When I Am Old, I

when i am old, i will look back at the ice and the mines, and wonder, what was it about the day? what was on his mind? why did he help me look for my phone – was it me or was it some sense of civic duty? and i will look back on cold wintry nights in the lower east, sharing a cigarette, laughter at the cross street with our heads thrown back, hair in the wind. is it any wonder that this pandemic finds us all in varying degrees of despondence? i miss the moments of magic that our lives before afforded us – kisses that happen unexpectedly, a pikachu popping up in the ss2 playground, beautiful video montages at a wedding buzzing with love and life. in small bursts of strength through these tedious and grey days i try to appreciate the smell of home-brewed coffee. sushi game in the background. the roof over my head. the job that i love and still have. gratefulness, appreciation, well-being, i hope this email finds you well. i take the time to walk and talk, and it’s weird but i really love walking now.

when i am old, amidst the ailments of age, etched deep in my heart will be the memory of me walking up the stairs in school, taken by surprise because someone believed in me. encik iskh asked if i would like to try out for the debate team two years ahead of time because he thought i had it in me – fighting spirit, a flair for language, and a structured mind. at high school graduation, he would get angry and call it a waste of talent when i said i didn’t want to be a lawyer. and somewhere in between, in a moment of very public stage fright at an interschool competition, he was there for me at the end with sad but trusting eyes. i promised myself that stage fright would never happen again so that i would never have to let anyone down the way i let him down that day. as a young soul, it is immensely powerful to know that a teacher believes in you. the word “potential” means nothing to a fourteen year old but the confidence is something that is carried for life, despite stage fright, despite horrible breakups, despite a failing grade in add maths. this era of the pandemic claimed his life and i could not be there. the pandemic took away a high school reunion that he was planning, and now we will never have that experience – for me to look him in the eye and say thank you for believing in me, so many years ago, even though i never did any of my homework.

when i am old, i hope to be at peace with all of the decisions that i have made, be they wrong or right. i hope that i have chosen to walk a path that makes me happy and that there are no stepping stones of regret.

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