It's the little things that take you by surprise. Living in a city you'd never have imagined living in before, a year and a half ago. Coming home to an empty flat after work. It turned into home the day you stopped searching for intruders as soon as you entered. It turned into home the night you left your knife in the kitchen, instead of keeping it by your bed. Buying vegetables instead of fruit because vegetables are cheaper. Refusing to buy a tub of ice cream because it's too expensive - it could get you two days' worth of food. And then blowing up your money anyway, in a shady bar after work, with colleagues. The little things. Walking to work, to work, not college. Having to do things even when you don't feel like doing them. Having to think and to write when you can't, you just can't think or write, and then you learn - the hard way - that you don't have a choice. Dishes.
The little things make you soar. A cup of coffee, early in the morning, on the balcony, before the world's started to stir. Ecstasy. All those cliches about sunrises and new days and mornings? They seem true in that moment. Green tea, in the same place, on the same spot, when the world is drifting off to sleep. It seems so mundane, but it's part of a constant search for peace. And peace, you're starting to realise, comes in tiny parcels. Moments of quiet. Seconds of harmony. And yet, it matters. Cleaning the house. Dusting and sweeping and moving mattresses and doing the dishes and restocking the fridge and tackling bathroom drains. You were never cut out for domesticity, but it's teaching you something college never did: discipline.
There's nothing particularly exciting about this life. You're not making much money, you're living a hand-to-mouth existence, work tires you, it tires your brain, so you put off that phone call to an old friend, you don't pick up the book you've been planning to read. You don't travel, who has the time. But no, you've travelled through people. You're friends with people you didn't know existed six months ago, you've learnt how to like people without being their friend, you're constantly baffled by their stupidity, their intelligence, their quirks, their humanness. It's another important lesson that this year of being on your own, and trying desperately to carve your place in the world has taught you. You can travel through people, not just places.
But still. It's not an exciting life. It's not the kind of life you imagined for yourself - you're not traipsing through London's streets, you're not editing books in Delhi, giving life to untold stories. You're not studying history, you're not writing, you're not doing a lot of things you imagined doing. Instead, you're doing something you vowed as a teenager never to do: coming to an office, typing things on a computer, sitting under tubelights. (But there's a secret they never tell you. An office can be more fulfilling, more exciting, more thrilling than any seashore if you're doing what you love.)
And sometimes, often when you're doing something incredibly boring, the realisation hits, such a physical reaction that it makes you shiver. You would never, ever have imagined this life two years ago. You would never have predicted it. And that, oddly, is comforting. It might not seem as exciting as the lives you haven't lived. But you've remained true to yourself in one essential way: you're building your own road. By yourself. And you don't know where it will take you. The way is hidden by new dreams that are still being born.