Written at age 22
This is a simple story, rarely told. Of a magic that began when I was first created. Of a rainbow that leads to eternity, one that will remain long after I have left. This is the story of the depths of my being. And of the two strangers you will meet there.
When I board a plane, I put my mid-sized purse under the seat in front of me. I immediately take it back out again and look inside to double check something. Inside a brown leather passport holder lays my passport and boarding pass. He is relieved.
Six hours later, three more painful ones to go, my stomach grumbles and emptiness fills me with hunger. I look at the lady sleeping next to me, and think to myself “it’s safe now.” I open the zip lock bag that is hiding at the bottom of my purse and quietly munch on the biscuits. She smiles.
I arrive safely at Chicago O’Hare airport, and after spending no less than two hours in immigration, I wait at the taxi stand in minus 30 degree temperature, the tips of my ears on the verge of falling off. I turn on my mobile, and there is a message from him: Hope you reached ok. Call when you land. Love you.
I stay awake that whole night, a harsh victim of jetlag. I am the first one of my friends to come back to the dorms, and the silence of the hallways is deafening. The phone rings and breaks the peace like a shrill. I hear the voice on the other end and realize that there is never a moment when I am alone. She asks if I remembered to take my medicine for the soreness that is starting to knock at my throat.
The next morning, the hallways start to fill with friends and foe alike, and I begin a routine of university life. The moments, the days, the years go by – and I find that I am constantly struggling between two people.
When a friend is in need, I run over to their rooms, my heart open to their sorrow – my mind ready to fix whatever is broken. You must give of yourself entirely, she reminds me. No matter who seeks your help. To help those that don’t deserve it is the most worthy of acts.
When I am in need, and that same friend has not given me a second glance, I cry. I ache with pain. I sob with the thought that even the best of friends can be selfish. You must find the strength within yourself, he says. If you helped with the thought of being rewarded, you did so in vain.
When I find that someone has done grave injustice – the two voices argue. Go tell them what they did was wrong, she says. Stand up for what you believe in!
No, there is no need to fight ignorance with ignorance, he retorts. If you truly believe otherwise, practice your belief in your own life before preaching how others should live theirs.
On the nights when I find myself in a nightclub, lights flashing against each other, faces hidden in clouds of smoke, feet dancing on alcohol-drenched floors, I still manage to hear them through the blaring music.
Don’t accept drinks from strangers, she says. Stay close to your friends. Don’t go home alone in a cab.
But don’t forget to have fun, he reminds me.
On the many evenings that I have been lucky enough to walk down the streets of Paris, Prague, Venice, or Zambia, I find myself looking at the world through their eyes. I notice the hungry man, painting a beautiful landscape, huddled in the corner of a cobblestone road. I taste the scent of freshly baked bread, and smile at the baker as I pass by. I stop in front of a small and crooked church. Go inside, they say. The Divine power exists in all places and all forms. You have only to believe to find that it holds your hand wherever you go.
When I sit here and type this, tempted to go back and erase every line I have written, for no words can ever explain what I feel, they stop my finger from hitting the delete button.
If you feel love, show it. We have one life to live, and why live it in fear of failure? Follow your heart – because it is hidden in there that you will find all things – including us.
I have traveled far and beyond from the comfort of their touch, their laughs, their hugs. I have learned to live alone, to cry alone, to smile alone – and to realize that I am truly never alone. They sing the songs of their lives in my soul – and every day I hear them. In every footstep, in every breath, it is the dust of their own lives that sprinkle out of me. In every tear, and every moment of heartfelt pain, they are there to remind me that no hardship can go unconquered. They buy me presents they know I would never ask for myself. They clean my kitchen because they know I will be too tired after work. They put some extra money in the bank – just because. They encourage me to do things even they doubt I will be able to do – anything is possible.
For every tiny piece of their love I have written here, multiply it a million times, send it to the infinity power – and you will still be short a lifetime. They are two separate people – two amazing minds. But once joined together, many, many, years ago – they were trapped in the heart of a little girl. A little girl, who even now, looks up at them as if they have the power to save her from the whole world. A little girl who has learned that people can be cruel, that life can be painful, but that no matter what, she always has inside her, two special strangers who became her lifelong friends. Her parents.