Musings of the Heart Pt. 16: The Fall

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I sat in the corner of the cafe at a table against the window. My cup of cinnamon milk tea remained untouched as I watched crowds of people pass by. Some made eye contact while others walked on, wrapped up in a conversation between friends or their eyes focused on a small bright screen held between their hands. I didn’t mind either way. I enjoyed creating backstories and making up their conversations in my head. It was a type of therapy for me, a way to unwind at the end of a tiring week. I grabbed the back of my chair and stretched my body by fully turning side to side. When I faced forward again, a stranger was seated across from me.

“Hello?” I said in confusion.

“Sorry, is this seat taken? Are you expecting anyone?” she asked, crossing her arms on the table.

“No, I’m not expecting anyone,” I replied, still trying to grasp the situation.

Before I could say another word, a waiter came to take her order. She quickly glanced over at my cup and said that she would have the same. The waiter nodded and left towards the kitchen. Silence began to fill the space between us while she turned her attention towards the window and began to look at the people outside. I brought my cup to my lips but continued to look straight at her. She had big, round almond colored eyes and her skin was milky white. Her hair was black and stopped just below her chin. She wore what appeared to be a plain, white one-piece over a teal shirt underneath. A thin silver necklace with a crescent moon pendant rested on her chest. She was pretty, that much I was sure, however, I was certain we had not met until today. I decided to break the silence.

“Who are you?” I asked, slightly afraid to hear the answer.

“Nobody really,” she replied, continuing to look out the window. “Just another pretty face looking for a free meal.”

My face scrunched up in slight anger. She turned to look at me and softly giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. She smiled at me and shook her head.

“I’m kidding silly,” she laughed. “But I really am nobody. Just think of me as a passing shower. I’ll be gone before you know it.”

The waiter came back and set her drink on the table. She thanked him and immediately took a sip from her cup.

“This is amazing!” she exclaimed in excitement. “I can’t believe you’re just letting it go to waste like that! I think I might be in love.”

She took a longer sip than the last and set the cup down on the table. She reached behind her (probably a bag that she had placed there but I had not seen), took out her phone, and snapped a few pictures.

“It’s a shame that I didn’t think to take a photo beforehand. It looked as amazing as it tasted.”

She set aside her phone face down on the table before she spoke again, “Now where were we?”

“You still haven’t answered my question: who in the world are you?” I asked again, this time with determination to find out her identity.

“Hmph. I already told you, I’m nobody. Isn’t it enough that a pretty girl like me wants your company?”

She put her hands into both of her hands and fluttered her eyelashes. I kept my face blank and emotionless until she finally gave up. Seeing my resolve, she let out an audible sigh and pouted her lips.

“I guess it doesn’t work on everyone,” she started, putting her hair behind her ears. “I was outside on the bench right in front and I noticed you here at this table. At first, it seemed like you were staring right at me and I thought ‘How could he lust after my body! The audacity!’ Then, I realized that you weren’t looking at anyone or anything in particular. It seemed like you were off exploring a different universe in your head. Ten minutes of staring later, I decided to come and join you.”

She smiled at me while I mindlessly blinked at her, unsure of what to say. I awkwardly smiled back, looked down at the table, and held my cup in both hands. I became lost in thought and searched for the right combination of words to say.

“Can I ask you something?”

I looked up to see her leaning forward and staring right at me, her face filled with pure curiosity. Taken aback, I nodded without saying a word.

“Do you believe in aliens?” she asked.

I took a moment to consider her question before answering.

“There’s no physical evidence, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually are real.”

“Hm. I wonder,” she said, turning back towards the window. “A lot of people tell me that seeing is believing. And I think that’s utter bullshit. There are a lot of things that can’t be seen but are just as real. We’re unable to see the air around us, a person’s thoughts, their mental health. We can’t see these things, but that doesn’t make it all the less real. Even though the entire world hasn’t seen aliens, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t real. So people who say ‘seeing is believing’ are just full of crap.”

She paused for a second and brought her drink to her lips. Then after she set it down, she continued talking.

“I mean, I can’t even be sure of what I’m thinking sometimes or what I personally feel, but I know that it’s real. Why? Because I’m right here, living and breathing right in front of you. And sometimes all you need is a little leap of faith to make fiction into reality. And whether it’s physical or mental, with that leap of faith, it becomes real.”

“Honestly, I’m not good at words and I’m probably rambling on but I want to take a leap of faith right now and make the invisible visible,” she turned her entire body towards me and looked at me straight in my eyes. “I want my thoughts to be seen by the whole world and when I say the whole world, I mean just by you. So, what I’m trying to say is: I’m going to kiss you.”

Without waiting for my response she got up from her chair, walked towards me, and grabbed my face. Then, she closed her eyes and kissed me. Her lips were sweet and tasted like a mixture of peach and cinnamon. My eyes became enlarged in shock and I made a mental attempt to break away. However, my body wouldn’t listen and I began to kiss her back. Unknowingly, I had fallen head over heels with her and to be quite honest, I didn’t intend on stopping.


Musings of the Heart Pt. 15: 그리움(Longing)

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Home. This word had familiarity attached to it. Inside a traditionally home, one could find comfort and peace by just being there. Home is a hiding place from the entire world and the only way to gain entry is through a personal invitation. To put it simply, home is a special place. And they say home is where the heart is. But as he sat in his parked car in front of his home, he felt none of this. He looked towards the dark, closed windows and felt that his heart was no longer there. The place that was right in front of him was no longer his home.

When he was little, he loved his home. He would run around with his toys, playing with the stray cats that roamed around, giving them names if they stayed for more than a week. He could go outside to his friend’s house just around the corner and come home to the smell of dinner being prepared in the kitchen. While he waited for the food to finish, he would coax his grandfather into letting him have one more sip of soda. Then he would smile from ear to ear as his grandmother nagged at him to stop. While he was growing up, there was life in the house. It was a place he could call home.

However, the wear and tear of time took it’s course and things drastically changed. For most of the week, the house remained empty, only occupied during the night until the early mornings. He spent most moments in the house either sleeping or on the computer, slaving away on one graphic design project after the other. His grandfather had become a former shell of what he once was and his grandmother now living elsewhere. He hadn’t realized that his home had started to break from an early age. The constant fights, the absence of a parent’s warmth, the lack of meaningful consistency. All of this and more had built up over the years, but his innocence had kept him safe. Until one day, he finally saw the reality of it all. Then without another word, he left.

He decided it wouldn’t be forever. He promised himself that he would come back. But when he did, everything was different. He was different. He left part of his heart on an airplane suspended in the middle of the sky, another piece at the bottom of a beer glass in an alleyway bar, and a few others on a sidewalk leading up to a guesthouse somewhere in Asia. Slowly, his home started to feel far from it. He began to feel uncomfortable just by sitting on the couch for longer than a minute, distance whenever he greeted his grandparents, a sense that everything in that house was wrong. There was an unhappiness that swelled up inside of him, that prevented him from calling the house he grew up in, ‘home’. It took him hours to gather up the strength to get out of his car and finally go inside. He had become another lost soul searching for a permanent home.

Musings of the Heart Pt. 14: Afterwards

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It was about two weeks since winter break had began and a week since she had last left her studio apartment. Her phone rang at least once every hour but it remained on the charging cord throughout the entirety of the day. Despite her friends and acquaintances constant attempts to contact her, no one had yet to arrive at her front door. Not that she would have answered anyways, it just seemed curious that no one had yet decided to check up on her in person.

At this point, she was afraid to let someone in- she was afraid to let anybody else in. It had been a little over two months since the person she had trusted the most shattered her heart into a million pieces. In the beginning, she was able to gracefully hold herself together. She continued to attend her lectures at the university, she was present for every club meeting, she didn’t skip out on weekly dance classes at the studio. She decided to live life as normally as possible, to numb the waves of pain that continuously came crashing onto her shore. But day after day, the little things started to build up until she finally started to see him in her sleep. Her dreams consisted of the two them, happy and together, eating dinner at their favorite restaurant or outside under a blanket of stars. But then the dream would always become twisted and dark. Often times, it would end with the ground splitting into two beneath her feet, and then she would watch herself as she fell into the darkness. She would wake up from these dreams yelling, drenched in sweat. It took hours to remind herself that none of it was real and by then, it was time to continue with her normal routine.

But one day, she broke. She decided to lay in bed for the entire day, then that day became three, and now a week. In reality, this was what she needed. Time to herself, time to be still. What she denied herself in the beginning was a time to feel. She thought that by keeping herself busy, she would be able to numb the pain or even get rid of it completely. As the seventh day away from human interaction dragged on, she started to feel again. Longing, sadness, a craving for curly fries and a shake. She started to clean her room, placing the mountain of used tissues and empty cups of instant noodles into a trash bag. She looked in the mirror after a much needed shower and saw a blob of mess, but she was beginning to see more of herself again. Just as she’s about ready to leave her place for the first time in a week, she hears a knock at the door. She opens it and sees him standing.

“Can I come in?”

Musings of the Heart Pt. 13: Letters and Postcards

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He had developed a love for airports, a love for the sound of luggage bags being whisked away into a sorting center down below. He loved watching airplanes sail across the blue sky and eventually disappear into the horizon. He loved watching sweet family reunions at the arrival gate and the teary-eyed goodbyes at departures. And in his heart, an insatiable wanderlust grew to the size of a tidal wave, constantly crashing against the walls of his chest, begging to free.

He sat just outside of arrivals, near the smoking area by the shuttle buses, watching people pass by while music played through his headphones. He watched as international travelers looked at maps and guide books written in their native tongue, trying to navigate this foreign land that he called home. Their faces looked tired, but there was always some sort of sparkle in their eyes, one of wonderment and excitement for finally reaching their destination. One day, he hoped to feel the same as he filled up his passport with stamps, proof of his worldwide adventures. Suddenly, a tap on the shoulder interrupted his daydreams.

He turned around and took out the headphones from his ears. In front of him was a girl who looked at least one inch taller than him, comfortably dressed in a hoodie and skinny jeans, with a black hat that covered half of her face. From what he could see, she had milky white skin, auburn shoulder length hair, and thin peach colored lips. At her side, she held onto the handle of a bright red luggage carrier. She seemed to be from a foreign country, possibly somewhere from Eastern Asia. He was used to this, however, as Japanese and Chinese tourists usually came up to him seeking some sort of help. Although often times, these encounters usually ended with a lot of pointing, broken English, and bowing.

“Hi, I was wondering if you could help me?” she asked in perfect English. “I seem to be a bit lost.”

He stared at her for a few seconds longer than usual, taken aback at her perfect pronunciation.

“I’m sorry, do you not speak English?” she asked, once again putting him in shock.

“O-Oh no, sorry, I don’t. I mean, yeah, I do speak English. So, what do you need help with?” he stuttered, regaining control back over his voice.

“You probably didn’t expect my English to be so good, didn’t you?” she teased, a grin on her face.

“You’re English is great! I mean- that is unless you’re a native English speaker, then it’s quite normal and well-”

“It’s quite alright. I get that a lot honestly,” she said matter-of-fact. “I do need some help though. Would you happen to know where I need to go for the transit? All I see are signs for rent-a-cars and buses that go straight to hotels.”

“Oh yeah, it’s right down over there,” he points behind her. “Although, the transit system isn’t very good here. You might be better catching a taxi to wherever you’re going.”

“I don’t mind. Buses are inexpensive and I like them just fine. Thank you though.”

They exchanged goodbyes and she went off towards the transit. His face grew hot with embarrassment, so he decided that it was best to leave before anything else happened. He quickly gathered his things and made his way to his car in the parking structure. In twenty minutes, he was in his room unpacking his bag. To his surprise, he found a stack of postcards in the small pocket. As he looked through the postcards and carefully placed them above his bed, what appeared to be a folded up letter fell onto his sheets. He was hesitant at first, but curiosity got the better of him and he opened the letter.

“Dear You,

I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I remember you. Does that make sense? Anyways, I’m not a stranger, I promise. The first time that we met was in the second grade. Back then, I believed that boys had cooties, so we didn’t become the greatest of friends throughout the school year, nor could we try to afterwards. I needed to move to Taipei with my family by the beginning of third grade, so it was easier for me to be alone most times. But I never forgot what you did in the end. It was after school on the very last day. We were one of the only kids that still needed to be picked up. I was standing against the wall, sporting a dreadful bowl cut and pink backpack. We had never spoken to each other before this, but out of nowhere, you gave me a chocolate bar and a peck on the lips, telling me that you’ll never forget me. How could you take away my innocence and give me cooties with such ease! Just like that, too? But of course, I forgave you and that memory stuck with me until this day.

Then five years ago, I got the opportunity to come back to America to attend college. It was surreal. Coming back and seeing everything change, but feeling that I was finally home. Then, as I’m exiting through the doors of the arrival gate, I see you. I’m not sure how I recognized you after all those years, but I guess your first love never really leaves your heart. I couldn’t believe it at first, but it was really you. So I did the most logical thing. I sat in silence right behind you, sneaking glances while pretending to look at my phone. Although I was a bit disappointed that you didn’t recognize me, I was just glad to have seen you once more. As I was about to leave, resigned to the fact that I may never see you again, I looked down at the planner in your hands and saw that you jotted down the days that you’d visit the airport. And since then, I’ve sporadically gone to see you, day after day.

Of course, I didn’t go every day. I didn’t want to be labeled as a stalker. But I saw you at least once a week. And that was enough. You were always writing away in your notebook, taking photos of travelers, and interviewing them for your blog. I couldn’t bring myself to bother you while you were working so passionately. I couldn’t bring myself to remind you of the promise you made to a little girl in the second grade. Don’t get me wrong, I still dated other guys in college. During those relationships, I didn’t see you for months. They were each great and memorable. But I kept longing for you. I kept wanting to see where our plane would travel to, if we both allowed it take flight. So, I hope this heartfelt confession doesn’t scare you away, because it’s just that. A confession. And confessions are scary. Scarier than riding on a plane during turbulence. I hope this letter finds you well and I hope to see you at the airport once again.

Sincerely, Mei

P.S. Here’s my number if you decide that waiting until tomorrow would be too long.”

He read through the letter at least five more times before putting it down and dialing her number into his phone. It only rang once before she picked up.


Musings of the Heart Pt. 12: 잊어버린 기억들 (Remember Me)

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As she became older, she was plagued with a poor memory. She was not able to recall first impressions with ease nor was she able to retell stories with great accuracy. When asked if she remembered certain moments, she would merely nod her head in agreement, smile and laugh as her friends retold their accounts of what had happened. But the moment she reached home, she would spend hours racking her brain, trying to find that particular memory from the database of her mind. Alas, despite her efforts she would come up empty handed and the memory would seemingly be lost forever. There have been moments when others would catch her in a lie. They would be disappointed and think that she wasn’t sincere. Of course, she would apologize and relay time and time again that she honestly could not remember.

She hated this one facet of her personality. Often times she would question herself as to why she couldn’t recall those precious memories. Were they that insignificant to her unconscious mind that they deserved to be thrown away? Or was it an early sign of dementia or some other disease of the mind that’s to eventually come? She hated it even more because she knew the answer. She always knew why she had difficulty in recalling certain memories, but never once shared it with anyone. It was a pathetic secret that she would take to the grave. A secret that was not worth sharing. She was able to forget easily because of the scars. Not physical ones, but the ones that take up space in her heart.

She did not have the most ideal life growing up. Her parents did not stay together past her first year, heartbreak was no stranger and would constantly find it’s way to her, fights would constantly break out between her grandparents, the list was endless. But despite this, she kept on living, knowing full well that there are people out there who have it worse. But she couldn’t stop the pain from accumulating in her heart, she couldn’t help but feel desolate and helpless. Until one day, she became tired of feeling sad. One day, she wanted things to change. But she knew that change wouldn’t happen if all that she felt in her heart was an incurable loneliness. So she chose to forget. She trained her mind everyday until forgetting a memory was as easy as turning off a light switch. This worked for years and she was finally truly happy. Then, one day she realized that she was forgetting everything else, too. She was beginning to forget the happy moments along with the sad. She was starting to forget the names and faces of the people that she loved. She had forgotten how to turn on the light switch in her mind and now eventually, all of her memories would be left there, lost in the dark.

Musings of the Heart Pt. 11: 거짓말속의 비밀 (Exit Plan)

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I was never very good at confrontations. As a child, I often played by myself due to my differences with others. They would look at me as if they were looking at bug, with disgust and a dab of fascination. It was tiring to repeatedly explain why I enjoyed certain things when other children would try to befriend me. So I naturally gravitated towards a corner, reading books at recess instead of running around and playing tag. But I liked it better that way. I enjoyed diving into a whole new world buried deep within the paragraphs that I read day after day. I was comfortable and content.

However, during the first week of high school, I noticed the groups of friends coming together after a long summer break, excitedly chatting away about what the semester might hold. And here I was, sitting alone in some secluded corner, watching conversations unravel all around me. In those moments, I suddenly felt something heavy in my chest. At first, I thought it was indigestion or heartburn, caused by a hearty helping of mediocre cafeteria food. But as the days became night and I sat in the comfort of my own home, the heaviness would return and remain there for hours at a time. After some contemplation I realized what it was: I was feeling a desperate loneliness.

As a child, it was easier to be alone because of my vivid imagination and an excess amount of toys that was littered around the house. But now that I was older, it seemed that I yearned for companionship that could only be gained by gaining a group of people I could call ‘friends’. I became determined, desperate to sate this ravenous hunger in my heart. And within a month, I formed relationships with a group of strangers who had similar tastes, people who didn’t need an explanation of why I enjoyed different things, people whom I could call friends. Of course, that’s not to say these relationships didn’t come with complications. But with every argument and debate, we would be able to quickly reconcile our differences with a crude joke or a picture that we found on the Internet. Confrontations in our group were few to none and never really serious. Because of this, our friendship was able to last even until today.

But now I wish we did have some sort of life-altering fight that could make or break a relationship, some type of experience that would have prepared me for this. I stood in front of the door to the stairwell that led down to the visitor parking one floor below. I had just broken up with my girlfriend and left her alone in her car. I lied and told her that I was in love with someone else. That I was still in love with the person before her, my so called “first love”. I didn’t think she would believe it, because truth be told, she was my first everything and I thought she knew that. But from the corner of my eye, I saw the look of agony in her own, I saw the way her bottom lip trembled, the uncontrollable shaking of her body. I knew that her world was crashing down around her. All because I couldn’t tell her the truth. But how could I? How could I tell her that I love her, that I want to be with her until the very end, when the end could be so soon? How could I tell her that earlier in the day, I found out that I’m dying. That soon enough, I would naturally leave her alone anyways. So I decided to end things before it was too late.

I reached out for the door handle, but for a second, I hesitated and turned around to look at her once more. But when I saw her, I became afraid that I would go running back, apologize, and hold her in my arms until the break of dawn. I shook my head and gathered all the strength that remained in my legs and disappeared into the stairway. This was the end. This was my exit plan.

Musings of the Heart Pt. 10: 괜찮다는 말 (Okay)

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As a little kid, he loved to look at the ceiling and find different shapes, creating millions of characters that found a home in his growing imagination. He would spend hours at a time jumping from daydream to daydream and he couldn’t have been happier. But it was different now. He was different now. For the past few years, when he looked up at the ceiling he would get lost in a sea of thoughts. Each time this happened, he would be seconds away from drowning. That’s why he preferred not to think, to have his mind blank or his hands busy to escape from the demons that hid inside. He would be forced to constantly put on a balancing act, tiptoeing on a thin line that separated a raging storm from the small bit of sun that still remained in his heart.

He was unsure of how he ended up this way. One day he just realized that he was sad, for no reason at all. There was nothing leading up to it nor were there any signs that it was coming. He was just staring at the ceiling and all of a sudden, the weight of the world pressed itself onto his chest, making it difficult for him to breath. Then in the blink of an eye, he found himself hyperventilating with tears running down his face. The first time left him angry and confused. He reasoned with himself that he shouldn’t be feeling this way, that the amount of joy in his life outweighed this temporary sadness. But as it happened time and time again, he slowly yet hesitantly accepted that this newfound darkness was now a part of him. That it had decided to call his body home. Or maybe there was a broken screw located in his head that could never be fixed. He firmly believed that he could never be fixed. And accepting it as fact helped to ease the pain every time the bouts of sadness decided to make an appearance. On some days, it lasted only a few minutes. On bad days, it would last for hours at a time and the only remedy was to wait it out, to ride it like riding a wave back to shore.

Despite being a good listener and hearing the problems of his friends, he never wished to openly admit to his sadness. He didn’t want to let others know that he can suddenly be plunged into darkness and there would be no reason at all. He didn’t think people would understand even if he tried. But he always thought about telling someone, of reaching out and crying for help. He dreamed that one day he would be courageous enough to seek out a permanent remedy for this disease. He dreamed of the day that he would be able to say “I’m okay” and actually mean it.