Tumbleweeds have infiltrated my blog, but I’m finally back. Nearly two weeks have passed since I’ve posted and, unfortunately, the time was minimally well-spent. My days have consisted of isolating myself in my room, locked deeper away in my mind of grey and drear. What I could have and should have done is coloured in the monochrome pages of a colouring book or, better yet, take to writing and spell out my heart’s despair. But no, I tried to cry my pain away and overspend my tears, still leaving me sorrowful and now tear-less.None of this is to say my sorrow outweighs the rest in the world. I’ve always believed that everyone suffers greater challenges than I do, and I began to shy away from talking about mine due to fear of being judged as privileged and weak. Nothing I endured was worth talking about and feeling sad turned to feeling sad and guilty. After this long emotional decline, I’m realizing this outlook isn’t going to change how I feel or fix anyone’s problems.
One of my friends from high school has gone through a spiritual journey, and the other day he told me what his friends have been telling him:
“You control your feelings. Not the other way around.”
And they’re right. Even if I have to “fake it until I make it,” I can choose to be happy. I know this. I do! But I haven’t been putting it to practice…
If I’m being honest, there’s still going to be days where I cry myself to a snot-dribbling, red-cheeked crybaby with snot-stained clothes (thank you Melanie Martinez for making me feel comfortable about calling myself a crybaby), but it’s re-enlightening to be told what has always been true:
Every single occurrence in life is out of my control. I do not control my family or friends or boyfriend or strangers or what life has in store for each of them. What I do control are my emotions and how I view every event my life. And with that, I suddenly hold power over my life. With perspective, my life can be abundant with successes, lessons learned, and happiness, or my life can be filled with hardships, failures, and misery. I choose. We all choose.
Yesterday, Giovanni and I decided I needed to conquer my anxiety about buses. At first he wanted me to practice driving, but when I declined, he wouldn’t let me sabotaged myself and skip a bus ride too. I quietly knew he was right and I needed to try, so I didn’t fight it for long.
Finding the bus stop was easy. All it took was a cautious run from the trailer park to the other side of the street, and there we stood shivering at the bus stop in waiting. Leaning in close, Giovanni stated in a mix of enthusiastic and calm, “This is all part of the bus adventure, babe. You’ve gotta’ stand here and wait for the bus. Sometimes when it’s cold.”
We ended up agreeing on sweaters though, so he ran back home.
Twenty minutes passed, and the bus arrived. Even though I dropped out, I was still able to get on the bus under the “Students Ride for Free” discount. The bus driver didn’t even look at my ID and trusted Giovanni’s word and ID for both of us (bus police, please don’t arrest me! I was in school for a while and still have to pay tuition… please let me keep riding the bus this semester). My Totoro-chest sweater caught the attention of a passenger, who began mumbling Totoro’s theme and asked us if we liked Totoro a few times between our nods.
The last time I rode on public transportation was in London, England, and I’ve been intimidated to try anything else since, because London has its public transportation down. Yet I absolutely love riding buses, trains, and subways (London calls it the Underground), because it’s impossible to know who you’ll encounter, and my writer-self lives for that.
Surrounded by a diverse cast, I visually devoured as much as I could: the woman to my right sat next to the door, her paper grocery bag from Whole Foods dividing us; my eyes wandered to peek inside, but I could only see a bundle of kale – dino kale, to be exact; the guy who sang Totoro now lied across two seats, shielding his face with his long and thin arms; as my eyes ventured around, the chatters of a foreign language floated through my ears; another man came onto the bus after a couple stops; dressed head to toe in bright blue, his red Michael Jordan sneakers rightfully caught my attention; he had a chiseled jawline and precise haircut, with the sides shaved and his short hair glued up with gel; he had tattoos and a serious stare; from his, I began to ponder the stories all our shoes told; both the lady beside him and myself wore old, grey sneakers, perhaps saying a bit about our financial situations; like me, perphaps she was having financial struggles during job-hunting, while the man beside was not well-off either but worked two jobs and splurged a little for those brand-name shoes; I began to consider how the world and these people viewed me and my tattered shoes; the woman beside me continued falling deeper into her jazz music, closing her eyes and waving a hand while she sang quietly and swayed in her seat; when Giovanni and I reached our stop, she pulled out an earbud and began thanking the driver, until I tried to step by and she realized this wasn’t her stopped; she let out a melodic laugh and jumped off the bus so the other passengers could pass.
Originally we planned to go to the mall, but Giovanni wanted to eat at a nearby vegan-friendly Thai food place. His GPS kept us wandering in circles though, and I tried to tell him to look at the street names instead of the moving arrow – I got my GPS-leading-me-nowhere experience on a frigid winter night in London. So scary. After running hand-in-hand across the street and taking a short walk following, we found it! I wasn’t in the mood for Asian food as much as Giovanni (I’ve become a pastaholic), but it was worth it to see him ogle at the menu in excitement.
He’d been craving soup for a while and attempted to make one (that was rather costly) when he was sick, but it ended up flavorless and, to him, “disgusting.” I think it was more his disappointment than lack of flavor that made the soup bad. On the menu, he pointed out a soup he wanted for an appetizer but decided not to order it when I said I wasn’t going to get one. Since he really wanted soup, I decided to try the miso soup. I don’t remember which soup he ordered, but it was much prettier than mine. Both came in cool metal pots.
My soup greeted me a yummy flavor bursting but washed over my tongue in a salty-oil and water mixture. Giovanni described it as “fishy,” and I grimaced. When we ordered, I had wondered if we needed to specify our orders as vegan, and even though Giovanni told me he was only joking, the thought made me sick. Even before going vegan, I never liked eating fish. After giving up on the soup, I found captivating amusement by watching it churn like a dust cloud. What happened though? It looks like the broth separated from the water.
Sticking to the usuals from our favorite Thai-fushion place, Pongo’s, Giovanni ordered drunken noodles and I ordered veggie fried-rice.
The food came in boats, and a spiraled carrot shaving held up a green garnish like a sail! The rice had too much sweetness to it, and my guess is from the soy sauce. I ate half of the boat and saved the rest for the following morning. I didn’t get a clear picture of Giovanni’s drunken noodles, but he liked them. I tried a couple bites when he went to the restroom (don’t worry, I told him afterwards), and as he described, the noodles didn’t have a strong flavor, but the spiciness that Giovanni constantly desires was there. Giovanni gives the thumbs up for Thai Time, so much that Pongo’s is no longer his favorite Asian food place. Taste-wise, I still prefer Pongo’s, but the plate presentation goes to Thai Time.
Getting back to the bus stop proved easier than finding the restaurant. When we spotted the station and our bus, Giovanni made it seem like we were going to miss it, so we ran across the street. Stepping out from against the wall, a body entered our path and started talking.
“Hey. Hey. So you guys like Totoro?”
The young man who sang the theme on the bus earlier tonight pierced us with steady eye-contact and out of nowhere conversation. Giovanni later asked if I saw how dilated his pupils were, but I seemed to only notice and feel his deep stare. He continued on, asking us if we liked Spirited Away. Giovanni hesitated, having not seen the movie, but I answered yes in glee.
“You know, I actually have a relationship with the director, Hayao Miyazaki.”
“Oh, really?” Giovanni and I both asked.
“Yeah. He once gave me the finger.”
I couldn’t grasp what he said at first, and he loosely elaborated that Miyazaki had held his middle finger up at him. He rambled incoherently, shifting eye-contact between Giovanni and me. He stared through me. Or at me. At my soul. Our eyes were interlocked in an uncomfortablly strong gaze. I didn’t find him threatening or even aggressive, but I still felt nervous.
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
I didn’t know what to say, while Giovanni spoke in interest, “Well, you have to give more context… you’re not giving us much explanation.”
He didn’t answer to that and instead continued rambling vaguely, “Someday you’ll hear about Miyazaki giving the finger to some dude, and then you’ll think back to today and be like, ‘Wow, this guy was telling the truth!’ But for now I’m just telling you that he flipped me off.”
Giovanni smiled and pointed to our bus, looking for an escape, and the young man nodded, “You two seem like good people, and you look very in love with one another, and I appreciate that these days, and-” Suddenly he opened his arms and got close-“I just want to hug and squeeze you together-” He wrapped his arms around us tightly, and I felt Giovanni’s face squish against mine. A couple of times I started pulling away, thinking the hug was over, but he embraced us for a good 10 seconds.
I don’t remember how we parted ways, but soon Giovanni and I were seated on a bus heading home.