Thursday, 31 December 2015


I washed my hair with salt shampoo and realised, when I dried it, the thin brown strands might have gained a little volume, but they weren’t beach kissed, not like the bottle promised. And I laughed because, why would they be? The beach is for beach kissed hair, the kind with the ever so subtle waves to match the flow of the evening tide, when the sandy families and PDA couples have long gone home and you are alone amongst the last remaining dog walkers. The beach has more time to kiss you that way. It is the kind that always seems to look better on the models, those that run in slow-motion with a tan that manages to stay smooth even around their ankles. It is the kind that you spit out when it sneaks its way into your mouth, the kind that refuses to follow the pattern of the wind.

It stands out.

I spent so long trying to come up with a metaphor, a way for the December beach walk to represent the months of the past year. It resisted with a bitter smirk. Because sometimes there isn’t a metaphor.

There’s no witty way to say 2015 was an A+ on a test I didn’t study for. I didn’t know how, at the time. And there’s no funny way to admit that I still don’t, and I don’t think I ever will. There’s no clever spin to wishing 2016 could excel. Hoping for it to be a year of surprises, of nights that morph into mornings and sunsets that refuse to give up their grip on the twilight sky. Praying it could be a year of things not turning out the way they’re planned, not following the blue inked bullet point list plastered to the fridge with a magnet. Because life can’t be planned. And the expectations that we continue to make, year after year, get lost in the cloud of unpredictability that lingers over all seven billion of us. And maybe what someone expected to happen to them happened to you, and your hopes are being played out in an Italian restaurant somewhere in the Eastern hemisphere, buried within the spaghetti strands. And that person will never know.

The idea for this blog post was born in an afternoon shower, the water causing shivers – goose bumps licked my skin because someone else in the house had thought it a good time to jump into the tub.

Maybe I’d have never made it to the beach that day if it wasn’t for the salt shampoo, the broken promise, the expectation unmet. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Our time

My best friend got into Stanford University. Like always, my heart reacted first – pounded hard against my ribcage, almost as hard as all the work she’s put in to get there. But not quite. For eight months, sleep was replaced with rewrites of college essays, fitting words into limits they resisted with a bitter smirk. SAT words drifted away with the chai tea smoke as she blinked her eyes behind pink-rimmed glasses, solving equation after equation until her life became one big formula. And she found ‘x’.

“There’s no chance,” she’d say to me, listing every reason she wasn’t good enough until my eyes refused to roll back any further. “Think about it, of all the applicants...” I guess I had enough belief for the both of us.

Because their campus wouldn’t be able to pride themselves on intelligence, passion or determination without having the most intelligent, passionate and determined person I know as part of their student body, her boots making imprints on the grass, the rays of California sunlight painting a layer of gold onto her cheeks.

And while she spent her midnights studying, mine were met with numb limbs at the thought of her being across an entire ocean. At the thought of high school becoming just another memory. I can already taste the saltwater tears on my lips, those that will trickle down as we throw our caps up and float away with them, leave it all behind. All of this, every bridge we’ve built, every brick we’ve layered with our own amateur cement. Every morning of under-eye circles the size and colour of plums, every worksheet we moaned about memorising. I’d do it again tomorrow, if I could. Every person we spent so much time hating, every friendship we didn’t know we needed, every laugh characterised by aching abs and pained throats. Can we start over?

This whole college thing – it’s a giant leap for a teen. A leap into the arms of foreign buildings and crowds of unfamiliar faces. A leap into a world with too many hopes and too few expectations, or maybe it’s too few hopes and too many expectations and maybe we just never thought it would be our time. Our time to think up senior quotes and decide which bed sheets to pack. Our time to taste independence, let the flavour linger on our tongues.

Be proud, Stanford. Because that leap she’s taking, it’s for you. You don’t know how lucky you are.