Red Pen: Pt. 4

6 months, one awkward dating announcement, and a 24-hour break-up later and there we were, saying goodbye for the two month break. You were off to summer school and I to start my new job at McDonald’s, a feat I was more than proud of because finally I’d be able to have more money for clothes (I was a little fashionista back then). It still felt like a dream, and I couldn’t help but imagine waking up one morning to find that it was. But it wasn’t. You actually did like me, and you weren’t going anywhere (well, emotionally speaking).

I wrote a poem about that day in July when we met at the duck pond by your house. I remember your eyes the clearest–they were golden that afternoon, a colour I had never seen them shine before. It had been about 2 weeks that we hadn’t seen each other, which given our current situation I think is hilarious. This was the longest we had gone apart, and for a new relationship, it was major. It’s funny how far we’ve come, isn’t it?

I remember arriving late, and seeing you, your hair grown out and your worn Aeropostale shirt complimenting your tanned skin. I ran. I had missed you so much and the feeling of seeing you again was overwhelming. I dove into your arms, just like I have each time we’ve been apart, when the Pacific Ocean has decided to separate us in its evil ways. I think about that day, that first time seeing you after so long, each time I see you again. Whether it’s arriving back in the True North after a semester away, or landing in your home country to be reunited once again. We’ve been apart so many times that they’ve begun to blend into each other, but that first time will always be distinct. You, me, a couple of Canadian geese and the hot mid-summer sun above. Just like that time we kissed in the rain on Valentine’s, that moment in our hometown will forever be with me, no matter what side of any ocean we decide to end up on. Because, just like time and time again, I know your arms are waiting.

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Red Pen: Pt. 3

I don’t think I could ever forget that night. It’s engrained into my mind and quite possibly into my being. Sitting in front of that computer screen, the glow of white against the black backdrop of a 2:30 am living room. I had to turn the sound off because that damn messenger alert tone could wake up the dead. My heart was racing because you kept pushing for an answer, something I didn’t want to give. There was only two ways this could go and both of them were equally as scary. I knew it, you knew it, hell, even Nina knew it.

You asked. You, the lovable coward that you are, gave me an ultimatum, one that, looking back now, wasn’t the most chivalrous move you could have made. But bringing forth that confession was a risk that I’m glad I took.

You. I liked you. Oh, how the universe must have been laughing at me in that moment. I had no idea what was running through your mind but I knew that you, too, were laughing. You had known this, known it for months now and for some reason you chose December 2nd at half past two in the morning to confront it. I’ll never know why, but I guess the stars told you that this was it–this was the perfect moment to lay it all out on the table.

I waited for your reply with tears streaming down my face. Panic, anger, fear; all of it stained my cheeks as I waited for you to finish typing.

Kyujin: lol
I felt like throwing up.

Kyujin: I know lol
I was ready to log off and never show my face at school again.

1 minute passed. Then 2. I didn’t understand–why had you forced me to say this? To make fun of me? To ditch me like everyone else? Dramatics aside, I had never known you to be this cruel.

Kyujin: I like you too

I screamed. I froze. I smiled. I almost threw up again but for a completely different reason. Even now as I type this, the feeling emerges in my stomach. I’ll never forget it I think, as long as I live. God, just the feeling of my emotions being matched by you, by my feelings being met by you. It’s indescribable.

I ran to my mum’s room, screaming “KYUJIN LIKES ME! HE LIKES ME BACK”. My mum’s agitated but pleased voice telling me “that’s great sunshine but you should go to bed–you have a presentation tomorrow”. But in that moment it didn’t matter; the looming fatigue that tomorrow would bring stood nothing against the sheer thrill and wholeness that your confession gave me. I would face tomorrow’s exhaustion, coffee in hand, with the most amazing smile I’d ever mustered before because finally, finally I had you.

Red Pen: Pt. 2

Let’s fast-forward a bit. Yes we were friends, and yes that friendship progressed into best friendship, resulting in many before and after school discussions about every topic under the sun. This meant the occasional hug, hand brushing, and one infamous rainy day where you walked me home because I forgot my umbrella (if you forgot this you’re dead to me). I know I always claim it was Halloween when I knew I liked you, but that is a lie (I know you hate lies). Realistically, it was one random night at youth when I finally realized I had feeling for you. I don’t remember the exact day, but late September for sure, when we got into our small groups, we started talking about love, relationships, and God’s plan for our love lives. And despite all of this, all I could think about was walking past the room you group was in “by accident” and running into you. I think this was the same night that you drove in front of Maria and I on our way to the church, and I instantly knew it was you, as I proudly pronounced that I “could recognize the back of your head”. This was not some close friendship—I was falling for you and your stupid ASK jeans and worn out American Eagle shirts. You, who still had yet to master the art of the razor with your stubble, and contagious smile. You saved me.

 

My crush on you made me quickly distance myself from you, which I regret now. I was just so afraid of rejection, and given my track record with boys, there was a reason for this. Maybe that’s how I deal with things in my own way—by pushing them to the side and distancing myself. I’m sorry for that.

 

So no, it wasn’t Halloween. But that night, the night we were walking through the woods, when you grabbed my hand—that night will be engrained in my memory for the rest of my life. My heart beating a mile a minute, my stomach in my throat. I didn’t want you to let go. As soon as we exited out of the forest, you let go and I think my heart dropped the pavement below. I knew I liked you, but that physical contact confirmed any doubt I had had in my mind. It also didn’t help you looked extra handsome that night, even with your face paint. That night will forever be one of my favourites.

Red Pen Pt. 1

You know that story, about the red string of fate? The invisible red ribbon that ties us to our soulmates, the one that’s looped around our pinkies and sits there, out of sight but always in mind? Well, I don’t believe in it. No, you see our story of fate isn’t a red ribbon, or string, or even twine—it’s a red pen. It was that day in tenth grade, sitting in a stifling hot classroom, white sheets of paper being passed around as students who hated to admit their summers were over murmured about the lake, their flings, middle school, and starting new. As Mr. Chadsey greeted us with his elated voice and even brighter smile, a panic struck me as I looked at my paper, no writing utensil in sight. Maybe it was the nerves of a new school or the excitement of seeing my peers again after so long, but the thought of bringing my pencil case to the first day of school has completely slipped my mind.

 

And then there was you, sitting in the seat beside me. I had remembered you from leadership camp, where they stuck all 30 of our poor souls on a creepy little island adjacent to what I knew was a haunted power plant and made us “bond”. You were the guy with the cute lisp who had punched a volleyball over the net and claimed it was “your thing” (which you boldly pointed out the moment a certain Swiss exchange student copied your move to impress the cute girls around you. And no, I’m not talking about Heidi, OK. She’s irrelevant to this story and I’m still touchy about it so let’s move on). To be honest, I did know your name because I remember Eugenia mentioning it and, back then, I remembered Korean names easier than English ones. Plus you were pretty much the only Asian guy there so it was a little easy to figure out who “Kyujin” was. I was nervous because I was very sure you didn’t remember me, nor would you know my name (though I was pretty sure Chadsey had said it earlier but who knows if you were even paying attention), but sometimes you just gotta take a risk and ask for a pen. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But boy, did that risk pay off.

 

I remember tentatively looking at you, and in the nicest voice I could muster uttering “Umm, Kyujin, can I… borrow a pen?” You wordlessly looked at me (which, knowing you now is very uncharacteristic of you so… please explain), looked at your pen, and placed it down beside me. Red. It was a red pen which, though unexpected, is where our fate began. Not a chance encounter, or a string that binds us. It was a red pen. Funny that you, a Korean, would give me a red pen to sign my name in but stranger things have happened. Maybe this uncharacteristic thing was the universe’s joke. It’s funny how the world works, and how our lives can become connected by a simple, out of character moment that seals the deal. So welcome to our story: the red pen of fate.

Pt. 6

It’s funny how a song can spark a fire. One minute, I’m sitting there, head in my hands about to cry over some meaningless friendship, and the next a song comes on shuffle that changes the course of my future. Yes, you heard me–a song. By my favourite artist, no less. Sitting there, I suddenly had the epiphany that only I can direct the course of my happiness and my life. If I decide to move on, only I hold that power. I could sit there, feeling sorry for myself and refusing to move on, or I could pack up my emotional baggage, strap on my backpack, and move forward. Change my SNS, turn on a new track, contact a new person, and go do things that make me happy. It’s that simple.

Wow, it’s really that simple, isn’t it?

Pt. 5

I used to think my life would be something straight out of Sex and the City. Happy nights, a good friend group, great clothes, a writing career in fashion—you know, the good stuff. But somehow, I’m found myself smack dab in the middle of Catcher in the Rye. Alone, confused, and not really knowing what direction to take. I have begun to lose a passion for the things I love, like writing, editing, blogging. What is this? I know I suffer from depression, but this is something to a greater extent. It’s like I have bursts of motivation, those fleeting moments where sparks are ignited and oil is burned, but then, inevitably, the moments of lowness follow. And they stay… and they stay some more… and they just… don’t go away. The ratio of productive to uninspired is completely unbalanced. It’s not like I don’t want to do those things. I know I have to and I know they’re beneficial. I like doing them, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m not happy. I am happy, trust me. But it’s something else… Something I can’t quite pin down. My head and my heart are not on the same page right now and I don’t have the strength to flip through chapters to get us there. I know what I have to do to get that sex and the city life, but my inner Holden Caulfield is angstily sitting this one out. Again. For the fourth time this week. If this is the quarter life crisis my friends told me about, where do I check out? I don’t need this in my life, especially not at the moment where my future is on the line and the decisions I make now finally, after all these years, have consequences. Not now, Holden. Not now. 

Pt. 4

It’s kinda funny now I’m just never going to get that part of my life back. Like sometimes I actually have to take a moment and realize high school is over. Hell, even university is over, and the ability to go back to post secondary is posing an immediate challenge that my fragile existence cannot handle right now. Sometimes I wonder if I could go back, you know? Like I hate admitting that those times in my life are over. Sleepovers, obsessing over vampires, slushies, and late night McDonalds runs. They’re over. Innocence, ignorance, and youth… while the latter of the three isn’t entire at it’s end, the former 2 are gone. This thing called adulthood has instead taken their place, with responsibility, courage, and… realism. I hate that word. Maybe it’s the pisces in me that rejects it so much, but I refuse to let it dictate my perspective on the world. I can’t grow up when I was raised in an environment that taught me to dream until your dreams come true, or to chase after adventures and literally loath the idea of getting old (and, you know, that a little fairy dust will make you fly). I can’t accept this mundane fate. I just can’t.

Pt. 3

It tasted like chocolate, this daze I was in. Momentarily inspired, I thought hell, it couldn’t hurt to put pen to paper and ignore the buzz around me. Dings and bells were utterly distracting. It’s always those moments where, when you’re really trying to focus, that you just… can’t. Whether it’s studying for an exam, writing a paper, or listening to someone’s breakup story. You really want to care. You really, truly do, but it’s always in those instances that everything could be more interesting than here. The coffee cup ring on the table, the pillow’s threads you’re mindlessly picking at, or the intricate French music playing in the background. Distractions are like little devils waiting to pray on your innocence, your momentarily diverted attention, and they reel you in with their little pitchforks. Damn you, feisty things.

I smacked my face trying to wake up. Why is it always so damn hard to wake up? In the morning, waking up is impossible. The bed is too warm and work is too far to actually put two feet on the floor and make my way to the vanity. In life, waking up from your blissful daydreams is just as hard. Like in that moment. The sweetness of my cloudy state was intoxicating. But something needed to be done because I couldn’t just live my life like that.

I felt a hand on my back, a touch that jolted my tiny soul out of my subconscious and back into my unfortunate reality.

Pt.2

I’ve always felt like I’ve been leading 2 lives. It’s like I’ve constantly had my feet on opposite sides of a doorway. The best metaphor I can think of was this time when I was 13 and my cousin came to visit my family at our house just outside of Vancouver. Our town was nestled right in the mountains that bordered the US and so, naturally, we had what we called “wilderness borders”: borders that, as the name implies, were nothing but woodlands and endless, endless mountain ranges. The neat thing about these “wilderness borders” was that you could do that cool thing you see in all the movies (and by ‘all the movies’ I’m honestly only referring to A Walk to Remember because that’s the only one that really matters) where you could be in two places at once. Plant one foot in Canada and one in the US and boom, you’re defying the laws of space and time (well.. not really but don’t tell my 13-year-old self that, OK?).

I remember us driving up, winding through the trees that always reminded me of Twilight. I was obsessed with that novel at the time, and the fact that my little ol’ town looked exactly like the backdrop Ms. Meyer had created for my fictional fantasy had me overjoyed. I was Bella, wandering through the expansive green landscape looking for my Edward (let me remind you I was thirteen, ok? Don’t judge me). All teen novels aside, the area surrounding my town was and still is utterly beautiful and I specifically remember that drive up being taken aback by it’s presence.

We arrived at the spot and I remember thinking just how cool it all was. Being in two places at once? Was that even possible? But as I walked towards the little stone marker telling us which side was which, as if we didn’t know where we were, I slowly realized that there wasn’t much of a difference north or south. The Jasmine that stood with her tiny right foot in American soil still felt a lot like the Jasmine who, for the past decade and three years, had lived with both feet in the true north strong and free. Left or right, there wasn’t much of a difference, and my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

However, I distinctly recall just something feeling off. This magical moment of defiance made me feel almost… incomplete. As if I wasn’t totally whole. Maybe it was because I’ve always felt a little off in the US (nothing against America whatsoever) but, while the two halves of myself still felt like myself, they didn’t feel whole.

We left that mountain a little less enchanted and a lot more confused, but that memory still haunts me today. Not only can I still vividly remember the details, even down to the outfit I was wearing (which was, I’m sad to report, an ill-fitting black sweater and cropped black workout pants… not my best moment, I’ll tell you that), but I can even recall the thoughts running through my mind. Maybe it’s because this memory is so engrained in me that I’m linking it to now, here, in this moment of my life, in this corner of the world.

My heart is in two places and I don’t feel whole. Much like that moment on the border, I feel like, while not physically, I’m mentally on the border of here and there. Here, I feel like myself in the same way I did with both feet in different countries, but this time, my feet have to be figurative. My feet, at this current moment, aren’t necessarily planted on anything (they’re actually resting on my mattress as I type these words), but they’re still within a country that I call my second home. I feel myself here, a version of myself that I’ve longed to find and have yearned to call my own. Now, I have that edition of myself and I’m happy. I’m elated to chase after my dreams here and seek out my happiness in ways I had only dreamed of before. I’m comfortable.

However, there’s a part of me tied to the other side of the ocean, back home. This other half or other foot of mine longs to be on a different shore, closer to my friends, family, and, hell, even my dog that I haven’t met yet. I want to bask in the Pacific sunlight, reading books in a living room that looks out towards a western horizon. I miss nights at the pub with my friends, spontaneous brunch dates with my roommate, and feeling a sense of purpose in my life. I have purpose here, but it’s a drive that has an expiry date. This happiness, this life, this dream–everything is temporary.

I paused too long after writing that last sentence because the weight of those words hit me too hard. Everything, down to the last instance, the last touch, the last moment–everything is temporary. There’s nothing permanent in this world of dreams I’ve created and maybe that’s why I feel torn. Happiness and life shouldn’t come with a best before date, but mine inevitably does. Maybe that’s why I can’t shake this feeling of brokenness or can’t look past this sensation of being pulled apart. Because I know that I cannot be whole here, nor can I be whole there. I will always, always be living in between. My existence will be like that day on the border, constantly being influx and unsettled.

How am I supposed to live when I can’t put my mind and my heart at ease? How can I truly be happy if I’m constantly looking towards a different horizon, longing to pull continents together and collapse space and time?

Because I’m not some magician or a sparkly vampire with psychic abilities. My defiance towards the laws that govern this Earth ended back on that hill, when I first felt the weight of being in two places at once.

Irrational Fear

Well a promise is a promise; I promised myself more dedication to this blog, and so I’ve returned, with nothing but the thought of ice cream on my mind (what else is new). Nonetheless, I’m here, and I’m ready to write about happiness.

Why are some of us so afraid of happiness? Doesn’t that feel somewhat counterintuitive? We’re supposed to be attracted to happiness because it brings us joy and, in retrospect, is supposed to cancel out the bad in our lives. So why is it something to fear?

If you’re anything like me, then it purely comes down to timing. Everything has an expiration date–eggs, milk, relationships, school, dreams, and, ultimately, happiness. It’s as if there’s some invisible “best before date” sticker slapped right on the back of our happiness and, unbeknownst to us, that joy will turn sour at the turn of the full moon. One minute we’re laughing in our bliss and a fortnight later things begin to take a turn for the worst. Isn’t that always how life works? You can’t have too much of a good thing and like the Canadian genius Nelly Furtado told us, good things always come to an end (though her rendition posed the idea more of a question but you get the picture).

I’m baffled at my logic. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I felt happy but now that I’m experiencing some form of enjoyment and excitement in my life, I’m suddenly more cautious than ever. It’s as if I feel the absolute need to protect my heart from some unforeseen darkness that looms just around the corner of this miracle on 34th street. Like I’m on a ferris wheel and all at once we’re going to tumble to the ground. Have you ever have that thought? When you’re on the ride, at the very top, taking in the view and the fresh, untainted air and you look down. All at once you get the looming thought of doom: “this could unhinge and roll away at any second”. Am I the only one?

Well happiness feels a lot like that terrifying sensation. It’s not a bad thing, I guess, being leery of happiness. As we grow older, our trust in others, their emotions, and even ourselves seems to deteriorate. Take free things, for example. We, as adults, are so repelled from accepting anything free. I noticed this one time in university, when my student club attempted to hand out free candy as a “random acts of kindness” campaign during finals. 9 times out of 10 the students not only blatantly avoided our actions, but some even questioned our motives. I specifically remember one student who, upon realizing my confusion towards the latter question, simply stated “nothing is free in this world”.

Maybe that’s our mentality as adults, because I definitely don’t remember thinking in this capacity as a child. Maybe, after so many years of existence on this Earth, we’ve experience so much rejection, hate, fear, and judgement that we’ve lost our ability to trust. I know, deep down, that I have. The idea of putting faith in people and projects and even happiness is so terrifying that I, instead, run from it.

In order to embrace my happiness and understand that maybe, just maybe, it won’t go away, I think I need to let go of this fear and embrace emotions for what they are. I’m not saying this is an easy task by any means, but I really, truly believe that happiness is not something I should run away from or shun or question. Instead of giving into the societal pre-conditioning I’ve been primed with, I need to start taking a step back, taking off the critical lenses I’ve been accustomed to, and let it go. Believing that this happiness, even if it doesn’t last, will lead me to somewhere good is my new goal for this year. I deserve happiness, just like any one else, so who am I to push it away when it comes knocking at my door? Instead of turning off the outside light and locking the door, maybe I should let happiness in, offer it a nice cup of Earl Grey, and ask it how it’s been. It’s been awhile, but happiness and I have all the time in the world to catch up.

Until next time,

Jasmine