Author: Shreya Volety
“Gravity is just matter’s response to loneliness.”
~ The Half of It.
My terrace is a lovely place. It has whitewashed walls and a cracked floor and the white lights up with a warm orange glow when the sun sets. I discovered that only today. Mostly I go up when the night sets in, and the crickets just won’t shut up. I see three, maybe four stars. But I imagine the whole galaxy hidden behind layers of pollution. One such night, I was listening to Stephen Fry’ audiobook version of Mythos, a historic telling of all the Greek Gods. And I’m positive I’m wrong here, but I noticed that all the terrifying, strong, malevolent gods, are buried deep deep within the earth. I sit down on the cold floor and listen to Fry’s calm voice tell me how Ouranos, the god of the sky, became uranium, a metal forced into the core of our planet. Gravity is matter’s response to loneliness. To sadness. To betrayal. To rage. To endings.
My terrace is a beautiful place, but it is also my struggle against gravity. I loved the nights, I still do. But now I go up during the sunsets, to level with that big orange blob sink, watch it sink, while I still stand. I am in control. I am in control. The stars and galaxies, spinning their own tales far away from this horrid force inward, they can wait. I have bigger battles to fight for now.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately, as a cure for what I like to call, the cruelty of youth. The unrelenting, sharp cruelty of teenage. I have no idea what the rest of the world is like, I know almost everything is temporary, but life is whirring through time like a spinning kaleidoscope of colors, and I am colorblind. My reality is built on a foundation of angst, and I’m spewing existential nonsense like I’m Sartre’s great grandchild, but really, I’m just confused. Maybe, a little sad. But mostly just lost. Everything I’ve written so far is that narcissistic angst cracking through baseless nihilism. Everything is real, nothing is real.
Freddie Mercury was a gay Zanzibar-Indian immigrant selling in thrift stories in Kensington market, until he started a band and named it Queen. Freddie ran away from a revolution, suffered the humiliation of poverty, then the suffocation of fame, then the debilitation of AIDS – but while all this happened, he ripped his heart open and gave the world his voice, his piano, his music, his everything. Each time he fell, he got up. Queen – it’s a regal name, that’s why he chose it. 42 years later, a nineteen year old is listening to a song, and there he is, rising above the ground he’s buried in, and reaching for the skies.
Okay, it’s time.
I put in my earphones, go up to my terrace, and I let Freddie Mercury make a supersonic woman out of me. This particular sunset, we fight our gravities together.
“It’s just like our life, we appear and we disappear. We are so important to some, but we are just… passing through.”
That is the cruelty of youth. The conflicting need for change and constancy. For love and freedom. For tenderness and adrenaline. Ultimately, gravity isn’t a large, omniscient, evil force forcing us into submission. We’ve all configured our own gravities for ourselves, power that pulls us inward, into the recesses of our mind, away from the rest of the world. It is our sanity folding in on itself. Because to the rest of the world, we’re just a close bubble floating away. Just passing through.
And that’s why we need each other.
That’s why I let Freddie give me a warm hug every evening, and our gravities cancel out. It’s why I don’t cry alone anymore, I call a friend. Because that way we don’t lose each other to our gravities. We don’t spiral away. We stay, we fight, and we move on. And just like that, with the kindness of art, and the benevolence of friendship, the cruelty of youth dissolves. That is the magic of being young.
And we pass through.
“Is this just fantasy?
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.”
There they are, all the galaxies of the world, spinning away.