February unfolds with raindrops and pillows and that feverish feeling of missing something you can’t really put into words or shapes or figures and makes your stomach churns. Those fluffy rain clouds looms above you as you sip your first cup of coffee in the morning and your last cup of tea in the evening, heavy with million droplets of memories. Everything is silent, like waking up in a hotel room at 2.15 in the morning or standing alone inside an elevator rushing to the 27th floor. But there’s something slightly convenient about wandering around the house listlessly with your pajamas on when the sun is high, listening to Jonathan & Charlotte while reciting Laksmi Pamuntjak’s poems from The Anagram. You retreat to your bedroom when the storm hits and think about that French word, retrouvailles: the happiness of meeting again after a long time. You wonder if it’s worth the wait–people change and you’ve been hurt before. So you keep yourself busy doing almost everything you can think of, just to distract yourself from the weight of not knowing. You clean and dust and vacuum and mop and cook and water the plants like it’s the last time. You don’t write another unsent letters because they are too sad. But you keep your words nonetheless: home is simply a place where you’ll be missed. And though he carried these words with him that day, you are not sure if he remembers or if he knows that you really mean it, or if he actually cares; and so despite the cold and the downpour, you leave the front door open, ready for the retrouvailles.
It was 4 AM when you found yourself awoken to the sound of thunder and the pouring rain outside. You pulled your blanket closer, tighter; the dark clouds were looming over your bed as you fixed your gaze onto the white-painted ceiling. You scratched the back of your right leg with your left toes and you remembered the days when things were not as silent: when there were other sounds but rain and emptiness. That breezy summer-like desire that was so intense you could feel its passion over the distance. You grazed your fingers following the floral pattern of the unused pillow next to you–listening to the zip zip zip sound as your nails traced the lonely lines. It was so darn cold, so you turned to your left, reaching for the aircon’s remote control only to notice that you didn’t turned it on last night. You closed your eyes again but the weight of your feelings made you decided to tiptoe to the kitchen for a cup of hot chocolate instead. In the dark, you fell for the faint hum of the refrigerator which you found comforting for some reason, and you sat there on the cold floor, resting your back against the warm refrigerator door, watching the raindrops fell into the little stone-garden next to the kitchen. As you sipped the hot chocolate from the small red mug, you realized that all you wanted was just to show how much affection you had inside of you; but it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be, not now, not after what had happened. Something was welling up inside of you as you came to this point: you wanted to let things go, but you realized that you were not ready. You were not ready to give up. You had given up many times, but this time, you didn’t want to be that someone who walked away too easily. You wanted to know how it would feel to stay when you were being pushed away. You wanted to be loved for who you are, not what you can be. You should have said them all a long time ago instead of holding things back. You were thinking where you would be at the moment if only you had. Nothing seemed to be going right. There were too many misunderstandings that all you could do was laughed it all off even though you blamed yourself for the fact that they kept happening. You watched the shadows on the wall, the way they stood there in the border between existence and non-existence, and you tried to understand which was real and which was not. But it was too complicated at times. The only thing you wanted was for things to be okay; but they were not and you just had to deal with it. It was just too much and too overwhelming for you to handle. But no, you would not break down and cry. Not this time. So you chased away your tears and shut down your mind, and for a moment, there was silence all over, as if everything stopped moving for a while; but then your heart started singing. It sounded like Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, and you hummed along until the call for morning prayers broke in the gloomy sky.
I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up / And when you’re needing your space / To do some navigating / I’ll be here patiently waiting / To see what you find… [I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz]
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to a pair of wonderful eyes that you have: not because they are light brown or protected by such gorgeous eyelashes or stuff like that, but because whenever they looked at me, gently, I could see my reflections there; smiling back at me, and it made me feel so loved.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your nose: sometimes, it brushed my cheek when you were about to bury your face on my neck late in the evening, after a tiring day–and it made me feel so comfortable, knowing that you were near.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your shoulders: not because they are broad or whatever, but because you would bring my head to your left shoulder when we talked, so I could just lie there comfortably and sniff the familiar smell of your perfume. It made me feel so warm—listening to you, having someone to share my fears and dreams with.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your chest: not because it’s wide and muscular, but because when I got sad or angry, you would hug me tight and I would find my face—damped with tears, resting on your chest, sobbing there until your shirt got wet, until I was able to breathe again. It made me feel like… around you, I was allowed to be sad. That it was alright to be sad every once in a while.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your lips: they kissed me silently on the bus when nobody was looking, they voiced some intellectually-stimulating topics we could argue upon, they read the hand-written poems you scribbled for me out loud, they uttered stupid jokes that made me laugh, and they said simple things like thank-you or you’re-amazing; or other sweet things so casually in front of your friends, as if I wasn’t there. It made me feel like the happiest girl on earth.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your hands: when you held mine in yours as we walked, when you brushed my hair or my cheek mindlessly as you typed on your laptop or made a phone call, when you grabbed my waist and lifted me up a few centimeters above the ground as we danced. Those were the times when you made me feel tall.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your feet: not because they are strong and athletic, but because they had walked miles and miles away to find me, and walked towards me again, and again, and again. Those were the times when I felt wanted, when I felt like this time, someone was actually making an effort.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your back: because I had spent so many times staring at it as you slept, grazed my fingers along your spine to convince myself that you were real, and even at the time it turned away from me and disappeared under the drizzle one day as you bade farewell, it left traces of memories from the days I cherished, and it made me feel blessed for once in my life, I had known someone like you.
Ours is a bumpy road. Wait. No. Rewind. To be brutally honest, let me put it this way: mine is a bumpy road. Yes. Mine, and mine alone.
Because one day, “we” disappeared in front of a small alley in a small island, the two characters, W and E, being washed out by the drizzle. Suddenly, everything became discolored. Reasons were no longer exist. Things were losing meanings. Words were breaking into pieces. I lost my sense of being. And it was just like that; as simple as something that disappeared in silence one afternoon under the cloudy sky; just like all things temporary. But that’s the rule of life as we know it: everything will come to its end. It’s just a matter of how, and how long. And maybe, subconsciously, that’s what we’re doing: we’re all just waiting for something to end.
One day, when “we” disappeared, I found myself—and my heart (that had been broken many times but always refused to give up) embracing that familiar pang of sadness: of having to let go. No matter how often you experience such thing, surprisingly, one is never immune to such pain. Of course you know that you’ll be fine again—because your experiences have taught you so (been there, done that)—but still, you find it very tiring to begin again. I will definitely find it very tiring to begin again. And maybe, I won’t. Not now. Not so soon.
I know we love to begin something new (maybe this is the reason why we celebrate New Year with parties and drinks and fireworks and all things cheerful), but most of the times, we forget the art of loving an ending: to appreciate what we have got and what we have lost, to celebrate the memories and the traces of “us” that once were, to romance the things that stayed with us—that sooner or later will become us.
One day, when “we” disappeared, you told me that in the end, all that we’re going to remember is the beautiful things we’ve experienced, the beautiful places we’ve seen, the beautiful memories we’ve shared, the beautiful moments we’ve seized. I told you that it’s true, because one can always find simple happiness in everything—no matter how small; even in an ending.
And so, that one day, when “we” disappeared, I knew that we’d find each other again. When we’re ready. When the time is right. And when the time comes, it’s going to be just me and you—no such thing as “we”—because in the end, I have left something in you and you have left something in me. And even when “we” disappeared, those things we’ve left behind with each other would remain to be a part of us. And isn’t that such a relief? To know that there is something eternal even in the most temporary things, that there is something precious even in the saddest of endings. And such knowledge, to me, is more than enough.
Happy New Year 2013 and Happy Old 2012!
*) inspired by the title of Astrid Reza’s posting, “If Tomorrow We Disappear”.
There were moments when people just took off and left you behind; and you thought they were being unfair and selfish. Other times, it was you who decided to pack your bag and leave, and when they said, please, stay, you thought how annoying and unfair they were for trying to tie you down. And now you realize that maybe people are just afraid. Afraid of being alone, again. Afraid of being forgotten. Afraid of being a history…
And it reminded me of that day when we were about to swim in the pool one afternoon, but it was raining cats and dogs; and so we stood there, at the edge of yes or no, with our swimsuits and towels and flip-flops and all. The sound of the rain was deafening, the water was gleaming under the raindrops, the wind was blowing hard and cold, and so we hesitated for a while but then we exchanged a few if-not-now-then-when glances and nodded and hand in hand we plunged ourselves into the freezing water and we could hear ourselves screaming and laughing and water was splashing everywhere and we just knew that we won’t regret this because it was too effing awesome and we were not afraid to take that first leap of faith.