Rain pitter-patters off the window. Flashes of lightning illuminate the unwashed dishes in the sink. Thunder booms overhead, not reaching past his earphones. They play some old song that reminds him of old times. He sits at the dinner table and stares into the distance.
//5 PM. earlier that evening.
A chilly breeze blows through the streets. Pedestrians wrap their coats tight around themselves as they hurry past one another; each focussed on getting on with the evening, be it back home with their families or at the neighbourhood bar with the gang. Nobody notices the other. Nobody has the time.
He walks faster than most. A sense of purpose rests on his face like it’s been there for a while. He enters the grocery store, buys the same old bread, milk and eggs and walks out. The subway leads him to the same train that will lead him back to the same apartment he still can’t call home.
A family sits beside him. A young mother and her son. They talk of his father and of dinner. They talk of the school bully and the family dog. They laugh together. They seem happy.
It’s been ages since he laughed with someone like that, he thinks.
He gets off onto the platform and makes his way home, now walking a little slower than before.
The rain has become a mere drizzle. The thunder has stopped and all has gone quiet. His iPod now lies on the table, ears free of barriers. He has the look of a man who’d just remembered something he had forgotten existed. He has the look of a man who is close to admitting defeat.
He closes his eyes and sees the young mother and her happy son; only this time, the mother is someone he knows; knew, rather. He sure as hell didn’t know her any more. The visual brings back so much. Memories of her dancing while he awkwardly shook a leg; of them laughing over a plate of pizza; of them sitting and talking as though they had all the time in the world. He sighs deeply and wipes his eyes.
They had really thought they had all the time in the world.
//Midnight, in another timezone, across a few oceans
She stands in her balcony, staring at the lights. They’re always there – every night, without fail – to give her company as she sips her warm beverage from a chipped cup. This is her time, when she can be at peace with herself without the annoying voice of her far-from-pleasant roommate screeching of “workplace woes”. She can sip her tea in silence as she preps herself for another day of earning her living; another day of “following her dreams”. There are times he slips into her thought process but she usually blocks him out. After all, he was the one who gave up on them. He was the one who grew indifferent.
She pulls out her phone and searches for his latest display picture. A while ago, she realised she could do this without it hurting. He looks successful and happy; content even, for once. Not that he could ever be, she knew. He had a tendency to be unhappy about things, no matter how good they may be. And such people can never be happy, she had told herself; and they don’t make ideal partners, she had convinced herself.
She finishes the tea, throws the chipped mug in the trash and calls it a night.
There are two broad kinds of people I like to classify humanity into: the thinkers and the action-takers. Some people put all their effort into thinking, be it for themselves or for their loved ones, and base all their actions collectively on that thought process. These are the visionaries, the emotional power houses. If you have one in your life, they will live for you; if they’re alone, they will be one of the mightiest forces the world would have ever reckoned with. The others are the impulsive ones, the spontaneous ones. These are the go-getters, the success-stories. They follow their instincts and do what seems best for their career, life and so on. They are people to be proud of and be inspired by. If you have one in your life, they’ll be the voice of reason you can rely on; if they’re alone, well, they flourish like they would have regardless.
I don’t think there is a good or bad type; it’s all about how you look at life. Some situations require a more practical approach while sometimes it would do you well to remember that we’re not meant to simply earn our livelihoods and die. All of the go-getters aren’t made of stone nor are all thinkers emotional fools. It is unacceptable to subdue all feeling and give up on romance just as it is to abandon reason and proceed recklessly.
Not that there’s any hope to strike a balance, either. We’re only human, after all; we’ll continue to chase what’s in the moment, always missing out on the bigger picture.