superwoman

That day I was alone and sobbing, I thought of my mum. If only she was there with me, I wouldn’t have been that wreck crying in a public place. Superwoman, my mum, would hold up the sky if it was crumbling for me. She can achieve impossible physical feats, like breaking that plastic piece holding a new pair of socks together with her teeth. Of course she has psychic powers too: knowing my latent eczema would flare up in the blistering cold, she supplied me with the weapons that were moisturising creams. I returned one to her, but guess who likely needs more? She always masks her concern under her prickly exterior – her affection only manifests in her regular reproaches of my careless behaviours. Yet I remember the quiver of her voice and her lovely face as she struggled not to cry the last time we separated at the airport.

And that was only for six weeks, not six months.

meta on oversharing

I used to have a (even more) personal blog where I overshared about everything under the sun. I even posted love letters there. Look, I have no justification, but in my defense I thought they were sweet. (Don’t ask me, I’m not telling.) Well, everyone has their big cringe phase. But all good things must come to an end.

A friend asked me why I write. At least part of the reason I do so – though not entirely – is for others to read. Social connection is, quite simply, the essence of humanity. It always has been. For my friends, lovers, peers – for anyone that’s reading. Few things are quite as intimate as reading the stream of consciousness of another person. Especially when pieces are not written with a specific audience in mind: take away the grammar and all that’s left is a projection of the self.

And oversharing is a high. It feels great to be validated by others, even if they’re faceless figures whose existence is represented by a series of numbers. Add to that basic need the technology of instant gratification and you have the billion-dollar industry that is social media. All of it, for us to come to this point where we say too much and take back too little because we can’t anymore.

OB markers and fake news aside, I’ve been told to refrain from saying too much online if only for fear that it will someday come back to bite me. The vulnerabilities that distinguish my person, the arguments that I construct my identity with, and the emotions that tie me to moments of lived reality. Because anything can and will be weaponised against you if you’re not careful – even when you’re careful. I don’t deny it’s true. Yet, if we live like that all the time, where censorship is not merely an external force but coming from within, then we have been defeated even before we begin.

Where would the space left for self-expression be? In a draft hidden away in the unpublished virtual space, or in the dusty corners of the backs of our minds? If it’s not cherished here in the moment, something we’ll never recapture otherwise, where does it go? If social reality is constructed by two or more people, and a secret is not shared, did the latter ever exist?

I write to remember. Each piece is a fragment, a piece of broken glass. Put them all together someday, and maybe I’ll see in it a mirage of the entirety of lived experience, along with the people who mattered to me. I hope it’s a reflection worth remembering.

chocolate ice-cream

I had an odd experience earlier. I was at a school (Union) event, walking side by side with a friend while slurping a melting chocolate ice-cream, when she suddenly gasped in delight and rushed forward. She embraced a guy who was beaming as brightly as her. In the resultant flurry of happy laughs, I learnt they were old friends who had not seen each other for a few years. They launched straight into reminiscing with great fervour, drifting away into their own corner figuratively and physically.

I was left standing there not quite sure how to react – after all, it was their moment. So, I turned my attention to his friend, who was in the same predicament as me. He had turned his back to me, occupying himself with a performance onstage. Since it was part of my duties anyway, I whipped out my phone and asked him to complete a survey about the event. He politely obliged, before asking a question about the Union, which in turn led me to snap into Student Representative mode and blabber away. He followed with more questions, and I more answers, and so a tenuous back-and-forth was born under the blessing of the music in the background.

Anyone who knows me well enough realises I’m the awkward type. I typically compensate for it by rambling so there are no uncomfortable silences, but there wasn’t a need with this guy. He caught on to the trails in my sentences, added his own flair, and hit them back into my court seamlessly. Earlier in the day I had brushed shoulders with an old friend: yet when we made eye contact, the shared recognition that we had nothing to say to each other hung sombrely in the crowded silence between us. On the other hand, there I stood with a stranger, bantering away.

Still, he didn’t strike me as the smooth-talking, charismatic type – perhaps it was this disjuncture that made our encounter stand out in my memory. We were yelling at each other over the music half the time, yet the conversation progressed organically without me feeling like I had to say something for the sake of it. That and he kept telling me that I had chocolate ice-cream all over my mouth, the mere thought of which continues to make me cringe in embarrassment.

I never asked for his name. He says that since my friend knows his friend, we’ll probably see each other again. I don’t think so, though. But it was fun while it lasted.