everything i used to love

(Before reading this, see Wonder for context)

PROLOGUE

Every day I wake up and I wonder why.

The sky outside is grey. I have no idea if this is an ordinary occurrence or not. I’m sure there have been plenty of days when the sky outside was clear light blue, times when it was dark blue, when it had fat clouds, wispy clouds, bitty clouds. Times when it was foggy, times when the moon was out, times when the sun shone in the sky.

It’s not like I’ve noticed.

It’s not like it’d have made a difference if I had.

The gray isn’t at all a reflection of inside. It just is. Just like everything else.

I’m kind of hungry and there’s a box of half eaten tim tams on my bedside table. It’s chewy caramel … too sweet, too sticky …

They don’t last long.

Everytime I do this, I hate myself a little more. And spoiler alert: I do this a lot.

I guess you know where this puts me, then.

It’s akin to being down in a fight, bruised and bloodied, and you know what to do to make yourself feel better? Punch yourself in the face. Over and over and over and over.

So … feel shit about yourself and life in general? Gorge on food until you feel like throwing up, hate your body, and hate yourself. That’ll cheer you up for sure.

My friend sends me a snapchat about exams. I don’t reply. Why do we have friends? When it all comes down to it, we have friends because we need them. And when we no longer need them, that’s when we drift away. Sometimes, we stay friends because one of them needs us even if we don’t need them, and then we stay out of obligation. But it’s all about at least one kind of need. A need for companionship … to feel wanted … to feel belonging … to feel love.

I don’t know if I need my friends, and they definitely don’t need me. Maybe that’s why our relationships have been fading.

Half the people I call friends, I have zero connection to. We became friends because neither of us had anyone else. I thought when I got to university, I could find people that I could truly connect with.

Instead, I became a hermit.

At first, that distressed me. At first, in the back of my mind, I was telling myself that I need to pull myself together. Talk to someone. Anyone.

Now, a distant part of myself tells me … maybe … maybe you should make an effort.

The rest of me couldn’t give less of a shit.

I wish I could care about things the way I used to. When I try to make a list of everything that makes me excited, it goes something like this:

  • ?
  • ??
  • Seeing my boyfriend (sometimes)
  • Music
  • ???

Sometimes I distract myself with things like masturbation. But that only works for a short time because eventually you have to go back to life and besides, the high doesn’t last forever.

Why have I forgotten and abandoned all the things that used to bring me so much joy and excitement?

I write a list of everything I used to love …

And maybe … just maybe, I can learn to feel again.

I guess it’s worth a shot.

THE LIST

HERE GOES

  • Music

This could have an entire chapter to itself. I don’t know what I would do without music. There’s music that can reduce me to tears, sometimes because of memories but usually simply because it’s so beautiful that I just have to cry in awe and appreciation. There’s something about it that cuts right into my heart. I love it so much, it’s painful.

I love the feeling of nostalgia whenever I hear a song I listened to when I was a child. I remember the first time I heard the 1975 and watched the music videos for Girls and Robbers and I was hooked from that moment. I remember I couldn’t stop watching and rewatching MGK and Tillie’s cover of Everlong. I remember getting chills listening to I Need a Forest Fire.

I remember so many songs that shook me to the core.

I let them shake me, again and again. It’s bliss.

  • Looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling like, yes, I am pretty

It may be vanity but it’s a vanity that makes me happy to be in my own skin … to see a pretty face smiling back at me … to admire my eyes, my lips, nose. To feel wonderfully made.

  • The feeling of singing a song up on a stage to a crowd

This is simply the most amazing feeling. I love being on a stage, when everything is dark … there’s only a little light. You feel like you’re almost removed from the rest of the world. Like it’s just you and the music, but it’s more than a rehearsal. It’s you and the music carried into a larger than life space. I love how the microphone magnifies everything and makes your voice sound so much better. I love the echoes. I love the thrill, the nervousness, the excitement, all building up to the best high in the world when you become one with the music and you are –

  • Belting out a song

It’s the feeling of abandon. I normally sing quietly so when you’re belting, there’s no “oh, no one can hear how bad I sound”. It’s an all or nothing and belting is all. It’s letting the music take you and not caring what anybody thinks.

  • Acting

I love acting because there’s such a wide variety of human experiences that I know I will never feel. Some of them are amazing experiences, some are terrible and I know I may not want to experience them for real. But I still think it’s mindblowing so I’m grateful to acting for allowing me a little bit of that idea of living a million lives.

I love how acting celebrates … revels in … worships … emotion. I’ve always been an extremely emotional person but everyone told me I mustn’t show negative emotions. I mustn’t cry. I mustn’t frown. Sometimes all I wanted was to just feel but I learned that I had to do this in secret.

But with acting, it’s all different, and I love it! With acting, I can feel to the very depths. I can fucking scream, I can cry, I can have a mental breakdown, I can be a terrible person, I can be a lovely person, and instead of calling me temperamental, people call me talented. It’s remarkable.

  • Choosing a 2 dollar ice cream from those freezers in convenience stores (cornettos!)

The ice cream is all bitty like its made of coconut or something. The crunchy bits of the cone are the best! Slowly peeling the paper down is the best feeling, reminds me of being a kid. It was the most exciting thing to look down into the cooler at the myriad of options and … choose.

  • Wearing black lipstick

My first encounter with black lipstick was when I saw a woman in a newspaper ad with black hair, black nails, and black lipstick. I was entranced. It took a while for me to muster the courage to order black lipstick online, because I didn’t know if I’d actually have the courage to wear it. I was so so excited when it arrived and I ran to my bathroom to apply it. Took me a few weeks to actually wear it anywhere other than the privacy of the bathroom but I got there.

It’s fucking gorgeous. It makes me feel amazing. It feels like ME.

  • Painting my nails

I always paint them black … pure jet black. There’s something about black … I could wear everything in that color and it would be perfection. I love how shiny and smooth and dark it is when I first apply it. I love the smell of nail polish. It clears my head.

  • Instagram themes

Some people have themes to die for. It’s art. Who says smartphones have ruined all creativity?

  • Reading a beautiful novel

Again, this feels like music. I simply cannot, with my words, do justice to the beauty and genius of my favorite novels. I can only say that, they are books where I want to touch, feel, taste, and swim in the words.

  • Shipping a couple

Second only to feeling love is the feeling of celebrating love. I’m someone who loves PDA, who loves couples who post pictures of each other on social media with the mushiest, gushing captions. It makes me smile to see two people love each other so much. I know that fictional couples don’t technically matter. But when it’s a couple written or portrayed with so much chemistry and love, it can’t help but mean the world to me. I want them to be together, I squeal when they interact, when they kiss… I want to see love, in stories, in movies, in real life, in my heart.

  • Blade Runner

I don’t know what it is about this movie. I think it’s the cinematography and set, primarily. The constant rain, the night sky, the city lights, the neon … And the fight scene at the end gave me chills. It was the most brilliant performance.

  • City lights

Speaking of city lights, they are the best at nighttime. I love to see them from my window, watch them when I’m riding in the car.

  • Kissing

I love the warmth, the softness of someone’s lips, how you feel so much closer to them, like it’s bridging a gap. You can feel so much from a simple gesture like this … love, desire, passion.

  • Falling asleep on a winter night

I tuck the blankets under me to keep the cold air from touching my skin. I snuggle up in the blankets, feeling how soft and thick they are. When they’ve just come out of the laundry, they smell like the powder, sweet and fresh.

  • Cuddling

The bed and blankets are comfortable on a winter night and I was always happy going to bed alone.  But now that I’ve spent the night with my boyfriend, it feels lonely and it’ll always be second best to the feeling of falling asleep in the arms of someone you love. Plus, body heat is better than a blanket.

  • The movie theatre experience

It may be cheaper to watch movies in the comfort of your own home, but what about the big theatre, surround sound, pitch black lighting, getting popcorn from the stands, walking down the aisles? I probably sound like a kid. That’s because it makes me feel excited like one too.

  • Taking a train and bus

Despite having an hour and a half commute to uni, I haven’t grown tired of public transport. I love to feel the motion of a moving vehicle. I love to watch the roads and trees go by. I listen to music and relax. I always wish time could freeze and I don’t have to arrive at my destination (that may be because the destination is often either work, school, or doctor’s appointment … but still)

  • Looking up at the stars in the night sky

It’s kind of like city lights. They’re beautiful and vast and they bring home how small and insignificant we are and that’s kind of amazing in itself. I feel like I’m in a dream. There’s this feeling of something so so much bigger than myself and I feel so much longing. The stars pull at my heart.

  • Looking at rolling hills

It sometimes makes me wish we lived in a precivilised world where we could just live in nature and go on adventures. I know these fantasies come from highly romanticised views from fantasy novels – but a girl can imagine, right?

  • Trees

I love all trees. I used to write poems about them. Nature has so much beauty and I take this for granted, but sometimes when I just step back and look twice, it hits me again. Evergreens are the best.

  • Going to sleep with the rain beating on the windows

It’s the best bedtime music.

  • Sleeping in your own bedroom

First time I had my own bedroom was at 18 (although I sometimes slept alone when my sister, with whom I shared a room, was sick, etc.). I just like the privacy. I like to be alone sometimes. I like having a space that’s all mine … for me to design, for me to think. I don’t know what it is, but I need this so much … I need to have a space to call and make my own and now that I have it, I can tell you, it is just as good as I thought it would be. It has not disappointed.

  • Late night conversations

That said, I enjoyed sleeping in the same room as my sister because it made our late night conversations effortless … and we had many of them, talking about anything and everything that came to our minds. I love late night text convos as well.

  • Sex

You know that I had to put this on the list. There’s a reason we’re obsessed with sex … because it’s pretty great.

  • Drinking a glass of red wine

Yes, I’ll admit that the color is part of it. I love how deep red the wine is. I will just admire it in the cup but I also like the bitter sweet taste of it and I like the bite.

  • Ball dresses

They make me feel like a princess. I wish there were more opportunities to wear ball dresses and not have every single person stare at you (although, on second thoughts, they do look pretty damn awesome, so maybe it doesn’t matter to stand out …)

  • Makeup

I love the process of applying makeup. It’s calming. I love all the colors of eyeshadows and lipsticks and all the possibilities. And I love having long eyelashes (even if they are artificial)

  • Stories

There are many stories in my head and it’s almost as if I didn’t come up with them myself because they make me feel all the feels.

I like bedtime stories.

I like crazy improv stories.

I love short stories that make your jaw drop and make you think and make you desperate to know what happens next … but of course, it’s up to your imagination.

I love how stories can be real or fake. How anything can be a story. How everything has a story.

I love how stories bring the dead to life.

  • Having a crush

Having a crush is pretty much 99 percent pain (especially if you have low self esteem and assume no one will like you back) but I still wouldn’t trade the feeling, because it is a pretty intense feeling, having someone consume all your waking thoughts (and your dreams). It’s intense to want someone that much, to feel so shaken whenever they are near. And it’s an intensity that I want and I’m grateful to have. Sometimes life can reach a plateau and you feel blank. Sometimes it’s something like a crush that makes you remember you are alive.

  • The beauty of human faces

Humans are so attractive. Sometimes people will ask who do you think is the hottest celebrity and I respond by saying how the fuck do you expect me to choose??! There are so many physically stunning men and woman all over the world. They have beautiful eyes of all different colors and shapes. Noses, jaws, lips, facial hair or smooth skin. I try not to stare too much if I see a beautiful person in real life and I definitely don’t want to treat them like meat. I know they are not there for me to gawk at … but seriously, I can’t help but appreciate how gorgeous people are. And that brings me to

  • The beauty of the human body

Both men and women’s bodies ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. It doesn’t matter what shape, size, or color. I will still stare in awe.

  • Calling a friend

When you can’t be with someone in person, at least you can still hear their voice. I like calls that go late into the night. I like how I often can talk more on the phone than in person. I love the particular feeling of connection.

  • Portrait photography

Hands down my favorite type of photography. This is related to the beauty of human faces. I also love, though, the idea of trying to capture personality in a photo … it’s not easy but I love how portrait photography is more than a replication of a face … it’s a reflection of a facet of a person and maybe a reflection of a facet of their soul.

  • Swimming

I love being enveloped by water. I like to take a deep breath and dive below the surface, surrounded by blue. I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid. Aside from my dreams of being Ariel, maybe it’s because then I could breathe underwater and if I could breathe underwater, I think it’d be amazing to live there.

  • Feeling hot

I love lingerie with lace and patterns and straps, or maybe all three? I like to look in the mirror and feel pretty … I also like to look in the mirror and feel hot. Even if no one was going to see me in my underwear, I would still want to wear pretty pieces that make my body look good because there’s nothing like the feeling of confidence that feeling sexy gives you … and it’s not for anyone else, but for yourself alone.

  • Dancing

I like being swept up by music, abandoning self consciousness, feeling my limbs take on a mind of their own. It’s sweaty bodies, clapping hands, tapping feet, rhythm and grace. I don’t know how to dance properly but I would like to learn so I can learn to gracefully show my feelings through the movements of my body. But dancing for fun is wonderful as well.


EPILOGUE

I read this list again after I wrote “Wonder”. It was fun. Even if I professed to be depressed, cynical, suicidal, and empty, I could feel the excitement when I spoke about the things that made me happy. And it gives me so much hope. I know I can be a class A drama queen. I know that I am. That doesn’t mean that my feelings weren’t real – or rather, my lack of feelings. I suppose the thing about being a drama queen is that you feel everything in high saturation – the good and the bad. And it means that you can feel a lot – or nothing at all.

But here again. It doesn’t last forever. Everything will go back to equilibrium. I am proof that you can learn to love again.

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