“It’s been quite a while, huh?”
7 months have elapsed since the onset of the pandemic. Through fear, uncertainty, re-evaluation, and re-balancing, I have found my footing in the direction I wanted to head in. It was in the past that I had left behind that I had meaning for the future, and everyday I took just a step closer to realizing these dreams. Drip by drip, as the famous modern-day philospher known only as B.E. Well would commonly end all their VR posts with.
In my acension during the global pandemic, others had lost so much. Some had lost everything, including but not limited to their own lives. But somewhere in-between were those given the chance to start anew, and uncomfortable with their own uncertainty, desperately clung on to fleeting normalities of yesterday. And in this in-between I was meeting a friend from my older life on the premise I would be receiving a long overdue Christmas present. Unsurprisingly, she forget it.
“So, I’m the only one you’ve been keeping in touch with, huh?”
Closer to the truth would be more like she was the one keeping in touch with me. When I was spiralling and uncertain about how to proceed at the beginning of the pandemic, it became painfully clear that the work friend group I clung onto so desperately had nothing of value for me. Their worries were simple and secular concerns: work promotions, relationship drama, and social outings for the sake of being outside. When all the conversations ceased because of social distance, I find myself alone once more, but oddly enough the silence wasn’t deafening like before. It was oddly soothing… like I was given a chance to take pause and breathe. And in this silence I realized, I was not missing the ever-seeking and ever-streched thin version of myself. The same was not evident for my companion sitting beside me.
The old me would have mused and dreamed of being selected for this very moment. After years of living at home to save up money, I finally made the leap to live closer to work, closer to people my age, and have moments like these everyday. I briefly gaze upon the scenerio we find ourselves in: a town square in the middle of various food shops and fashion boutiques, a empty stage in the middle, and various benches and garden tables scattered across the square. In the before times, these square would have been bustling with activity and glimmering with lights and other attractions. In the now-times, the only people I saw were the occasionally dog-walker and their furry friends. And her, sitting alongside me.
We caught up and riffed about our journies up to this point. My story seemed longer, as I had done far more than her and quite frankly most people my age since the onset of the pandemic. Hearing her side of her story, my personal hypothesis were becoming validated. And in an ever-slight homage to my sempai, I asked outright:
“Is everything okay? Don’t you feel like you’re being streched too thin?”
She sighed, and took a brief moment to pause and reflect on her answer. Yes, she smiled weakly, but everything is okay. My fear was that she getting back to the life she lived pre-pandemic: spending every available moment in service to others. It was here where my desire to be acknowledged had festered, and it was there where I had realized I was no one special in her life because everyone was special in her life. But everything is okay, she tried to weakly reaffirm. I care a lot of the people in my life, and I want to make sure they all know that. I sighed internally, but let her continue.
“And that’s why I’m glad we’re friends too. You’re one of the rare ones that I don’t have to keep in touch with often to stay friends. You’re always doing alright!”
I grit my teeth, but nod in agreement. I can’t believe a passing comment like this came back to bite me so profoundly. I had proudly stated earlier that I cut-off ties with those who I felt like did not add immediate value in my life, but kept in touch with those I might need to rely on for future engagements. It was like a cool dosage of reality, humbling me with the words I had given others not through words, but with my actions. Ruminating on these words that were oh-so-shocking but completely expected, the dusk has finally tucked itself away into the night, and the street lights of the town square began to alight.
“Oh that’s right, I almost forgot, your birthday is coming up soon, right?”
Hiss. I didn’t audiblely make this noise, but I mentally reeled back at having to meet with this person yet again. I amused myself at thinking she was holding both my christmas gift and birthday present hostage as a reason to get me to meet her once more. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback that I can come off as cold, distant, and hard to approach. I just like to think of myself as busy and building towards something. Flattering accusations aside, the end of the night was drawing near. It was time to say goodbye, for who knows when our next encounter will be.
Then a weird realization entered my mind, so I just asked it.
“Why did you get me a christmas present? I’d imagine you’d be pretty broken if you got something for everyone you care about.”
“Oh! It’s not like that at all. Whenever I see something that I think someone I know would like, I get it for them! Your gift just happened to coincide with christmas, so I just called it a christmas present!”
It was a bit difficult to tell under her mask, but her smile was beaming brightly. I decided not to press the issue any further. Maybe this is just one of those maiden’s mysteries I will never know the answer to.
“Heh, what perfect timing for something I had compeletely forgotten about.”
A mysterious French package finds itself at my doorstep. Unwrapping it questionably as I racked my brain for when was the last time I placed an order for French memorobilia, I remove the last piece of packaging, and smile wryly to myself. Almost a 13 months since I placed the order, a pair of limited-edition Kindom Hearts conductor wands had finally found their way to my home. I opened the actual container, and my jaw immediatly dropped.
Embedded inside were two fantastic crafted keyblades shaped into the form of conductor wands. In the lore of Kingdom Hearts, a keyblade is a sword shaped like a giant key, which is used to fight for your beliefs, open doors, and seal them as well. There are many keyblades in existence, but these two conductor wands are forged in the shape of Oblivion and Oathkeeper. Oblivion is a dark and rustic keyblade, symbolizing the passing of memories and chance to begin anew because of it. Oathkeeper is its counterpart, a bright and gleaming blade symbolizing the promises we keep, even if the memories aren’t there anymore. As beautitful as these two conductor wands were, I realized I bought these on impulse, and they have very little meaning to me otherwise. But these were beautiful ammendities otherwise, so I thought back to who would defintely get a kick out of these.
The first person to come to mind was her.
“You know one of my dreams is to play in a big orchestra, right? Like in one of those multi-millonare dollar soundtracks for my favorite blockbuster films. And when I have my fill of that, I think I’ll settle down and start teaching music at the local school in my hometown. Ooh, ooh, but before that I gotta finish my foundation to help give kids like me who work at their parent’s Chinese takeout place a chance to prepare for college so they can finally have their parents retire! Ooh, ooh, wait, weren’t you working on something like that too? You’ll help me if I ever need, right?”
A memory I had almost compeltely forgetten about flooded back into my mind at full force. The reason this memory was so vivid was that this was probably the first time someone had made me cry when they were speaking about their future. Most people my age only taked about promotions, relationships, and acquiring more wealth and land. She is the only person I’ve come across thus far who wanted to dedicate their time for the elevation of others.
“Hey, why are you crying? We’re suppose to be having fun here!”
Heh, easy for you to say. But thinking about it then, there was something here, something worthwhile to latch onto. A dream bigger than myself, huh?
Out of all the memories I had chosen to remember, I can’t believe this is one of the ones I had almost forgotten. I carefully put away the package, and make a note to wrap and exchange it for the next time we happen to meet. I laughed at the conversation I predicted would unfold:
“Why would you get me a gift? I know my birthday and christmas are pretty much on the same day, but come on, there was no need! Now I gotta get you something for NEXT year!”
“Oh, you know. I just happened to find something that I figured someone I knew would like.”
But oh, let it go ‘Cause I found God And he said, “Plans change a lot”
Today’s word count: 1,581 words
Total word count until today: 27,214 words
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