Movies promised you magic. Laughing and crying, music swelling, camera panning. He gently strokes your cheek with his palm and his lips find yours. The camera sweeps and falls. We fade to black.
There are no one-liners. No eloquent declarations of love. Things were never so tender. It was the early hours of the morning; you were tired, you were drunk. You stand on his bed, for some reason, and wrap your legs around him as he lifts you up in the dark. He grabs your face and kisses you, roughly. For a second, it feels like flying. But it passes, into the inevitable awkward, into drug- and alcohol-fueled tears at 7am watching the sun rise over Moorish Spain, into a fitful sleep, into the hangover the next day. And now, when you look back, the memory is hazy and blurry; you were tired, you were drunk.
Nothing is flawless. You think too much; you tar the moment with the anxiety rising your chest. Afterwards, after whatever it is, you deconstruct every second, analyze every word. You screenshot his texts and send them to your friends. Every instance of your life threads its way through your mind, adheres to your brain, holds on for dear life. You are not here now. You are thinking of the next instant, or the one before it, or what it means.
There are no montages. You live every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of your life. But you feel jilted. Life was presented to you in a two-hour format. Years could go by in the blink of eye. Sadness was startingly beautifully. The mundane was visually stunning. Nobody is Dawson’s Creek-honest. We live in a series of complex facades, words that mask what we actually mean. We soften the blow of the emotion that comes with being human. We’re so eager to be something that looks good to our Facebook friends, on our LinkedIn profile, that we never actually are anything. And if that sounds trite it’s because it is trite.
It’s all trite. You wanted everything that came out of your mouth to be as crisp and polished as if a screenwriter had spent hours perfecting it. You wanted a life without hiccups. Mostly, you wanted your hair to dry like you had it professionally blown out daily.
You haven’t been seriously impressed and you’ve never seen a miracle. You were rarely beautifully startled or visually stunned. You didn’t get your movie moments. You got dashes of amazing in between the long simmer of mundane. His hand touches your knee in a black cab on Oxford Street. You swim in the phosphorescence in Thailand. You sing along to the Spice Girls at the top of your lungs. You come down, wondering if you’ll make it. You make it. He plays Black Star while he kisses you slowly on his bed. You see Qalandia checkpoint in photographs and then, one day, you’re walking down the barbed wire pathway.
You desperately fear a life without perfection. You thought there’d be a cut-off point, a line that you’d cross. A muddled-through life, and then everything. But as the years go on the dreams of magic slip farther away. You thought you’d be famous by now, or at least dead. But in movies, things happen to you. And in real life, you do things. Maybe you expect too much, and don’t do enough. Maybe there’s no real answer.
You keep looking for truth in art, when it’s really entertainment. You keep looking for truth in life, when it’s really entertainment. If that sounds trite it’s because it is trite. It’s all trite, and we fade to black.