The teacher’s kid

When I reached the age of 3 and went to school for the very first time, I discovered something brutal: I was the teacher’s daughter. Not only that, but I was the teacher’s daughter in 3 different schools! My mother taught in one school and my father in another and he owned his own language institute in which they both taught. I can safely say my parents were literally and factually a school.

My first day at school marked my first day as the 50/50 kid, the child whose appreciation was based on how beloved or despised my father was since my mum taught elsewhere. I was a 3 year old big eyed ball of everything happy when I came face to face with “that guy” on my bus – a 15 year old mess who detested my father and made it impossible for me to get the clean slate I deserved; I was henceforth marked. As days went by, the bittersweet reality became clearer, the random squeals of ecstasy my appearance provoked in some and the flagrant eye rolls and grunts I obviously inspired in others, it was all due to my father being a teacher, the perks and the suffering combined. I later received the same treatment from my mother’s students, but by then I had grown accustomed to the whole charade, numbed to the itchy label I seemingly wore on my forehead – watch out, I’m “the teacher’s kid”, the miniature daytime boogeyman.

It took me my whole pre-teens and a few years into the delightful years of puberty and awkward self-awareness before I truly understood how valuable and just how extraordinary my life actually was, being blessed with two teachers for parents, livng in my own private classroom. I was amazingly lucky, there is no better word to describe it. Under one roof stood gathered walking and talking human dictionaries and encyclopedias, two beautiful souls who had dedicated their lives to the sole purpose of guiding young minds (not to mention adult ones at my father’s institute) down the road of knowledge and haphazardly through life in many cases. I was taught to value people, give as much as I could and stand by all those who needed help in any way possible, to share what I knew, and something I will never cease to thank them for, to understand the value of hard work and hard-earned remuneration.

Our time on Earth is limited and precious, and while we’re here roaming its uneven roads, we might as well make our stay profitable to others, be the gardeners of minds around us, give more than we receive in the hope that someday we too will run into someone we once helped and rejoice in their resulting successes just like my parents so often do. With their minds, they could’ve been anything they wanted, but they chose to teach, to suffer through long parent-teacher conferences, long invigilation hours, endless correction nights, cancelled weekends and their kids blaming them for their lack of energy, too young to fully understand the worth of each day they spent bent over piles of papers, watering the roses of tomorrow.

I was 3 when I understood my parents were teachers, 3 when I started learning that those who teach can in fact do, those who teach know enough to understand that without what teachers do, CEOs wouldn’t be able to type their names, presidents wouldn’t be able to read their speeches and doctors wouldn’t know the difference between a vein and a nerve. I was only 3 when I understood that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like my parents: a giver.

Too little too much

Ever since I was a child, I have been taunted by the fear of being too much of anything, too loud, too different, too nice and yes, even too loving.

In a society that promotes distance, casual relationships with no profound attachment, caring too much has somehow become a defect of the human heart, something we’re doing wrong. Every time we get too close to another, whether friend or more, an alarm resonates and we pull out of our mischievous trance; today’s society is based on nonchalance and vapid companionship, anything more can turn out fatal. We call friends people who make our hips dance but our souls stand still, lovers those who offer us everything but their hearts, and for some inexplicable reason, this has become completely normal, synonymous with happiness.

I remember watching old films with my parents, listening to fabulously written dialogue and loving diatribes spoken with passion and glistening eyes, and I dreamt of the day I’d be old enough to have someone come up with words as warm and tender as those uttered by the likes of Cary Grant and Gene Kelly, swoon under the riveting gaze of chivalrous men burning with untamed passion. Instead, all I have seen of courtship has been reduced to strangers finding solace in strange bodies, short-term internet-made friendships, divorces happier than weddings and a world much less inviting than my innocent heart had dreamt while watching those films with the only two people who ever made me dream of more than society allowed or taught me to seek.

In the end, it isn’t being too much of anything that truly scares me, it’s the world being too little endowed with what makes my soul flutter and my heart beat faster; I will always do and be more than is advisable, and maybe someday society will finally decide to catch up.

The colours of love

I have asked myself several times over the years if I believed in love. I can’t say I don’t, it is an ability I proudly feel master of, an emotion I feel in my waking hours and understand in my dreams. However, what kind of love do I truly believe in?

Friends often point out my extreme attachment to my parents, how I seem to include them in my every thought or action, and it certainly has bewildered many a person in my life just how far that attachment goes. Well of course I love them, they gave me all my favourite memories, a lot of my character was forged with their help and my sense of freedom and revolution was mainly born from their constant encouragement to always push through society’s boundaries. You can’t not love those who build you, that is something I learnt early on and have noticed every day since. Similarly, friendships based on giving are worthy of so much love for nobody forced anybody to care for you or your future or the simple appearance of your smile; unlike family, some choose to love you, or at least their souls do, and it is quite useless to fight against the current. Sadly enough, I have also often heard that animals don’t have souls or emotions but having witnessed what I have, there is no doubt in my mind. From dogs crying the absence of their carers to a little calf getting hit with depression at the sight of his mother being taken away for reasons it doesn’t understand or can’t even fathom, animals are as feeling as human beings, and it is definitely reciprocal.

Ultimately, genuine love comes in so many different colours and shapes, so many shades and definitions, but one thing I am sure of is where it comes from; the birthplace of love isn’t that organ that pumps blood or that other that calculates every step feeding on sugar and sprinkling it on whatever its whims dictate, love is rooted in the bottom of our souls, before anything else came to exist, blossoming into a thousand thornless roses each with a different but just as powerful smell, enticing, addicting, life-giving. We were born evergreen, gardens to our perennially blooming emotions.

Half sunken friendships

Over the years, we shed friends like a snake sheds its old skin, leaving behind what no longer suits our current state of being. We walk away and take with us memories, remnants of those other humans forever stitched onto us.

As friends, we learn intimate details about one another, whether personal or random, things like favourite colours, birthdays or allergies; we learn them out of necessity, out of duty and out of love,  however varying the degree of it is. We accumulate knowledge of these other entities, keep our expertise of them safe within, willfully forgetting how possible all of it might one day become useless or obsolete. Friendships end, it is a fact human nature forces us to forget each time we embark on a new shared adventure, and so does our knowledge of all things pertaining to our once close chosen relation; we pick people, and we also choose to let them go, whether willingly or reluctantly. We’re no longer updated with joyful news, little tidbits of their daily lives, changes big or small…we are the strangers we first started as…but with baggage too deeply engraved to be forgotten. “No, don’t put strawberries on the cake she can’t…actually, go ahead, never mind…”. “Ahhh it’ s today, I forgot to wish…upon a star”. Sometimes it slips our mind, their sudden absence, how their importance weighs less on our life and heart..or does it really? Is every relationship we’ve built and forsaken truly erased from our hearts as from our minds, or does it all remain deeply etched under newer, kinder, better constructed ones?

Things change, but we remain marked, stained with little specks of all the somebodies we once knew, forced to deny how present they once were, unable to forget they were…so very there.

The art of perseverance

I draw. I’ve been drawing since the first day someone gave me a pencil, the first time my hand was able to clasp that piece of wood with a coloured core trapped inside, warm, waiting to spread its magic. I often feel like that thin hidden stick, still waiting, even though I still draw, even though I’m not hiding. I’m that log of colour that just can’t wait to reach paper, to become, to be.

It took me years to make my work public, to push it into the light for public scrutiny, endanger my tiny almost non-existant ego with the not so soft noises that escape the mouths and keyboards of onlookers. I draw thoughts, emotions, fleeting passions and ephemeral pleads, and I showcase it so that people too disillusioned to understand the fragility of each stroke can point, question, disregard or ignore what part of me wants to say, while a few urge me onward, push me further, the beautiful ones, the tender souls that understand the deep connection between the nib of a pen and the unsaid.

I’ve often contemplated giving up, or keeping it all to myself, for it’s a part of me and not a whole, a few centimeters of heart and a few drops of soul, but then it hits me that someone out there is thankful, another appreciative, a few even understanding, some possibly detest my work which is quite a pleasurable thought for it means I stir up something brutal in them, animalistic maybe, and some more always expectant of what else my fingers can produce with that derisive twig of colour. I keep going for those, the few who dare express something, whatever it is, those who dare nod even though it can be difficult to stand by someone and their cause, even though understanding is a private notion, a secret twitch of the mind, a comforting little bell ringing in a distant corner spelling in morse: “you know”.

A slice of happy

There comes a day in every person’s life, hopefully not too late, when they open their eyes and realize: you don’t need much to be happy, very little really, much less than you ever thought possible, much less than seemed plausible.

They try to sell you dreams, the wrong ones, the long ones, filled with glitter and champagne, all fun and no pain, hiding the truth in magazine cuts, movies and songs painting pictures too vivid to be real, images of lives we never get to live or feel. Happiness isn’t found in high heels and overpriced steak dinners, it’s not hidden in bad radio music and drunken parties, in cheap motel rooms or expensive electronics, it’s in those moments at the cash register, right before the bill arrives, that moment before the dream becomes too real and dies, when the steak is still appetite, the party still expectations, the room still neat and the game still a brand new toy to be plugged in and soon worn out. Happiness is in the thought of happiness, the moment before, the seconds that lead up to what we think is true joy. Happiness is in the head, in the slow buildup, the heart’s crescendo, an illusion soon gone to be resuscitated with yet another dream.

Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a sad post, no bitterness here or hopeless wanderings of the mind; this is a reminder that happiness is self-made, one that’s present before the material things arrive, before the media’s intervention, before money is thrown and the mind drowned in alcoholic hallucinations. Happiness is everywhere, ephemeral but continuous, abstract yet concrete, misconstrued but reachable by every single seeker of magic. Happiness is free, it’s in the eyes of that one person who stands by you, it’s in the heartbeat of one that leans in closer, in every sunrise and every sunset right before each day begins and at the close of every tiresome string of hours. It’s in every expectation and every success, in each new experience and every resurfacing memory. Happiness is more human than you’ll ever know, the most beautiful illusion, the most magical reality. I’m happy, hope you’re happy too.

Heart, have you seen love?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard stories of people falling in love, falling out of it, dreaming of past lovers and dreaming up new ones… I was however never told what it’d be like to just…not.

A friend just got engaged, two just got married, three had kids, one’s thinking of divorce, and oh, look! a show on first loves! World, swallow me whole. I had always thought that by now my heart would have had it all figured out, memorized the steps to the dance of love, trained my tummy’s butterflies to flutter all the more magically to the music of “el amor” – well, for one, I detest butterflies (yes,really). Secondly, my heart seems to only jump at the sight of cheese or melted chocolate, which, let’s be honest, one would agree isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, at 25, I find it hard to swallow that love lost its way while on its perilous journey to me, a perfectly cushioned and warm landing area. Where art thou my lover? Where is thy brave heart, thy brain and thy tight grasp? Probably stuck in a 1950s Hollywood picture or about to be devoured by a lion somewhere wild and beautiful. They tell you stories about love, its soothing presence,  its despairing disappearance, but they rarely approach the puzzling land of its absence; you simply can’t complain about things you do not know and you certainly can’t perceive the complexity of what you have no experience of. I have dreamt and I have sighed at the sight of couples holding hands, men listening to their wives’ bulging tummies as new life blossoms inside, written a thousand poems and sung hundreds of songs, but to no avail; the dream remains a dream, and that, only life and time can truly heal.

One would want to believe it’s futile to fantasize about love and what it could bring, but if in my short life I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that love is the purest melody our hearts can sing.