don’t trust the flourescence.

Insanely beautiful day at Stanford today, where spring has introduced itself. I love Fridays, I love sunny days, and I absolutely love writing – so I decided to sit outside, and here I am, with John Mayer crooning his Heartbreak Warfare. Love it.

I decided that today is a writing day.

I don’t mean to harp on a closed and long-discussed issue – and I mean it when I say that I don’t intend to discuss it anymore through comments, though I sincerely appreciate all the kind words extended about this – but one of the two readers who recently quit her subscription here, was actually one of my earliest subscribers. I think that’s partly why it hit me pretty hard; she found this space and stayed before the drama-writing came about. She was around when blogphilic was an emotional punchbag, and stayed throughout the many transitions in my life. So imagine my surprise, genuinely, when I realized her screen name was no longer on my list.

Last night while procrastinating on the term paper, I cleaned up my Facebook friends list and ended up at some profile pages of a few old friends – way old, pre-high school. I’ll be honest: I’ve no interest to rekindle long-lost, now-forgotten friendships. We were so little back then, and childhood memories are one of those things I’d rather remember simply; it was a time of innocence and purity, period.

Then I ended up on his page, an old friend who was supposedly my best friend at nine years old. I was surprised, because apparently he is now at Berklee College of Music in Boston? Wait, what, how – who knew?

We went to different high schools – I went to an all-girls school, while he went to a co-ed one near his house – and my memory of us are vague to be honest, but I do remember how much he loved music, even back then. In high school, he was part of a few bands or something, never without his guitar. Really, woah. Who knew?

He appeared within my sphere again because he’d friend requested me; I ignored it.

Of course one profile led to another, and I looked up his old buddy – they got closer in high school, and I’m pretty sure this dude was part of the band for a time too. We were all in the same primary school (or middle school I suppose, what you’d call it here in the States), and though I got close to the supposedly former best friend and even their girl friends, this guy and I never clicked. He was always the epitome of cool, even at twelve years old; I was bookish, four-eyed, too talkative and outspoken for my own good. I can’t remember if I ever crushed on him, but he’s one of those guys who are naturally good-looking, and the growth spurt has honestly done him wonders; he looks mighty fine, especially now. Brownie points for his career choice too – he’s in the hospitality field, specifically culinary, it looks like. Wow, dude can cook. I’m impressed.

I closed the tab; his face, name, and life highlights disappeared in mere seconds.

A few days ago, I’d asked an old friend for another old friend’s number. They were the girls I loved with all my heart in high school – the same ones who I was convinced, for a long time, were also responsible for breaking my heart. I’ve reconnected with one of them, and the friendship’s great; for the most part it feels the same, and although sometimes I think the stilted silence is telling, there’s no bad blood or cruel intentions between us. I haven’t spoken to this girl, her best friend, in years.

I vaguely recall a one-to-one meet with her, a year after graduating from high school – one of my attempts to allegedly keep the friendship. I think the meet turned out surprisingly pleasant, but I couldn’t shake off my bitterness. So I quietly detached myself, and when I left to Stateside not long after, breaking up a friendship, or a few, turned out to be easier than I thought. She eventually made her way to the UK, though she’s since transferred to an Australian university; hence my attempt to reconnect, because I’m experiencing a terrible pang of wanderlust, so I’m now trying to make an Australian couch-crashing trip happen, in August. Note the word try; le sigh.

My first text sounded like this, “Hey. It’s Jane here. … N?” 

As if she knows other Janes, but what do I know? Maybe she does – there’s five gaping years between us, after all.

The conversation flowed so easily though, awkward responses notwithstanding, and then she said it first – “Oh my god it’s like we’re long-lost lovers!” I cracked up and replied earnestly, “Aw man you’re hilarious as always!” 

You know what’s funny? To me, it’s like none of them have changed. Neither this old friend, nor the two guys. They seem, sound, and look like the versions of themselves I was once familiar with – except the better versions.

No traces of the gawky nine-year-old; the too-cool-for-school twelve-year-old; the gangly fifteen-year-old. Long gone were the days of braces and retainers, buzz cuts, and oversized clothes. They look fabulous, sound just as fabulous, and based on what’s visible in their social network – loved, lauded, adored, and admired just the same, exactly how I remembered them too.

You know what’s funnier? Inherently they sound or seem the same, and it struck me how little they seem to have fundamentally changed, while I… I… I’ve changed and metamorphosed so much, not necessarily positively.

I don’t look fabulous – I’m currently battling a serious fat phase – and the smarts I was supposedly always known for means little to nothing here. I was never the cool kid, and no matter how much I tried to play cooler versions of myself – they never worked. It’s the same, even now. I am candid, goofy, and of course – too talkative for my damn good. I think I’m a better version of my younger self, and for the most part I really like the person I am now. But to say I am an upgrade version and same old, same old?

It’s funny, for inexplicable reasons, these people grew up beautifully not just physically, but internally as well in such a way that they are neither marred, nor colored by reality. They don’t sound jaded; there are no hints of bitterness. These are folks who live each day like it is sunshine and rainbows because they genuinely believe that to be true – how could it possibly not? These are people you’d find with the biggest grins on their faces in reunion photos, those who positively sparkle from an ethereal, internal light.

Unlike them, I now exist in hues of green, gray, and purple.

I am the one in the photo who’d be off to the side, or squeezed in the middle with an awkward expression. My smile would be lopsided, my hair all over the place. My eyes are telling of what I really feel – happiness or sadness depends on the crowd – and while I am not completely invisible – there’s a certain credibility to the moniker of the smart one, however slight –  my presence is hardly affecting.

This time around, it’s not about the numbers; not this time, not at all. When I realized the old reader had quit her subscription, I think what came to my mind – and I’ve wondered about this for a while now – is how much does my writing reflect the changes I have gone through, over the years? How different is my writing voice now, compared to three years ago when she’d first discovered this space? Did she detect this, and is it now so distinct that she no longer relates? Do I sound foreign, even to myself?

Why is it that unlike me, they seem to stay the same, ethereal and unwithered?

I think change is inevitable, and though I quibble and mull over it, I don’t hate it. I don’t try to decide if it is good or bad – it’s inevitable, simple as that. The thought lingers in my mind because I wonder about the girl I once was; the one who’s no longer here.

Do I miss her? Do I wish she is less jaded, not as broken? Do I secretly wish she is like faces of her past, none of whom seem to be consumed by time, experience, and personal hardships? Or is it… that they hide their scars exceptionally well?

Unlike the bright, vibrant fluorescent colors where they exist; I subsist in pastel.

The girl I was, the one who is no longer here. Do I miss her?

___

Side-note: Interestingly, halfway through writing this, an old friend called. We ended up conversing and catching up for the next two hours and at one point I said, “So I’m detached, like I’m not attached to anyone, friendship-wise.” To which she flatly rejected and immediately retorted, “What are you talking about…” HAHA. Nothing like a real friend to set the record straight, i.e. my dramatic antics? Please… take it elsewhere. In other words, be wary of the thoughts that swirl through my mind!

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6 thoughts on “don’t trust the flourescence.

  1. This is beautifully written!

    Ah, I feel this phase you’re in. Been there. And going there again, as I get older, trying to assess the friendships I’ve had and have. Is it me who changed or is it them? Ah well…

    1. Thank you :)

      I’m really glad you can relate, and that’s exactly the Q: is it me , or is it them? Or is it… simply inevitable? I like the fact that I’m no longer a try-hard, but I can’t help but wonder how much of our younger selves are unmarred by our adulthood woe, and why is it that some are more colored than others, who continue to shine in a way I remembered they did even as kids. Ah well, indeed…

      1. We never know the struggles that others go through. I used to see this a lot on FB before: “Don’t judge me until you live my life” or something. We also don’t know how others see us. And pretty sure, it’s different from how we see our lives. Ain’t that interesting?

  2. I feel like I’m in exactly the same place as you are in right now. I was just thinking yesterday that I’m not sure what friendship even means anymore, like the only way I know how to live is alone. All I can think of is the need to leave, to get away from the nothingness, but then I think that I’ll just keep running into more nothingness. I feel like since high school ended almost 3 years ago, I’ve become a completely different person.- cynical, lost, closed off. I used to be a very innocent, trusting and optimistic person; I’m very smiley and accommodating. I still am, but only to other people. It’s not an act I put on, it comes naturally, (I have a tendency to love people too much in fact), and it’s only toward myself that I allow my insecurities and disillusionment to work their magic. Then I look at my friends back home; also in college, also swamped with work, much more than me in fact, but they retain that youthful innocence and optimism. I still love them, and I love that they always remind me of sunshine, and I don’t want them to lose that ever, but I wonder how I turned out so differently.
    Then these few days I’ve been so invested with Yuna, and I watch her extraordinary grace and strength, and I’m just like ok I give up I’ll just live by worshipping perfection sigh

    1. Hey Emily (hugs) this is a phase, what you’re feeling and experiencing – it’s definitely a phase. “…like the only way I know how to live is alone.” As much as we thrive and prefer to be alone, what I’ve learned over the years (and especially two years ago, when I believed this so strongly, as you do now) is that this isn’t the only way one can live. It’s not the only option, even if the alternatives are being frustratingly elusive.

      “I still love them, and I love that they always remind me of sunshine, and I don’t want them to lose that ever, but I wonder how I turned out so differently.” … Sigh, I know what you mean. I did once confess this to another friend who is older and she looked at me and said it’s just the duck syndrome. It’s that some people have perfected the art of looking outwardly calm, even if in truth they struggle just like the rest of us. This might not always be true, but I like to think that even if it’s true I turned out differently – it’s not necessarily negatively different. I can’t help but be jaded by now, I think, because it’s always been in me to overthink and over-emote – I feel too deeply, too much, like you said you do. Maybe we’re just people who wear our hearts on our sleeves, willingly or not, because we don’t know how else to be – and that’s okay.

      It’s funny you mentioned Yuna, because I was actually invested in her all of this week too – watching her performances made me tear up, and I don’t even watch sports regularly… – so I understand what you feel, and why you feel that way when looking at her extraordinary grace, but noooo, don’t live worshipping perfection! You’ll exhaust yourself faster than you realize, because perfection is an illusion. Ladida once wrote this to me in response to one of my entries, and I remember it on bad days, “being able to admit you’re struggling and acknowledging your flaws is a kind of strength too.” So you know, maybe innocence and rainbows and sunshines aren’t for us – and that’s okay. Maybe we subsist in shadows and pastel, and at times it is really hard, but I definitely don’t believe there is a fundamental flaw in our creation; we’re not fundamentally flawed, just humanly flawed and this makes us all the more interesting, as persons to be unraveled, I think.

      Hang in there and chin up ya :)

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