Words I have lived by since I was 15, since my family moved back from Paris and I was struggling to adapt to the heat, the language barrier, and the oppressive environment of a tiny private school. For every obstacle I faced, my only consolation came in the form of those words: This too shall pass. No matter how long it took, no matter how unhappy I was, it would pass, and I would be OK again.
And for those who have tried keeping count, yes, this is officially my 10th tattoo.
You can plan your life to the last detail
Chart the course your heart will follow through your days
But the funny thing about answered prayers
Is they come to you in unexpected ways
– Plan On Forever, Dana Glover –
I’ve always been a divide-and-conquer person. I can take a problem apart, segregate and categorize the pieces, then solve them bit by bit before putting everything back together. I can organize my thoughts, practically see them in my mind as I break them down, and present any situation in the most systematic and structured form possible.
But when it comes to breaking down everything that has defined my life for the past 18 days, I find that my mind draws a complete blank, because I hardly know where to start.
Everything has meshed into one big blur of thoughts, emotions and internal arguments. And as strange, twisted and wrong as it sounds, I have never been in a more appropriate frame of mind to take it all and handle it the only way it can be handled, given the circumstances.
I may have always had a knack for running myself into the same wall over and over again, but at least this time I’m running into a different kind of wall. And the pain has never felt better.
I hadn’t had a dream like that in the longest time. I don’t remember the last time he appeared in my dreams, and I especially didn’t expect him to again after my Valentine’s Day discovery.
But there he was, just last night — or was it two nights ago? — and, perhaps owing to how infrequently he appeared in my dreams anymore, it was one of my most vivid of him. And my most heartbreaking, because to wake up and remember in a rush that it was only ever going to be a dream, took me back to a time, five years ago, when it seemed like that dream could actually be real.
Five years. Five years. Just like that, half a decade has gone by. Half a decade during which I flourished, floundered and fluked my way through life to get myself to this point. Half a decade during which I’ve made excuses for my shortcomings and failures to rationalize to myself why I am still here, in a country that has always felt just a little bit alien to me, among people whom I have always felt just a little bit isolated from — although I was able to make many good friends along the way — and in a life that I allowed to spin so completely out of control that I needed a birthday to bring me back down to the ground.
But the time for that is over. Now that I have nobody to answer to and be responsible for, and nothing much to commit myself to here, the time has come to start planning a more satisfying future for myself. I’ll be damned if I’m sitting here again in another five years wondering how I managed to get myself stranded here for a full decade.
So here’s to my sixth year back. It’s already gotten off to an extremely interesting start.