Op-ed
Essay
01 Sep 2022

lying tea leaves & redefining the act of letting go

the tea, the letting go, and the redefining.

Text
Fadiah Wadud
Illustration
Surya Andhika
Topics
Act of Letting Go
Tea
Tea Leaf
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THE TEA

it’s the Thursday where I accidentally dropped my dried out cup of tea and let every raw tea leaf left inside pour inside out. you didn’t do anything wrong, this is out of your control, said the familiar sound of the random tarot lady i listened to on youtube while trying to gather up some mood to work trying to calm me down. i marched through the work i’m currently doing, letting the dried out tea leaves fall down on top of my room’s slipper, letting my tea cup dramatically lie down on top of the floor’s carpet. i didn’t try to pick it up, i just stared at it for a good five seconds and turned my gaze upon the screen again. this is a picture of what asian mom’s household would be terrified upon, and the typical gen-z on twitter would call “unhinged behavior”.

i’m not always this way. i used to cry over spilled milk, both for the literal portrayal and the abstract parable of it. i’m beyond dramatic and i’d use every chance i get to act like one. oh heavenly times. as for now, my mind is elsewhere. i think i’m falling in love and i’m trying to fight it. hard.

it’s not exactly morning anymore as i typed this down, but i steeped the tea at 10 AM and gotten into my laundry, ate some gado gado for breakfast, distracting my visiting mom by putting her to watch the first episode of The Umbrella Academy to leave her in awe by the talking monkey and the ever-young robot mother while i went on finishing other house-chores and thinking on how to manage my times of the day so i could be present of each appointments i’ve said yes to and finishing every deadlines i need to have approval for before the work-hours end. suddenly, two hours had gone by, my mom was fascinated by the strange visuals i served to distract her, my laundry is at work, my deadlines are closer, and i’m still falling in love.

i’ve been in this on and off situationship with a guy i knew from four years ago. as every other modern citizen in their mid 20s; we met on a dating app, chatted for a while, lost contact, met again on another dating app, casually remembering the conversation we had a year before, managed to keep in touch for a while, separated by pandemic, living life and letting it unfolds in front of our eyes and ended up reconnected for some long-awaited, much-anticipated solidified connection. i always knew i cared for him, in a way that is so platonic not everyone could understand. there’s this sense of familiarity and intimacy, even after just one brief conversation. i love his corny jokes, while i’m trying to make him at least laugh at mine. spending time with him feels like finding that puzzle piece you never knew you needed but has been missing all this while. it’s weird and it’s sweet, but then it’s topped by a show of power-struggle in the act of caring as the shining cherry over all of this yummy choco cheese sorbet down below. it’s frustrating as we try to go soft but end up being hard with each other, with ourselves — it’s hard. and that’s how i’m sure that i’m falling in love.

THE LETTING GO

despite of claiming to know much about myself, i know that much to know that i never know how to let go. it never came naturally to me, it is a learned skill that i’m still trying to master. the wordplays i’m using here shows not much of a progress i guess, but i am trying. this is me trying.

i’ve gotten the minute and temperature right for my green tea to be brewed so it wouldn’t be too bitter and i will have enough time to put my brain cells into work after the caffeine kicked in right before the annual morning virtual meeting started — around 212 degrees or in full boil mode, exactly at 60 seconds for nothing more than 50ml of water for two tea spoon out of a pack of Teh Hijau Tjap Botol worth of Rp.10.000 — one of my many attempts at mastering things finally showing results, and trying to making sense of how love could occurred and how do i navigate through all of these feelings should’ve been as easy, right? yes i could hear Carrie Bradshaw vividly saying, oh honey you just compared your love life with tea-brewing, just like when Samantha finally shared about her frustration on what love should’ve felt like and compared it with her cancer (the disease) in Sex & The City movie. told you, i’m dramatic, but to finally be able to love someone again shouldn’t be as hard, right? right. deep breaths now.

this piece had been sitting in my draft for days since the first time i started it. i’ve been sleeping like a log through the early weekend and finally able to face the sun again. apparently it’s Sunday, i’ve found myself sitting in a new spot at one of my favorite haunts facing leafs of plants i couldn’t mention the names of and he’s still everything i could think of. less frustrated now but if there’s anything i’ve learned through the week trying to navigate this feeling it’s that his existence makes me believe that there are some people you’re meant to love only for you to let go.

don’t get me wrong, i’m not giving up, but over all of these puzzling obsessive tendencies of keeping him around and trying to express love in the language and ways he understands, i should’ve treated these feelings like the staining lying tea leafs i accidentally dropped. of course i eventually picked them out, putting the remnants away and carried on with the day, but that came from a place of security; knowing that i have time, room clean enough that insects wouldn’t come on it and leaving me with more problems to deal with later. that because it’s the real deal, the dried out tea-leas are the real deal, of course it stains and it will be around for a while.

THE REDEFINING

a very good friend once said that when we love someone, sentiments often cloud our judgments away; we put unnecessary pressures on ourselves and heighten the urgency level of putting an act on it. added by my impatient nature, there will always be this sense of rush on figuring things out. especially when it comes to love, a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic such as me would put this on the spotlight of my brain and romanticize it as much as possible just like Kris Jenner to her Kardashians, waiting on the corner using the nurturing side of her to say “you’re doing amazing, sweetie” while subconsciously knowing that her mothership just being shown through an act of manipulation to gain profits.

i remember another good friend saying that love is supposedly treated like a business partnership, as practical, and as professional. in some extends, i did agree, we would want to be loved back, gained as much as we given out — but when you’re faced with this type of love, when it is just love for the sake of loving, you’d know that to truly love someone is to let them be and that includes of them; figuring things out in their own time, asking them in what kind of language you should speak for them to understand that they’re being loved instead of just act out of impulsive initiatives, applying consent in every action taken in between, and to let go of control of where things heading out — as in knowing that you could only control what’s in your mind which leads to your behaviors as the results of it, aware of the fact that you could never control how others response to it — and that includes on not forcing them to love you back.

yes i am letting go, but i am not giving up. i am still pretty much in love, i acknowledge the fact that i am falling but i shouldn’t treat it like i’m free-falling from the top of three stories building just to land on a concrete land, i could’ve free-fall from a mountain top but choose to fly and enjoy my emerging feelings, stay present and embrace the hugs from the wide expanding blue sky with chances of rainbows and meatballs.

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