The city ruined me.
When I was a teenager, I lived in a quiet little town in the countryside by the river. My parents worked 12-hour shifts, and I was often alone. Cautious with ironclad morals, I never caused any teenage ruckus in town, attended impromptu bonfire parties, or dabbled with either drugs or alcohol. With dial-up Internet, there were very few things I could do but write.
Alone in a quiet house, accompanied by freshly mowed lawns in the summers and blankets in the winters, I was forced to imagine an exciting life for myself, craved other worlds and other people – fabulous, magical worlds and fabulous, magical people.
I created Nocte as my better shadow, her siblings as my brother’s other faces, and her friends and enemies the friends and enemies I did not have, not the sort of friends who were as unwavering, creative, strong or distinct as Nocte’s.
Alone. Quiet. With my own space. I could hear myself think…I could hear the worlds and people I created very clearly and without obstruction. At 16, nothing was too ridiculous to imagine, nothing too strange to dabble in, and nothing too true to lie about. Everything was raw and came out in a stream of words and jarred grammar. There was nothing that could stop me from writing anything I wanted, me included. Especially myself.
Nocte Yin was an escape, a saving grace, and a gift to my boring, everyday life.
I was able to conceive and maintain a certain discipline and talent in writing.
It all changed, however, when I moved to the city for university. The city was bigger with more people and more activities. More to see. More to feel. More to be. I found myself diverting my focus to the latest anime, the latest get-together with friends, the latest career choice. There was so much to be happy about, be sad about, be worried about.
But mostly worry. So much worry.
Being a teenager, my parents were able to cushion me from the hard, jagged pains of life. Being an adult, I now have to fend for myself. School, job searching, maintaining a livelihood. So hard, harsh and horrendous. My reality became more ridiculous, more strange and more truthful than the worlds and people I had created years before.
I found myself struggling to write about them. I found myself without time or space to write about them.
The self-discipline and talent for writing I was once so proud of…waned in the face of reality.
I frequently think of this great loss in my life. I remember the time and space I used to have, and try to recreate it. I would go back home, to my parents’, and think that, for that weekend, I can relive that inspiration and creativity and write something – anything. I would wake up early in my current house in the city, earlier than my brother and his girlfriend, just to recreate that quiet time I used to have in hopes of writing something – anything. I once went to the park late in the afternoon, alone and quiet and surrounded by freshly mowed lawns in the summer, hoping to write something – anything. I managed a paragraph.
Things are so fast and jarring in the city – so distracting. I cannot manage myself.
Time is not malleable and hard to control. Space – but space – I can manipulate.
The house I currently live in, in the city, is owned by my parents, bought two decades ago for the sole reasons of giving my family of immigrants a chance in the big city…and a home base when it came time for my brother and I to leave the small town for the city’s many post-secondary schools. This house was built decades ago, with old wiring and no space between the walls for insulation. It was cold and drafty in the winter.
I say “was” because my parents have decided to renovate this drafty, old house this year. In fact, we are undergoing renovations as we speak. I was not only able to retain a room for my bedroom, but also another room for a living room/office. I have so many ideas (also distractions from writing) about this office. I want to recreate that quiet, alone space so that I can write again.
I want it so desperately that sometimes all I can imagine in the space is a desk and my desktop – the bookshelves, sofabed, coffee table, lamp, elliptical are only at the peripheral.
I want, desperately, to have that again: a space of my own.
A space where nothing is too ridiculous to imagine, nothing too strange to dabble in, and nothing too true to lie about. A space where I can be raw and open, and not afraid to share and be all that I am capable of communicating and being.
A space to be free.
A space where I can be surrounded by all the things I love.
A space where I can find my better shadow again.
A space of my own…with time pending.
Snowdrop | Hope