“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
I say this because I am literally doing it everyday. I get into a train and see life passing by while still living my own. Because the train is what makes people's lives connected - even if for the briefest second -, it is what makes our paths cross and it is what takes us where we need to go. There's no rush inside a train, since it doesn't matter what you do, it won't go faster because you're late. So, patiently, we wait.
And slowly, this becomes Real to me. My reality, my new reality, where there are trains and snow, life at its fullest, the marasmus of routine, people from all over the world and crowded staircases; where there isn't decent food and there's no time for truancy; where things simply cannot stop. That's my life now and I have no idea what to do of this.
It wasn't Real until very recently, because I still felt dazed by it.While I was awed, it was only a dream came true. It was beautiful and almost tangible, but not part of my real life. Something I could admire from afar, touch for a slight second and then let go feeling satisfied and complete. Just because I was there, just because I've seen it.
But seeing alone isn't enough. In order to board the train, you're going to need to buy a ticket, listen to its calling, sit down and use all of your senses, not only sight. And I want to be part of it, oh, all of it.
It was beautiful when it wasn't true, but once it was true, suddenly the beauty was gone. Because I did not understand, because it was too much, because I felt like I did not belong. I felt like I was dreaming too high, and that maybe - just maybe -, it would be for the best if I just stopped with this nonsense and came back home where life is simple and it is cosy and it is real. Is it?
I looked around again. I saw my favourite bulding under a completely different light. It wasn't shiny, but grey and sad. All the houses around it were brick and stone, and even the snow was brown. People were muttering under their breath and in the nearest coach, a little girl was crying out loud.
And this is when I felt it. This is when London became real. When the limiar between dream and reality was surpassed and I was left panting over the awakening. It was supposed to be something big. Finding a home always is. But then, it didn't feel like a big achievement nor a big change. It just felt right. Like I was supposed to there, and even if everything was not okay, still it was, because I knew where I was going and when I finally got there, I was going to have a hot shower and then go to bed.
It didn't matter if it was snowing and that the traffic was awful. Suddenly, I was just going back home after a particularly rough day. Like I used to do before all of this. Before London, before the awakening, before I was this brand new me, prepared to go anywhere, prepared to burn. Maybe not to burn, but definitely, prepared.
And then, London couldn't be ugly, life couldn't hurt anymore (although sometimes it still does). Because when you are Real, you can't be ugly, except for those who don't understand.
I understand and it is beautiful like that. I love it just like that. Grey and all of it.
Life is hard and the path is not always sunny. But as long as the train doesn't stop, it is worth it, oh, it is always worth it.