But where there is pain, there is love.
Do you ever feel guilty over the things you have but will never get to share?
I feel an inordinate amount of happiness on most days. Like when I’m told I’m excelling at my new, higher position at work. When my coworkers surprise me with cake on my last day in the office. When I meet up with an old friend who tells me stories from my past that I have since forgotten or sealed in the chaos of my brain. When I’m told I look good, even when I feel like a mess. When friends check up on me. Or when my sister and brother complete their chores without reminders.
When the future, which seemed so bleak, has at last rearranged itself to resemble something positive and attainable.
But then I think about you. And suddenly I’m caught in a tidal wave.
Sometimes I’m riding the peak, and I feel like I’m on top of the world. Invincible.
And other times, I’m caught in the grip of the undertow. Drowning. Half-wishing to rise for air. Half-wishing the darkness would engulf me.
And then I wonder: have you ever felt this way, too?
Slowly and steadily, I am falling in love with my line of work. I never expected to return to the bank, but here I am. What I love most is that it weaves in civic engagement into its fabric. I’m volunteering my time this weekend to raise money for a family who lost their children and home in a fire. Community involvement and service are two of aspects of my life that I cherish, but unfortunately took a backseat these past four years as I was busy studying and making ends meet. Now that school is out of the equation, I’m happy to jump back in to be a part of this community once more.
Though I cannot say for sure that I want to make a career out of my current situation, I can say that I am happy where I am right now, and that I am moving forward, wherever that may be.
Nearly three months after flying back home to Guam, I realize that I lost a piece of luggage from the trip. I can’t remember the point of loss. I do remember counting all our bags at the collection area in the airport, so I could’ve forgotten it outside while waiting for a cab or I probably just forgot it inside the cab after he dropped me home, in which case, if the cab driver knew it was in there, he’s a pretty terrible person for not returning it.
I am so sad. But what gets to me is the length of time it took for me to become aware of its absence, which evidently shows how much I cared for what was inside. Packing up my dorm in a matter of days was such a hassle–I basically played tetris with all my belongings and suitcases. I don’t know what’s in that missing bag, which is what irks me. But what bothers me even more is that I need to know where it is. That’s what causes me to feel anxiety: not knowing. At this point, I am okay with loss. I, however, just need to know what happened.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything quite tangible in the sense of an update. Many of my recent posts are nothing but emotions regurgitated during the heyday of a major life transition.
College. Closing that chapter was unsurprisingly difficult and morose. When I first started receiving acceptance letters nearly five years ago, I thought about the privilege I was gifted. The admittance letters coupled with the scholarship amounts I was given were enough to grant me a ticket out of Guam. Probably, perhaps, for the first time in my life, I felt that anything was possible. I’ve seen many movies, read tons books of books that constantly reflected this message of opportunity for those determined enough to achieve their own version of success but I considered them trivial. They were fantasy anyway. Fiction. I never considered myself in that regard.
I graduated from Boston University last May, and in the months leading up to my final march as an undergraduate clad in a scarlet gown, I wished that time would slow down. Maybe, even quite maniacally, hoped for some deus ex machina to intervene, as if I were in those books that told me of events and people unreal.
I am graduated. I am done. And I promise to write less about my time then. Those years were one of the best period of my life, but if I want to move forward, I should not dwell in the ghosts of my past, no matter how much they made me happy, how much I am changed because of the people I’ve connected with or the events that I’ve gone through.
From now on, I’ll talk about the present. I will write about my plans for my future. I move onwards from here.
When I love, I love hard. I think that’s where my problem lies. For years, I’ve tried to decode myself, to try to understand my own being on not just the simplest of terms but on my own–definitions, borders, limits generated by myself. I think I am getting there–getting to the point of comprehending my own strengths and imperfections, all of which make me who I am. I hope that I can accept them, whatever they may be. I hope that I can look towards others who have the qualities I crave and lean to them for inspiration to create those characteristics within me. I always loved growth. Knowing that life is but a process, that life is always about evolution of character reminds me that there is hope, that there is no end if I ignore the obstacles that lead me to believe in limits. I will grow and continue to make myself better.
I will be better. This has always been my goal, whether or not I acknowledge it.
I’m devastated, that although I’m back in a place I consider my roots, I feel as if I have just been uprooted. I want so much to blame someone, something, some stupid unfortunate event to which I can channel my anger and disappointment. But the more I dwell, the more I realize that this was all my doing, whether or not I realized it at the time. Maybe I should’ve tried harder, planned better, been smarter.
I thought I made it. I thought that I had left this place for good.
Awards and titles shouldn’t mean this much to me, or to anybody. I hope that one day I will accept this, and determine my worth solely on my terms, not on others’ opinions of me.
If I were a different kind of person, I might say that this whole incident is a metaphor for life in general: things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
It’s really all I can say.
When I first envisioned this blog as a sophomore, I knew I wanted it to be a record of my college experience. I saw myself writing at least once a week, providing a digest of various happenings in my life, the lessons I learned, struggles–you know.
Part of my resolutions for 2015 was to improve my writing and write more, as I feel that my skills have waned thanks to the bland research papers I pen for class. Achieving that would naturally call for deeper reflection than what is normal for me, and so I hoped for a heightened acuity for introspection. A couple of my friends were engaging in posting pictures or recording seconds of their lives at least once a day, and so I figured to myself, “Why not write a daily blog?”
And so that was the plan. But, as you can see from scrolling down my homepage, you’ll realize that I didn’t keep up. I’m wracking my brain to remember why, and all I’ve mustered is a shameful excuse that it became tedious or nothing happened that was interesting enough to write about.
Forward the end of summer 2015. Days before my senior year, I’m packing and stressing over moving to Geneva, Switzerland for the semester. Studying abroad was always part of the plan in a serious effort to acquaint myself even more with international affairs, European culture, and the uncomfortable. I planned to go on as many adventures as my bank account allowed, so documenting the whole 3 and 1/2 month experience was a priority. I even bought a Canon Rebel T5 (I’ve always wanted a DSLR) to accompany me on my travels. Aside from photography, I knew I wanted to keep a travel blog. Why not? A journal I can look back on to remind me of my journeys. An open diary to let people know of the moments when I thrived and when I stumbled. It was going to be great.
But of course, scroll down again and laugh. It never happened either.
Now, I’m writing this in my penultimate week of my time abroad. My plane leaves in ten days. Certainly this day would come, but just how nearly four months in a new continent filled with adventures and surprise flew by so quickly remains a mystery to me.
A small part of my conscience is scolding me for doing a poor job (or lack thereof) at recording this semester. While I’ve taken hundred of photos, I never really wrote about them.
Despite that, I’m very content with how I utilized my time in Europe. My lack of blog posts don’t account for a lack of reflection. In fact, this whole semester can be summed up under the theme of introspection.
I knew I needed a break from the hustle of Boston, and Geneva’s striking quietude and calm mode of life was the perfect antithesis. I’ve spend a lot of my time in planes, trains, and on foot en route to new destinations. To pass the time, I’m pulled into a state of reflection. As clouds, trees, and people speaking languages I don’t understand buzz past, I can’t help but feel proud but humbled at the same time. I’m here. I’m going, but I’m here.
Switzerland, Italy, Milan, England, Greece, France. Never would have guessed that I’d be stepping foot in these cities a year ago or even two years ago when I created this blog.
Even though I haven’t stayed true to sitting down and writing about my life as often as I promised myself, I don’t mark this down as a failure.
Maybe I was lazy. Or maybe I didn’t have time. Maybe I felt uninspired.
Or perhaps I was just living life, and decided for myself, subconsciously, that I didn’t care whether or not I spent a portion of my time writing about my day, week, or month.
I’ll be honest though: At first, I really wish that I did. I wish I took ten minutes a day to write down a small blurb so that I’d have an archive of memories to look back on and share with the world. I wish I collected postcards. I wish I bought maps from the souvenir shops of the cities and towns I explored.
In all of this regret, I forgot that my memories are simply stored with me, in my mind. I longed for the physical; and in my search and failed attempts, I forgot that I have the intangible. While I don’t have small trinkets to remind me of those times I hiked and traipsed through storybook locations, I have my memories of them. I can’t pull them out on a whim like I can do on a camera roll or blog, though. I won’t be able to tell you where I went or what I ate if you picked a random day on a calendar. Despite that, I know that what I do have in my head is more potent than a keychain.
So I’ll wait for those triggers to extract memories I forgot I had when I least expect them. I know that when I smell the putrid stench of fondue, I’ll be taken back to Gruyéres where I first had my experience of dipping vegetables into melted cheese. When I find sand in my shoes, I’ll hear the waves of the Mediterranean crashing on the shores of Barcelona under the moonlight. When I see some geyser, broken hose or fire hydrant, or some mechanism shooting out water, I’ll think of the Jet d’Eau, its refreshing mist on my face on a hot September afternoon, and all those hours I spent marveling at its grandeur–both in awe and of fear of being in such an unfamiliar territory–while promising myself that I will make the most out of this adventure, and that I will write about it one day.