Goodbye, 2016!

First of all, season’s greetings to all of you! December has been a hectic (but fun) month, and I’ve had no time or inspiration to update this blog. Anyway. Here’s that mandatory end-of-year blog post. I’ve never quite done something like this before, but I couldn’t have picked a better year to do this for.

2016 has been the best of the 19 years of my life (I realise I can’t really account for the first four-ish years, but anyway). I know it’s been a rather horrible year globally and everyone’s talking about how much they’ve hated this year.

But, for me, 2016 was unlike any other year. It’s simultaneously been a long and short one – complete with many firsts, and quite a few worsts. I cried half as much as I laughed, which is A LOT: my year was not fantastic for all 366 days. I did, however, manage to learn so much from this year, not just from the events happening in my life and around me, but from all of the people I’ve been around, too.

Here are some of the highlights of the wonderful first-time things that happened to me this year:

  • Finding someone I want to keep around for the rest of my life. You’re marvellous, thank you for existing.
  • Going to a Coldplay concert
  • Getting a job.
  • Attending my first-ever play – It wasn’t a very grand play or anything, but I’m happy I finally did.
  • Visiting Himachal Pradesh. This trip on its own was filled with firsts – living away from home without family, meeting new people, first legit trek.
  • Being head of a local event. This is a big deal because it involved lots of interaction and communication with fellow human beings.
  • Attempting a stray, (seemingly) lost kitty find help. [Never mind that the kitty eventually ran away from the help, at least I tried]. Thanks to Alaric for being best buddy to help with this.
  • Saying goodbye to a TV show that had become such a dear part of my life.
  • Making a short film for the first time (Watch it here!)

Too many worsts happened, but I’d rather not get into those. They aren’t memories I’d want to carry into 2017.

2017 is a brand new year, and although I do not necessarily split these development stages of my life into this man-made invention of time, I’m still excited and nervous about what is to come. I (supposedly) graduate and will have to make crucial life decisions, which is all rather scary to think about because it’s such a big deal and everything, but I’m also excited to see where this year takes me and what I can make of this brand new year that I’m being gifted with.

I’ve been doing an appreciation series on Instagram, thanking all the people who helped make my 2016, but I realise it can’t ever be enough. 2016 was so packed with experiences, I can’t be grateful enough for all of the tremendous things that happened. I’m so grateful to God for bringing me to this point today, where I’m content (or at least still learning to be) with my current situation. I’m so grateful to all of you readers, too, for regularly (more or less) coming back to read these posts – my little attempts at capturing moments in my life and expressing my feelings through a medium most satisfying to me. This means more to me than you will ever comprehend.

Here’s to burying 2016 and welcoming 2017 with arms wide open!

-CF

 

 

 

Coldplay Live [19.11.2016]: sweet dreams are made of these…

Got me feeling drunk and high, so high, so high…

Sigh. Coldplay hangover is very real and hard-hitting.

I went to a Coldplay concert. Which means I saw them perform LIVE. Which…wow, I shouldn’t really have to explain further; you know by now how big a deal this is for me.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to write this (even after I was halfway through – this post was in my drafts for a whole week), mostly because I have never considered my writing worthy enough to do justice to their level of genius; but they’ve been such a heavy influence not only on this blog and this blog post, but also on my life in several ways for the past six years now, and I think it’s safe to say that seeing them live was one of the greatest things to have happened to me, which means it definitely deserved a place in my blog. (I actually struck off an item from my bucket list!)

I have been surprisingly calm (on the outside, of course) right since the start, i.e. since the official announcement of their concert was made. The only time I stressed was when I tried to buy tickets for myself, but that didn’t work out, so I let it go. Again, with a weird sense of calm. Thankfully, my strangely lucky friend Nia (she’s won too many things in her life – it’s safe to say that a good majority of her possessions are things she won from giveaways) won tickets and was too generous to take me along (maybe she kind of owed it to me because I was responsible for whatever little she’d heard of Coldplay). It didn’t kick in when she texted me. It didn’t kick in when Chris addressed all Indians in a video saying he would see us soon. It just never hit me for the longest time that my dream was coming true.

19th November 2016. This day was both the worst and best day of my life. I woke up extremely excited – I think it finally hit me that I was seeing four of my favourite people in the world in person for the FIRST TIME EVER – and continued to be that way for, a good three hours, at which point I was made to stand in the longest line in the heat of the sun, with the gates opening only around two hours later than the timing mentioned.

So, let me get this clear. I enjoyed the festival. I hated the circumstances. It was too hot, and there were too many people, which is just all that is needed to give rise to a bad mood. Thanks to the horrid, merciless sun, I now have a terrible tan (also because of my stupid decision to not wear sun-screen, but shush) and I had a terrible headache (and almost passed out!) throughout the show. The festival had a great, enjoyable line-up (mostly) and was fun, but the only reason I stood in that crowd for nine hours straight was because I just had to see Coldplay through my own eyes and not through the screens. So, thank you, Keziah and Salonie, for being so amazing and pushing your way through the crowd of people just to get me to the best possible place for me to have a wonderful experience. I couldn’t have done that for myself, definitely.

I don’t want to go into a detailed description of that festival. As wonderful as it was, the first 6 hours or so were, on the whole, irrelevant to me.

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“Oh I think I landed in a world I hadn’t seen” was all of my feelings and thoughts when I saw Chris prance about on stage with my own eyes and Guy, Jonny and Will dance around behind him. From that moment, it all went uphill. They had a full 90-minute set and to say I was thrilled for all those 90 minutes would be an understatement.

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I never knew what to expect from a Coldplay concert. I mean, yes, I’d watched tons of live performances, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for something of THAT magnitude. It’s just one of those things where you have to be there to truly experience it. Coldplay is truly just out of this world. I’m so grateful to have been able to experience that for myself, and I would definitely want to go back as many times as I can (and never leave), but for now, this will suffice.

Thank you, Coldplay.

The light that you left me will everglow 🙂

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-CF

 

Back-Pack-Go!: Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh

It’s been a couple of days now since I’ve returned home from what I can easily refer to as one of the best adventures of my life (it’s completely different that I barely ever have any adventures and so even the smallest adventure becomes the largest by default), and nearly everyone I’ve spoken to since my return has asked me how my trip was. So I’ve been pushed to write this blog because every question was so guilt-inducing, I just had to bring myself to do this.

To start with, let me just say that Vagabond is a brilliant bunch of fun-loving, funny-as-heck guys who go out of their way to ensure you have a whole bunch of memories to take home from their trips. (Shannon, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re happy.) I was introduced to them by a friend (you too, mini-Narcissus, here’s some fodder for that already-inflated ego) who had gone on one of their trips earlier this year, and his experience was enough to make me want to venture out and do it myself.

The thing is, I don’t travel a lot (or at all, really, apart from the daily journeys to and from college), and this was my first trip without family. When I saw the announcement for this trip, I was immediately drawn to it because it was a trip to North India – a place I’ve always wanted to visit. It took a lot of convincing (both my parents and a couple of friends whose company I needed) until I finally got the go-ahead.

It was an 8-day trip to the North – a place that’s already cold through the year – AND we were going in the winter. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, it was a TREK. If you know me personally, I’m easily one of the laziest people in your life. I don’t have a problem with trekking per se, but maybe if it didn’t involve so much movement, you’d see me indulging in it more often. Not that that came in the way of my decision, though. I really didn’t give any of it much thought – I didn’t even research to find out whether the trek would be easy/difficult – I was just so excited that I was finally doing something like this on my own.

Coming from a considerably large family has its perks: I stole borrowed all of the necessary equipment for my trip from my sister (and her husband, who was surprisingly generous about the entire affair), as also a couple of other stuff (like the coolest hydration bag ever whaaat) from a couple of other people (thanks, you guys!) and after stalling for the longest time, I put together all of my “borrowed” stuff a day before I could leave, which is when the excitement kicked in in full swing.

We flew to Delhi and assembled at the bus stand to board our bus to Bhuntar (a journey of about 14 hours, cut short to 12 courtesy the (real-life) NFS-obsessed bus driver). To make for easier reading, our itinerary for the week looked something like this:

7th & 8th – Chilling (ALWAYS used literally in this post) at our homestay in Pulga. This place was so chilly, and it didn’t take long for my roommates and I to figure out that there was absolutely no escaping the cold [thank you, door, for killing us slowly with that random, unnecessary gap at the bottom]. We did a mini warm-up trek thing to a BEAUTIFUL waterfall on the 8th in preparation for our trek to Kheerganga the following day. Most of the time we spent here was just bonding and trying to survive the cold.

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Our home in Pulga

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One of the dogs who very conveniently showed up at breakfast time every morning at our home in Pulga.

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Snow mountains in the distance from our home in Pulga

 

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THE waterfall.

 

9th – We began our 14-km trek to Kheerganga at 11am and reached only by 5:30pm. There’s really not a lot to be said about this trek, except that it was so tiring, I actually thought the end (of my life, obviously) was near several times during the trek. The only thing that kept me going (apart from the fact that I couldn’t really be left alone literally in the middle of nowhere) was the HOT SPRINGS right at the top. Honestly, in that weather, just about anything with the word “hot” in it sounded perfect. They were an absolute delight – Kheerganga was absolutely freezing!- and definitely made the whole thing worth it. We stayed the night all together in a cafe with heaters (aw yeah!), and tried our best to keep ourselves and one another warm, even though some of us were too close for comfort (Elton&Elton, I’m looking at you).

 

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hot springs at Kheerganga

 

10th – Most of this day was spent in our descent from Kheerganga and return to Pulga, which again took up nearly half of our day, leaving us dead exhausted with not much to do except shiver ourselves to sleep. The good bit (at least for me) was that we were done with the major trekking, and the rest of our trip was pretty chill.

 

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11th – 13th – We travelled to Kasol, where we stayed in a super-cosy homestay (thank you, fully closed doors for being so considerate) for the remainder of our trip. Since Kasol was so much more relaxed, we spent time warming ourselves as also warming up to each other by the fire and playing games in the dining room, which eventually turned into dance parties until we were all too tired and decided to call it a night. We also spent some time shopping, which didn’t quite work out well thanks to the inconvenience caused by the demonetisation saga. We left from Kasol on 13th evening for an overnight bus ride back to Delhi again, except there was no awkwardness on the bus this time round: we watched what was probably the lamest movie of our lives, and still managed to have fun while doing so. Special thanks to my bus partner whose amazing taste in music made for brilliant company through the long ride.

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Rickety bridge on the way to our home in Kasol

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Cosy fire on our last evening in Kasol

As cliched and fake as this may sound, my favourite part of the trip (apart from the obvious gorgeous scenery) was the people – not the local people, although all of them were also too kind. The only reason I’m ever so apprehensive about making these trips is because I’m always worried about not having good enough company. But every person on this trip was so much fun, and eight days may seem like too little to form a close bond with people you’re meeting for the first time, but by the end of it, I was oddly comfortable around a bunch of these people. It was a week filled with minimal blood and sweat and tears and oh SO many laughs! Sure, a trip to the North can be fun on its own because of the beautiful place that it is, but never underestimate the power of good company to make your trip that much better. I’m writing this blog post today because I was able to make memories worth penning down, thanks to the wonderful people I met on the trip.

I learnt so much from that trip, most of which involved survival tips for the winter. Honestly, though, I’m so glad I made this trip, because there was so much I learnt about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and not setting limits for myself. It’s a pity that we have to learn how to let ourselves be free, that it isn’t something that comes naturally to us, and so I’m grateful for trips like these that help me pick up where I left off on the path of rediscovering myself.

Thank you, Vagabond, and thank you all who came on the trip. Some of you are exceptionally funny, but all of you made me laugh and made me happy in a way I couldn’t have expected.

Special thanks to my parents (obviously) for letting me go on this trip and to my dorky roommates, who never let me be embarrassing on my own.

Above all, thank you JESUS for keeping me safe and bringing me back ALIVE. :’)

To more adventures of a lifetime.

ps: GUYS. I fell down only ONCE in the entire trip WHAAAAT!?!?!

 

-CF

:)

“If you don’t have a smile, I’ll give you one of mine.” – Unknown

Seriously, though. I have way too many. And laughs – plenty of those too, in variety.

So. This is a simple, straightforward post and was inspired by a random woman I saw smile/nearly laugh on the train this morning. Yes, for a long time my stupid mind made me think she was laughing at me for no reason at all (that thought still is in the back of my head), but she was busy typing on her phone. Not that that mattered as much as the fact that she was GLOWING and just giving out this really wonderful energy by simply enjoying a joke on her own (or rather, with the person on the receiving end of her phone communication).

Some years ago, I came up with a hypothesis: “Nobody can look ugly when they smile.” Now, I don’t want to get into the whole topic of subjective beauty – I’m not so much concerned with the appearance of a person when they smile as I am with the way their faces light up when they do, and consequently light up those around them. Smiling just adds so much more to a person’s face than when they frown, or even when their face is just at rest.

I’m not asking you to smile so that you may “look good” to others. Smile, because you never realise in what way that can actually reach out to someone. (I’m sure the woman on the train today didn’t.)

I won’t even sugarcoat it, life can be absolute shit sometimes. But that’s precisely why making a habit of GENUINELY smiling at least once (that is VERY little, but small steps) every day is so important. Even if it’s just you smiling to yourself. I don’t think you can actually realise how therapeutic smiling to yourself is until you try it out. (Of course, laughing is more effective, but small steps again.)

We’re all so busy stressing about things nowadays, moving from one point to another just in order to get things done, all in the ultimate search of being happy. But happiness really isn’t a destination – it takes a simple act like smiling through the little things everyday to achieve that peace of mind you think you’re constantly seeking.

Maybe this post makes me seem like I think I have it all figured out, but I promise you, I don’t. And I do have rubbish moments that I go through too, but THIS is a lesson I’ve learnt over time, one that has actually proven effective and I thought it’d be nice to share it with all of you.

Smile daily – whether at someone, or to yourself. It might not have the ultimate power of magically transforming a bad day into a good one, but it can make you feel a lot better. Give it a try. It costs nothing, but the returns will impress you. 

-CF

flash forward

Lying in our bed
With you so close to me
Your eyes the only thing I can see.

I always thought darkness was beautiful.
But there’s something about this combination –
Most sublime form of God’s creation.

No words are needed,
We used them up through the years.
Nothing says “I love you” like your shiny tears.

I want to devour you
With this simple gaze we hold
Our eyes narrating on their own a thousand stories untold.

This was never what we pictured together.
Why aren’t we physically suffocating one another yet,
While each trying our best to win an age-old bet?

But nothing will ever compare
To hearing your breath beside me
Every night, for the rest of my life, until eternity.

-CF

You have beauty

I don’t know if this is just one of my many quirks or if any of you have at some point in your lives found yourselves doing the same, but I tend to revisit things a lot – be it books, my writings, events, even text messages! With regards to my writing (i.e. my blog), I read and re-read my posts a lot because it evokes different feelings every time. Sometimes, I even read some of my really old posts (which don’t evoke any feelings apart from the cringe-worthy kind) only to ascertain if there have been signs of progress (any at all, really – I’ll leave you to be the judge of that). A lot of them were too embarrassing and I had to have them taken down, but I left some of the old ones which so wonderfully showcase my naiveté and innocence – both in my character and in my writing. I’ll admit, 15-year-old Christina had all the right ideas with not quite satisfactory execution; however, 19-year-old Christina has a more developed opinion on the same ideas, and hence the need to write a more elaborate post for one of my starter ones – “You are Beautiful”.

“Beautiful” has been one of my favourite adjectives for years now. The whole topic of beauty in itself is something I hold so dear to me, which is probably why I find the old post so disappointing. 15-year-old Christina was perhaps influenced by some song lyric (or two – two songs have been quoted in that post) and her [no association will be made whatsoever between my former self and my present self] favourite celebrity telling their fans they are beautiful or a tumblr post or something such. Today, however, it’s something I feel very strongly about, to the extent that I ensure to look for beauty in not only people that I come across, but also in the little things around me.

Beauty is NOT skin-deep. And I think the Internet has done enough over the years to drill that into people’s heads (whether they really believe it or not is a whole different story).

I titled this post differently because I think there sometimes still is a misconstrued notion of what beauty really is. Sure, beauty is subjective and means different things to different people; but for some reason the adjective is ‘gendered’ and is generally used to compliment a girl who looks good (externally) and it’s sometimes just restricted to that one meaning. We only use it to describe a phenomenon, the exterior of which is pleasing to our eye.

But. There is beauty deep within you.

Every time you try to make someone smile.

Every time you get up and fight a losing battle.

Every time you laugh – no matter how miserable you may feel inside – and cause someone else to laugh.

Every time you follow your passion.

Every time you spread a little love.

Every time you look for the good in bad situations/people.

Every time you look for the beauty in another.

Apart from which, yes, there also exists external beauty. There are things/people you look at and perhaps it is the most fitting word to describe them. External beauty does not, by any means, have standards/conventions – a fat, dark-skinned man can be called beautiful just as well as a skinny white model.

Beauty, abstract though it may be, can be found all around you in concrete forms. And every type of person you encounter has inherent beauty. All it takes is you actually seeking it out.

 

-CF

An Open Letter to you, Reader

I can’t really limit the message that this post contains to a target audience and I think it would help everyone, from all walks of life. So this one’s for you, dear reader.

I’ve always liked to wish the best for people whom I’ve known and loved and the ones I don’t particularly love (rather reluctantly, I’ll admit). This stems partly from my need to see people happy and comfortable in life and partly from my wanting them to wish the same for me in return.

Today, when I wish the best for you, what I’m really wishing for is that you become the best for yourself. This is coming from a lesson I’ve learnt over time. I’ve always looked to other people to play certain roles that I expected of them in my life, and I only realised much later (in some cases way too late) that I was not only hampering my relationships with them in doing so, but I was also simultaneously hampering my own growth – I was preventing myself from being the person I needed to be for myself.

Now I’m not saying that all of it boils down to your being independent and self-motivated or anything. But often, there is this notion of how things should be: if you’re not confident enough about something, your friend ought to motivate you and get you there; if you can’t figure things out/make decisions on your own, your friend ought to step in and have your back. And while it isn’t wrong to have a second opinion (or even a first, for that matter) or have that friend you can fall back on, it becomes a problem when you become so completely dependent upon things working out in that orchestrated manner, when it is something that you know you are perfectly able of doing for yourself.

Specifically, be a self-motivator. It’s difficult. But relying on someone to motivate you is risky because it implies that you don’t believe in yourself enough. Sure, we all need that little push to go ahead, but you can’t always expect someone else to motivate you, no matter who that is. They can’t possibly know you as well as you know yourself, and this is why it is so, so important for you to be that motivator you’re looking for; to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and tell yourself you can seize the damn day, and actually go out there and do it, without requiring someone else to tell you so; to step out into the realm of the unfamiliar and the unknown, something that has always terrified you, just because you have yourself to fall back on. The best part? At the end of the day, you have only yourself to give credit to.

Friends are wonderful. I have friends and family that I rely on for support to get me through life on a daily basis. I think, however, the line has to be drawn between seeking support and being dependent on people. More than anything, don’t let this stop you from blossoming to your full potential and being the person you have to be. Don’t be the cause of your own destruction. I would end with a clichéd “you got this”, but I think it’d be more apt for you to read this aloud: “I got this, and no one else can tell me otherwise.”

-CF

 

 

Living and learning

There’s so much to learn from life,

And I don’t just mean life as a whole or in its entirety,

But every little moment in which you breathe and exist.

There’s so much to learn from a single moment

[in addition to the collection of moments that make memories you cherish for life]

Whether you’re learning for the first time, doing what you’re best at, or just sitting back and watching someone.

There’s so much to learn from a single person,

[in addition to the tons of people you come across at different stages of life]

Through a smile, a look, or even simple words that hit you hard during a conversation.

If you’re alert enough,

You learn so much about life from a single moment spent with a single person,

Things that you only learn on your own after trying and failing and falling.

Everyone you encounter has something to teach you,

No matter if he/she is an integral part of your life or a mere passer-by.

You don’t necessarily have to experience life-changing lessons,

But there’s an inexplicable feeling you get when you passively observe things around you.

So when you LIVE through a moment,

Don’t hesitate to LEARN from every moment.

Never underestimate the power of a single moment

And the impact it can have to last for a lifetime.

 

-CF

The End of an Era: Goodbye, Castle!

So this might be an overdue post, but to be honest, I’d never really thought of writing this until, like, moments ago. So many repressed emotions resurface every time I think of this, but I’m going to try to articulate whatever I can into this simple post.

Castle is over. If you know me at all, you know how drastic the news is to me. The show that I’ve been obsessing about for 6 years straight has come to an end and I have nothing else to obsess about anymore. I mean, sure, I could just move on to another TV show and unhealthily binge watch it and make it my new obsession much like everyone else in today’s generation (with regards to TV shows AND their relationships), and that’s what I told myself when the news surfaced anyway, which is why I refrained from this post.

That wasn’t all I said to console myself, though. I’d be lying if I said I was sad about the show ending, because I think with everything that was happening to the show, it not being renewed was probably the best thing to have happened to it. Harsh words, but so true. To be honest, the show didn’t feel the same in the very last season and it was kind of a disappointment; but I, being the loyal follower I am, continued to watch it week after week (I did conveniently delay in watching it some weeks, but shush) with waning enthusiasm. I liked the end of season 7 and personally think it should have ended there, because season 8 was quite frankly a waste of time. So yes, in a way, I was relieved when I learnt that it was cancelled, because I was so fed up of all things Castle-related, which was honestly so sad, because that very show actually meant the world to me once.

So I bid farewell to the show with a simple facebook post and never looked back…

Except today, when the bloopers came out and I watched the last-ever bloopers we would ever get from that crazy, amazing bunch of people. It kind of hit hard then, especially since we’re nearing September now and I’m so used to bracing myself for a whole new season of Castle as I’ve been doing all this while, and it just feels SO weird.

I took to writing this because I want to acknowledge the fact that I am actually saying goodbye to a very important part of me – a part that I might have outgrown eventually, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a part of so many important years of my life. Castle taught me so much, made me laugh and cry, gave me so many new amazing friends, helped me actually LOVE fictional characters and invest so much of my time and energy in them and in the show in general. It doesn’t matter how disappointing the end might have been, because the only memories I have of the show and that whole era in general are the fun, warm ones. This blog post seemed like a fitting way to say goodbye because this blog contains all of my important life events; Castle will always remain one of the most important parts of me, and I’m so honoured and glad to have ever watched that show.

Using the most apt (probably also the most cliched) ending for this post (excerpts from Alexis’ graduation speech):

“Endings are inevitable. Leaves fall. You close the book. You say goodbye…Today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable…But just because we’re leaving, and that hurts, there are some people who are so much a part of us, that they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground, our north stars, and the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us…Always.” 

Thank you, Castle – and the cast and crew – for being those people for me; for being such an important part of my growing up. Farewell. 🙂

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Castle cast&crew 2015

 

-CF

Coming home

I usually write musings when I’m sad or hurting. Somehow pain is easier to express than moments of joy. Or maybe I’m so caught up in those joy-filled moments, that I just live through them instead of trying to immortalise them by writing my feelings at that given moment.

That’s what I want to change with this. My musings in the past have been depressing and were, I’ll admit, not written in the best of moods anyway. The fact that I’ve never written any sort of musings that would evoke joy and happiness hit hard, so here I am.

This is about loving someone and being loved in return, an idea contrasting my Unrequited Love musing; or well, just a progression of it, if you’d like to look at it that way.

It’s like coming home.

You’ve been away too long, searching for meaning, searching for hope,
Losing yourself, and eventually, the purpose of it all.
Everything is bleak and dull,
Sometimes you accept it – maybe you don’t deserve the love you give, you tell yourself.

That’s the danger of unrequited love.
You always land up being hurt.

But stop and think about how wonderful it feels to love someone wholly,
To give that person your all when they’re down and feeling lonely.
And then think about how much more wonderful it’d be to be treated like that in return
By that same someone.
The one you’ve loved to love all this while,
The one to whom you gave your all,
Is now loving you right back in equal measure – maybe more,
Giving their all to you, and then some.

Herein, too, lies the danger of being hurt. But you accept it.

Because, you see, you’re at home.
No matter what happens to you here,
You know you’re safe.

 

[Special dedication to you – you know who you are. Thank you for rocking my world.]

 

-CF