Youth is a feeling of invincibility. Youth has tunnel vision. It is self-absorbed. Youth does not understand the language of experience.
When I first came back to Malaysia, I was instantly relieved to be flooded by the comfort of the familiar. But as the weeks dragged on, it became apparent that there was much more than what was on the surface. It was one of those times you accidentally come across an old photo. At first glance, nothing has changed. But then you look longer, and you see the person with the unfocused eyes. The unsure smile. The little bits of discolouration at the corners. Yellowing spots on the back of the photo. The irony of it all.
At some point after that comes the realisation that you have suffered an embarrassing defeat against the odds. Despite all the promises and the fail-safes, nothing is the same. Of course, it isn't obvious at first. But soon enough, the telltale signs surface. The friends who never have time to be friends any more. The plans to "catch up" that are as empty as the words behind them. We have all moved forward, but not all of us have progressed in the same sense of the word. Maybe I'm noticing because I simply haven't caught up, but I don't think so. I can make peace with the fact that people do not want to be friends any more for whatever reasons, but I am disgusted by this lack of effort to push this friendship anywhere.This ambiguity. Every time you miss an opportunity to go out, we have less things to talk about. It feels like you're unpacking all this emotional baggage and, in the middle of it all, you decide that you're tired and just close your eyes and will it to go away. We all deserve better than this.
Or not. This could be a rite of passage. For all I know, promises we made as youths don't count. But I know I don't want to hear about you through mutual friends.I don't want to rely on social media to tell me what I should already know. Heck, let's all stop trying to prove that we're living the perfect life on Facebook. I want to talk, really talk, but it's been so long since we've had a conversation that's not superficial.
I'm grateful for the friends that have stuck with me. Here, nothing has changed. If anything, we've grown closer. But who knows, time has a very persistent way of twisting things we thought we knew. Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe it's just that not enough of it has passed. But I can't help but think this is how it should be. Easy and spontaneous. The effortless camaraderie. As likely to fight as we are to high-five. And who takes photos when we're seeing each other every other day? I scrunch up my nose at the modern-day dependence on emoticons or stickers or whatever they call them these days to convey our feelings and compensate for each other's inadequacy at understanding. You who is so ready to take offence at what I say, how are we ever going to be friends when we measure and measure our words?
Youth is transient. When the ideals die and we let ourselves be jaded, when speaking our mind is replaced by trying to read between each others' lines, then youth, along with all its promises, have become baggage.