The summer of 2012 had been the start of my horribly lucid yet faint dreams of boys, sweat, cigarettes, car rides and loose limbs and even looser lips that never know when to shut the hell up. Living lives, or variations of lives is interesting – after all, who’s life isn’t a story?
And with all the lives I’ve tried to live out in different time zones and alternate realities, I tell myself, you can change yourself with this girl, you can be like this with that man, you can be okay with this boy, you can be happy with that boy – but most importantly, accept present reality as this, but dream about the past that could have been the ten million futures in your head, about the past that could have winded and twisted into another route that led us either into the deep end of the ocean or into the the far long roads on the desert, but don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell anyone lest the magic floats away.
1. As a teacher and as a writer
If we kept our day jobs, we might have been happy, but we also might be the unhappiest happiest couple ever because we are still together in a difficult circumstance, or still together because we got very comfortable in each other's skin - knowing where to touch and where to avoid. You would be sleeping early and I would be working late and crawling into bed at 2am smelling of the things you hate. I am a hundred times more understanding and less needy than you, especially on sunny days, but you inched closer during the hot days and I wanted to peel away from you. And that’s what happened.
2. As a corporate rat and as a teacher
If you let yourself be a little bit more than you are, and if I had been been that afraid of rejection (because the Natalies who can't, teach), we would still be unhappy because two people unhappy in their jobs would be the worst. You would stay late in the office and resent it (cos you don’t like it) and I would come home early and I would resent it (cos you’re not here). I would be waiting in the living room for something to happen and you would come home drunk and I would be wishing, “why is this life not mine?”.
3. As a corporate rat and as a writer
This would have been the best because we would have pushed ourselves so hard at our careers but we’d push each other so hard that we eventually grind and grind and grind each other down till we get sinews and then bones that become dust. And it is our dust that softly flakes over the furniture in our house and one day our dear friend comes over for dinner only to find an empty house that is dusty (but still smells of us) and that we actually died a really long time ago - we just forgot to tell everyone.
4. As a teacher and as a teacher
If you were a teacher and I were a teacher, we better not be teaching in the same school (funnily, that is your reality now but we know how the butterfly effect works). But I knew for sure that if you were a teacher, I would not be a teacher and that was unchangeable history in the line of time travel and that even if we rewound it multiple times via the TARDIS, no one and nothing would change anything.
5. As a corporate rat and a as a corporate rat
If the both of us became corporate rats, we’d be the best corporate rats around taking over things one step at a time. We’d be unhappy sometimes, but overall happy, and we would be the happiest unhappiest couple around because misery enjoys company and we like company. I would be living on European time and you would be in Asian time and one day I would turn to you and ask, “Aren’t you sick of this? Let’s meet in the same time zone baby.” And we’d pack up our bags and move to Hong Kong and live in the same time zone but in a smaller space. But time tends to travel faster in a smaller space and before we know it, we are old. You turn to me and ask “Where did all the time go?” And all I can say is “With you.”
And of course, it is with the impossible permutation that the impossible future works out.
In this life, I am a girl with a body I still can’t love and a soul that recoils too quickly. Perhaps in my next life, I am a girl whose soul so large that the size of her body is enveloped by other important things that matter. Perhaps in my next life, I am a girl who falls in love with her girl best friend and they are both brave to indulge in strange loves. And perhaps in my next life, I still am a girl with a soul that contain be contained because it’s in fragments, but a body that’s unthinkable, unfathomable, and unbreakable with ten thousand different mechanical, metallic parts holding that soul together. And by then it will be okay.
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