In a different time, I would have probably written poetry out of this. Since then, I’ve also realized I used to write cringeworthy poetry, and honestly, a broader writing style allows so much more.
Speaking of time, there could not have been a worse worst case scenario for 2021. Someone in our apartment complex died due to complications from CoVID-19 today. When I took my dog out for his regular stroll, I didn’t see a single person downstairs who would otherwise come for a walk. A couple weeks earlier, I brooded for 2 hours how a friend’s friend I was trying to get leads for passed away while I called up places in the dead of the night. Today, the grim reaper literally arrived on our doorstep, but for some reason, I found it easier to go about my day this time. I can’t even call it emotion-numbing right now. It’s a normalization I don’t want, no matter how not close the person may be to me. At the same time, is it a good idea to let every death affect me and burn me out? Either extreme sounds like an impasse.
I was supposed to use this lull period to process that I’ll be leaving the place I’ve called home for a little less than 21 years of my life. I’ve lived in the same spot (with one building change; both complexes are located side by side anyway) for all of my existence. I am a homebody. I had my first panic attack when I got my flat in Delhi, because the kind of responsibility I had walked into hit me like a brick on the second day of my moving in. I settled in it soon enough, thankfully, to be able to call that place my second home.
Obviously, I know other people in this city who are also as hopeless as I am, in the sense that they have been complete homebodies. We’re a generation that expected Bhubaneswar to become hip and cool in time, because we always complained that it would never be enough to accommodate our desires and ambitions. To a large extent, it’s true, despite eventually becoming hip and cool. Only later did we realize that we never cared for “hip and cool”. We just wanted to experience different mentalities.
But there’s something comforting about this city, not just in terms of my family being based out of here and the people I know here. It’s that you’ve seen it grow, and it has grown with you. You’re not friends. You’re distant observers, sometimes drinking buddies, because you like riding that flyover with the stream of orange lights, or all the way to the airport after 10 pm. Or, better yet, you walk to the nearest food truck lane. A few years ago, that was a concept unheard of in the city. It’s funny in my mind, because it’s hard imagining the kind of “drinking buddy” conversation I’d have with the literal persona of the place.
“Same shit, different day.”
“Then why bother doing this drinking thing with me?”
“Could I be allowed to be escapist for a fraction of my day?”
“I’ll drink to that.”
In an alternate timeline when the situation would have been more normal, I would have been excited about moving out. That’s because it’d be 50% me moving out to a new home, and 50% me making peace with my first home. I probably shouldn’t be saying this while people around me are dying. The only reason I am at this point of time in my life, is because I don’t see another time I can do this. I wouldn’t be writing this if I had another way to process my perceptions about home as a concept. You know, something like, shedding happy tears with my family and friends for as long as possible. Doing that one last sleepover with them. Ride that flyover one last time. Feel everything with a physical embodiment. Be excited about the endless possibilities (and responsibilities, of course) of becoming an adult.
But I don’t feel too much right now, except a renewed sense of deja vu. I’ve made my peace with the possibility that I won’t receive the farewell I dreamt for myself. I say this with a heaviness — my juniors sent a form so that I could make my entry in the annual yearbook. If you’d asked me a year ago whether I’d take the yearbook seriously, the answer would be a polite “Excuse me?” Today, I searched my mind for every memory I held dear as I answered the questions in the form. I took a full 20 minutes. Not even Indiana Jones could boast the kind of carefulness I had for those 20 minutes.
Nevertheless, it isn’t the problem that gnaws at me every minute of my life. The problem is that my transition to my next natural phase of life will not be normal. I can’t imagine going beyond the gates of my complex right now, let alone shifting out of Bhubaneswar. And I can only imagine that that’s what others in my batch would experience, with respect to their own hometowns and ambitions. Again, small problem in the grand scheme of things. But the only reason I worry about problems is because I think they could fundamentally change who I am and what I can be.
I’ve had the privilege to never hate home or its people. But I’m 21, and like other millennials like me, the demands of my personal space get bigger with time. Home can feel overbearing sometimes, and that’s also something I’ve made my peace with to a good extent. But who’d want to begin working this way? I doubt I can set thinking about death aside while working. I don’t know how other people do it. I’m 21, and I can’t say I’ve seen enough. I don’t want to see enough, either. I don’t care too much about the personal space aspect of it all, but it couples with the idea that I’m part of a collective that’s experiencing too much grief for its own good. Then, it feels bigger.
Hopefully, we get vaccinated soon. I’m looking for new things (especially pop culture) to inspire and motivate me into thinking that things get better soon. They distract more than soothe, but I watched J Cole’s Off-Season Documentary tonight, in anticipation of the new album. And, wow. The man is a living torch (except the noname diss, that was just bad).
When I have nothing else to do, I admire the minimalism of my own room and tend to my Spotify playlists. Minimalist, because funnily enough, it was going to get a repaint, and the bed was to be replaced, and of course work got halted. Now I sleep in this room on a single mattress. It got some cool new lighting which I dig. Unfamiliar, but comfortable.
Nevertheless, the decor is comforting. Barely anything in this room right now. Just like the fresh start I had hoped I’d get to experience in full.
[I’ve been listening to this to an unhealthy extent, too. Catharsis, thy name is Sufjan Stevens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsGODTySH0E]