Vivid memories of a gloomy sky that nobody dared to look up to, people rushing to be somewhere, their faces blank, walking but spacing out, occupied with their own thoughts; Ella looked around and noticed she was the only one unsure on where to go. It was another Sunday afternoon, right after attending a Catholic mass, she found herself in Shibuya again.
It used to be one of the places where she could find peace, by absorbing the crowd's noise, silencing her own mind's. After grabbing a cup of cheap black coffee from family mart a couple of meters away from Tsutaya, and she would sit on the concrete plant box right at the sidewalk.
It was the first few years since she left home, when she started wondering if there was a piece of herself she did not leave behind. She never chose to be there. Poverty did; those heavy responsibilities unavoidably wrapped around her neck. What was she suppose to do? If circumstances were different, where would have life taken her? What did she really long to become?
Sitting on that uncomfortable plant box was ironically comforting. She watched passersby, usually women about her age, guessing what their lives were like, judging by their facial expressions, their clothes and the shoes they wore. She was just a tiny speck in a huge city, where everybody dressed good, mostly just to feel good.
Wondering if that would work for her too, she started dressing like them. She bought nice pumps, wore them with black stockings, fashionable skirts and tops. She brushed her face with colors and wore affordable accessories, blended in perfectly.
Did it make a difference? Pretty much; she ended up having built a solid hull. She was too occupied to become one of them, she forgot what she really wanted to be. How long did that process took? Ten long years - of dealing an invisible but deep cut by sticking a band-aid every time it hurt. Ten years before she started ripping them off one after the other. Each time caused pain, but the healing progressed. Relationships marred, friends became just acquaintances. But Ella was happier.
She walked past the plant box where she used to hang out alone. Feelings of deja vu still rushed back, and she could not help but chuckle. The atmosphere was still the same - gloomy with an inharmonious crowd the city lights could not hide, and still, nobody seemed to notice.
But this time, she was different: aged, also enriched with experience on life's highs and lows. She wanted a lot of things when she was young, which got buried over necessities growing up. But now, her aspirations have started to resurface as she had began to reconnect with her deepest yearnings she thought have gone away - to lead her life the way she wanted; not governed by compromise, not making poor decisions just to survive, not allowing herself to be exploited on broad daylight, and most of all, not needing to blend in.
Ella looked at the crowd at this busy crossing before leaving, wistfully hoping everyone will somehow find their way.