“Thank you, Bubble Girl!”
I have been called many things in my life; from Ninja-Girl and Samurai-Woman, to Cookie-Monster and Sugar-Addict; however, this new title crossed my ears and made me smile, as the little girl skipped away towards her mother.
A tub of bubbles – a child’s play thing which can be bought cheaply off the shelves of our local supermarket, and is used to entertain young children during parties and outings. Yet, as a grown adult, I have never been able to leave behind the magic of watching those little soapy suds float around us with their mystical twinkling and sparkle, and as such I often carry a tub with me when I head out into town or the park. Childish? Maybe. Fun? Definitely!
However, I wasn’t to know just how helpful these floating orbs could be until I found myself in a situation where I became more contemplative of my life (due to some rather painful events), and I would be watching those very events unfold on a spherical screen which played my own reflection back at me.
As usual, I walked down the main shopping street in town with a smile adorning my face, over-shadowing my swollen eyes, and I skipped along to the beat of my own invisible mental drum. Reaching into my handbag, I pulled out a small pink and yellow tub of bubbles that had “Hello Kitty” written all along it, and looked forward at the huge Saturday rush which was composed mostly of frowns, rushed family shopping events and people commuting via the nearby train station.
I unsheathed my lethal weapon, and drew out the wand like the Sword from the Stone – except I was missing the crown and glory which normally follows in the tale – and readied my breath for that first explosion of magic.
One by one, and at a rapid speed, a constellation of bubbles engulfed the space around me and momentarily pulled me into a surreal dimension of Earth-bound floating stars. As the wind picked up and pushed the bubbles into the crowd, I could see a light switch on inside a random selection of people, who found themselves now smiling from the happiness created by these tiny, short-lived spheres.
As I watched each of the bubbles leaving the wand in their initial odd, co-joined shapes, my heart slowly became heavy as certain memories and thoughts began to play in my mind.
Why is it that, in that moment, rather than seeing the usual joy behind those bubbles, I felt a bitter-sweet melancholy with each ‘pop’? My mind wandered to a different place and time, leaving me blind of the world around me, and all I could see on the surface of each bubble was a painful memory playing in HD.
It felt almost like a scene out of David Bowie’s Labyrinth, except I was being held captive by something worse than any Goblin King – my own heart.
Each iridescent sphere floated around me with its own memory being played, and one by one, each would momentarily rest in a suspended state in front of my eyes so that I could watch the motion picture play out. At first I would see a sweet reminder of what once was, but soon enough another small bubble would merge with the larger one and transform it into a darker and more sinister memory of why these have, indeed, become memories.
A scene, a face, a time, a name – all would slowly cross the prismatic surface of the floating crystal ball which held the moments from a time that once ‘was’ but could no longer ‘be’.
My heated eyes began to water as I beheld these reminiscent images, completely oblivious of the reality around me, until something phenomenal happened.
Suddenly, I felt a little lighter in the envelope of my own personal burdens, as the once painful yet sweet memory played out and then finally disappeared into a burst of tiny droplets.
With each bubble-pop, the opalescent surface of those nostalgia filled crystal balls would crack and shatter to leave behind more space for the possibility of a better tomorrow.
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Whether it was through tears of hope, or tears brought about by the silent goodbyes that would riddle my mind with each burst, I finally found myself smiling – truly – after a very, very long time. It may have only lasted a few seconds, but it was empowering.
The last remaining bubble swooped down from its elevated height and seemed to stop inches from my face. The final image to evoke a stinging sensation inside me, and stir up my previous harrowing experiences, was probably the most profound of them all, and was also the most realistic of them all from my position in that tiny space of a parallel universe amidst the busy shopping street.
I saw myself, and yet, it was not me. The woman I saw being reflected back at me, with her wide eyes and confused expression, was not the woman I recognised as myself, but of who I became due to those excruciating stages of my life. A quiet smile decorated her nervous face; however, the numbness of her very being was clear from the lifeless cast that spread over her tired eyes.
She looked at me, willing me to stay strong and go on, if not for her sake then for my own, and to leave behind all of those chains that once bound me to a life of settling for less than I hoped I deserved. Was I ready to finally let it all go and start a whole new chapter of my life with a whole new me?
I wasn’t given a choice, as before I knew it, she was gone.
What had seemed like half of an hour was, in reality, less than a minute, and as I awoke from my temporarily absent state in the middle of that Saturday afternoon rush, I stared down at the pink and yellow tub of bubbles in my hand.
I knew I would still need a little bit more time in order to completely heal myself of the battle wounds I had accumulated throughout the years of pain and suffering that I had survived through, but I could feel a new sheet of life being placed over the dog-eared, ink splattered page, in my book of life, which I could not move on from due to my own mental block.
The long road to recovery often starts off as ‘one painful day at a time’… which then turns to ‘one day at a time’… which will then hopefully become “I can’t wait for tomorrow!”
The simple, pink and yellow “Hello Kitty” children’s toy had gifted me with an energy – a hope – that sometimes cannot be found in any written words but could only be ‘felt’, and for that, I think I will continue to support the spread of happiness through the use of joyful soapy bubbles!
‘They should really charge more for these!’
© Naziyah Mahmood, 2014.