My Hipster Soul Mate
Note: A soul mate is someone who is aligned with your soul and is sent to challenge, awaken and stir different parts of you. It is not necessarily a life partner. (source)
Somewhere along my life, I developed a terrible habit of refusing to be bored. The boredom starts to unravel, almost religiously, right at the beginning of every spring, a little bit before the flower blooms and the April showers. Unlike most people who wait out this prosaic springtime lethargy, I begin fumbling around my routines as the state of dullness creates in me a sense of restlessness. And I have to, absolutely have to, crinkle my toes and spice up my surroundings with impromptu and reckless undertakings.
In high school during one of these episodes, I asked out a waiter for the heck of it with a group of gaggling teens peeping from a few feet away. Another year, I chopped off my bangs and took on one too many piercings and some ink. Then one particular year, around this same exact time as every other year, I found myself a soul mate.
Just like how sunshine is always filled with warmth, or how cookies never fail to make my heart ooze with happiness, he was everything I had hoped for in a soul mate: charming but cynical, eloquent yet sarcastic, and best of all, inquisitive though completely distant. Even in our class of Exploring Space, Objects, and Meaning that was made up of ten-something hippie vegetarians at this liberal college of ours, Chris stood out.
There was a musician who had gotten married at 17, a film student who made more comments than necessary, an older man who spoke with his hands and took notes by drawing undecipherable markings, and a professor who looked exactly like Saruman.
Amidst these, Chris was a little different from the rest, in a way I couldn’t figure out at first. He was a bit more outspoken and a little less arrogant, but probably just as counter-cultural. He had actually graduated several years back and worked in a field unrelated to his English major until one morning, he woke up and decided he wasn’t going to anymore. He quit his job, packed his bags, and headed for the jungles in South America.
And I guess that’s where we clicked, both feeling overwhelmed with a desire to leave the norm and to break the rules created by society. We walked around the city a lot, pointing out peculiar happenings along the way and purposely hopping from one fresh leaflet on the ground to another, noting the intricacy of nature. Occasionally, we sat on the sidewalks, musing over the world and all its pretense and the need for spirituality. He began reading Ecclesiastes and so - with the curved and worn sky as our amphitheater - we booked the lawn in front of the UT tower and echoed the purposelessness and hopelessness of everything. Because we were both born as sorrowful creatures with quiet souls.
Chris taught me a lot that spring – how to be fully emerged in what is of now without anticipation for the next second, that emotion is good to have, and that there is always a basket of trust we are responsible for. But at the same time, he also showed me who I could easily become, someone that just wasn’t quite me. Because when the days became warmer and my footsteps began to pick up, I started to notice that on the wall of all our similarities, a chasm was forming. Or it might have always been there, just hidden underneath all the strange ennui sprouting out during this season.
The differences in our likeness really began at the core. That though we both grew up unhappy, I no longer had a reason to dwell on that or to continue my cynicism in the name of being countercultural. That his solution to the confinement of independent thinking was, to me, a mask over another layer of confinement. That he was a hipster and I was not. Because I truly could not say that our oddness made up for the undisclosed pretenses, ignorance, and conformities of our own – all of which I realized were not without hope after all.
I guess I understand a bit more now about this organic craze and green movement on bikes. I can sort of see its appeal: a need to conform to something that is not the norm. But just like Chris heading for the Amazons, it was a temporary escape – no more than that. And my envy for Chris’ jungle life and his ability to get up and leave was never rooted in that need for escape, but on a desire to engage in another flawed society that is equally as loved. I have come to terms that despite all those years in Austin, I could never be a hipster. But then again, I am 100% at peace with that because really, it would just be too loud of a fading opinion, too high of a pedestal, too big of a prison, and way too much of exercising for me to handle.