Sometimes it takes losing something to realize what you’ve had… and sometimes we give so much up that we end up losing ourselves.
The office was empty. Everyone had left for the day. She sighed. She couldn't leave because she was unlucky enough to be assigned to do a job of a faceless client from a place far behind their time zone. She eyed her iPod on the work table and it seemed to be beckoning her to play a song to elevate her mood. She turned it on and sighed when a long-forgotten song came alive on the little speakers. Her eyes closed and her head dropped down on her folded arms and, soon, she was transported through time to a past she often visited but no longer had access to.
The familiar sight and smell of her school flooded her thoughts. The sleek hardwood floors, the food court where she and her friends hogged on noodles, the fancy reception desk which resembled the shape of a pile of books, the nerdy young professors, the carefree laughter of the students. Oh, how she missed all that. She could clearly visualize every single one of those things as if she was living it, as if that phase of her life hadn't already passed ten years ago.
She thought of the moments spent alone in a classroom, listening to that very song but with her eyes glued to the computer screen, hand gripping her stylus as it flew across the bamboo tablet, painting landscapes and still objects with ease. There were moments spent in the company of her friends, talking and laughing, discussing horror movies and cracking silly jokes. They were a team, they ate noodles together, they did their assignments together, they went out together… yes, they had been a team.
But not anymore. Everyone had gone their separate ways after art school. None of them was making art. One of them was a realtor; another, a pharmacist; a third became a sales person; two were unemployed; and she… she slogged on a dull desk job in a company whose business wasn't even worth talking about. They had tried to do something as a team. They had given a shot at art. They had gone years without a proper job and months without consistent pay. But their struggles had not borne fruit. Eventually, economically shattered and in the pursuit of a steady and secure life, they had all separated, each going their own way doing what they thought was best to survive.
Art was dumped into a folder on the computer and forgotten.
The song was reaching its climax and she wearily raised her head, taking her iPod and dully turning it off. She felt something wet on her face and touched her cheek. She was crying.
The computer screen pinged and a new email notification popped up. She wiped away her tears and went to work.