Adirandak mountains in New York. For people who love the outdoors, this meant trees and fresh air and becoming one with nature. For me, it meant no bathroom for two weeks: also mosquitoes, bears and mildewed tents.

But after three years of avoiding this requirement, my advisor took matters into his own hands and signed me up. So off I went into the great unknown to challenge and find myself in the woods (as well as smuggle as many antibiotic wipes as I could get away with in my backpack.)

And it was hard. At that point I hadn’t worked out in over a year so hauling up and down the Adirandaks with a 60 pound backpack was definitely not in my list of favorite ways to spend the summer. One of the most difficult things we did during the trip was called “bushwhacking”; which was basically going off the trail and making our way through the forest. This also meant hours and hours of fighting our way through needle leaved trees that would whip our faces and all the other exposed parts of our bodies as we struggled to get to the other side. This was probably the hardest part of the entire trip. Forget about carrying a backpack more than half my body weight or not showering or getting eaten alive by bugs. You haven’t lived unless you’ve been smacked around viciously by angry, bitter needle clawed trees. It didn’t help that it rained the whole time and when it didn’t rain, horse flies would come along to take chunks off of our skins.

Sometimes I feel like I’m still bushwhacking and get ready for my analogy…Life is the angry, bitter needle clawed trees that likes to bitch slap you in the face just because it can. And you can’t bitch slap it back because well, it’s a tree. So I continue to struggle against things that want to close me in, getting cut and bruised and angry and frustrated in the process. And worse, only this time, I don’t know where camp is and if I’ll even ever get there.

When I came back from New York after the two weeks, I felt exhausted but victorious. It felt good knowing I had conquered countless bug bites, nasty falls, damp mildewed tents,thunder, rain, bears and abusive trees. I felt strong.

I hope to feel strong again. Get past the trees or at least see camp.

When you find me

I cannot contain these millions of fireflies that swim in the deepest part of my belly. When I step into the ocean I will slowly sink to the bottom and when they find my body, it will be because of the fireflies that will light up inside of me and tell them where I am.

All by myself

Sometimes being single isn’t that great.

There I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those girls who bemoans the lack of a ring or panics at the sound of a proverbial biological clock. But there are certain times when I think I need someone in my life.

This particular feeling had been burgeoning over the last few weeks considering my roommate had left for the holidays, leaving me feeling rather Bridget Jones esque  pre Mark Darcy sans wine bottle or Jamie O’Neal for that matter. The feeling came to a sounding crescendo last night when I heard squeaking noises and saw a hint of a long unwanted tail in my hallway window and like any self-respecting musophobic, I bolted.

Once outside my apartment, I didn’t know what to do. Frankly, I knew nobody in the building that I could get to check out the uninvited guest in my apartment. After running around the building in my pajamas a couple of times, I got my elderly neighbor couple to poke around my hallway windows using mop handles while I hid in the staircase. Again I repeat, I got my elderly neighbors to come out of their beds and deal with my problems because I couldn’t handle them myself.

Once they declared the rodent gone, they laughed and waved away my apologies and utter gratefulness and left. I felt very ashamed and blamed my imaginary partner- if you had been here, I wouldn’t have had to trouble them.

Of course I realize this is a very shallow reason for wanting someone in your life.  But the more I think about it, it’s not just about wanting someone to be there so that they can take care of the rodents in the house or take the trash out- it’s really about the desire for someone to just be there for you.

A couple of years ago, I received a message that my cousin had passed away. It was a devastating blow to our family. She was beautiful, funny and just a few months shy of turning 26.  Her whole life was ahead of her but in an instant she was gone.  I’ve been thinking of her more than usual because of my current circumstances, which resembles hers while she was alive. I am now almost the age she was when she passed away. And like I am now, she was also living and working in a city all by herself.  So when she got sick, there wasn’t really anybody that took notice and by the time her landlady did, it was too late and she passed away in the emergency room from an illness nobody thought was going to be fatal.

For the first time in a very long time, I got horrendously sick a couple of weeks ago. My roommate had to leave the next day leaving me alone for the rest of the miserable time. There was a point when I felt so awful that I thought I was going to die. Thankfully, my bout of sickness passed and I was walking about in a couple of days but my brush with death (only slightly exaggerating) made me think about my cousin’s last days. Did she feel as alone as I did when I was sick? I feel horrible knowing she had no one to count on when she was so weak. And she died, without her loved ones by her side and we couldn’t do anything. We didn’t even know about it because we were so far away. And I wish so badly that she hadn’t been living in that city alone, that she’d been able to find a job back home and live with her family. That way, she would have had the protection of the people who loved her.

So times like these, I do wish I had someone in my life or at least a community of people that I could count on for the things I cannot do by myself and vice versa. People looking out for one another. This hopefully is my New Year’s resolution.

Commitments

Every thing I own can fit in one medium suitcase, a carry-on, and a large woman’s handbag which I pretend is my laptop bag at the airport to get away with carrying more stuff for free. (What? 23 kgs is not enough and every international student knows it!)

It helps when you move around as much as I do. That way, you don’t have the hassle of packing and unpacking as much stuff. And because I know I won’t be in one place for long, I’ve become quite ruthless when it comes to downsizing. On one hand, it’s great knowing I don’t easily get attached to material things. On the other hand, it’s a little weird knowing that the only accumulating I do takes place on pinterest.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every single place I’ve lived at in the last five years. It’s been amazing to be able to travel, meet new people and learn about new things every day. I know I’ve been blessed with the opportunities that I’ve been given and I thank God for them every day.

But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the many transitions that have taken place in my life. And about the changes these transitions have brought along. Whether we like it or not, all of us go through changes at various points of time. It’s a way of life. Sometimes we plan them, and sometimes we don’t. But rarely are we prepared for them. At least, that’s how it often feels to me. I know it’s coming but I still find myself caught off guard and blown back by how different everything has suddenly become.

And sometimes I don’t welcome it. I even rebel against it. Like when I leave the walls in my room empty because I know I’ll only have bring down the decorations later in the year.

But the thing is I’m the one left with bare undecorated walls.

So maybe I do decorate. Put up a picture or a well-loved poem. Commit to a place once again because honestly, the only other option isn’t really an option at all. So what I don’t have much to show for my twenty-plus years of living? What matters is I am living and loving well. Someday I’ll have a home and then I can use my pinterest ideas. Until then, I’m going to find me some tape.

Wanderings

As a child, you know the times you think you are holding on to your grandmother’s hand, when suddenly you look up and realize that the person looking down at you is not your grandmother but somebody else. Instead the startled face belongs to a young man who is undoubtedly wondering why this child is clinging on to his arm. You turn back and see that you’ve left your grandmother ten paces behind and judging by the look on her face, she is not happy with your current life choices. In that moment you wonder how in the world in such a short time and distance, did you go from a happy safe place to a completely and utterly foreign environment?

This time the distance that separates me from home is a little longer- at least two airplanes and a 14 hour layover away. But in the past five years, I’ve felt hands pull and push me in directions that have constantly taken me out of the place I grew up. So, I should be used to this, right? Another new country, a whole new language, more cultural barriers that have been smacking me in the face since I got off the plane.

What did I expect?

I came here to be a teacher-to become someone who shapes and molds malleable minds.

I have no previous experience.

It’s been a surreal two weeks: of howling monsoon storms, and unrelenting humidity, incredulously watching a tiny motor bike carry six people, white men with young native girls, and sometimes a feeling of being a little lost.

But it’s also been two weeks of anxiety and panic subsiding, returning to the Word and seeing the ocean from my balcony, finding the best pizza place in town, and finally, meeting tiny faces with dark sparkling eyes.

Sometimes you might find yourself hanging on to an arm that might take you somewhere else. Sometimes that arm that’s pointing somewhere might be your own. This time you know the way back home-in the meantime, be not afraid and go explore.