Monday, August 9, 2021

this is me trying

I get so confused when people say they are better people because of their accident. Or that they’re so thankful for their illness. There is something in those statements that feels inauthentic, or performative in some way. It’s what people want to hear to soothe their own fears about something bad happening to their own health, but is it actually true for the person saying it? It might be 100% true for some, but it’s such a foreign concept to me, something I can’t even fathom.

I would go back to my former life in a heartbeat. I have absolutely zero regrets about who I was or what I did (yes Megan, except Oktoberfest lol). And I haven’t become a better person. Harder. Wiser. Feistier. But definitely not better, and arguably worse. I have so much hate, anger and sadness inside me - emotions I had only known on a first name basis before. Now, they visit almost everyday. Sometimes they stay for awhile and other times they sneak away while I’m still sleeping, making sure to add a dab of themselves to my dreams before they go. And sometimes, when I’m lucky, they forget to visit all together, but oddly, l miss their company.

I know my essence, my heart is still the same. Still loving, still kind, still trying to be a *bringer of joy to family, friends and strangers alike, with the limited life that I have. But is that enough? Does it cancel out the random flashes of hatred I feel towards anyone and everyone around me? Does it make up for the overwhelming anger and sadness I’ll probably always feel when I think about the future that died that cold November day?

I was going through some old emails and gchat conversations from college and medschool and I suddenly felt a sweeping, terrible feeling of longing. Without hesitation, I texted a friend, “I really miss my former life.” She replied, “I really miss your former life for you too.” And suddenly, it didn’t hurt as badly. Maybe it was the validation or maybe it was feeling seen, but something in that insanely devastating and fulfilling conversation helped. Before my stroke, I could never imagine having a conversation with someone with that much depth, love and vulnerability. So I guess there’s that. My relationships with some have gotten more superficial, but my relationships with others - family, old friends and new - have developed into something extraordinary. Just look at my relationship with my brother.

So no, I’m not a better person because of my stroke. I’m the same, or maybe even slightly worse. It’s ok, super smiley and service-obsessed teenage Harshada set the bar pretty high. And I’m not in the slightest bit thankful for my stroke. I would still welcome my old life with arms, heart and soul wide open. But, there’s at least two aspects of my life that are better than before: my friendships, and the mere existence of my dog Duke. Maybe, I’ll stumble upon a few more, at least I’m trying.

*The meaning of my name

Monday, August 2, 2021

Heat Waves

(Just a quick update, but I wanted to include this song lol) I heard Rafa was coming to play a tournament in D.C. for the first time and normally I wouldn’t think twice about it (too much effort, hard to get accessible tickets, etc). But because of yes year and all that, my brother, sister-in-law and I decided to look into it. The more we learned about it, the more excited we got. From the food by Chef José Andrés to the perfect Friday night session we could attend, it seemed to be just for us. But unfortunately, as soon as Rafa announced he was coming, tickets sold out and tickets on resale sites were going for $1000. We tried messaging and tweeting at everyone on Rafa’s team who we had met two years ago but no luck. There were still thousands left on the waitlist so we had all but given up.

Then, my dad randomly entered us in a giveaway for two free tickets for the Friday night session, and somehow, wait for it, we won! So I guess the world did decide to meet me halfway. I said yes to the world so it said yes to me. I know this is small and frivolous, but it’s something. Now, let’s hope we miraculously catch Rafa’s eye and he somehow remembers us. Sometimes all I think about is you…

UPDATE: Sooo Rafa unexpectedly lost Thursday night so we canceled our trip and returnedd our tickets. I said yes to the world and it said yes to me, but then it went all 90s on me and was like SIKE! JUST KIDDING! Then it laughed meniacally at my short-lived, warm and fuzzy feelings about fate. Sigh. World: 5,001 Harshada: 0. But I'm going to keep coming at you, world. Just you wait.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Mr. Brightside

How am I still an optimist? You would think that the world would have beaten every last bit of positivity out of me. But no, it’s still there, sticking it’s annoying head out at every opportune moment - whispering it’s affirmations, as naive and bright-eyed as ever. These corny whispers totally ruin my street cred when I’m just trying to be a realist, or even a cynic who manages her expectations. I’d rather be happy when things surpass my realistic expectations rather than disappointed when things fall short of my needlessly high expectations. So after all the many colorful disappointments in my life that always leave me bare and broken, how have I not learned my lesson?

I’m working on some writing that’s required me to read through my old blogs on this site. Most of them follow a similar formula - they’re really raw, honest and tragic for most of the post and then it takes a somewhat abrupt turn to sugary sweet positivity. The hopeful endings never sounded quite authentic so I always assumed that I threw in a little positivity for my readers because otherwise, my posts would be too much of a downer. But I’m realizing that it was for me.

Even now, I have some wildly dangerous thoughts. They start off pretty innocuous: “Why is my daily life so much harder than all my friends?” to which I don’t have an answer to and never will. “I would kill to have their problems.” But it inevitably leads to the dangerous one: “I’m tired of this life.” I know it’s a useless, unproductive thought that only shows it’s face during a fleeting moment of weakness. But I know it’s unhealthy to sit with negative thoughts like that. As soon as I feel those thoughts creeping in, I throw on some T Swift or Friends, and get back to a more familiar headspace of loving laughter and lyrics. But if it progresses to tears, my dog sprints to my side and licks my face forcefully until I start laughing. So I’ve got all my bases covered.

So I guess I’m still an optimist as a self-preservation thing. I need to keep my expectations high and keep swallowing the disappointments, because the alternative, having low expectations, would keep me in such a negative headspace and I don’t want to know how low those thoughts can go. This is just the price I pay, so that one day, my reality will match my high expectations, or maybe even surpass them. But I think I’ve always been an optimist and that never really leaves you, no matter how hard you, or the world, try to destroy it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Waiting on the World to Change

“Your best days are not behind you,” said Nik, my good friend from college a few weeks ago. We were at our friend Ankur’s wedding, catching up and reminiscing like we always do. We had way too much fun in college and we know my memory is creepy-good, so it’s always wildly entertaining. But this time, he stopped me. He said that he actually hated that whenever I saw him, I only talked about our epic, old memories. He wanted us to make some new ones. So that we did. 

That night, we laughed hysterically and made new memories that will last us each a few lifetimes. But my favorite part of the night was everything we ended up talking about. “Your best days are not behind you.” It’s such a simple, beautiful sentiment but so hard to wrap my head around. I try to visualize it and speak it into existence, but I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes every time. I mean, what’s going to top my once adventurous, nauseatingly happy life full of friends, boyfriends, white coats and wild dreams?

Several years ago, my big, big Chaya made an intriguing promise to herself. She said it was her “yes year” where she decided to make herself say ‘yes’ to everything she would normally say ‘no’ to such as a blind date or a new activity. I always admired her bravery and boldness in most things, but especially in this endeavor. It’s like she was taking a proactive role in writing her own story instead of waiting for the world to act. She let her curiousity and open mind be her only guides. l think, starting with the night of Ankur’s wedding, I decided this was going to be my “yes year,” in an attempt to be brave, to be bold and to get out of my own way. To continue making new memories. I need to be open to the possibility of better days instead of being trapped inside my head, replaying my past on loop. But I can’t keep waiting for better days, I have to start creating better days.

Last night, I was in a weekly Zoom writing class with Chaya and about forty strangers from around the country. I love hearing other people share their work but I prefer to stay an invisible eavesdropper - on mute with my camera off. But last night, I swallowed my insecurities, ignored the terrified voices in my head, and texted Chaya “Yes year!” Then, I switched on the camera, unmuted, cleared my throat and recited a few lines from my piece. It didn’t go as planned - it was scary, emotional and embarrassing but so freaking exhilarating. (Ironically, the same feelings on the night of Ankur’s wedding lol). So ok world, I’m ready. Surprise me, delight me, challenge me, amaze me, I’m ready. But this time, I’ll meet you halfway.