If not now

I’m finding it difficult to sleep lately. I’ve been staying up into the small hours of the morning, afraid of my own thoughts and those horrible hours lying awake with only these thoughts to accompany me. The darkness and the quiet is stifling and I always find my mind going to strange places, thinking about everything from the books I have been reading, to making up random stories, to remembering I forgot to take the trash out earlier. The night before last I went to bed at 3am and lay awake for hours, tossing and turning and unable to become comfortable, unable to switch my mind of. Eventually I lay there, sprawled out on my back, watching the glow of the morning light seeping out from the edges of my curtains, feeling like giving up on sleeping entirely, throwing  the blankets off and getting up. It was then my thoughts drifted to my memories. I remembered being in Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, and waking up 6am to go walk alongside the Zambezi river with my sister and watch the sun rise there. I remembered how surreal it all was, the enormity of the place, the mist that clung to everything, how beautiful it was. I remembered strolling to the edge whilst keeping back for fear of crocodiles, peering out into the river and wondering what was there, watching me, that I could not see. I remember the heat and the noises of well, Africa. The hum of many insects and more. I remembered sitting down to breakfast with my sister and us being the only ones there, making stupid jokes and laughing too loudly, too much, attracting odd glances from the staff there. It did not matter, in those early hours it was like it was just the two of us and the world belonged only to us.

When I find myself feeling sad, longing for home, longing for escape, my mind turns to my memories. It’s bittersweet.

I had another exam on Thursday. It didn’t go well. Worse than even the last two. I am even more disappointed in myself, and even more frustrated. Why does everything seem to be going wrong? Is this the moment where everything finally falls apart? After all, just how long can someone like me succeed.

Yesterday after lying awake all night I dragged myself out of bed at 8am, to clean up my room before heading to lectures. My dad came in the evening and took me out to supper. I almost got us lost but my dad patiently explained how to use my phones GPS, and the basic art of map reading, and basically took over and got us to the right place. I know, even after being here a year I am still hopelessly unfamiliar with this city. Its embarrassing for me because I know it shows how little I go out, how little I do with my life, and I can’t help but get anxious about my dad disapproving over it, becoming concerned about it. This place I had chosen was thankfully a nice place, not expensive, but nicer than the average student can afford, and so it wasn’t a problem that it was a Friday night in the city, when all the students come out to be as obnoxious as possible. I had been nervous about that too.

We went to eat Malay food, something both of us had never done, and we were both noticeably nervous about the whole affair. I was especially nervous, being the one who asked to go. Thankfully, it turned out to be good. The waitress was sweet, obviously malaysian, and obviously used to dealing with clueless patrons, and talked us through everything. My dad had these savoury pancakes for starters, followed by beef redang, and I had chicken satay followed by a chicken curry. The food was ridiculously delicious, although very hot and spicy, strong flavoured, the after taste lingering for hours afterwards. It was fun sitting there being able to complain to my dad about my exams and finally being able to confess my fears of failure to someone. I was strangely chatty, almost hyper, though and I wonder if I said too much. Even now I am afraid of telling my parents too much. There are things I prefer them not to know, and I wonder if sometimes I let those things slip out. I’m not exactly good at keeping my own secrets. Sometimes there are so many things I want to say, sometimes I just want to be listened to, and so I end up spilling things to all the wrong people.

Afterwards we went back to my room and my dad started taking some of my stuff, so that there won’t be as much to bring back when my sister comes to pick me up later. Then we sat and ate ice cream before he had to go. He’s going away on a business trip soon, so I won’t be seeing him for a while now. In the parking lot I waved him off as he was driving and he paused a moment to take my hand, briefly holding on, saying something stupid I can’t remember before letting go. I remember laughing, because those stupid things my dad say always make me laugh, because I can see him teasing me and the affection behind it. No matter how old I get I’ll always be his little girl, and I realised just how much I love my father and how grateful I am for him. I hope he knows that. Before he came I was feeling angry with him for many reasons, old hurts coming to the surface, childish emotions that I somehow can’t seem to shake off. But after seeing him again I feel even more childish for such thoughts, and I’m relieved I did not say anything hurtful to him. At the end of the day my father is just doing the best he can for our family. I know that. I understand. And I won’t let myself get angry over stupid things again.

Those few hours were a relief, a moment to lay my childish anger to rest once more, and many more away from the constant worry over exams. Now, I am back to being stressed and anxious. I have just this one exam to go now. Yet, I just can’t seem to bring myself to work for it.

I’m still longing for home, for escape.

I don’t want to be alone right now. The thought hits me suddenly. But the walls I built to keep people out were very effective.