01 July 2013

the sun was high, so was I

I recently went on a trip with my friends. The sap that I am was, and probably result of a previous difficult month, I almost didn't go. It didn't matter that I was already booked for the flight; I just wasn't feeling up to it. When I think about it now, how I almost passed on that trip, the thought makes me quiver a little. I almost didn't go. I can only imagine how I would have hated myself for being such a stubborn idiot had I let the killjoy in me win. Because as it turns out, that vacation was everything I needed.

On that trip, we met some travelers whom we have become friends with, and that's one of the things I'm really glad about. As a girl coming not only from a third-world country, but one with a conservative culture as well, I always complained by how we are bound by so many norms that are proving hard to escape. But meeting these people made me realize that it's not just happening here. And, most importantly, that there is a way out of it only if we are brave enough. All our countries are the same, rich or poor, and all the people are the same; society dictates how the world goes around, and people are never satisfied. And that no matter where you come from, whatever the culture, there are people like me--people in their twenties with a relentless desire to cure an existential crisis through traveling, in the hopes that seeing the world and experiencing life outside what they know would put a little meaning in their lives. Knowing I am not alone in this ordeal makes all the great difference.

I came back from that trip carrying a budding change in me, if I may so boldly claim. I couldn't explain it even if I knew how it happened. And the truth is I don't. Was it the island? The dancing? The endless flow of alcohol? The people? Or was it merely a conscious decision that I didn't want to live under grey skies anymore? That I wanted to keep the light of the summer, it's warmth, with me all year long? All I know is that though we've been to that island before, something happened this time. And nothing will ever be the same again.

To sum it all up, let me tell you my best memory of the trip. It was our last night, and we were all half drunk (okay, some of us really drunk). The alcohol, coupled with the excitement of meeting so many wonderful strangers just that afternoon, has turned us into the shameless versions of ourselves, that at the mention of the sea, all of us went running. I remember that moment well, us running. Running towards the beach with the cool wind brushing against our cheeks. The waves were strong and crashing that night, and I could taste the salt water in my mouth. We were all screaming, splashing at the waves, jumping at each other, and hugging like we just won the goddamn lottery. My head was spinning, and I remember stumbling a lot to what seemingly felt like gigantic waves, though they were really only up to my hips. The thing is though, it wasn't at all because of the alcohol. I was fine. In fact, I was great. I don't know if this makes sense at all to you, but despite being sober, I have never felt so high. Like that Charles Baudelaire poem, I was drunk--not with wine, but with poetry and virtue. The sea was like a drug; my heart was racing fast, my head was spinning, I was staggering, screaming, laughing, all at the same time. A rush I've never felt before was coursing like a raging river through my veins and I felt like exploding with glee. It was like a scene from a coming-of-age movie where the bashful protagonist had finally come out of his shell, and was, for the first time in his life, realizing what it meant to be truly happy. The only thing missing was a background music and a narrator voicing over the perfection of it all: "and in that moment, I swear, we are infinite." I swear to you, that's how it all felt.

Catching our breaths, we laid on the sand, six friends linked by the hands. Above us, the stars charmingly twinkled, winking at us like some destiny waiting to happen. And my god, were they beautiful that night. So beautiful that for a split-second I worried about how low things could get next. How much pain would this present exuberance cost me? Because that's how life works, doesn't it? What comes up must come down? In my life, everything seems to be fleeting; nothing good has ever stayed. But I looked around me and I saw my friends, and that's how it occurred to me that at least the important things stay. These people have been around long enough for me to know that they are the ones that count. And we were at that beautiful island. And a night, young and exciting, was waiting ahead. So I shut the door on the ugly thought as fast as it had come knocking. I was far too happy to even allow my pathetic sad self to take over the moment. I wanted to soak my skin in this memory and carry it with me forever. I am here, now, and I want to take it all in. No more running away from the good things in fear of losing it, for some might just be here to stay.

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