looking out my window

I woke up this morning to someone playing “Beauty and the Beast” on a flute, somewhere from a window on the other side of our apartment building. I walk out onto the balcony, and so do our neighbors down below. We ask him to play another song, because today there is no rush. Today, there’s time.

At noon, we hear a ballad of pans from children on a terrace. The metal music creates an echo between our buildings. From a distance, we smile at each other, and we feel close.

Tonight at eight, we will see each other again. We will walk out to our balconies and windows, we will turn our phone lights on and we will clap for the strong men and women that are fighting for our country. It’s a new constant that we can hang on to.

They’re strange, these days. Long and still. But the smell of morning coffee seems to be stronger, a text from a friend a written hug. And lately, when I listen to a song, I can really listen to it.

It would be fake to say that this isn’t hard. I know I’m fortunate, I am healthy and there others who are really going through a hard time. People alone, friends who tested positive and are sick in bed, worried strangers that seem more like family these days. Because if you’re hurting, I am too.

Sometimes a looming fear and anxiety will start to set in if you’re not careful to take its hand and lead it to rest. Only a few weeks ago, I was preoccupied thinking about what to do on summer break or what professional opportunities I wanted to pursue. Now, in a sudden and complete redo of a typical day, I wonder, what will i do in this 3 bedroom apartment? How do I live well in these four walls? What can I do to make my body flow, to make my mind stronger, or my heart lighter? How can I give in spirit to my loved ones who are near but not near enough? To those that were far and now seem to be even farther? How do I be kind and give to those that are doing a lot worse?

If I’m honest, I know that the incessant scrolling on my Instagram or Facebook or the news isn’t the way to combat this. I know it’s good for me to read, write, paint, watch movies… But it would be sad to distract myself so much that I would miss this opportunity to think, create, and even recreate the way I’ve been living. To seek what is true in this moment, whatever is beyond this worry or fear. What do I do when I hear the ambulance down the empty street? When I receive a sad text about another victim of this uncertain time?

I don’t have answers, but I cannot let today’s gray sky dictate how I feel or how I live through this.

So I will continue to wait for the neighbors’ songs in the morning. I will keep going out to my balcony at 8 o’clock to give the applause. I will keep looking for the spots of sun, in honest songs and uninterrupted conversations. In the sweetness of a mandarine and the song of birds during a sleepless night. In laughter and in making art, in routines and moments of rest. In moments of thought and feeling.

I will keep looking out my window, and I will keep praying that this will make us better. That this will bring out strength. That we will be surprised.

in between

I’ve been wondering lately about the phrase “pocket of time”. It first came up in a book, and then in a conversation, and now I cannot seem to get it out of my head. I think it is like a splurge of minutes, days or years that seem to curve at a beginning and an end, without giving us much warning of when.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more pockets I’ve picked: an aloof moment of melancholy at the sight of a rain, a feeling of lightness throughout a good conversation, an arbitrary spot of inspiration. I’ve started picking the larger pockets, pinpointing where I moved and left, where I mentally gave and took back, where a hope grew and broke. And then, there are the more evident pockets of time: the best parts of my childhood, a rough patch in high school, the last months of college…

While I try to make sense of these moments, other pockets of time remain a mystery. A friend just got severely sick while another friend celebrated a job offer. Couples celebrated their anniversary while a sickening shooting took place. They’re overlapping pockets in my mind, though separate in life. I can try to make more sense of those, because I’m only a shadow of significance in them. But what about my own pockets of time that so confusingly overlap?

What do I say when I hold a gift on one hand and loss in the other? When a moment of nostalgia inadvertently lengthens its course? When life at this moment does not conform to what I’ve been told it should look like?

The more practice I get with picking these pockets of time, the more I want to extract the beginning traces so that I can better predict the end. If anything, maybe then I’ll be more prepared for disappointment, goodbyes, or whatever life decides to throw at me. But there are endings that I cannot understand, because they come too soon or not soon enough. And then there are beginnings which I wish for but of which I see no pocket, and beginnings to which I hope I won’t see an end. I guess that’s the confusing part. Though I try, I cannot contain or define these pockets of time. I cannot fully understand what is happening now and I cannot fully predict what will happen in the future. I can try to catch every beginning curve to prepare myself for an end, or I can learn to live and move and have my being– all in the in between.