The following entry is an excerpt from my personal journal. To begin the new year and new season of blog posts, I decided to be more open and raw with the thoughts I am sharing. I will continue to post my usual content, chock full of life lessons and personal opinions, but by broadening the scope of what this blog can be, I hope to create a collection of writings I can be most proud of. On my laptop in a coffee shop, I met a woman named Mary. Granted, I did not make much progress on my study plans, I did learn more than I ever imagined I could when I first sat down.

Today I realized the beauty of life. Mary is the beauty of life. The long-winded stories of strangers we never would have known had we not opened our eyes and hearts. I think we read books because we crave the cultivated versions of seemingly impossible stories. We forget, though, that the stories are real, and they lay behind the lips of those we know and have yet to meet. There are billions of narratives out there that go untold. I wonder voraciously what those I love are keeping locked away, and more importantly…why? What part of their story are they ripping out, making paper airplanes from, but folding and re-folding to never stand on the ledge of the world and release into the vastness of nothing?

Maybe that is why I want to become a writer. Because of those like Mary, who, at sixty-eight years old, through two rounds of chemo, living in her car surrounded by her faithful dog, Monkey, and highlighted copies of the same books she has read twelve times over, still considers herself blessed. Blessed. Like when she counted her blessings every morning in 1970 on her way to junior high before running away from an abusive home and cutting her education short. Blessed because her eyes are brighter than any I have seen in a while. She tells me that I am beautiful on a day when I least feel so. More though, she tells me that I am strong. With neuropathy in her legs, she tells me to stand tall, to never take no for answer. “Annoy the hell outta ‘em ‘till they say yes”. It is not your world until you make it yours.

It is Mary’s birthday today; she turns sixty-eight. She is here for her free bitter Café Americano, and later she will drive to the marina to taste the sweet grapes from the bottle of merlot she’s been saving for this special, blessed day. I do not know where Mary will be tomorrow, but I know where she is today and, for now, that is enough. From Tennessee to Maryland to Florida, her story follows her and will continue writing itself until there is nothing left to say. She is not taking no for an answer. If it means she can dance at church banquets and make it to the polling booths, she will be there to show it.

I told Mary that next year, I will be going to college and that I want to become a writer. Her next words, ones I will record in blue ink on yellowing pages as a reminder of the way her story will intertwine with mine, were these: “You are an angel, a blessed blessing in disguise. One day, I hope to read your by-line at the top of some big-shot paper”.

I hope so too Mary, I hope so too.

Happy Living

“Stories turn anonymous strangers into people who matter.” -Paul Bloom

Published by Ria Pai

Hi let me introduce myself. I was born and have lived my entire life in a beach area as a child of two amazing parents who immigrated to America from India. I love art, music and writing so I try to combine the three. I enjoy deep conversations on a number of topics from politics, to friendships, to fashion. I’m a natural perfectionist, but sometimes find this to be a bit overwhelming. I love mangos, dark chocolate and tea. I make art whenever I get the chance…painting, songwriting, dancing, and writing are all forms of art to me. Since I live in a warm area, I cannot stand any weather that is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and always find a way to swim in anything from pools to the ocean. I have one dog, a Lhasa Apso who I am envious of because he does nothing but eat, sleep, and lay around all day. I experiment with my style. I am horrible at geography and sitting still, and it’s not uncommon to find me with paint all over my hands. I like to wear bold clothing and I always find a way to wear the same white sneakers with any outfit I can. Hi, my name is Ria, nice to meet you.

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