Don’t worry I won’t start this with the normal small talk everyone’s doing. We went from talking about weather to saying things like “It’s a crazy time right now” to “Are you stocked on toilet paper” and then nervously laughing because none of us have any clue what to do. There’s not guidelines to this. There’s no “How to survive COVID-19” dummy books or YouTube step-by-step video on the essentials to survive a pandemic. Anyone try researching the Spanish Flu? I doubt that’s helping you.
Anyways, I’m writing to you because I was talking to one of my best friends, Dante over FaceTime and asked him “How are you?” I retracted that immediately as I answered my own question and thought I mean how do I think anyone is doing. It’s such a strange question to ask right now when normally it’s considered thoughtful. Let’s think about it. When someone experiences a loved one passing its insensitive to ask them how they are doing. Their mental health and state of being obviously is as dark and meek as the selected all black funeral they managed to throw on and seem put together.
So let’s all be a bit more creative with our questions for our friends and family. There are so many of us who have lost jobs, away from our loved ones and for all my fellow extroverts out there, slowly dying on the inside.
Here are some questions I suggest you start your conversations off with:
How have you been passing your time?
What are you doing to maintain your sanity/mental health?
What hobbies have you picked up or decided to focus on?
What’s the first thing you’d want to do after this is over and the first place you would go?
What are some movie/TV shows you recommend based on my interest in ________?
What has this quarantine taught you about yourself/family/person you are confined with?
What’s something so basic that you miss the most?
There’s more but I’m sure these will be a great ice breaker to the alternative. I hope everyone is staying safe and at home wherever that is. I’ll be writing more frequently.
Your eyes drew me in first. Like the ocean calling to those wild enough to hear it’s songs. When I look at you and you’re staring into mine. There’s a hint you’re giving me in a language I’m learning as we spend countless hours together. An instant connection that no one in this entire room can see. Our little secret, this look of ours. A place we go even in a crowded restaurant or a wedding full of people dancing. A moment we take to find a sense of home when we’re out in front of the world. God, your eyes are captivating. As they hold on to my heart and for once I don’t feel like running the other way. The days we’re apart I want nothing more than to look you in the eyes because that’s when in the silence we end up saying the most.
Is it possible to feel like your entire stomach is going to jump out of your body? As if you’re living your life through your dreams. As I sat on the plane, trying to focus on Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, my mind had several light bulbs flashing so I did what I do best, write. There’s always too many thoughts but not enough crevices to store them
If you’re curious, I’m on my way to my star crossed lover. Ah yes, the infamous lover that causes my mischievous smile to stick on my face until the subject changes. The one where I am absolutely engulfed with, whether I am sitting right next to him or in my mid-rise in River Oaks. The one where people always ask what I find so magical about as if I don’t see the flaws. You tell me how I could not be completely taken by this love. It’s one I’ve known for ages. The beginning and end of all my stories. There’s a pocket in my heart where this love sits possibly for all of time.
That lover, for all my new readers is the concrete jungle itself. New York has always held such significant life changes for me. It was the first sidewalk my tiny feet touched when we landed from Bangladesh. We weren’t here very long as my father wanted to raise us closer to Bengali values which he found solace in the South. I remember the first time I left it. Staring out of the window wondering if I’d ever be back as hopeful a 5 year old little girl could be. Although I planted very well in Texas and don’t know anything else from it I waited for the day I’d be reunited. Ten years later we met up and I was in love all over again. Pure teenage joy of excitement and staying up until the stars were greeted by the sun. Everything was so different but I knew the South truly held my heart. Before I walked away again I gave a piece of myself to this city that I know now I’ll never get back. Five years after that I saw my old friend who now seemed more to me as a lover as I entered my twenties. That teenage puppy love turned into my first real love. It was more than just hellos and goodbyes. No longer did dates consist of small pizzerias and ice cream. It evolved to 4 course meals, walks through Central Park after stopping by Absolute Bagels and of course boutique shopping in the Upper East Side. I couldn’t help it, this love touched every part of me in a ways I didn’t know existed. Brought out life that I had lost through the troubles I was going through. I remember coming back a year later and being in a place of confusion that this city reminded me once again of who I am and could be.
A couple of years passed by as I got caught up with life, new love and adventure but in the back of my mind I always wondered how it was doing. Had it changed? Did it touch others the way it did me? I remember going through my breakup last year, lost, a little torn apart and what better lover to come running to than the one that knows me in every life stage. So what better person to see after a break up than New York City itself. It was the medicine I needed to revive. After a whirlwind of a couple of days I knew Texas was waiting for me at home. It was then the heartbreak I needed to go through to be the person sitting on this flight going back to it as a changed woman.
Even though it is the end of fall, it feels like spring in my heart. This time I am coming to the city with a fresh face and healed heart. It’s funny how I end up in this city in very important, earthquake moments in my life. This time New York, I’m embarking on a new chapter and I know you’ll be proud to see how far I’ve come.
He said my eyes are your favorite color. “Brown?”, I questioned puzzled. No, he smiled as he pushed my hair out of my face. Your eyes are the color of whiskey and copper against honey. Hazelnuts and gingerbread like the feeling of coming inside from the harsh winter winds to be wrapped up in blanket on the couch talking about our day. The color of cinnamon, ginger and cassia that make you feel like you’re drunk on a Sunday. The color of finding a piece of home no matter what city I’m in. As he grabbed me so close to him that all our secrets could speak to each other, he whispered “Brown eyes were never my favoriteuntil I saw yours”
I wish I could see myself the way you spend moments looking at me. The way your eyes gaze over my every movement as I get ready as if you’ve never seen this dance before. “I love watching your process,” you gently whispered in the hollow of my neck before putting on the Tiffany’s necklace you bought me for my birthday. I’ve never seen anyone so enticed by another person before. It’s like your eyes sparkle as I ponder on what color to paint my lips that you’ll soon take. The chuckles that arise as I prance around trying to decide what dress to adorn myself with. I go from a fresh face out the shower to your date by the end of it and that look of wonder never leaves your face.
I bet every movie director wishes for an audience like you. It’s quite flattering really. Even when you’re not around I can feel your eyes on my every movement. Your comments about every thing I choose to paint my face with. Always ending with your devotion to my beauty.
Now that you’re no longer here, and I spend countless nights getting ready without you. I look in the mirror and wish to see myself the way I appeared in front of you.
Scent is our most primitive sense. It is so fundamental to our lives from the ones that trigger childhood memories or the ones that help us capture those perfect moments in time.
If sadness had a scent it would smell like an abandoned house no longer filled with laughter. If anger had a scent it would smell like the fires that have destroyed lands.If hope had a scent it would smell like a rainy day in spring that ends with the sun’s smile. If happiness had a scent it would smell like walking in a courtyard full of jasmine and gardenias. If love had a scent it would smell like you.
Photo: @chubbybeige or formally known as Bryan Nwami
I have a tendency to become enamored with those who are difficult to understand, who are dreamers but share themselves sparingly and rarely with their whole hearts. I become infatuated with the enigmas of people and their mysteries. Peeling away layers and finding clues to solve their wounds. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to you and this wild ember of energy you feed to me.
I couldn’t help but to look at your arms and the lines of your muscles as you grabbed me pulling me closer, leaving no room for awkward silences. Arms, you know they’re my thing, especially yours. Sometimes they’re holding me in a crowd gesturing me to the night. Other times they’re holding me in place, in our cove. That morning was different as I asked you how you’d describe me in one word. A force, you whispered as you kissed my cheeks. A small tiny force yet in formidable that I have yet to go over. I knew you what you were trying to say in the words that did not leave your lips. My wall. My famous wall. It’s been given several names by others: fear, trauma, indestructible but this was a new word to add. You said I was here with you but never without my barriers. It’s like you could grab me closer but I could never be reached. I giggled and said you were being silly, but I knew you were right. You aren’t the first one who’s said that. From friends to stranger I was told I keep people at bay never quite letting them near the borders before I run back behind them.
It’s hard for me to let anyone in. I was with someone for over year, head over heels in love but he barely knocked on the front door. Maybe it’s my defense mechanism, maybe it’s my fear of fully committing where I can’t whisk off to a different city in search of a new pace, maybe it’s the little girl who saw her parents argue and wanted to run away; whatever it is, I’m working on it. I’m trying to let you in the front door and showing you layers I make others wait months to see. I wish I could promise you it’ll be different and that I’ll let my guards down but I won’t lie to you like that. It’s who I am, even with those wonderful arms that pull me so close so the magic can begin again.
People always ask me, “Where do you love to be the most?” I instantly reply, there’s so many places and moments. My answer isn’t what they expect. It’s not the enchantment in New York amongst the sea of people. It’s not the sun sets in Orange County or the dry beauty of Scottsdale. It’s not even in lost between the clouds and mountains in Colorado. No, my favorite place is Mondays at the dinner table with my family eating my mom’s traditional Bengali dishes. It’s being amongst the laughter and giggles of my friends. And it’s the space I created here looking out to the peaceful wildness of this city. No matter where I go, my home is always the place I feel the most joy.
I hope you guys find yours whether in a city, person or the most rational place of them all, in yourself.
There he was just a feet away looking at me as if his eyes had never roamed every inch of my face. I thought the whole world could crumble around us before he blinked, afraid he’d miss another minute to just look at me. As he grabbed by hands and gently kissed them, he whispered just loud enough for me to hear but softly so we could remain in this world we created, “you are a very beautiful woman, you know that?” I looked at him and wondered what to say back but the words hid from my lips. He didn’t know what his words did to me, or maybe he did. How telling me all the things you said were flaws were things that awed him, made me different. I didn’t question what this meant whether our journey would takes us months or weeks or end abruptly. I shut my brain off and for once in my life felt. I just wanted to soak in this magic he created from his fascination with me. Beautiful, he kept saying as if it was my name.