Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mini Purple Sharpies

In the invisible, swirling spirits and realities surround my deeply oblivious body. But here on the streets of Sydney, all that is visible lies in front of me, clamouring for the attention of my senses. I stride away from Paddy’s Market in my red double breasted jacket, my peacock-eyed scarf, my tall black boots, and my ever-necessary black sunnies. Oh sunnies of mine, you keep the world from staring into my soul. Most days I applaud you for this highly dangerous task, but every so often, I want to rip you off of my face and stare into the eyes of Medusa herself. I’m not afraid of her reported powers.

Alas, today is a day of hiding, and I’m clapping on the inside. Loudly, vibrantly.

As Central station looms on my visible horizon, I begin to notice people around me. This part of town - Chinatown - actually feels more similar to Japan, specifically Tokyo. Or at least what I expect Tokyo to be. The crowd is pulsating, humming, pushing, pulling in all directions. It’s chaos, disorder to the highest degree. There is no emergence, no pattern to the comings and goings of those caught up in the tangle, the web of humanity. The multitudes continue to throb, surging towards their daily supplies. I do my best to shake off the American who lives at my core, who thrives in large personal space and quiet. Oh, she’s screeching rebelliously against such close quarters.

But soon enough, I walk away from Chinatown, leaving its bustle to its own citizens, and I enter the semi-quiet, easygoing, Australian Central Station. Mel is a few steps ahead of me, soon falling a few steps behind, doing her own tango with the Aussies and foreigners who traipse amongst the trains that are quickly arriving and departing. I lose sight of her quite a few times, mostly due to my distraction with the people around me. I see a lady pull 3 coins from her pocket, totaling $4, and I imagine that she’s traveling back to Bondi Junction, maybe to buy that pair of heeled boots that she’s been admiring for quite some time. It’s gonna take more than $4, or at least that’s what I read as I intently stare into her face. I stroll past two backpackers who are standing at the entry stalls of the intercity trains, debating which track their train is departing from. The pony-tailed guy is pointing at the roughly sketched train-maps sprawled above the stalls, and both are ignorant of how they are annoying other passengers trying to inch by.

I carefully step onto the down escalator, ever nervous about missing the step and rolling down 50+ escalator-stairs. As I walk through Central station, I imagine myself in that movie scene (there are so many) where the protagonist in the bright red coat is stopped in the midst of a busy place, people flowing around her. It is one of those elapsed-time scenes that are intended to imply how busy life is, how rarely we stop to think, and how alone we can feel. Sometimes, I think they also use these scenes to show how someone is waiting for something that never comes.

And so all of those story-morals probably apply to me today as I slowly stroll through Central, listening to my iBuds with my ears and listening to the people with my eyes. I see a guy my age hiding behind his sunnies, and I swear he’s staring at me. I’m glad he’s got them on, because I don’t want to know his soul right now. I have pieces of souls floating within my own soul, and I already feel quite overwhelmed by those (oh yes, in a good way.) Maybe another time, another place, Mr. Sunnies.

I sit on the ledge of the escalator - 8 minutes until the Sutherland train, going to Rockdale, arrives. In the meantime, I change my song and lose myself in thoughts. 7 minutes later - an early train! - I climb aboard the train and sit across from Mel. I pull my reporter’s memo pad from my purse (which is now far too heavy with today’s purchases) and begin to write in purple ink. I love this Sharpie, this mini-purple Sharpie. Some days I wish I was a purple or maroon mini-Sharpie. I wouldn’t feel less superior to the bigger sharpies - I could go where no Sharpie has gone before as a mini! The click-Sharpies, though, are an entirely different story. But I suppose we all need something to keep our pride in check, hey?

I’ve had thoughts in my head that I wanted to transcribe to paper the entire walk to the train, but what instead comes out of nowhere is Russian Literature. I ask myself this question: Of the three Russian novels that I’ve read (Anna Karenina, The Idiot, and Crime and Punishment), to whom do I relate to the most? Who would I be, if I were cast as one of those characters based on my own character? I find myself furiously writing about who I am not, and when I surface for air, I am staring absentmindedly out the train window at the concrete, trees, people, and air passing me by.

I’m suddenly thinking of how I feel like I’m in one of those foreign films... the protagonist is staring out the window, considering her writing - its vulnerability, its imperfections. I even hear a voice-over (in French or Italian, of course) in my head echoing my thoughts. I smile at my silliness and wish my life were a movie, or at least a reality show.

I head back to my question and my notepad. I’ve often thought that the Russians are rather extreme in their characters who are burdened by self-loathing, who are bent on self-destruction. What I realized in writing down how I relate to the Russian characters is that the only reason I am not lost in these ideas is Christ.

I love Jesus.

And upon realizing this, I cut those characters a bit more slack. I lament, in writing, momentarily how I am not as gracious, naive, caring, or honest as Prince Myshkin (aka the Idiot). And then, I realize I am a combination of Kostya (Anna Karenina) and Aglaya (The Idiot).

And I’m happy by this revelation, although I want to be more like other characters. It also makes me excited to read Brothers Karamazov when I finish Shantaram, to see if I relate to any of those characters.

God, please make me more like Myshkin. I want to see the good in people. I suppose the correct thing to say would be please make me more like Christ.

And so, I disembark the train, happily alone amongst 50 or so people.

Oh introvert, how I’ve missed you so. And dearest Sydney, I have convinced my heart that I will leave you with no regret - I will not regret our sudden departure. I hope deeply, incessantly, that our paths will cross again, that my children will know you on an intimate level. You are so beautiful, most notably in your citizens. But in the next 4 days, I will love you like you’ve never been loved before.

I am a passionate and sincere lover, dear Sydney. Be prepared to be left longing for me. Oh, be prepared.

About Me

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I live amongst the dragons and the warriors of the 21st century. I surround myself with both the peasants, the aristocrats; the knights and the maidens. For a long time (now quite in the past), I wove the structure of my life around the mold others saw for me. I've since learned to live for God and myself. Freedom comes and goes as I remember this lesson of mine. But my life is MY life: a series of events and remembering such. And this, this beautiful montage, is why I wake up every morning. God willing.