Sometimes the universe seems to be a giant puzzle in the making and you stand above an empty, gaping space for hours, quite positive that you will never find the missing piece because the vacuum cleaner ate it up and it is now slowly disintegrating at a large dumpsite with sad, discarded heaps of stuff. And then, one day, suddenly, it appears and falls in smoothly, like it was meant to.
The other day we were waiting for one of my roommates to come back from work so we could go to the Hispanic Festival, and when she finally came back, she told us she needed to cook… and just then we heard metal trays clanging in the heavens, a giant hand moved curtains of leaves aside, sweeping them across the sky, and soon the sound of rain surrounded us, gaining momentum, joined by the sharp, hard knocks of hail.
“I’m glad we had to wait for you,” I told my roommate as we all rushed to the backdoor in the kitchen and peeked out, venturing into the covered patio, feeling the cold rush of air lift our dresses and our spirits in tandem. “Otherwise at this precise moment we would be caught outside with little frozen rocks bouncing off our heads.”
I love looking back at the millions of little coincidences that set our pathways in life, like big cogs and little wheels turning, a strange, perchance way of inevitability that determines huge decisions in our life – the precise moment in life when your shoelaces come undone so you pause to retie them, miss your bus, walk an extra mile to a different grocery store and meet a random person who helps you with your bags and becomes your friend for life. The split second it takes for you to hesitate, wonder if you should sit next to that guy in class but then somebody else takes the seat and you turn away from a potential soul mate. A tiny, good deed that reaps immense benefits in your own life, or a glance in the wrong direction that ends in a terrible accident.
What a contradiction life can be, in the way opposites come to sit next to each other, fitting in snugly like different pieces of the same giant puzzle.
So I turned 25. It was a beautiful day to turn 25, the sky was brighter than any blue crayon you could find in any stationery shop, and there was a slight, cool breeze that required a full-sleeved shirt and pants but you didn’t need socks. The sun shone gold so you could wear your sunglasses and instantly look fashionable (or like a blind person or Mighty Mouse or a combination of the three). Friends, deep dish pizza, a pecan brownie cake, a water yoyo battle and a cozy little bowling place – yellow flowers to put in a vase and a persistent chorus of happy birthdays.
I overcame my mild OCD tremors to force myself to sleep in late, eat in bed, and do nothing constructive other than Skype and watch The Wire. And then ended the evening with ginger ale, pieces of cheese drizzled with honey and grapes with my roommates in our living room.
The joys of having my birthday earlier in the semester!
I think I’ve lost some of the baby fat on my face – just a few years shy of wrinkle town. Am I slightly different? I’m slightly more troubled. Instead of the teenage angst and loneliness I go through bouts of useless anxiety and ingratitude that I used to chide fictional heroines about. Stop whining and just do something about it! The crippling blues that I know I can get out of, just like trying to unzip something when there’s a piece of cloth stuck between the zipper, it is a little difficult to achieve but definitely not impossible. Or one of those tightly-shut jars that you bruise your fingers trying to twist open… sometimes you just don’t have the strength.
I sometimes wonder if I’m as vulnerable to my mood swings as I was when I was chubby and 13… maybe slightly less. I suppose that’s definitely a resolution to tackle this year. Despite the coincidences that nudge us into the directions we end up walking for miles, we have so much control over how we see things. And I want to see things positively, because the silver linings always exist. There might be a crack in the window from one angle, but if you squint your eyes so on a sunny day, you can always see tiny golden rainbows dance on your eyelashes. A constant resolve to try and be more positive, make the most of what I have here and not constantly look to the future in hopes of getting something different. Not to the extent that I stop living for the present.