About a Stranger and Depression

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She looks at people, trying to imitate them. But they wear shorts while she has gloves.

In April back home there’s a tulip festival, and colours, warm colours, just like the weather. And happiness. Here, she takes photos of tall buildings, grey sky and crowded underground stations. Everything is grey, the weather, even the people dress in pale colours. But that’s fine, she can get used to that, right?

She is scared of being different, of standing out from the others around. The gloves remind her of her grandma, she used to have a pair just like that, made of wool. But she will never be there with her.

She tries to call home, for the third time, but no one answers. Ah! She remembers. It’s night time at home. She goes out as often as she can. She eats fish and chips, cause that’s how it’s done. But she likes it.

People seem colder in a way though, even her friends. They are all fine, of course, but distant, even when they’re nodding and smiling while listening to her. She still likes talking. Talking about her home, her past life, her future hopes. Cause that’s why she came there.

That’s why she left everything behind, even the blue sky. To start a new life, amongst the black cabs and red double-deckers, and grey clouds, and raindrops. A different place calls for a change, it’s always like that. She oscillates between changing to fit in, and preserving her true self. She has changed so much, though. So much. Is that good or bad?

Some things will always be the same. But she can’t adjust her body temperature when she’s dreaming of proper summertime. She tries to listen to other people’s accents, copy them, cause they can sense she’s not from around when she speaks. They don’t mind that. But she does.

She likes feeding the squirrels, but what kind of squirrels are these anyway? Where are the red squirrels she knew, with fluffy pointed ears?… Even the squirrels are grey here.

They say home is where her heart is, but she can’t remember where she left it.

***

P.S.: I’ve been recently diagnosed with mild depression. That was about a month after I wrote the short article above, at the Arvon creative writing workshop (more here and here), but I though I could talk a little bit about it here. The article had to describe a struggle caused by moving to a new place, and I wrote it before I moved into the capital. It’s funny and sad in a way, how I found inspiration in something that hadn’t even happened yet. It’s like I saw it coming.

The cause for this ‘mild depression’ is, according to the doctor, the struggle of moving into a new environment. A little ironical. But I know that’s true, and I know that almost each and every one of us experiences at some point something that can be defined by a mild depression, nothing unusual. The thing is to decide what you want to do in order to make sure you’re heading in the right way. Exercising helps, usually. And friends, and hobbies, and family. It’s not the end of the world.

I obviously don’t feel depressed all the time. There was a video that someone shared on Facebook about a black dog which I find really interesting; some good points are outlined, so take your time and watch it here. An idea I liked is that you’ll get exhausted if you try hide your feelings all the time. Since I believe in honesty, I’m not trying to pretend I’m fine when I’m not. I can’t really see the point, and I don’t understand why people can be ashamed of feeling down, but I guess everyone is different.

Anxiety and depression seem to be quite related, so I tried learning how to relax in order to feel better. Yoga didn’t really seem to work in my case (who can bend their arms like that?!) so for now I’ll stick to what I know from the past that calms me down even if I feel like crying (that happens sometimes): my number one song in case of feeling low, from a magical movie.

Apart from that, having faith that any new environment and situation become familiar after a while ๐Ÿ™‚ and sport. And talking about it if I feel like so. Which is what I’m doing now.

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Endless Seconds Between Us

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He looked around, preparing himself. The room was as silent as always, even more silent now that the large windows had been closed. You could no longer hear the cars and the buzzing of the traffic lights. The calm before the storm. Now the only intruder to break the silence was the massive, wooden clock that sat behind them, ticking away. He closed his eyes, listening to seconds pass, matching his own heart rhythm: boom, boom, boom… Only a couple more seconds before the thunder of her voice resonated in his ears.

โ€˜How can you do that to me?!โ€™

He opened his eyes to look at her.

She was still looking out the window, her back facing him. He was glad the windows were now closed, or else the whole city would have heard the tone of her voice. He sat down on the right side of the black leather sofa, sighing. He was always sitting there, on that half of the sofa, using the armrest as a mousepad whenever he worked from home. Not as often as before, nowadays.

โ€˜Calm down, darling, the neighbors will hear you. You know how thin the walls are, and โ€™

โ€˜I don’t care about the neighbours!โ€™

She turned around to fire daggers at him, but his eyes were on the shelves, with all the books heโ€™d alphabetically ordered; he liked to keep them that way. She could feel her eyes slowly filling with tears. She looked across to the framed photos that she wiped clean each and every Friday. From one, a young couple stared back at her, big smiles stretched across their faces. It was the day he proposed. The ring proudly resting on her finger as she held it up to the camera. There were pictures of her playing the cello alone on stage, pictures taken by him, sitting in the first row. She was even looking at the camera, albeit nervously. It was he who gave her strength to be there, the power to be confident.

He looked back at her, smiling a little when he realized she was following his advice and had stopped yelling. He knew she cared about their privacy as much as he did. But then she spoke again, her voice low and trembling, her blue eyes sparkling in tears now.

โ€˜You really can’t do that. You promised you’ll be there, you have to.โ€™

A tear rolled down to her chin and fell to the smooth, wooden floor. She remembered again the reason she insisted on having it. Parquet reminded her of a stage. She had enjoyed the years of playing her cello there, facing the city, yet still struggling to suffocate her anxiety with the music she loved. But nothing worked how it should unless his dark eyes were on her, supplying her with all the necessary courage. And that night, she would be alone.

โ€˜Honey.โ€™ His voice was relaxed, but he was trying hard to keep it like that. โ€˜You will be fine. I trust you, you’ve worked hard for this. And you know I want to be there, in the front row as always, to be there for you. But work, they really need me there and -โ€™

โ€˜Well, I need you as well! Since when is work more important than me?!โ€™

She was sobbing furiously. Hesitating, he stood up and moved across to hug her. She pushed him away and turned again to the window. He looked at the clock, trying to hear the rhythmic beats, but her thunderstorm of tears was more powerful. Almost unnatural. But it was late.

โ€˜I will lock the door after me. We’ll talk over the phone.โ€™

He sighed again, she was ignoring him.

And then a door was closed, sealed with a key, and the clock continued to record endless seconds.

She collapsed on the right side of the sofa, her face wet and raw.

***

This is it, the article that was chosen for being published in “everyday hymn – a young writers’ anthology” – and I’m grateful for that! The book consists of articles and poems written at the Arvon Creative Writing workshop, which I attended this late August. The purpose of the article was to write a dialogue about an argument, a fight, a disagreement.

I’ve been asked by my mentor which of the characters was represented by me – the truth is, I’m not sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t tried to get inspiration from a real dialogue, it’s pure fiction so I guess I’m a little bit of both. Or who knows, maybe it’s a inner argument with one’s self, two voices of the same person. I could write an article about the article, but maybe not right now… All that matters is that someone decided it was worth being published in a proper book, my first article that’s actually in a print version! ๐Ÿ˜€

Violet, Horseradish, P.S.-s

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I decided to buy a horseradish and a bunch of violets to give my day some taste and colour. The funny thing about both the horseradish and violets is that they aren’t easy to define. You could think about the colour violet that’s actually a mixture of red and blue, two states of a soul that are contrary in such a way that the final result can’t be explained in an easy way. It’s almost dangerous to mix the passion of red with the sadness of blue, it creates an explosion which is just as strong as the perfume of these violets. As strong as the horseradish taste, which is too strange to be defined: is it bitter?… is it sweet?… It’s violet. Just like life.

P. S. 1. I wrote this little article at the Arvon Creative Writing workshop back at the end of August – if you follow me on Facebook, you know about it already. The very first exercise we received was to choose two random words that we like or we find interesting. Easy. Mine were ‘violet’ and ‘horseradish’, violet because of this and horseradish because of this. But actually both of them come from Lemony Snicket, with Violet and the word horseradish that I first encountered – in English – in one of those amazing books. But anyway, while the first exercise was piece of cake, the second was to write a sentence containing both, and the next one to just immediately continue writing and see what you get. That’s my result.

P.S.2. I didn’t have the chance to post it until now. I actually didn’t have a chance to post anything, not even another piece of writing from the workshop, or something related to one of the many, many ideas I have. It’s been a long time, I know, and I thought that starting a new job, moving into the capital city and getting used to everything that’s new could be good excuses. Guess what, they aren’t. I had a chat last night which made me realise they aren’t. Made me wake up in the morning and write this before work, and I’m thankful for that. Everyone knows that if you really like doing something, you’ll make time for it. So I hope I’ll manage to find a timeslot in my busy-or-not-so-busy-but-lazy life for writing on the blog ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S.3. I haven’t forgot I promised myself I’ll create my own website for the blog. It’s there, in a very early version, but again, it wasn’t in the top of my priorities recently… Same as in P.S.2, I’ll make time for it, at least until I decide it looks good enough to be publicly announced, even if not completely finished.

P.S.4. I GOT PUBLISHED!! Or actually, I will this Saturday ๐Ÿ˜€ One of the articles written at Arvon was chosen to be included in an anthology for young people, which is launched this Saturday in Winter Gardens, Sheffield, UK. (Facebook event here). I will post it here as well after that. I know it’s probably not much, but then again, it makes me a little more motivated to continue with all this, which can’t be bad at all.

P.S.5 I realised that instead of P.S. I could have used ‘Note’, as P.S. is usually for ending letters. But perhaps all this was addressed to whoever is reading, so it makes a little bit of sense. I know it wasn’t the usual type of posts, but those will come pretty soon. It’s a promise.