Turquoise Nights

We live in cold storage during the week, shutting away emotions, fears, aches and fevers till such a time that we can experience them ‘on our own time’. And then the weekend is when it all comes back….like trying to live all of the previous five days in these two. Of course the weekend really starts on Friday evening.

I hate crowds. I feel suffocated in groups larger than three. Strange since I live such a crowded life. But that’s just clutter – bodies, masses of breathing carbon moving around me. The real people are the ones who are greater than rituals, more meaningful than furniture, more unpredictable than habits. They make me feel. Too much. Not more than three at a time, please….it is positively decadent luxury. Like starving through the week and then feasting like a glutton after that. An average human being could die of that in the non-metaphorical world.

Fridays are often a plethora of impressions, a crazy psychedelia of emotions. People I missed so much and suddenly find I feel not a thing for, sudden realization of how much I love someone, accidentally bumping into those I was petrified of and now I find myself getting bored with, a gnawing emptiness when unaccountably I miss someone at the most inopportune moment, an inexplicable sense of loss of someone sitting right in front of me, annoyance over ill-timed but not unwanted affection, deep mirth over the hysterical irony of life’s situations. It is that instantly suffocating smell of smoke that I’ve never quite gotten used to, the headiness of a slight alcohol high that I’m constantly playing hide-and-seek with, the giddiness of meaningless jokes and deep conversations sleeping together. It is like not being able to tell green from blue and periodically getting stuck in a turquoise tapestry.

So I suddenly shot out, on the pretense of ‘taking a walk’. It felt more like those days in a swimming pool, trying to stay under the water the longest, learning to deal with the burning eyes and lungs that felt like they’d explode. An almost imagined movement at the corner of my eye would make me wonder (always) if the stories were true and there were strange, magical creatures at the bottom. And then, suddenly, I was tearing for breath, like even being conscious of that forbidden idea meant that I had to be expelled from Wonderland. So thrashing, I’d make it back to the top, breaking the surface of water just in time to put all such stupidity out of my mind. But I never really forgot. This is what it feels like, all these years later.

The moment I walked out, was like that moment of instant clarity, of great gasps of air free for me to breathe. The grand tapestry crystallized into a good comfortable sepia film. And as always I knew, that I never wanted to be a part of the other world again. I stood and watched the sea across the road, for how long I cannot tell. The cars seem to zoom past, not quite real but a film running by that I could walk through anytime I wanted, only I’d tear the screen if I did and there wouldn’t be any more film to watch.

I told someone once that I wished I had a job that let me work through the night, alone, when everyone else slept, without having to talk to or meet anybody else…and sleep through the day when the world was awake. ‘Escapism’ is what he called it. Is it?

You know how people keep telling you to ‘just be yourself’? Well that ain’t quite possible sometimes. For what if your self is nothing more than the capacity to conceive infinite new images and facades? A talent, a capability, a tendency to create…that’s all. Not a creation or a being or a tangible characteristic itself. Well all I want is to be myself then. Apart, distant, while close enough to see and even feel…just a bit. But able to switch off the impressions when it got to be too much.

From across the years an almost forgotten voice of a friend comes calling, “Don’t worry so much, little one. Some day you’ll learn how not to be swayed this way and that way by the vagaries of life. It will come with time.” Still waiting.

Then my phone buzzed. Blurry-visioned (though not from tears), I saw my hand move slow-motion almost to read. A text from the only person in the group I thought had any genuine affection for me.

Come back.

And without another thought, not a backward glance at my sepia film, I just turned and walked back in. Love is everything then. It is really all that binds me to this world, that holds me back. I now understand why they call it a bond. When it tugs at me, no matter how close I am to achieving nirvana, I come back. Invisible silver threads weave me into the turquoise tapestry.

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