A quick Stanford update:

Housing lottery assignment was revealed yesterday and Alhamdulillah, I’d successfully been assigned to my first choice: a studio apartment!

I won’t lie – it’s bloody expensive, thus graduate school life will probably be a lot less financially stable than my undergraduate, but it’s also shorter in duration, which means that give-and-take, I think I can fork out enough to get by monthly (okay, I hope). Financial woe aside though, I’m super excited at the thought of living alone for the next 1.5 years in my own little space.

Some people don’t do well with loneliness and being alone, but truth be told I thrive in glee at this fact. Theoretically, I understand that there’s so much pleasure in having company and it isn’t that I’m pushing people away, but I’m confident and believe so strongly that I am my own person and thus, able to take it upon myself to bring happiness or sadness. I enjoy very much going to the cinemas by myself, for instance – which I recently did to watch Star Trek: Into Darkness (friggin’ fantastic) and Gatsby (overwhelming and boring) – and… Suffice to say, I’m dead serious about spending my twenty-something in new, not-so-strange places away from comfort zones as much as is possible and alone.

The time is now, and I intend to revel in the moment.

Lately I have been thinking about Third Sis and frankly, I do not understand her. Ever since our heated argument two years ago which led to two long months of silence before the air finally cleared, things have been very different between the two of us. It’s funny, strange even, because all throughout childhood, we’d shared a room and with that meant lots of late-nights spilling secrets, scooting into each other’s beds (okay, I did that) whenever I can’t sleep, knowing each other’s traits as effortlessly as we know our own.

Then three months to turning 19, I left to Stateside and transitioned into my own person. I’ve been away since, will be away again for a foreseeable period and every time I return, I shed skin; metamorphosis. What colors will my wings be, when this transition is finally, wholly complete?

It is indeed true that one is a product of both nurture and nature; the latter appearing in late teens and becoming even more apparent depending on the life one leads and sometimes – where the experience takes place, too. We’ve always been vastly different even from young but our respective experiences in different countries – she was home for a while, then 1.5 years in Australia before now, having settled back home – have literally elevated that difference further. I’m someone who internalizes a lot of my external happenings whereas she’s constantly observing the world with lenses of an artist; never quite part of the crowd, both of us – different ways of being alone.

As we grow into young adults and our own persons, deeply principled that both of us are, the differences in thought processes, opinions, beliefs and thus, actions are now so obviously different that serious conversations have since, always led to heated near-arguments or jabs and retorts. It’s becoming a challenge, trying to hold a deep and thoughtful conversation about ourselves to each other. In fact to be honest, I can’t remember the last time we’d actually sat together, physically, and talk. We ‘talk’ often, if Facebook and WhatsApp count – not really – but it’s been too long, trying to hold serious conversations as we face each other square, making eye contact. Personally, perhaps I am nervous at the thought that we’re like time-ticking bombs to each other and in close proximity, it’s like stepping on grenades.

It isn’t that we’re still fighting, hence this long-dragged out silence, but last year she took away the room we shared; I was bloody pissed. She’d repainted it, decorated it, moved Eldest Bro’s older queen-sized bed and claimed as her own, dragged her bulky architectural work table inside and hung on the walls a million collage of photos, paintings and the like. She’s an interior designer, all these were a given. I can’t say I saw this takeover coming though, hence why I’d fumed at the reveal. The room looks fantastic now to be honest, every inch, color and drapery an extension of herself. However, ever since the transformation, I have not slept in that room; anywhere but there. It bugged, saddened and ignited anger in me, those first few months, the fact that the room now breathes none of me – no lingering scent, memories or mementos of my own girlhood years. I was part of a memory and physical space too, yet there’s a void now, replaced by artistic expressions I’m wholly unfamiliar with. It’s strange.

The other night, in another session of truth-telling with Housemate #2 – both of us are currently burnt out and a little bit homesick, with all the stress of final term thus we’re constantly telling family-themed tales – I’d recounted tales of my childhood growing up with Third Sis. How we were accomplices, confidantes, roommates but interestingly, “Diametrically opposite. She was always the rebel and I was always the good girl. She’d always been the diva in her life, I’ve always been this way – not with a crowd. She’d always had to fight for whatever she wanted, I’d always had my way. She doesn’t get along well with my mum, until now whereas I’m incredibly close to my mother.” I recalled these tales to Housemate #2, telling these stories and unexpectedly, mulled for days later, as if nursing a broken heart. Ache. My sister and I, now so far from those memories. Mum tells me my sister is now hardly ever home, that whatever she tells her goes to naught; she doesn’t listen to Mum. It’s both expected and frustrating and being here, away from home, it’s hard to pinpoint things and validate them.

If Facebook statuses are to be believed, I am deducing that she’s currently dating a man much older and also of a different religion. It isn’t that I’m opposed per se nor do I have any right to disagree with her life choices, but we had had this conversation sometime late last year, when she had ‘fessed up that this relationship, should it take place, is pointless. I’d agreed as much – he’s a staunch Buddhist and she’s a practicing Muslim. Very realistically, if the relationship is to survive in the long-term, someone’s got to give and we both know now as we did then, that neither will give in. Not when it comes to this – it isn’t even a question and all parties are wholly, wide-eyed aware. There are borders one do not cross and in our respective lives, religion is one of it. Perhaps they’re just dating and I am making a mountain out of a mole, but there are plenty things I see – through her Facebook, I admit – and tales I hear from others which make me shake my head, puzzled, unable to understand her actions nor her decisions.

When does agreeing to disagree not be okay? Where does one draw the line in tolerating versus voicing opinions, difficult as they may to hear and debatable that they are on whether or not they should be said aloud? At this point, between us, we’ve to choose our battles and fights wisely. It’s no longer a matter of different interests, rather of different fundamentals. What gives shape and soul to us as persons – that’s where it hurts most and that’s exactly where, as twenty-somethings that we are right now, we’re – or rather, I am – unable to find common ground and see eye to eye.

Just as my room here is currently my happy place, I suspect in a few months time when I move into the studio apartment, that new place will slowly morph into my haven. It will be small, cramped even but it’ll breathe my soul, reveling in my presence. Memories of my early twenty-something self will take form but I know it already, before I realize it – just like when my girlhood room was taken away, just as my current room will be cleaned up in two weeks time… it’ll be time to pack up.

Entangling and disentangling, temporary; it’s like being robbed of a physical space, over and over.

Sometimes I am…

Tired of this seemingly nomadic years, of this constant search for a physical space to call my own.


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