Updated: Dec 1, 2021
I don't usually watch trending entertainment. The kind that goes viral? The only way I know it's the new big thing is by way of memes, if any come my way (they seldom do). I stick to the basics - classic, clichéd romcom and family material. High school romances, long-distance dilemmas, you know the type. Don't get me wrong, I critique the glaring flaws unflinchingly. But in that one minute before reality strikes, when the credits roll to a cheery soundtrack and all is well in the make-believe world I become a part of, I smile. A warmth spreads throughout and my heart goes into an ecstatic somersault.
Only lately have I discovered why I consume these stories so hungrily. The underlying reason is as banal as they are - to live vicariously through them. Love sagas and school dramas, all encounters that I never got my fill of. I had a wonderful childhood, really, I did. But it was as unremarkable as it was great. Sleepovers, movies, birthdays, I never got the quintessential teenage experience. I didn't cut class, I never cheated or fought or lied my way out of anything, never did anything too stupid. My peers never seemed to want to play truth and dare with me because they knew they couldn't dig out who I was crushing on, since I never was. I was the affable, non-nerdy-but-nerdy perfect(ish) child.
Most days, I'm immensely proud of that kid. She made her choices, and more importantly, she stuck to them at a time when it was especially difficult to do so. But in the one minute where I'm rooting for the make-believe world on my screen, I am astutely aware of how it was never my world. My world was books and grades and good-friends-without-good-times. It was an incredible world, but, the flipside of that ideal coin always remained elusive. I wouldn't call this regret, I could never, but whatever it is, it's enough to make that one minute bittersweet.
It's strange talking about my childhood like it's been ages; seems overblown considering I'm in the `prime of my life`. But a hollow vase with flowers stuck inside it remains hollow nevertheless. This morning, I was part of an organization-wide mailer announcing Children's Day competitions for the employees' kids when it seems only yesterday I was the kid participating in those. I grew up without meaning to, too much too fast, never realizing I didn't need to.
But, the Universe takes and the Universe gives back. It compensated for a non-childish childhood with a family-filled youth. One where my folks make me feel like the house baby more than I ever did in the days past. For somebody as deprived of home-feels as I was, it wasn't a difficult bargain. Only a few hours ago, after a day that was too adult for my liking, my parents sat us down to deliver formal life lessons. With a written agenda and points of discussion. And papers with our names written on them to take down notes. Including but not limited to fables imparting moral education. All because they thought their little one is too wide-eyed to take on the world. And amidst exchanging rationales and note-taking and sneaky recording, in one liberating minute, I realized, the best part of a hollow vase is that it always has room for more.