Isn’t it weird the way that you can hear a song, after not hearing it for five or even ten years, and still remember all the lyrics? Maybe you can even picture yourself listening to the song at some moment in your past, hanging out in your teenage bedroom, or crossing the street with your earbuds in while nothing special is happening around you. There are certain songs that I listen to that always bring back specific memories:

“Time to Pretend,” by MGMT – I’m in the basement of the house my friends rented in our university town when I was 20. We threw huge parties there all the time, which led to them eventually being kicked out by their landlord. I was sort of but not really seeing one of the guys who lived in that house who was a total skeez and would break my heart.

“Hands Down,” by Dashboard Confessional – I’m 16 years old and laying in my bed in Rochester, Minnesota, my walls covered in pictures torn from Spin and NME of Noel Gallagher and Panic! at the Disco, daydreaming about the boy I liked (he was so COOL and he had such nice hair!) and wondering if he daydreamed about me too.

“Rocketeer” by Far East Movement – I’m 21 years old. I’ve just graduated college, and I’m laying on my dad’s couch. It’s 2am and I can’t sleep because the next morning, I’m flying to Ecuador for an internship. I say I’m only going to be gone for a few months, but I know I’m going to try to stay for longer. My heart is beating a million miles a minute and I wonder if I’m making the right decision.

Last week, my Spotify Daily Mix brought up a song I had totally forgotten about and not listened to since I was probably 14, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” by Relient K. I can’t point to one specific memory for this one, but I still knew all the words, because I used to listen to it a lot when I was this little pop punk/emo high schooler going through a rough time. As it played and I sang along in my head, my mind shot to a night only a few months ago, a night I can honestly call one of my shittiest nights in recent memory. The lyrics are:

I talk to absolutely no one
Couldn’t keep to myself enough
And the things bottled inside have finally begun
To create so much pressure that I’ll soon blow up and,
I heard the reverberating footsteps
Sinking up to the beating of my heart,
And I was positive that unless I got myself together
I would watch me fall apart.
And I can’t let that happen again
‘Cause then you’ll see my heart
In the saddest state it’s ever been.
This is no place to try and live my life. 

I thought about a night in early December, shortly after breaking up with my boyfriend of four years. We were still living together, though we were staying in separate rooms, and it was painful and awkward and uncomfortable. I was terrified at the thought of being alone in Hong Kong, since we started dating the second I got off the plane. I had a hard time admitting how upset I was, because I felt like I shouldn’t burden other people with my feelings and problems.

That night I went to a party hosted by my gym and I drank a lot. Then I went out with my friends and continued drinking. Then, as I was walking through Hong Kong’s party area, Lan Kwai Fong, a guy tried to hit on me by bragging about his followers on Twitter. I remember getting super bummed out, thinking, “Oh, cool. This is what I have to look forward to as a single woman. Great.” I went to another bar to meet my friends and drank even more. By the time I got home I was completely shitfaced, and as I entered my flat and sat on the couch, I looked at the closed door of the spare bedroom, where my recent ex was sleeping. I lost it. All the feelings that I had, that I didn’t want to let out, came to the surface and I cried harder than I had in years, wailing as if someone close to me had died. I couldn’t believe that my life was changing so much and I wasn’t the least bit ready for it. More than anything, I felt extremely alone, and for the first time since I moved to Hong Kong I felt like running away. I was falling apart.

It’s nearly the end of March, and a lot has happened between December and now. I started working out a lot, training for the Spartan Race, and going out with my friends and having fun. I was doing pretty well. Then at the beginning of the year, I rebounded with someone who was completely wrong for me and it blew up in my face and temporarily drove me back into drunken sadness, but that led me to make a very good decision for myself: I decided to stop drinking for a while. I realised that if I didn’t put myself together, I would watch me fall apart. It was easy for me to go overboard with booze and drinking wasn’t doing anything beneficial for me at that point in my life, considering that a depressant when you’re already feeling pretty depressed is never a good idea. I haven’t had a drink in over a month and I have less than a month to go until I can drink again (I chose the Spartan Race on April 14th as the day I could start again, as the organisers give you a beer when you cross the finish line) and it’s been an eye-opening experience for me; I’ve learned that I can still go out with my friends and enjoy myself, even without drinking. I’ve learned that I can still go out on dates and be outgoing and good conversation, even without glass or two of wine, and I’ve learned that I prefer having a few nice beers or cocktails over chugging shots or sipping down tasteless vodka sodas. I think that once I start drinking again, I’ll be more aware of what I’m having and I’ll be more in control of what I do.

There’s a lot more about the past few months that I hope I’ll write about someday soon, things like dealing with grief or starting a new chapter of my life, and there’s a lot of details about the past few months that I’m leaving out because I’ve already written too much. I haven’t written anything in this blog for ages because I haven’t had any inspiration, but (as cheesy as it sounds – and seriously, I want to punch myself in the face for saying this) I’m starting to realise that inspiration lies all around me, and maybe even within myself, if I just take the time to look for it. I fell apart for a while and I’m not completely back together yet, but I’m working on it. Maybe the pieces aren’t going in the same spots as before, but I think that’s ok. I’m forming something new.

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Something something “a journey starts with the first step” blah blah blah.

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