Anytime I hear these words, I can only remember him. A glimpse of him, leaning out the window of the bus, talking to his buddies seated on bikes, asking them this question.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t in love with him or anything. He probably didn’t even know I existed.
Trouble, he was trouble. Handsome, well-built, part of the football and basketball team, with a bad-boy charm. Back in college, when life was much simpler, I liked such boys. I always wondered, what it’d be like to be a part of his world.
I always felt like an outsider, all my life. I envied people who lived with ease, who messed up, who were fiercely themselves; because for me, it was impossible. I could never let my guard down, not for anyone. Even when I acted goofy, some part of me would always be wary of letting people in, letting someone see my demons, my brokenness, all that made me anxious and sad. They’d only see what I wanted them to see. I wore a mask that would hide my vulnerability, I still do. It is only through these writings that I truly express my emotions, my fears, my dreams- the ones I weave and the ones that have been broken.
Back then, I was the naïve girl who wanted to be like one of those heroines from rom-coms. Madly in love, waiting to be rescued by my one true love with the glorious promises of love and happily ever-after’s, dancing under the moonlight, receiving flowers on valentine’s day. I wanted someone to sing and play the guitar for me from my garden, as I watched them with teary eyes from my bedroom window. I believed in fairytales, I wanted to live in one; I still do. It’s just that the story sounds a lot different now than it used to.
Back then, I desperately wanted someone to love me, I wanted to be someone’s entire world, I wanted to be the apple of someone’s eye, I wanted someone to make me feel better about myself, I wanted glorious gestures of love. There’s nothing wrong in feeling that way. It’s just that I missed the underlying truth. Before I could love someone else, or be loved, I needed to learn to love myself. I had to learn to stop selling myself short, stop the inner critic in me. Back then, I wanted to fall for someone, for I didn’t know the consequences that choice could bring.
I used to be the girl who believed that only & only the promise of a love could complete me and without it, I’d be useless. I believed that happiness came only in grandiose moments of life- proposals, marriages, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, Jobs in large organizations. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe they do. But I’ve also learnt what the small moments can do. The late night conversations, the encouraging text messages when you need them the most, pointless wandering in parks, drenching in the rain, singing along with an old song, long drives, watching the sunset & contemplating on life, as if you’ve a clue. Small meaningful gestures of love, unexpected gifts of chocolates, having a heartfelt conversation with a long lost friend, helping a stranger, gazing at a starry night, window shopping with your sister- rejecting every dress as a piece of shit, but really because you can’t afford it, getting lost in a city with a friend, smile from a stranger, trekking & struggling your way to the top of a mountain- only to admire the unbelievable view, getting over your fear-of heights, of water; sipping peppermint tea, complementing an old lady, petting stray dogs, receiving kindness from strangers, dancing with people you’ve just met in a bus that’s one the less a disco in itself, jumping into an ice cold river, travelling hundreds of miles at night to catch the sunrise from a hilltop.
I used to automatically consider people to be important/cool if most people thought that they were so. I guess our minds are programmed that way. It’s not that I want to judge people for who they are, God knows I’m not perfect. But, deciding for yourself, choosing your path based on your experiences rather than believing what the general crowd believes is an important milestone one can achieve as a human being.
Up until college, I wanted to be a part of the ‘cool’ group, no matter how miserable and out of place I really felt along with them. Now, when I look back, I can’t relate to that girl. I’ve always admired and liked people who’ve had a tough journey in life, but I never tried to cut myself off of all the drama and bullshit that the ‘cool’ people brought along.
Well, what did I know about being cool?
The lady from the maintenance team in my office, who’s bringing up her two teenage children, all on her own after escaping her abusive-alcoholic husband; She’s COOL.
The kid, I taught in college who lived with his cousin in a shack, away from his family of farmers, working night shifts to pay for his college; He’s COOL.
The girl who is everybody’s friend, who is there for everyone, even when she doesn’t receive the same love back, who believes and fights for a cause, also fighting her own battle of health issues with a wide smile on her face; She’s COOL.
The boy who wears his heart on the sleeve, helping anyone in need, heartbroken by the one girl he loves more than anyone in this world, who dreams to fight for & serve the country someday; He’s COOL.
The girl who is gravely mistaken & misunderstood by her peers and family, who chooses to see the good in people despite of what they see in her, who hates and loves the world at the same time, who believes in fairytales knowing the grim reality; She’s COOL!