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  • Writer's pictureRachael Chau

A Cup of Kindness & An Empty Room

What can I say that hasn't already been said?

Your Instagram feed is probably FLOODED with 2020 wrap-up posts at the moment; some with long, introspective captions and others with short, funny ones. I doubt I can add any more interesting musings to what you've already read. So instead, I'll write about something I've been feeling.

Last week, I moved out of my wonderful Hell's Kitchen apartment (my first true non-dorm New York apartment, I might add!). Amidst COVID exposures and the loss of a beloved family member, I felt absolutely frozen for a week or two. Remaining in a state of productive shock, packing and cleaning and grasping at last moments in the city during the holidays, seemed the only way to continue about life–a feeling I believe many people can understand to some degree in the wake of this tumultuous year.

But as I stood in my empty apartment after obtaining a handful of bruises moving furniture down the uneven stairs of my building, I came back into myself for a few moments, standing alone in the quiet shell of a place I'd existed in for 2 years of my life. And in the nights when I've thought about my late aunt who I miss so much, I've felt dropped back into my memories. Just today, when I took my last walk of 2020 around the neighborhood my family home has been in since I was 5 and a half, I noticed and appreciated things I haven't in a long time.

It is often said that life is short. And for a while, I rebelled and said life can actually be quite long. Now, in my very nearly 23 years of experience, I can definitively say that life is both long and short, frozen and fluid, beautiful and terrifying. The great artists of the Renaissance coined chiaroscuro because they recognized the complexity & wholeness the presence of both the light and the dark gave. Those opposites working in tandem is not a revolutionary concept by any means, but their interdependent existence is a fact that is difficult to fully grasp.

So, in my striving to be worthy of the knowledge presented to me, I will think of this past year and this new year to come in a single image, viewed in somewhat different ways: an empty room that is full of intangible memories and full of presently unfathomable possibilities. Does that make sense? I don't know. But I feel it deeply.

Wishing you many moments of being truly present in 2021!

♡ R

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