Have you ever been in love?

“Have you ever been in love?”

The one question that can have a million correct answers at once,
or maybe none at all.

“Yes, I think.”

It’s 3 a.m. in New York. The lights outside are still bright enough to make me draw the curtains. The city has it’s own way of making you feel alone in a crowd.

“What was it like?”

My sister looks at me through the passing headlights, naive eyes ready to hold on to whatever I say. She wants a Shakespearean sonnet in the age of Bonnie and Clyde.

“It was not being able to imagine saying goodbye.”

White noise consumes the darkness in the room and for a minute, I think I’m alone again.

“What happened then?”

The last fight.
The final fall.
The curtains closed.
The song ended.

“We said goodbye.”

All these Years

I stood under that tree for a moment –
the one we used to take shelter under when it rained,
the one that used to be all shades of crimson at once during autumn,
and looked around for a moment.

That park we used to run around in,
the street in front of my house
where we both rode our first bikes,
the lonely bus rides;
with you in the back with your friends and me in the front with my earphones on.

Remember all those summers?
Back in the days when we’d chase the ice-cream cart all the way around town,
spend the drowsy afternoons under the trees you’d once told me were actually monsters;
and I believed you.

Pillowfights in my bedroom,
fistfights at birthday parties,
football in pouring rain,

Until we grew up.
And apart.

You burned through high school
drinking cheap beer in alleyways and riding away through the night.

I slipped away too,
lost somewhere in the chaos within.
It’s ironic, how often
the life of the party is the one
stumbling all the way home;
mascara-streaked and drunk.

But here we are now.
All these years later.

The things we learned.
The times we had.
The memories, after all.

You walk up to me in the pouring rain
as a yellow school bus passes us by,
a lifetime away –

‘Hey.’

Until next year

The shade of lilac the sky takes on at
sunset, the kind that bleeds away in the blink of an eye.

Songs and memories tucked away in dusty street corners.

3 am thoughts.
3:05 am coffee.

The kind of tired you get from lying in the sun for too long.

Laughing until you cry with your childhood friends, reminiscing about the adventures you had together; realizing that you have nothing to talk about anymore except the playground scars you share.

Butterflies in your head.
Pressed flowers between old books.

The feeling you get when the plane’s about to take off and you’re tapping your feet to the hum of the engine –
ready to leave it all behind.

Standing at the same spot where you said goodbye a year ago and realizing how time touches everything.

The beach.
The rain.
Rainy days at the beach.

Stripping your wet clothes off after a walk in the downpour, the feeling that you stole a gasp of air just when you were about to drown.

A clean slate.

A fresh start.

good boy, Bad girl

What if your first love is your last one too?

What if your high school lover is the one you’re thinking about in the middle of a meeting twelve years later?

I still remember the night we first met. I know you do too. Party crashers and tequila shots and keg stands – the usual scene. I never really believed in fairytales and stories about Prince Charming, but I remember musing that I could almost feel the flames the moment our eyes met.

I remember standing with you on the beach in the pouring November rain, under the stars and the citylights. The ocean mist flapping through my hair; I prayed for nothing to ever change. And I’ve never been a huge fan of clichés, but somehow I find myself breaking all my rules for you.

I remember when I said goodbye before leaving for college, outside that café in the summer haze. Walking away, every step made me wonder – if I’m not supposed to stay, why is it so hard to leave?

But there you were at the airport, when I came home for the holidays next summer.
I’d always thought that our lives were tangled but never intertwined. Too young to stay, so all I did was run.
On and off, up and down – we kept ebbing into and out of life like the waves we’d once stood by. Until different timezones made me think before calling you up at 4 A.M.

“Anna?”

”Huh?”. I’m definitely getting fired one of these days.

“Any thoughts?” My boss’ eyebrows were arched upto his hairline.

“I think…it’s a great idea.”

“Well, it’s settled then. Until next time.”
The man’s brows returned to Earth and I thanked the Gods for another month’s rent.

“Hey, you wanna grab some lunch? Everyone’s coming.”

“You guys head out. I have to make a call.”

There’s a three hour time difference between New York and LA.

I cross my fingers as I press dial and hope that sometimes, you too reminisce about the ocean breeze and summer air and all the endless nights we spent together.

Stay, Jack.

I remember watching Titanic when I was seven.

I remember the first time I read Romeo and Juliet.

I remember the aching hole it left in my heart. I also remember thinking that for all the bedtime tales in the world, doomed love stories are the best kind.

Because when you’re in one, you know that this moment is all you really have. Sometimes, no matter how eternally beautiful things could have been, they last for only a moment. But in that one moment, you know nothing matters any more. And that nothing will matter ever again.

Nothing is more wistful than a story whose beauty is it’s pain.

Nothing else can ever be this pure.

Dirty sheets.

There’s sand in my sheets tonight.

My skin burns from all the salt and my hair smells of the damp sea breeze.

You keep asking, ‘Honey, don’t you wanna clean up?’

And I keep saying, ‘Five more minutes, I promise, my love.’

You look at me one last time before walking out the door, leaving me lonely for the night.

But don’t worry about me, I’m not the victim in my story.

I’m still in bed, dressed in an old hockey jersey and nothing else, just soaking up the beach till I have to wash it all off.

You see, I grew up in a city by the sea, where it seems as if the ocean itself rains down upon us.

To no one’s surprise, I have always been fascinated by the beach, the waves and the rain. And also yellow streetlights. Mostly because back in high school, when I used to sneak out during rainy nights it seemed as if the whole city had been painted yellow.

Closing my eyes in my dirty bed, in this tiny apartment miles away from home brings back flashbacks of those wild nights. Running around barefoot on the wet streets, kissing in the pouring rain under those surreal streetlights, dancing in the dark with the chemicals in my veins; it was as if all the bodies on the floor moved together, feeling the heat as it engulfed the room.

So many stories in every club, every night. So many tear stained faces and unresolved scars of mascara.

The clock strikes twelve and my eyelids flutter open. My lover’s long gone, but we both know he’ll be back before dawn.

Gotta go wash my sheets and take a shower. Tomorrow is another night, another story. And I can’t let the salt on my unhealed scars stop that from happening.

Airport thoughts.

You know what’s hard?
That moment at the airport when you walk away after the last goodbye, knowing you won’t know any home for a long time.

You know what’s heartbreaking?
When you’ve taken flight and that one song you heard on New Year’s day, watching the pretty lights from last night glisten, comes to mind and it takes everything in you to not break down.

You know what’s bittersweet?
When you almost hear your mother in your voice, but home is an infinity away.

You know what’s numbing?
Having to cry yourself to sleep on your first night away from home; not because you feel sad, but because you can’t feel anything at all.

Déjà vu.

Art has a way of taking you back to when you first felt it.

To who you were back then. To what life used to look like when you first heard that song, or read that book. To where you were and whom you were with.

Whether in a cab , on the way home,
watching the rain pour down your city and the lampposts paint the streets yellow or feeling the loneliest you’ve ever felt, sitting in a room full of people.

That’s how powerfully art can heal.
It’s something so beautiful ,yet it’s tragic how only such few people are ever careful enough to experience it.

Storylines.

It feels like there are a million stories out there.

Uncountable, like the stars that dot the midnight sky.
At some points, the threads of these stories intersect.

And that’s where we exist.

You are the colour of the cardigan your mother wore to college, the first dish your grandfather made for your grandmother, the shade of your father’s eyes, the city you grew up in, the city you dream of moving to.

In the end, we all become stories.

So it goes, I’ve always been fascinated with the art of storytelling. And as I grew up, the subject of my interest moved from fairy tales to ghost stories to the history of famous empires to the history of my own life.
I love listening to the stories about my family. For me, it’s an enchanting idea how the plot lines of the lives of two generations of people before me can melt through space and time and change who I am, today.

When you do get to listen to these narratives, the key is to look for the details. The hint of surprise in your grandmother’s voice when she realized ice cream cones are meant to be eaten, the hint of nostalgia in your mother’s voice when she describes the house she grew up in, the tremor in your grandmother’s voice when she talks about her mother…these facets of the story take you there.

You truly live your past.

Understanding these stories is like untangling so many spools of yarn. Every moment is an answer, a reason for things being the way they are. They pass by without us realizing, but someday these glimpses will become stories. And they will mean something to someone else looking for answers.