Mona Lisa

& her thoughts

Your friends are staggered in the rooms before and after you, while you stay stagnant in an empty, light, mustard yellow room. Everyday you see thousands of people, everyday you stand still knowingly posing for the hundreds of photos, yet you can’t help but feel alone, isolated in the glass box that separates you from the rest of the world. A smile is what you’re known for, and yet you wonder why, “Why does my smile bring such a grand allure? Why?” You ask yourself how is it that people cannot see the hollowness in your eyes, for you wear it like a scarlet letter for the townspeople to see.

There is a melancholic nature to you Mona Lisa, your eyes are sad. You watch the various faces come in and out, and you stand still like you always do, wondering whether they’re truly appreciating you or basking in superiority for being able to visit you. The more you look the more you know, you know this is not how you want to be remembered, this is not how you want to live, because when the camera’s disappear and the people are gone, you’re left in a darkened room in the middle of the night, alone, no companion, no friends, when you’re finally free to breathe and break free from your almost smile, you are left with an everlasting loneliness. You can hear your friends next door talking amongst themselves, laughing at the tourist who had to be escorted out because he dared touch one of the paintings, the Roman Antiquities come to life and start walking around, they stretch their stiff legs and visit the Gudea  to discuss the value of religion. Delacroix’s tiger’s come to life, roaming the halls of The Louvre hungry for their next prey. Your friends used to  visit you but they saw the sadness in your eyes, don’t see the grandeur of your portrait, and have since been discouraged from coming again.

Oh Mona Lisa, you’ve forgotten to use your words, you haven’t spoken in forever and you’re longing to scream is on the tip of your tongue but you’ve forgotten to. You’re saddened to never see the halls of The Louvre, visit Liberty, leading the people, peak in to visit Bathsheba at Her Bath. You often wonder, what if you were La Belle Ferronnière and she was you. Oh it must be extraordinary to exceptionally ordinary, to walk freely and breathe fresh air, to go beyond the four walls that you’re enclosed in. You lock eyes with everyone that come to see you, you wonder what it would be like if you switched out of your dress and switched into pants, place your hair up in a bun and walk away, visit the Seine, walk by the water, go in and out of the gift shops, oh how wonderful it must be to have someone to buy souvenirs too.

But your reality is that you will forever be enclosed in a glass box, bound by four walls, in an empty room filled with thousands of people. You will forever be alone as the crowds grow bigger. Mona Lisa, you are the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most industrialized, and the most critical work of art in the world, and yet no one knows how misunderstood you are.


Turning 25

and other selfish thoughts

On the eve of my 25th birthday I was standing in front of the Bassin Octagonal of the Tuileries Garden in the first arrondissement of Paris. It was a cold and windy afternoon, traces of the earlier drizzle was all over the green lawn chairs that sat around the fountain, and although the sun was out and there was not a single cloud in the sky, the petrichor still lingered in the air, giving a subtle hint of spring and the promise of rebirth. 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal about my birthday, but it was also something that I looked forward to. Growing one year older, celebrating a day dedicated to you with family and friends, presents, surrounded by love, how can you not look forward to it? But standing in front of this, dare I say, mediocre fountain, I was overwhelmed with the memories of the last 20 or so years, with an emphasis on the last three. It wasn’t an easy couple of years and it definitely wasn’t fun. It was really hard, and quite honestly, very lonely. And that being said, I can’t deny the fact that I was surrounded by love, friendships and support my entire life, and I definitely do not take that for granted. What I mean to say is that in the past two years alone, the experiences I’ve gone through, the emotions I’ve felt and the loss I’ve endured was an experience limited to my own within the group of people I surrounded myself with. I’m sure someone in this world has dealt with the range of experiences and emotions that I have, but I haven’t met them so we can’t share our stories, learn from each other and heal together, if that is even a thing. I’m still searching for that aha moment, when I can finally understand the secret to life and living, where I turn the pages of my story and start anew, when I can finally turn my feelings off and not have a care in the world, or in other words, when I can raise my middle finger to the world and give it the metaphorical fuck you. 

But then again, that’s not me, I do care. In fact, I care too much about the people in my life, so much so that I forget to focus on myself, I forget to be selfish, and so I decided be selfish. And in selfish manner, all that I can think of is, that on this birthday, just like the past two birthdays, I will not be getting the call I always get, got. Its a selfish feeling, quite frankly, I think it’s the most selfish feeling to feel but I cant deny how much it hurts missing you Nana. I can’t believe that on my 22nd birthday, that that would be the last birthday phone call I would be getting. You were always the first to call me and wish me a happy birthday and ever since those calls had stopped my world stopped. So here I am in Paris, doing the most selfish thing during the worst time in my family’s life, chasing some sort of joy, some sort of comfort to my birthday, and all I can do is cry. I’m crying in Paris. If I can’t find closure or some sort of happiness here, how can I ever find it?

The big 25, I always said I wanted to live to be a hundred, and by that standard, I’ve completed a quarter of my life, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Adulting is hard when your heart is that of a child’s, I still believe in the naiveté’s of life, that good will always prevail, that life is fair, that good things happen to good people, despite the fact that time and time again life has proven me wrong. I tell myself I want to grow out of this notion, have a heart of stone, but I’m afraid if I do, the love I have for the world and the little things such as my appreciation for the languages, my love of Monet, my tears at the end of Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix, I’m afraid all of that will go away, and then everything that I am, everything that I know myself to be will be lost. What a paradoxical world we live in?

I spent my day chasing Monet’s work, I went to four different museums to bear witness to his life’s works. They each tell a story, one unique from the other, and each story unique to the eye of the beholder. There was a sort of melancholy that spoke to me in his works, I didn’t come out of it feeling resolved, I came out of it feeling understood. 

I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is, much like the path my life is on, all I know is that it’s 7am in the morning in Paris, on my birthday, and I woke up with the sudden desire to write this. 

Be good to me 25. 


closing chapters

a prose for a lost friendship


the good,

I don’t remember your first impression of me, I certainly don’t remember asking you, but if you told me, I don’t remember it. We always talked about my first impression of you, but for the life of me, I just can’t recall your first impression of me. Isn’t that sad? I think that’s sad. I think that will always bug me, not knowing. We were eighteen and fresh out of high school, we’ve both had very different experiences but there we were, young, innocent and eager, we wanted to get to know our V1-S4 family, and we went around the circle introducing ourselves, and there you went introducing yourself, I don’t remember anyone’s introduction but yours, so I think your intentions worked, you wanted a memorable introduction, and that it was. 

I’ve changed a lot in the past two years, and I don’t know if it’s for the better, but I’ve hardened, put up walls and opened up to no-one, I can’t open up at all. To sit down and talk to someone and tell them how I feel, it’s become the hardest thing for me to do. Because that would mean I would be setting up the expectation that they can help me, and you’ve taught me one very important lesson and that is, I can’t rely on anyone to help me. I’ve been in pain, felt sad, confused and angry, I’ve definitely been lost, and I don’t want to be anymore, I don’t want to give this any more thought than I already have, so this is my ode to a lost, forgotten and adrift friendship, we always did say a book should be written about us, and this is my one last benevolence to us, or rather to what once was us. This is my ending.

You cornered me in the lounge and introduced yourself to me, personally at least. You took me back to my room and then started grilling me about where I’m from. When I took my first weekend back home, you met me at the lounge and hugged me goodbye. At the time, I was caught a little off guard and I thought you were coming on way too strong but it was something that I later was thankful for.

People tell you different things, some say that your high school friends are the ones that stay in your life forever, some say that it’s your university friends, and others tell you it’s your work friends. I happen to think that the friends you will have in your life forever are the ones that you can undeniably be yourself with, the ones that understand you and accept you despite your flaws, they are the ones that are ready to catch you when you’re free falling into an abyss. And on the bus looking out the window, all my fears about school and meeting new people and adjusting to not only a new city but a new country were washed away. As extremely pubescent as this may sound, I made a friend.

For two people to be in school we didn’t study a lot, in fact, we were horrible study partners. Something we learned the hard way. I mean we tried, we would set up study dates and late night cram sessions in the SLC or cafeteria and boy were they an epic fail. But we successfully managed to take pictures, dye our hair, take videos, and dance to Bohemian Rhapsody. We were good at that, taking a book and turning it into a hair dye. I learned to stick to my perogies when I had the pork mishap and you oh so subtly asked me “oh I didn’t know you eat pork.” We went to Sci-Balls and had you do my eye makeup every time, I still need help in the eye makeup department. I helped with your sister’s invitation letters, not because it felt like a chore, but because I loved your sister in the short amount of time I got to know her, I looked up to her and admired her. We had sleepovers and morning-after sticky notes and sweater sharing and you even stole my key off my keychain and surprised me for my nineteenth birthday, and I adult napped you and almost put you in the trunk of the car month later. I still think that was a pretty good idea. 

It wasn’t until the second year when we progressed to moving mattresses between apartments and going on 3 AM jogs which then later turned into us almost getting attacked by some stranger on the street and us having to call a taxi back to our apartment. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? You forced me to walk over the highway and I temporarily got over my fear of heights. Germany won the world cup. You didn’t think our friendship would make it through the finals, maybe 2022 will be Argentina’s year. You were a balcony away when I got attacked by a flying cockroach, remember that balcony? Remember when we planned out how we would cross over to each other’s apartments rather than use the door just for the adventure? Well, speaking of climbing over things, remember when we climbed over a brick wall to avoid a certain someone? I sometimes look back at these moments and wonder, “What the hell were we thinking?” But we had fun, with everything we did, we made sure we had fun, hatched eggs, monkeys, sticks and barrels and all, we had fun. 

We had our moments, our friendship stood the test of distance, when I was in Amman, we were Skyping for 9 hours straight, my night turned into day and your day turned into night, we were keeping each other filled in on everything and everyone, me complaining about my crazy neighbour, and you telling me about your summer adventures. I won’t forget the laughter that came with that Asian man who laughed at you when we were on Lady of the Mist, that cop who added us on Instagram by the Brooklyn Bridge, and oh my God everyone in New York, even our decision to hop in cars with strangers to see the Manhattan skyline. Weren’t we taught to avoid getting into cars with strangers when we were younger? Every adventure felt safe as long as it was with you. Bruce Peninsula was a fluke, I had to get ready in less than 15 minutes, pack a bag and all, if it was anyone else, anyone else’s family, I would have had a hard time convincing myself let alone my parents to let me go with only 15 minutes notice. It amazes me how quick I got ready, and how easily I felt at home with your family, they treated me no less than they treated you, a daughter, part of the family.

Remember when a parked car hit me while I was biking? I do, at least that’s how I choose to remember it. My life was always one adventure after the other with you, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years and here I was going to a random person’s house who I met off Kijiji to buy a bike off of them, and we both know how that turned out, and I’m not talking about the bike, I’m talking about game night and truth or dare Jenga. How do you fit three people in a bed? Simple, you don’t, but we made it work and we spent months doing it. And remember when I fell off my bike and broke my pinkie, how I got back up, went to dinner and then we biked from one pharmacy to the next because we were playing rookie doctor, remember that? We rented a car to surprise you for your birthday, I don’t know how we did it, but we did it. We took a bunch of mini road trips to all parts of Ontario, we split the driving, I had my foot on the gas and you had your hands on the steering wheel. I really hope we can’t get charged if a police officer is reading this, but it was fair, no? I won’t mention our overnight trip in Toronto, because I really don’t want anyone to get in trouble for that.  

the bad, 

Losing a friend is never easy, especially when you don’t understand why you lost them in the first place. You taught me that after all. I hurt you, or so you said. You didn’t understand the pattern of behaviours that lead us to where we are. And I don’t think I ever really explained it to you, or I didn’t try hard enough to get you to listen at least. It doesn’t matter how old we get and how tough we are, a loss will always leave a silent scar, and to lose someone when you’re not whole when you’re dealing with chemical imbalances can make you do things you don’t understand yourself. You find yourself justifying yourself but not understanding your justification. Nothing makes sense. It’s not supposed to, Cancer doesn’t make sense, I learned that the hard way, but we don’t invalidate someone’s illness because we don’t understand it, because it scares us, we don’t.

I left first, I walked out first, but you fought like hell to get me back. Why? Just so you can hurt me? Just so you can have the last say? You should have just left me alone, it is inhumane to mess with someone’s life like that. The worst part is, you told me, you told me how it felt to completely disappear without a trace, you told me how much I hurt you. And at the time, I didn’t see it, I didn’t see how I was causing hurt and pain, I can honestly say that yes, I did hurt you and I’m so sorry that I did, but it was unknowingly, I was trying to protect what was left of me. But you purposely did the exact same thing to me, knowing how much it would hurt, knowing the events that were going on in my family and knowing where I was mentally. You fought to have me back in your life just so that you can have the last word, just so that you can hurt me right back right after I told you I left to protect myself from you. That messed me up, being your friend messed me up. You called my mother and spoke to her, you told me that you and she had a friendship beyond our friendship. Where was this friendship when she got sick? That messed me up even more because you confirmed my suspicions; four years of deception, four years a lie, four years wasted, because the person I met in the lounge in 2012, the person who drove down to my house just to scare me, the person whose family became mine, and mine became theirs, that person wouldn’t have purposefully hurt someone with the intention of vengeance, that person would have reached out to my mother regardless of where our friendship stood, but maybe I got it wrong, maybe I misread everything. Maybe I couldn’t see what was always there.

and the now;

They tell you to forgive and forget, but who’s they? And can we really just simply forgive and forget? Is that practical? I think you can either forgive or forget, you can’t do both. Forgiveness allows us to move on, but so does forgetting, but do I have to do either or to move on? Forgive and forget, forgive or forget, I don’t know where I stand. The reason why two years later I’m still here, is because I did love you, and I’de like to think that it was reciprocal, and if it wasn’t, that’s okay too. 

I don’t regret the four years, because it taught me the value of time, how precious it is, how without a moment’s notice you can lose someone. I’ve lost people in the past before, not by choice, but because it was their time. There are so many things left unspoken, so many things that I wished I could tell them, I wish they could come back to me for one minute so that I can tell them how I feel, how much they mean to me, how much I love them, and how much it hurts that they’re gone. This past year has been brutal, time has been moving so fast, too fast, it’s almost impossible to believe that we are here in December, sometimes I close my eyes and wonder how the hell did we get here, how? I understand the value of time, and how not to waste it. My time with you was a lesson, was a lesson in the preciousness of time, how not to waste it on the wrong people.

Forgiveness is for the strong, for the people who don’t want to learn this lesson a second time, for those who want to graduate. They carry their wound proudly as a reminder of where they were, what they overcame, and what to avoid in the future. I don’t know if I’m there yet, because I just want to forget. Once upon a time, there were adventures, bike rides, road trips, climbs down to the grove in Bruce Peninsula, there were breakfasts and dinners, there were dorm room and hotel room scares, promises made, music shared, pictures taken, birthdays, surprises, hour-long conversations, once upon a time there was a friendship, there had to be one. Do I regret all the time spent with you, despite all the hurt? Do I really? No. The only way I can move on now is to forgive, and although this wound may never heal, I hope that one day I’m lucky enough to forget, forget everything. Until then, I’ll carry the scar to remind me to never find myself here ever again.

the end.