She watched the business district’s rainbow-colored skyline from the veranda of an obscurely tiny but cozy lair that helps her get to work day in and day out. The night is still alive, but she feels as sanitized and as superficial as the man-made lights in the landscape. Not that she finds no beauty in the picturesque swirls of light. She inhales sharply and takes in the scenery, mesmerized at the privilege of viewing things from where she stands. Ten years ago, she dreamed of having this kind of lifestyle. And she is happy to have achieved it, although the living arrangements are still on loan, not even rent to own.
Days of flexibly lounging out her thoughts and stretching them in the recklessness of her thoughtless youth are now replaced with simultaneous streams of critical thinking. She recognizes that she is no longer a little girl, stubborn as her remarks and mood swings remain even in the workplace. But she tries her best to keep the child in her alive, because it’s where the wonderland of wordplay grows and works its magic. The child is still there, amidst political correctness and professional yardsticks where people are measured by the outputs they produce more than their sincerity and ability to cultivate deep relationships.
She learns to cruise through the necessaries, but she paddles hard each night to turn to the things that she wants, to the things that allow her to be just her– not the breadwinner, not the working girl who needs to climb the rungs of success, not the girlfriend, not the daughter, not the PRC-licensed weirdo who likes to divulge her board exam tips.
Each night, she just becomes the lover of words who cries at each moment that she does not make a dent in her ambitious reading list, who silently laments at each minute she does not spend in writing her heart out.
Still, she comes to an understanding that the world of monthly progress reports, research work, and never ending followups with other people in the professional world is just as important as her vice of dishing out literary attempts. Now, she aspires to do better at work as she also aspires to see her name as author in one of the bestsellers shelf in her favorite quaint bookstore. She steals bits and pieces of her busy life in reading the sage prose of the likes of Milan Kundera and while she acknowledges that her writing voice may not be as brilliant, she can continue to try. AND SHE WILL KEEP TRYING, until her very last breath and very last drips of ink from her writing pen.
But first things first. At her age, she is expected to climb a ladder, distasteful as it may be to her. She provides bread. She plugs and forces herself to make some sacrifices instead of lazily and unproductively dreaming of sipping pina coladas in the Caribbean while drafting the skeleton of a literary novel that promotes a unique form of critical consciousness. Some of her literary dreams and passion inappropriately tumble out in the middle of her attempts to act grownup in a grownup’s world. But she knows that even when she becomes good at role playing, she will still be a little girl at heart. A little girl with an insatiable love for the written word. Insatiable is a mere understatement, even.
And then after all the obligations to everybody else is done, she finds a nice spot, sits with her legs straddled diagonally as she positions a makeshift table in front of her. She sheds off the disguise of having to assume a certain personality to survive in the tried and tested path that people expect out of supposedly accomplished urban young professional women like her.
She finds that all these responsibilities are as heavy as the pair of Gucci shoes she walked in the entire day. She leaves both in the shoe rack by the door and settles barefoot and into more comfortable clothes. She relaxes, enjoys the veranda view, and starts collecting her thoughts.
She started to enter into the world of words as she had done since she was a little girl who hid under the covers at night just to read one more paragraph of that childish novel. And she remembers that scenario with a chuckle. She is no longer hiding under the covers to make love with words. But here and now, twenty years later, she is still losing precious hours of sleep to do so. An idiot, yes. But for her, it’s a small price to pay compared to living a life without words.
Each word she pumps on screen is a drop of blood that makes her undead to her soul, alive to her dreams, and thriving in the inner world that she has to fight for to keep alive.
Some nostalgic tears drop on the keyboard as she writes. How she missed the days where she had flowing creative juices and wrote to her heart’s content. She knows that there is nothing else in the world that she would love to do than write what she wants whenever she wants it and however she wants to convey it. But it’s not the practical choice at this point in time.
She may lose some sleep tonight. She may wake up late than she would want the following day.
But she gained the will to live and aim for the things that she truly wants, tiresome masks and Gucci killer shoes notwithstanding. She embraced the rain and sun that simultaneously shines on her. There’s the pot of gold at the end of this rough rainbow, she is most certain, for as long as she continues to try her best.