mindful mondays, forty-two

January 13, 2014 | Hong Kong

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some time last week.

the above shot; thoughts are difficult to explain. I hadn’t slept the night before and the whole world glowed in gloom. I walked on the streets as if through mist. I was unsure, dizzy, slow. I was starving. the boy was on the way to meet me at our metro station. I listened to music, trying to collect my thoughts, prevent them from spilling out on the sidewalk. my mind was blank; my head heavy. the beginning of the year is the time to start over, to plan and indulge in writing long lists of words. but I was still.

last night, last-minute, I decided to go to a birthday party; I’d never met the birthday girl before or her family. I walked inside the vast apartment in mid-levels. the living room was crowded; some forty pairs of eyes turned to me. for the first time in a long time, I knew no one except for one high school friend that I hadn’t seen since graduation. I searched for her; waist-long braids, her laugh. I couldn’t find her and it seemed as if no one else knew her. for a second I thought I entered the wrong flat. I quickly analyzed the people in the room and identified the father; the patriarch of the family. I walked up to him. he turned to his wife near by, onde está silvana? I couldn’t understand what she said. she’ll be out soon. I poured myself a drink and indulged in random conversation. mostly portuguese, some english. I heard french and cantonese. african folk-infused hip-hop on the stereo, various cuisines on the table. the cake was a huge rubik’s cube with a disco ball on top of it. I almost couldn’t believe my surroundings; everything was plain, but amazing.

soon I met everyone in the room; the angolan family, some close relatives, a seven-member family with the youngest being barely a month old, I met their portuguese friends; a model from poland, a handful of underage locals who took one fuji instax shot after another, white boys who drank from green heineken bottles as if their life depended on it. and then there was me; quiet, walking around the room. I was the only one who came bearing a gift apart from the immediate family. I could tell that the father was pleased and impressed. he sat at the head of the table and did not stand up from his seat once. the old feeling returned; it was almost reassuring to feellike an outsider.  I barely laughed, but I had a good time. I talked to my friend, I hadn’t seer for many years. her laugh is contagious.

later on, after midnight, I took a cab down the hill into the masses. the police were everywhere as they are every weekend. controlling the masses, patrolling. it annoyed me. I paid the cabbie the exact amount and I walked away. everything was barricaded. I jumped across the do not pass yellow tapes, quickly disappearing into the nearest seven:eleven store. another pack of smokes, this was going to be a long night. my phone rang; messages vibrated. my brain was wired. but I felt exhausted. sad. I thought of the family I’d just met for the first time. how many people there were; brothers, sisters, cousins, little babies, aunts and uncles. then friends and strangers. I thought of our home by the seaside; how empty it seemed in comparison. it gripped at my heart for the rest of the night. I couldn’t let it go.

I waited for the boy to finish his shift. he brought me a drink, then a second one. third and fourth. I smoked, I talked to people. but mostly I just sat alone, quiet. the boy played a song for me, one that means the most. by four o’clock, I started feeling the last bits of energy leaving me. we packed makumba up and walked up the hill in the opposite direction from everyone else. spicy chicken curry awoke me for mere fifteen minutes. I babbled away happily, the boy laughed.  we held hands and kissed. on the way home in the taxi, I put my head into his lap, resting. then, out of the blue, I said, I want to have a big family, you know. he collected all of my hair and took my head into his hands, said nothing. we both knew.