There’s a certain beauty about being a mess too – painting outside the lines, outstretching your arms for things at top volume, at their most difficult, at their most needlessly complex, only to remind yourself that you are alive, that you are fresh, that you are worth fighting for. It’s the other side of ordinarily beautiful, the side where you get to when you fall right through the cracks and think you’re flying. If you like explosive, fragile, mysterious, effervescent, wild, the day you land is your first lucky day in hell, and you are the brightest fire.
I was radiant. The free fall came straight after following the little trail of cookies that led to the dark side. I knew I’d end up in scary places, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t choose the outcome consciously. I wanted the free fall, as much as I wanted the sweetness and danger of losing control.
Harmony is overrated when the bad parts of you are alight all the time. Eventually, you accept that you can’t tame them anymore. You want to be less scared, less anxious and more willing, but your guardians never sleep. You are so afraid of the life pulsing through your veins that you could die and not notice that something’s changed. The only way to get the lead ropes back is to make friends with your inner dragon and ask him to share the power – and the cookies, for that matter.
I was the one who always tried to force the endings to go my way, because I couldn’t stand the unhappy ones. The sick had to get better, I had to get what I wanted. My sanity depended on it. Ah, I always had some sense of discomfort with the world, of not quite fitting with it, and every now and then I fantasised of a precious time when nothing had real consequences and wanted to get there, maybe once or twice, just to see if it feels good to feel nothing. But in the real world, the endings had to match my visions.
Then I met him.
It was spring and he made me feel wanted, and I craved nothing more. But our paths with someone can become these tangled, knotted messes. There was a particular look to his eyes, a kind of heaviness. I wondered what it was, I could never find it in me. He was the one who taught that fear isn’t frightening if you don’t hang out with it.
“Why do you talk about fear in the third person? Fear doesn’t have an identity. You are the fear.”
He also taught me about the hidden side of love.
“Of course, love is a great way of finding comfort. But you love me for all the wrong reasons, like the pleasure and need for the many definitions I can give you.”
“I’ve never felt suffocated by your presence,” I replied, saddened by his words.
He kissed me softly.
“That’s because you don’t have a world of you own, baby. That’s why you were so eager to make room into mine. But even in my world, you remain a misfit. One’s inner world should never be invaded, it should never be shared. It’s built on grounds that you’ll never fully understand, and you’ll always be cold and starved in it. Are you happy, sleeping on the couch night after night?”
He was the last person I was vulnerable with, before understanding that complete vulnerability is anything but strength. It’s you losing to yourself, to your dragon, to your inner goddess. To him. To life.
Being yourself isn’t about being your weakest self.
It wasn’t about starting over, it was more about the silence. That moment of perfect silence that you share with your dragon, both on the same side, no one trying to split anyone’s head open to decide who rules your world next. You look at him and see how terrifying and strange and beautiful you could have been, something not everyone knows how to love. You wonder if that’s why they don’t love you, but then you remember you’re not there yet. You still have to develop this leathery toughness and grow some thorns on your back – like the ones on those hip denim jackets – but you gain strength from him with every breath you take, together, quietly, contemplating the city lights from your top floor window. Things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh and you begin to like who you are, or who you might be. You see the life in brighter shades even without having transcended into another dimension, one with better coffee and longer nights.
First, you begin to take more meaningful breaths, as if life actually means something. Then you realise how out of touch with it you’ve been, so out of touch that you had no interest and respect for new experiences anymore – like you had closed the door to life’s upgrades. Suddenly, you’d not only lose your roots, you’d cut the whole forest down, plus a few inches below ground level just to make sure it never grows back again. You dream of being out there. In the light. In the dark. On the back couch of a nameless café. Somewhere under the sun where you can grow young and strong again. You’re curious to know what it’d smell like, what it’d feel like sleeping there. How you’d be there. You can almost sense it. Curious, imaginative, active, intuitive, inquisitive, quiet. Strong minded. Crazy. And God would lean closer to Earth to watch your every move, rubbing his beard and smiling, for you’d be the closest of all to have been created in His own image.
The world doesn’t give us the time to recreate ourselves from scratch. Maybe it’s a way of saying that any change we make is personal and should stay private. Life went on all around me to remind me that, but it was fine. I was knee-deep in and I loved it. There was something inside of me, something restless and playful, like my body already knew. I was becoming one with my shadow, and all those memories that would fire at times when I didn’t want them seemed another life. This time, I didn’t need much, only fragments. The rest I could invent myself. When things got bad, I closed my eyes and let them pass me by, then got up and changed direction. I was out there. In the light. In the dark. On the back couch of a nameless café. No hidden catch, no mind games and no 5am drama, tears raining from my eyes. I couldn’t do that anymore. This time I was everywhere, flaming, intense.
He thought that my new-found energy must be exhausting. I thought that what is exhausting is still waiting. I remembered waiting. Waiting was when life was waking up, waking up, waking up, a series of repetitive, promising actions that kill the potential and the soul. And tomorrow? It was buried six feet underground every night. Suddenly I was on the run, and my intensity felt light. His inner indecisiveness was a long stormy night I was sick spending under the covers. Staying in bed all day was not poetic anymore. I didn’t need his hugs, like ropes wrapped tight around my body. I still liked the intimacies we shared, the hands and breaths and shivers so I stuck around. He was good-natured and his sleepy voice made me smile, and the stories about our half made-up pasts made me laugh. But before I knew it I completely forgot about the strength in his eyes I was fascinated with. I was becoming so restless. Looking at him, a part of me felt as if I had found a secret map and the road was home; but more of me felt like something was missing, or I was missing on something. He was my mixed blessing. There’s a certain beauty about being a mess too.
One night I was standing by the window, watching our reflection. It was then when I realised that he had turned into nothing more than a familiar face, blurred by long nights, second chances and words I can’t remember, like watching an old romantic movie when the actors are already dead.
He told me that he liked my silence.
His voice echoed for a while in my head.
If you could see my fire, maybe I’d like you too, I thought.
Because I was the girl with the open roads now, and I didn’t want to go home.
And the free fall… it was quick, it was nothing. It was something. It was everything.