Once, I saw something that I swore to be the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. There was no indicator of what time it was. I didn’t know if it was 9 p.m. or whether the moon was just about ready to clock out of her shift. All I knew was that my surroundings were almost completely engulfed by the darkness and that I was thousands of feet from the ground. I was probably still dreaming. Weary from the past 8 hours of flying, dreading the remaining 5. But I swear to God I wasn’t hallucinating when I saw a sea full of stars the moment I looked outside the airplane window. Initially hidden by the formation of fog on the glass, they finally bid their hello’s and goodbye’s to me as we flew past them. Like a single one-way street in an obscure part of the world, they eventually disappeared from my sight and out of my life, never to be seen again. From that day onwards, I believed that I would never see anything quite as beautiful as I had on that plane at God knows what hour, in the middle of nowhere, thousands of feet above the ground.
This one morning, I noticed my mother crying to herself while driving me to class. Just as I would on any other day, I sat there, looking straight ahead. I allowed the music playing to fill in the gap of silence, to be the bridge between my mother and I. I knew too well of the reason behind her tears. I knew that sometimes I was the cause behind them. But I stay still and let her cry because she is not upset with me, she rarely ever is. She is upset at the circumstances of everything.
My mother cries often.
I received a text from a friend one night. She asked me for an honest opinion, “should I just stop seeing people?”. I didn’t know what to say. I told her that her fear of hurt from past experiences were valid and that there was no rush in finding anyone. I told her that she could continue meeting people or she could take a step back from dating and focus on other stuff. Pottery seemed like a fun new hobby to pick up. But I also said how her and I loved companionship too much and that we were cursed to go on an eternal quest searching for it. She laughed.
My friend feels lonely at times.
Another friend texts me and asks if she had made the right decision of switching courses. Her grades weren’t matching up to her standards but she was already at the brinks of exhaustion after continuously over exerting herself. Without fail, our conversations would always go down the same trajectory: concern after concern after concern after concern. I’m very bad at consoling and giving advice. I told her that things will be hard but that they’ll be fine, sooner or later. I didn’t tell her that I felt proud when she chose to take a break from university to think things over.
My friend worries a lot.
I think back on that one plane ride from years ago. I had swore to myself that I would never see anything as beautiful as the star-filled sky on that very night and perhaps it was true at the time. But now, I swear to God, nothing can beat the smile on my mother’s face in the photos that she sends to me of her and her friends on their getaways together because I get to see her momentarily live her life and her life only. I feel a rush of warmth when I see my friend with her mother and brother because it was clear that they would always be each others’ rocks and that the worry over meeting new people didn’t seem to matter so long as she had them. And despite her worries, it amazes me how my other friend still manages to balance her studies and participate in clubs and activities on top of spending time with her friends and family because, as of right now, those were her constants and she would do anything in her power to put in all her energy in the things that she knew she cared for.
All my life, I have seen the women around me cry over things that are far beyond their control. I have seen them cry over themselves and over others and over the things that they simply cannot wrap their heads around. I have seen them express their concerns and show their fear of failure and rejection. I have seen them cower when a man looks at them strangely and I have seen them fight back when a man tries to assert their authority by speaking over them. I have seen them at their highest and at their lowest. Everyday, I see them try to figure out how to live in a world where fixed systems continue to perpetuate the dismissal of their experiences as women. But there is a common understanding between them; of the struggles that they face, of the obstacles they must overcome and of the power that they hold. Each and every one of them are their own stars that fill up a light-less sky and when they come together, it is a sight like no other.
I was wrong. The women in my life, women everywhere, they are real and they are flawed but they are them and that is what makes them absolutely and undoubtedly the most beautiful thing(s) I have ever seen.