Reflections

I thought I’d be terrified of my 25th birthday.

I’m not.

On my 24th I cried while having my egg muffin and coffee on my way to work. I cried so much I had to wait for my nose to go back to its color for about half an hour or so. It didn’t feel vain, and I won’t regret it

Today I’m in a hospital room, looking after a family member with a life-threatening illness. It’s my birthday, and I’m happy. Silver linings are so bright through hard times. I’m happy she laughed today, and I’m happy she ate.

I’m not undermining my old sadness and struggles; I don’t have the right to. They honed me, I think, and prepared me for realer sorrows. I learned how to get over a bad day, and how to be patient, and how to validate what I think and feel. They all became weapons somehow, arming me as I struggle through the biggest trial I’ve ever found myself in.

My 24th wasn’t easy. I saw one of my greatest fears unfolding before me. But I braved it, and I’ve been braving since. I’ve pushed myself beyond my limits, and more than once pieced together my own brokenness and others’. I’m so incredibly proud of myself for the meaning I found, for being stronger than I and everyone else could’ve ever imagined. And to be frank, I owe it to my 24th year for making me realize that I truly deserve to be happy.

“It is a privilege to grow older,” a nurse told me yesterday, although she didn’t know my birthday was so soon. And it really is, I found myself thinking. A year ago I dreaded all the things I haven’t achieved yet, and how I’m falling behind in a virtual, collective timeline I put myself and others it. But what a comforting thought it is, that all will come, everything that’s yours will come in its due time if you work for it.

So this one’s to my 25 year old self, who sometimes feels too tired to be so young, and other times too silly to be so old. Raise your head high, and find your path. It will be there, always.

Today, I saw autumn

I come from a country that has two seasons: a scorching hot summer, and an only slightly cooler winter. As a result, the transition of seasons has always been a magical thought to me, a fascinating thing of dreams.

I found myself away from home at the arrival of autumn, owing it to less than favorable circumstances. I’d witnessed a glimpse of it before, once, when the school year was pushed back to mid-september, and we could stay a little longer in the colorful bustle of Freiburg, in the company of the lovely hydrangea flowers around the white window borders of our big blue house.

But this time I watched it happen, the whole of it, the romanticized yellow leaves falling into piles, and their crunch when crushed underfoot. There was a sadness hindering my childish excitement for what I’d thought was a wondrous shift of everything around me, the skies and the air churning into an unpredictable combination every day. I wanted to see humans change, too. I’ve always loved the cold, the way it turned noses red and hid them behind thick, wool mufflers. I yearned for the sight of the gentle hunched and huddled movements of people in ugly big jackets, and the urgent kick in their step when warmth isn’t too far away anymore.

That is still in progress all around, but it hadn’t been making me feel a thing (except cold, especially while being sick.) In carefully coordinated ‘Fall fits,” I’ve been taking regular walks in a little park close to our apartment, to move my flu-infested body a bit, and to see all the good doggos out for their walk.

Today was windy, so I really shouldn’t have spent as much time in the park as I did. But I was particularly picky about which bench to choose, for no apparent reason at all. Eventually, I chose one hidden in a corner, where I could see the earth and the sky, and all that sits between them.

Then, it happened.

I don’t know what it was, and I can’t do it justice with my clumsy use of language. But it was a moment of stillness inside, of peace– a dream in every sense. I was no longer myself for a brief few moments, was something greater and I was nothing at all. Maybe it was similar to witnessing something when submerged; being aware of movements and the existence of sound, but not experiencing any of them. I saw the rush of winds sending blades of grass into waves, and felt the hushed whispers of dried leaves in my very being.

It made me feel alive, and there was so much joy in that, such beauty and horror at how rare it was, the stillness that is being alive and the momentary ecstasy that traced its footsteps. It was a tiny, violent thing that overcame me– a breaking of some sort, of my heart maybe, or of a curse.

It reminded me profoundly of a line that I’d once thought I understood completely, but have discovered that I don’t, not at all.

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.” -Donna Tartt, The Secret History

nonexistent reads

The preteen me, on average, probably finished more books a year than the adult me does. I suppose it is a similar issue some others face, growing up an avid reader then managing to grow out of it. Books by Jacqueline Wilson were my favorite, because there was something so real about them, and although they were meant for a younger audience, they never completely treated their readers like kids. My life as an Arab child was far different from all of the main characters’ of Wilson’s books, but they still were so human, and I remember feeling that she didn’t really shy away from exploring the complexity of emotions and presenting them to children.

I grew, and the number of books I read on a yearly basis took a nosedive (let’s keep comics out of this now, shall we?) I only remember really enjoying murder mysteries during my teenage years, and even those I read very, very few of.

I grew, and tried to get back into reading. My cousin, (shoutout: theyoungdeer) a very, very active reader, especially compared to yours truly, has been lending me all of her favorite picks, and I enjoyed a number of them. But I still haven’t found a book that I’d give 5/5, and I wonder if I ever will.

For the most part, I try to stay away from the angry, all-caps reviews on Goodreads beforehand because I’d rather develop my own opinion (which eventually becomes that angry, all-caps review). I’m thoroughly disappointed by too many new releases, and although I struggle with plots and don’t even consider myself a writer in the first place, I’ve been finding most of my reads mundane and butchered and unworthy of the praise that I find on the back of their covers. Call me a pretentious prick, I deserve it.

But the books I love are very particular, I want them to unravel, to build up and then ease down, to entangle every word put into them and grow complex, then wrap up and conclude like a gift; I like uncomfortably real characters and complicated plots and simple, beautiful writing that flows and takes the reader along. I miss having a book that I don’t want to put down.

Cars at 6 a.m.

It’s been a month since my last post. Wow, I would forget how to write at this rate.

On Monday the 4th, I started my new job. It’s embarrassing, but I was so nervous that I woke up before 4 a.m.

Once I left home, I became certain that there’s something magical about the air at 6 in the morning. I’d missed it, that strange feeling of new breath, and I hadn’t realized it until I met it again. There is that serenity around the languid pace of cars passing by, preparing for a hectic day ahead. A whole life had been my room’s window away from me, a life that I had to take a break from, one which I truly missed.

As a person who feels at ease with schedules and routines, I appreciate having to wake up early and going to work. It is far too soon to determine what I feel about this particular job, but I’ve yet to have that dreadful realization of having made a wrong decision. People who know me asked, and my description received, “It suits you.” I sure hope it does.

I often use the phrase “bottom of the food chain,” to describe someone who is completely new to a situation, and yes, I do extend the analogy (The marine food chain, to be specific). In my new workplace, sharks and whales are incredibly kind, and everyone around me is so knowledgeable. Instead of discouragement, I feel like there’s so much room to grow.  I am intimidated but looking forward to upgrading to a secondary consumer.

On other news, I got accepted as a columnist in Sail E-magazine! My first article will be published in the October issue, as far as I know. To keep up with that role, I remade my reading/writing twitter and hopefully, will not abandon it anymore. I’ll look forward to seeing you over there 🙂