Two nights ago, one of my housemates here entered my car for the first time – we were off to send our ex-housemate to the airport to catch her flight back to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah – and within minutes of occupying the passenger seat, she gently held out her hand to fiddle with the trinkets dangling on my rearview mirror.
Whenever I drive here in Miri, I’m accompanied by the soft clutter of a sun catcher with the image of a sea turtle bought for $9 in a thrift store somewhere in Kauai, HI, at twenty-three; a closed/open face image (my true nature: a paradox) hand-drawn on a bracelet trinket flown directly from Austria – a present from my longtime Austrian pen-pal-friend for my twenty-second birthday – and now this, at twenty-five: a handmade dreamcatcher, a gift from Third Sis.
“In spite of your constant whining on social media… I know you’re made for amazing things. Legend has it the world is your oyster, and while all struggles are finite, your potential is infinite.
25 is GRAAAND!”
That was her recent birthday message to me, which she wrote on the back of a yellow envelope containing the dreamcatcher that has now made a home in my car. “I customized this handmade little thing for you,” she stated, which explained why the center loop was green – my favorite color – with peacock feathers attached, “to remind you to catch your dream always.”
I have all these, tacky though they may seem, because I’m afraid of forgetting.
For me, that sun catcher is a reminder of all the places I’d been to and visited – that I was once this girl who lived elsewhere and traveled the world, not constrained by time and space. That little sea turtle once rested comfortably in a small-town in one of the islands of Hawaii; now it rests, hopefully just as comfortably, in a small-town somewhere in Borneo island.
On the other hand, the dream catcher is a reminder of what’s ahead; the future. That the present is wide and for my keeping, it’s true, but the horizon stretches for infinite. I can be here, now, and be elsewhere in three, four years from now. Who knows? The important thing is to not forget that I am as limitless as what’s beyond the skyline and South China Sea.
Last but not least, that bracelet is a reminder of who I am and what I stand for. Though I am, so I think, forever a paradox – too much of an open book yet deeply, fiercely private in person – and while it might be true that I am admirably vulnerable, I like to think that I am clear and specific about the ground that I stand upon, including the boundaries that surround me.
Legend has it, after all, that the world is our oyster and while all struggles are finite… our potential is infinite.