“This is the BEST DAY EVER! I love you daddy” a little girl shrieked as her dad pushed her on the swing.
It was very sweet but simultaneously I felt sad because that kind of joy seems very inaccessible as an adult. I tried to remember the last time I’d said that phrase, to remember when my last best day ever had been. Probably Universal Studios, manufactured joy. High and fast rides pumping me full of adrenaline, salty and sugary foods satisfying me momentarily. Then the next day, back to real life. Back to salads and handful of almonds for snacks. Back to walking and share rides that obey speed limits.
I don’t consider myself to be lonely. It isn’t a characteristic that I would list when describing myself, but today I feel lonely and very alone. It’s my own fault that I feel this way. I stopped for too long and the thoughts I keep buried and hidden away from my consciousness are finally given the space to come forward and say ‘Hey girl, remember us?’
No, go away. Go back to that part of my brain that protects me from anything that might disrupt my contentment. Not happiness, just contentment. I always strive to feel balanced because asking for happiness seems like a trap. I have to keep the protection up, just like getting my nails done once a fortnight, if they aren’t covered in five layers of powder and gel they’ll be weak and brittle.
There are days where I feel that all I have done is exist. I haven’t accomplished anything or spoken to anyone. Today I physically can’t speak to anyone, all that comes out is a croak or a raspy jumble of words. I have to repeat my order twice as the waitress leans in. I’m not being an asshole, I want to say, I just can’t talk, I’m constricted and my throat hurts when I try to increase the volume.
“I like your crazy hair,” he said once.
I should buy a new straightener. The thoughts aren’t immediately connected, they exist in the same universe but don’t have a plot forcing them together even though the audience knows what’s going on.
“Dark hair and pale skin, can’t help myself”
I should dye my hair blonde. The thoughts aren’t connected.
When I finally clue myself in, I berate myself for being the one who has to change. Then what happens? I attract someone who likes straight blonde hair then over time I let my roots grow out and my wave take over and say, “Surprise! This wild creature you see standing before you is actually the real me. I only changed a little so I would stop meeting the same person over and over again.”
I do that sometimes. I buy dangly earrings and say, “This is who I’m going to be now. I’m going to be the type of person who wears lavish earrings.”It reminds me of when I would practise writing out my name; each year before school started and I covered my books I would put a flourish on a letter in my name and say, “This is who I am this year, the person who writes a cursive S. That person is exciting.”
I tell myself I’m evolving, I’m reaching my potential. Then I catch my reflection in the bathroom at work and think, “Who is that person with those gaudy pieces of metal hanging from their lobes?”
It’s just me, I’m playing dress-up.
“She’s just a pigeon of a person, existing but not really making an impact”
What a terrible way to be described, I thought. how horrendous to just exist. I ordered my breakfast 50 minutes ago and all the other tables who came in after me are now eating. The waitress apologises profusely and comps my coffee. It’s a terrible thing to be forgotten. I always feel so empowered doing things on my own, look at me! I don’t need anyone! Then someone forgets my breakfast order and I feel three inches tall.
“I just couldn’t help myself.” Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person with an ounce of self-control.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, it just happened”
Things don’t just happen. People don’t trip on a flat footpath for no reason, they weren’t picking up their feet or watching where they were going.
“I really do just want to be friends, I just couldn’t help myself”
“TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY,” I want to scream.
Sometimes it’s easier to get over something when the intent to hurt was there. “He wanted to hurt me, so I hurt him back and now we hate each other.” To not be a consideration when someone is doing something hurtful is always worse. “It just happened.” and you didn’t think of how I would feel.
I am three inches tall. I’m a pigeon.
I watch a cricket game I have no interest in. I know the rules, I know the rhythm of the game, I know how far a ball will travel when I hear the satisfactory crack of the bat hitting the ball. There are two different cracks: the ball hitting the bat and the bat hitting the ball. One of those cracks means the batsman can score a run.
But the pacing annoys me. For only a few seconds something is happening, the seconds between the ball flying towards the batsman and that crack, the right crack. Then it’s all over. There is applause, players shuffle around the field, the bowler inspects the ball, the umpire takes off their hat and dabs the sweat off their forehead and play begins again. One, two, three, crack.
It’s dull. I tell myself. And I refuse to participate in dullness. But I haven’t moved because the moments of nothingness are suddenly the most comforting moments I’ve experienced lately. I tried to think of the last time I wasn’t distracted, aside from being asleep. I just don’t allow myself to simply be.
Except for the days I come to the park, as I watch the cricket and sip my coffee and today I wonder when my voice will come back.
I know what will happen next, I’ll go to the hairdressers and change my hair and a few days later I’ll wonder why I don’t feel different. Maybe I don’t want to be that girl with the dark curly hair anymore.
One, two, three, crack.
“I like your crazy hair.”
It made me feel that perhaps I was crazy and wild — an untamed and adventurous person. I’m not though, am I? I like a good routine and knowing where I’m going to be. One, two, three, crack — there’s that rhythm.
Being that crazy girl momentarily gave me a free pass to be wild but that’s not who I am. I am three inches tall and you didn’t think about how I would feel. I don’t watch cricket because it’s dull and crazy girls don’t do dull things.
The fielders shout with glee, my head snaps upright and my eyes refocus on the group, bowled out. I missed “the moment” and now I have to wait for the next moment like the rest of these suckers. If the game was as boring as I tell myself it is I would have found a different park to come to on Saturdays. But week after week I come back and watch strangers play a game I pretend to hate.
I don’t consider myself to be lonely, but as I wandered around this unfamiliar city, I accepted the loneliness and let it sit with me. We watched the cricket together, we had brunch together, I fed it my voiceless existence as I walked past a tram stop. “Let’s just walk today instead, hey?” My loneliness shrugged in agreement; “sure, what else are we going to do?”
One, two, three, crack.
“I like your crazy hair,” he said once.