This is my happiness concept, a snippet of a vivid future I want to work towards. I think about it a lot, when I feel down. It’s a bit like mental time travel. In your happiness concept, you should be able to envision where you are, the time of the day, what you’re doing, who you’re with, the feelings you have. I feel like the more clearly you can see it, the more likely you are to achieve it. Everyone should have their own “happiness concepts.”
May all these come true in good time.
Where am I?
It is the year 20XX, and I live within a bright and clean apartment. It is a nice place; not too big, but not too small. It has a minimalistic, contemporary design, and pleasing colour schemes. Lots of muted monochrome colours, with a mixture of smooth teakwood and marble floors.
I don’t have much of a green thumb, but somehow, I’ve always envisioned plants within my home. I’d like to believe that I can keep a tiny pot of sage, and perhaps basil, alive. I would place this somewhere in the kitchen, where they get light. A corner of the apartment (perhaps a windowsill), would be designated for terrariums. I especially like the way succulents look; soothing pops of green within clear geometric vases.
I like the sound of “furin” (Japanese wind bells) too, so I’ve hung one by the window. When I slide open the glass to let air in, I can listen to their sparkling chimes. They greet me cheerfully, every morning.
What time is it within this apartment?
It is late-afternoon on a weekend, and the sky is dipping gently towards dusk. I’ve installed flat Korean blinds in the house, at the advice of my mother (“It’s easy to clean!”). They are the texture of rice-paper and tatami mats. I pull on them to let more light in. The apartment instantly gets flooded with warm, golden light.
My partner is coming by this evening. I decide to make some soup. With my hair tied up in a loose bun, I get to work.
First, I put chicken bones into my soup pot, fill it with water, and set it to boil. Into the simmering mixture, I add a dash of salt and pepper, a cup of shaoxing wine, and some sesame oil. Finally, I add the secret ingredients; garlic cloves, anchovies and peanuts. I’ve prepared a bowl of lotus root, which I’ll add towards the end, so they don’t overcook and lose their crunchy texture, the way my partner likes them.
The apartment begins to fill with the rich, savoury aroma of simmering chicken bone soup. I put on some music from my laptop, and decide to cook some rice. Soup and rice always go well together, I feel. Along the way, I randomly decide to drop some fishballs with the lotus root into the soup.
Should I make dumplings too?
The bell rings just as I contemplate this question.
I quickly freshen up in the mirror and answer the door.
It’s him. He smiles and holds up a packet of “tau fu fah.”
“It’s chilled. I’ve asked them to serve it with palm sugar syrup.”
I laugh and tell him he’s read my mind.
He comes in, kisses me on the cheek, and sets the dessert on the table.
I bring out the cutlery and a set of blue rice bowls, with peach blossoms painted on them.
“Soup’s done! There’s leftover minced meat and vegetable we can have with the rice.”
He makes his way to the kitchen, and knows exactly where to find them.
We bring the pot of soup, rice, and leftovers out, and sit down for dinner. We talk about work, and our plans for the week. I’m working on an editorial spread for a mental health issue. I can’t decide between washed out greys or baby blue, for a healing colour. He tells me about a difficult case he’s working on, but right now he’s hungry and he doesn’t want to care.
In between, he comments on the soup.
I ask him about his thoughts regarding a strange dream I had, about me waking up naked in the middle of the ocean, while shoals of fish fly above me.
He asks if he’s in the dream too, because he should be if I’m naked.
I whack him with a spoon, and he laughs, before telling me that he doesn’t know much about dream analysis, but that leads into a conversation about an article he read on sleep paralysis. We debate on the existence of ghosts, then he brings up a knock knock joke. I whack him again with a spoon.
After dinner, we wash up, have dessert, and make tea. The tea of the night is “barley tea,” because it’s decaffeinated. We drink it in our special mugs. He wants his in a mug that brightens with constellations when filled with hot water. I want mine in a proper Japanese teacup.
We settle into a corner on the floor with our tea, where it’s nearest to the window. From where we are, I see distant city lights twinkling. He wraps his arms around me, and I rest against his chest, feeling it rise and fall.
We breathe, slowly, in sync, and say nothing, for a long, long time. Steam rises from our mugs. It is peaceful.
A quaint apartment, a job that pays the bills, a man I love (who loves me back), and a mug of tea.
At that moment, perhaps, I might not need much more.
This is my happiness concept.