“Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, I sang that song sitting on this striped grey sofa when I was four years old waiting for my siblings to come back home from school. I’m a 90s kid all the way and I think there’s a strong trait about each generation inherited decade after decade. I think we were suckers for the broken hearted – Jon Bon Jovi knew it from his first lines of “It’s My Life”, Aerosmith knew it when he tried to make different women from his imagination come to life, Tina Turner will always miss Him and Whitney Houston knew why it Hurts So Bad.
I’ve been on a sabbatical from my writing because words knew me no more or so I thought. This year feels like this cassette tape that got stuck in a stereo in the middle of a good song. When I was younger, I always wished that the best songs in my mixtape lasted more than five minutes. I would think of maybe more instrumentals in between, perhaps some humming, deeper words… I don’t know. That was all I wanted to do, to listen to it longer and maybe this year, my wish came true.
They say 2013 is an unlucky year because it has the number “13” in it – I thought so too. I was convinced that the Summer of 2013 was just punishment, losing two of your grandparents cuts your roots, almost three months with no visa and that time of your life when all the good people in your world are in another continent/country permanently. Life as I knew it, was gone. Broken.
But then for the first time in my life, I could say that this house I live in is mine and filled it with my own furniture. I can kind of cook food that doesn’t sound like a breakfast menu. I’ve driven my sister’s car to the country’s capital by myself. Groceries! Watch movies alone in the cinema without needing to text or have someone beside you. Read books that doesn’t talk about love at all. And finally, switch my phone off and stay away from Facebook for weeks.
Boy oh boy, do I miss them and how it hurts to celebrate your birthday worlds apart. My sister’s friend threw this life-deciding question in my face whilst we drank tea at 3am – “well, which is it? Cake or death?” He knew not my love of cake and my ever-glowing face of happiness when I taste the first slice. Here I am twenty years later since that moment I sang at the TV watching the pirated VHS copies of the greatest singers of all time with all my heart and yet I still find myself doing the same thing over and over again. I think sometimes we keep songs in loop for so long that we get used to it and forget there’s side B. Side B that has bananas and oatmeal for breakfast rather than bread. That side that likes combat boots and comfy converse sneakers over flats or heels. That side doesn’t need to be so sad on sad days. That side that forgets the lyrics of her favorite song. That side that sees that faint line of enough.
With my pencil and the long reel of the cassette tape, I began to wind things back and play side B.
Sometimes, we need to bask in our glorious slow motions on the beach but then there’s the real thing. I think our lives are scheduled to fall apart every now and again because we need to. The song gets old and the tape would get stuck. 90s kids definitely know what a broken heart looks like, we know how our disappointed parents wearing the knitted pullover on the other end of the phone line sound like when you didn’t call them last night. We know how it feels like when our crush is no longer single and is going out with the tramp of the year. And of course when we miss the showing of Will Smith’s new film. We have this eternal love-hate relationship with love songs because it gives us tingles and sometimes makes us feel lousy in the whole thing. We’re such drama queens about life and cry over the loss of depth in all things because the broken are deep.
This year, Side A was pure nostalgia and crazy tingles that had a three minute span of happy. Side B was adventure with a bruised knee after a week, funny pseudo romances in the grocery store, Skype calls till the morning, a happy tummy and a bonus track to make its closing because all victories and tragedies need an ending.
Dear readers, tonight I dare you to choose the cake and play Side B. May the 90s be with you.