There were those that bordered on the brims of eyelids, longing to escape, but too scared for fear of shame, guilt, or weakness.
There were the ones that sneakily escaped only to be wiped away demurely as if they never happened, as if what they meant was very little.
And then there were the ones that would gush forward unbridled, finally released after so much hurt and when the pain became insufferable. They were the givers of release, the markers of defeat, the last sign before the truth of the suffering emerged.
But no matter the shape of the tear, the guise under which is chose to appear, or the face that it eventually would flow down, the tear was preceded by tales of a life that was suppose to be. Over coffee cups clasped tightly in two hands standing on saucers that often caught those tears, I heard stories of dreams that should have been fulfilled by now, of potential that was to be tapped till it was bursting from the seams of the heart, of shining bright tooth smiles that were to be permanently plastered to faces because life was suppose to be nothing but beautiful. Wasn’t that what everyone had promised us as we sat in classrooms swimming in lessons about how to change the world, land the perfect job, release the beasts of talent that were roaring within our souls to get out? Instead we were confronted with the truth that promises were frequently delivered, but infrequently kept and all we were left with was “just this.”
And “this” was a remnant of a life that we thought we would be living. Somehow we became lost, wandering aimlessly, searching for something we couldn’t grasp, smell, or see because we didn’t know what it was. We had no idea what we were looking for except knew that it was the beautiful life the previous generation told us would be there waiting for us. It would stand with open arms extended, bright toothy grin, smooth skin waiting to envelope us like a perfect lover who knows exactly where to touch.
One day over coffee the tears suddenly overfilled our cups, spilling over the sides, creating cesspools of misery when landing on the floor, picking up the dirt off of our shoes. And they kept on coming in waves until they rose past our knees, to the tops of the table, past our shoulders, till we were drowning, gulping down the last bits of fresh air, and then we were submerged, drowning in our own misery.
Until someone smashed the windows with “should” written all over them and the tears flowed out, dispersing onto the streets and deep within the sewers where they would connect with the East River and become just what they were meant to be…nothing. It was that day that we decided to break through the shoulds: That this is who we should be, what we should have, who we should hang out with, where we should live, what we should wear, and what we should do with the rest of our lives. We realized that being lost wasn’t half as bad as living a life someone thought we should be living, defined and created by rules that were never really ours at all. By being lost we were finding a way to something better, to the beautiful life that was invariably waiting for us with open arms extended, bright toothy grin, and smooth skin. It was closer than we thought, sitting right next to us in fact, all we had to do was let it in.