This was the summer that my nose started bleeding sporadically. Sometimes I’d feel worn out and suddenly, my right nostril would leak of blood and that earthy, metallic smell would surface. It occurred again a few days ago and it reminded me of a best friend I had whose nose would bleed when she cried, and I began experiencing bittersweet emotions, because albeit being the past, those were some of the most vulnerable days of my youth, which I’d shared with the souls I cherished dearly.
We took a trip out of the city in October 2012. Something had happened the evening of our mutual friend’s birthday, a most ridiculous rift on my part, and I cried uncontrollably in the hotel room. My steel armour collapsed and my buried emotions surfaced. My best friend held me tight and began crying with me — as if all the emotions I was feeling, she was feeling, too. Suddenly, her nose started bleeding, and while we panicked and helped her hold her head back, she did what she usually did in all challenging situations: remained calm with a trusting smile.
Thinking about that day and her empathetic nature still makes me experience a ray of colourful emotions, and I can’t help but choke up when I recount that story to myself or to loved ones. Not really in a sad way, but more of happiness — the kind of choking up you experience when you think of the good times in the past, and are grateful for them and the people that were part of it. While four years later life took us in different directions, still, when I think about her, I love her just the same. Because she was — and in my heart, still is — a beautiful soul.
It was a fine summer evening in Westboro. After doing un tour autour du monde because we couldn’t find the park where Pericles was set to show, we finally made it, with the help of neighbourhood kids who we randomly stumbled upon and asked for directions, and who were kind enough to bike us to the park while we followed along on our feet.
“Did their parents not teach them to avoid talking to strangers, much less physically go with them?” I wondered, all the while secretly acknowledging that one day I’d be that type of parent: the free spirit who instills love and openness rather than fear in their child. But it didn’t matter what they’d been taught or hadn’t been taught. All I knew is that we were greeted with kindness, and that I experienced insurmountable joy in that brief moment in time.
Feeling grateful to have little bodyguards lead the way — gentlemen in the making, to be sure — we gave them $10 to split for being our knights in shining armour, which for me verbally translated to: “For you guys to buy yourselves some candy.” A look of extravagant surprise overcame their faces, and boy, were they ecstatic. Meanwhile, M and I were still lost in the heartwarming moment, and for the first time since the last blue moon, my motherly instinct kicked in.
Reflecting on that moment, I hope they keep their sense of innocence and optimism, and if during their transition into adulthood painful events harden their soul, I hope they have the courage and strength to begin anew with fresh eyes and an open heart, because in that awkward moment in time between birth and death, nothing matters more than love and kindness.
By this hour, crowds had already strategically gathered in front of the stage. M and I decided to sit at the picnic table at the back by the playground instead, for we had yet to eat our now-cold dinner. While awaiting our outdoors Shakespeare play to begin, she read me some of her beloved lines from Pericles, and as I observed the vibrant actress in her, I knew, head-in-the-clouds, that we were pals for a reason. But M paused and a brief moment of silence enveloped the air.
“Any plans on what you’re going to do when you two meet?” she asked.
“Not really. Probably just meet at the last place we met up two years ago,” I said.
“Looks like a coming of a full circle,” she smiled, as if to foreshadow the upcoming long-time-coming meet and greet.
Two days later, metaphorically, she was right: the line was drawn, both ends touched, and in the final stage, there was closure. Where I’d once found a home, I now found emptiness, and in that emptiness, mocking solace — and such sweet relief. Yet that didn’t signify the end of love for me, for what’s once loved is forever loved; only now, it was cosmic, for the fires of passion in me had succumbed to its timely demise, and all that remained was a steady candle flame casting its subtle shadow on the walls of my past.
It’s no secret that the human experience, despite its sweet nectar and aroma, is predisposed to tragedy of the most acute kind, because to be human is to be vulnerable. Invest one’s heart in anything or anyone and it shall be exposed to the whims of nature’s course. And I ache. I ache for myself and for all men and women since time immemorial who had loved and lost. But alas, there can be no light without dark; and in the final analysis, the laws and principles of the universe shall always remain faithful and promising. And that, chers amis, was enough to make me believe again.
As if I’d awaken from a comatose state, suddenly my memory was lost — and rightly so — and there I was, in my state of oblivion, walking through the streets with a blank palette and the enthusiasm and naïveté of a child, each building and nook and crevice of the city marking a new imprint on my soul. “C’est une belle journée, n’est-ce pas?” I whisper to myself and smile. That’s how I knew the sun had risen again and I was back to beginnings: for the first time, I was starting to fall in love with this city all over again. And the stars, they were lifting me to new heights.