The myth about being in your twenties is anywhere that isn’t where you’ve left is where the magic sparks and the air of new places seep into the mundane like a runny yolk and your life colours, a bright, new and better being.
The myth of Facebook albums is that only happy moments exist, and they all come sepia-toned and soft-focused, fish-eyed and Instagrammed, pouting sirens calling you to the sea of other lives.
Shed your scales for sequins.
Paris is not for getting in at half past 6 in the evening to soak in warm water and marinate in Deep Heat. Zürich is not for sulking by the swans in the lake, by the windows of churches. Luzern is not for having a meal of crispy duck by yourself. Neuchâtel is not where you fumble in English in front of all those French-speaking Swiss, bonjour merci au revoir. London is not for Nando’s and KFC and plastic wrapped sandwiches from Pret a Manger.
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain and the tides will not let you see dinosaur tracks, the lines too long for getting into caves. Meg the dog with a chew toy in the sunroom in grey grey Glasgow. The fountain won’t be on in Geneva, the watch museum will be closed, and the movie on television will not have a name we know but it will have William H. Macy.
At least I think I did Portugal right.
The myth of Europe is that it is a rosary of Other Places but people live there too. Grass grows most everywhere and everyone sees a different shade of green.
My brain is calamity. I daydream about a soap opera future in the backseat of the car hurtling through foreign roads. The mountains of Northern Spain tap on the window and whisper, “You could die tomorrow.” Three months before my whole life, an escape with a return ticket. But the bad parts of me stick like barnacles, fear wrapped around me like a warm duvet.
I could circle the world three times over, ride a booster rocket to sad old Pluto and still it wouldn’t shake the tree rings of who I am. A furrowed brow, a bitten, peeling lip. Too much worry for one person and much too little faith. A lack of bravery, an excess of regret. Toes the size of pinky fingers gripping the edge of a rocky ledge, looking down.
I itch now, home at last. I suppose these many years must, must make a person persistent enough that I can’t run away from. Unfurling from my suitcases, trying to fill in a space I left behind – the edges chafe and the hems are shorter but here it is, here I am, here is what I have.
My bones crack and my skin fades to a softer tan, I ready my skin for whatever’s next. My body is the baggage I will always have to carry and the weight is heavy, heavy.
A Contracted Life is intended as a place to explore the negative spaces in life — the things a person don’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, can’t do. A reflection of regrets, remorse and the remembered omissions, stopgaps and stumbles – that don’t necessarily detract from a full life.
Syar S. Alia had Death Cab for Cutie cancel on her (and several hundred other people) in Portugal after two hours waiting in the rain, so she’s got a huge grudge against Ben Gibbard now. And against inclement weather. Syar has a website, and hangs around on tumblr and her blog.