As I stood on your pier the other day, with the sand between my toes and growing sunburn on my nose, my thoughts, as thoughts simply do, crawled into places it hadn’t crawled before. I found myself contemplating the past five days that I’d spent navigating you, discovering the little secrets you’d tucked away from the people of the quotidian world.
A week before I was to experience you, most everyone I encountered bestowed upon me what seemed like a myriad of predictions; an endless list of what I must and mustn’t expect, of what I should and should not brace myself for. It was only as I stood at the edge of your skin, however, with the sea gulls soaring above me and the wind folding itself into gentle knots within my hair that I realised the true extent to which there were certain things nobody prepared me for; things nobody anticipated.
In the wee hours of a Thursday morning, as I set foot into the endless expanse of your lap, drowning in sleep and exhausted beyond measure, I still somehow managed to allow my eyes to swallow everything it encountered. From the silver-sprinkled moon to the buttery roads stretching into the horizon like ribbons before me, everything seemed magical; almost unreal. In the world trapped inside my brain, the perfect little houses seemed to have been snatched right out of a fairy tale and the city in itself, bathed in mellow lights and its people held captive in animated banter, felt like fiction I’d stewed myself. Yes, it was love at first sight.
A funny thing about human behaviour is our ability to succumb to the unspoken rule of expecting the unexpected. We have a head brimming with grey matter and a brain that refuses to back down and yet the one thing nobody ever questions is how unexpected the unexpected can be. Experience is idiosyncratic and the Universe will always strive to surprise you.
My love, I was told that you would be cold, but I swear on every piece of clothing that I pile on everyday that I simply did not expect to feel as frostbitten and numb as I’ve felt for each of the five days that I’ve spent here. The weather is moody, the winds both harsh and relentless, and no matter how hard I try I am simply never able to accustom myself to the strong icy town I know awaits me beyond the insulated interiors of my room. What is 16 degrees here feels like a -2 to me and I kid you not, I sneeze more than I breathe.
You never told me about your roads either. It’s not like India, you know, where you need to have been personally hand-picked by natural selection to survive a day on its roads filled with ignorant drivers and a combination of unrealistic speed and curse words. Things are more structured here with its pedestrian crossovers and press-to-walk buttons, yet they cause unprecedented confusion in our heads. In the initial 24 hours after our arrival, we remained utterly perplexed about how strictly everybody followed the rules and by forgetting the fact that this wasn’t India, several attempts were made to simply jaywalk across the roads. Don’t worry, though. We almost got killed by a couple of buses but we are okay, we survived.
I’m still learning to decipher the veins of your body: the roads which fork out in different directions. They’re wonderful to stroll on for hours, but I tend to get lost very often, I’m afraid. Yes, I know you have sign boards sprawled all over town with elaborate directions sketched all over, but they’re not as simple as the ones in India, you see. We have rights and lefts and nothing more. You have circles and roundabouts and projections.
Dear darling, you truly have an assortment of people. Some have held their doors open for me and their smiles have made my day, but I must admit – and with much resentment – that it hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. We’ve smelt much hostility in the air and occasionally, we’ve been welcomed by the strangest of looks and the crudest of comments. I’ve been hurt of course – I mean, we all have – but I guess we’re each a project on our own and there’s always some disguised magic in diversity.
Hey, but no matter what, we always get to come home! Dorchester House is beautiful; carpeted and clean, mellow and warm much like the rest of you. It’s strange how quickly we’ve settled in here, almost as though it was waiting for us all along. Granted, the access keys are an unnecessary complication and yet another equipment to worry about, but once you’re in, the cozy rooms and the melting pot of a bed is worth all the kinks you gather on your back all day. The silence of the room might be slightly deafening and the motion-sensitive lights need some getting used to, but the view from my bedroom is great and the friendly supervisors who always ask me how my day went are the little pleasures I look forward to.
I miss home a little sometimes, but the 12 of us here are family away from family and I’m glad that the circle continues to expand as we chance upon more friendly people to count on. The group dynamics are unpredictable, considering how we’re nothing more than a random assortment of young adults, some calm, some frazzled, some carefree some confused but just like any other dysfunctional family, we might be a little cuckoo but we’ve got each other’s back.
Well then, that’s it for now.
Forever awkward and learning