Found a weak wireless signal somewhere in the middle of a tropical forest. Just writing to inform you that I’m alive and well!
These past few days have been quite chaotic. Shortly before I landed, my favourite grandma had a nasty fall and ended up breaking her hip in numerous places. She’s not in pain anymore, but the doctor that performed her reconstructive surgery yesterday said she’d take a few months to recover completely. In all this activity surrounding my grandma—trips to the hospital, handholding old relatives (and coddling their grand-children!) who keep popping up to visit her, sorting out food for some of the longer-term stays, disseminating information about her progress, …—I haven’t had much time really to talk to my parents about my life; about Stacey.
A couple of months ago, I was lost. There were voids in my life I knew not how to fill. The wide array of choices I had laid out before me for when my contract in Scandinavia completed made it quite obvious: I was OK with doing whatever, wherever, in my search for something more. All this began to change as I got closer to Stacey. After spending nearly every moment with her since I first met her, it became clear to me that I was happy right where I was with her. I liked my job and my friends and my home and my city (fucking cold and dark as it can be!). Unfortunately, this realisation came just a few weeks before my current contract expired, taking down with it my intimately-linked European work/residence permit. We tried quite valiantly the last ten days or so to sort something out in terms of employment, but my months of telling people I was leaving (to teach kids) and turning down offers to extend my stay was hard to undo. Not wanting to take any chances, I decided to book a ticket back to India, and sort out how to return from there. Since we were confident things would work out on that front, I left much of my stuff back in Oslo with my friends and Stacey suggested she’d join me, transforming this hasty trip into a month-long vacation in India.
She’ll be arriving soon. We’ll be leaving soon to find somewhere relaxing that’s neither too hot nor too wet in July.
I wanted to sit down and explain all this to my folks. Talk about how I feel toward her. Talk about my life, the choices I’ve made and the ones I’m still yet to. That they needn’t worry for me. That I’m still their responsible boy. That no matter how unsure I am about the future, I’m nearly thirty years old and I’m brave enough to do the things I want to. And happy for it.
But I can’t. They’ve been distracted by another phone-call requesting them back at the hospital.
In India now! Now to hatch some sort of a plan.
It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between wanting a girly girl and wanting to be a girly girl.
I just saw the bluest, most radiant eyes I’ve ever seen. Behind a niqab.
Very much has happened in my life these past weeks, but I’ve been too busy living it to write about it. Now, on a plane to Paris, I have a few minutes of solitude to jot things down.
It didn’t take very long for Stacey, my psychologist friend, to transition to being my lover and for words like ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ to be bandied about. Before I knew it, we were living together, inseparable, apart from the few agonising hours we needed to spend at work each day. From formal breakfasts with friends, to fun holidays together, to deep post-coital conversations lasting late into the night, I have been rather overwhelmed by so many experiences and emotions. Many of them new; all of them wonderful.
Now I’m sitting at a Parisian café waiting for my food. A little travelling buddy kept me distracted and entertained for much of my flight. Mye, the baby girl of the couple sitting next to me was intensely amused by my face, glasses and hair. She spent the whole flight tugging and trying to chew on anything she could get her tiny hands on. I loved the attention, and her parents, eager to have a few moments rest were happy to let me have her for the entire trip. She was all sorts of cute and nearly drenched my entire shirt with all her drooling.
But enough of Mye.
It’s a strange feeling being in this city. I’ve always liked the way it looks and the way its people look. I’ve enjoyed its cafés and its bars. But this time, it feels cold—even as I soak in this warm bathtub in my hotel room. Yes, I’ve returned to my hotel room now. Dinner without Stacey wasn’t fun at all, and I cut it short. I miss her.
It’s a good thing I’m on a plane returning to home then, into her arms. Thankfully my stay in Paris wasn’t very long, but it did help me realise something. I once knew a German girl, Anna, who was of the opinion that all the people in the world fell into two categories: those with big noses and others with pig noses. At the time she told me this theory of hers, all I could say in response was “poppycock!” But these few days in Paris after months in Scandinavia have made it clear to me what she was trying to say.
I always thought I was attracted to only big noses. Stacey’s got the cutest pig nose, and I miss her so very much. It’s a good thing she’s waiting for me at the next train station. I can’t wait to see her again.
“Do you like me as a girl?”
“What?” I muttered back in surprise to meet her tired, green eyes staring softly at me. As I continued to gawk mutely, she gracefully knelt beside me on the couch to elaborate on her question. “Well, it’s clear you really like me as a friend. Do you like me as a girl?”
Of course I did! Did she think I’d have invited her home so quickly after getting introduced, and stayed up all night talking about anything and everything if I didn’t?
I am not entirely sure how it all began.
A close friend of a close friend, it was inevitable that I’d stumble upon her at one gathering or another and we’d get to talking. I think it was the evening we’d all been out to the neighbouring comedy club. The comedienne was mediocre, and my mind had begun to wander. I was drawn to the softness of her eyes and the genuineness of her smile from the instant I noticed her. Her dirty blonde hair, parted and held in place with a cute, purple clip—much like a young girl would have worn it—was framing her face and exposing her expressive eyes behind her chic glasses. The way her nose crinkled every time she tried to adjust them without touching them was adorable!
Everything about her screamed a serenity and a positivity that fascinated me, and I soon braved myself to approach her. Before long, we’d retreated from the group to walk along the pier close by, so that we could focus just on each other.
I remember the smell of the cold ocean breeze hitting my face. I don’t recall anything I said, but I can’t forget how easy it was saying it. That’s been one of the most wonderful things about being with her. Her ability to let you know she genuinely cares about what you have to say: listening, empathising, sharing; without judging. The words escaping her moist, pink lips are ever cheerful, soothing and supportive. You know those people who’re born with innate abilities that make their career choices almost beyond question? I don’t think it will surprise anyone who talks to her for a few minutes to hear that she’s a psychologist.
Parting that evening felt incomplete, but I didn’t think she felt the same way. I was wrong. The next morning, I woke to an e-mail fondly reminiscing the things we’d shared, and sharing some more. How she’d felt challenged by me, and how that was a very good thing. It was clear we had so much more to say to each other, and we decided to meet again as soon as we could. After a few days apart, where annoying life responsibilities—like that lecture I needed to prepare for—got in the way, we found ourselves together at a park. No other friends this time to overwhelm me, just us.
What began at that park in the late afternoon transitioned to my humble abode around midnight. It was early in the morning when she asked me the question; her tired eyes beckoning me for a response.
I wanted to scream out the obvious answer: “Of course! Of course I really, really like you.” But I didn’t. My mind wasn’t prepared for the candidness of her question and it stalled, suddenly nervous, needing to think it through. After a brief, awkward pause, I composed myself and answered it in a strange manner. An honest answer, but still very strange. I don’t know where it all came from—all those probabilities and percentages and all that talk about not being able to open up so much to her if she were a boy instead. I went on an on, talking in circles for what seemed like an eternity until I finally felt I’d blown it and asked, “That wasn’t the right answer, was it?”
“There isn’t a right answer or a wrong one,” she tried to reassure me. “I wanted to know what was going through your mind, and I felt comfortable enough to just come out and ask you. I knew you’d be brave enough to give me a thoughtful answer.”
I’d told her earlier my pantry was bare, and she now suggested we leave to go find breakfast. Quite certain now that I’d blown it, I started to tremble; I spent minutes tying my laces which normally take me seconds. As I was kneeling on the floor fumbling with my shoes, I remarked, “I am not going to turn the question around on you. But I am going to ask you why you asked me.”
“Because I didn’t want to do something indecent,” she sighed softly as she stepped closer beside me. “Indecent? Whatever do you mean?” I egged her on, half-smiling now as I slowly rose. She met my smile with her own. “Like this,” she cooed as she raised herself on her tippy toes and kissed me.
It’s a pity I don’t appreciate people for what they are, but I am quick to resent them for what they aren’t.
The problem with inner beauty is that it’s usually hidden under several layers of outer ugly.
A failed power adaptor, a dead hard drive (with lost data) and another burnt adaptor: You’ve had a bad week if you’re my computer.
“I have way too much food in my house. If you want to come over and help me finish it, …”
It has been noticed that when humming tunes that are rhythm heavy, I involuntarily tend to beatbox along with the notes. Intriguing.