4 min read

Compare and Contrast

I wish I was in London, or Komodo, or Milos.

You can find me in the corner of a restaurant in Copenhagen, my eyes fixated on the endless stream of humans traipsing around the tables like ants shuffling in a maze of sugar. I see one girl, tall and svelte, towering over everyone. She’d tower over me, too, if I dared to measure myself next to her.

Then a catalogue of Danes move from one blind spot to another. Sometimes they’d catch my attention if they warrant any notice in the first place. But when they do, they turn into a grocery list of things I do not have. Things I probably won’t ever have.

Where can I get those blue eyes? What about the long caramel hair? I can’t find it on aisle seven. Those perfect teeth are out of stock in aisle nine. Her baby-smooth skin is located in another store.

My phone lights up. The little purple square inviting me to Instagram. I see my friend on a park in London, another one is on the island of Komodo swimming with manta rays, and an old classmate is in the Greek island of Milos. How fun, I think.

I wish I was in London, or Komodo, or Milos.

I forget that I am on the rooftop of a swanky restaurant in Denmark. All I see is my friend on the freshly mowed lawn of Hyde Park, and another on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea.

A waiter leans over the table and explains the dishes. Her voice decrescendos as I focus on her celestial nose. When I was a child, my nanny used to pinch the bridge of my little schnoz. “Biar mancung,” she said as I splashed around in the tub. Mancung; an Indonesian word meaning tall nose. 

The food is great. I see that the table next to me has ordered skewers. Why didn’t I order skewers?

I stand up to go to the bathroom and eel past the scattered chairs and friendly waiters. There’s a girl my age—sort of, I mean, I can never tell these days—and she dresses better than I ever can. What is on her neck? I don’t have a choker like that. I’ve seen one of those on a mannequin in H&M. I’ll pay them a visit once I’m home. Am I wearing the right shoes for the city? I look down at my Adidas sneakers and then at her black Nike Roshe. I should invest in some Nikes.

I end up perusing through a metallic bookshelf across the bathroom. I take a book about graphic design and flip through its pages. I once wanted to be a designer, amongst other things. What would I be doing now if I had gone to art school? Maybe working on books like these. I could have been a published pundit; a fount of knowledge for many design-enthusiasts all over the world.

I place the book back in its shelf, between Dysthe Design and Tapio Wirkkala, and continue towards the ladies room.

I wonder what London is like at this time of year. What is my friend doing there? I wash my hands under the dim light of the toilet stall. 

I find my way back to the table. The food is nearly gone.

A few months ago, I learned the difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy is the fear of someone else taking what you already have. Envy is wanting what someone else has.

Now on the 12th floor of the Tivoli Hotel, you can see a light bulb slowly luminesce above my head as those two nouns float towards the shore of my thoughts. As the Nordic sun begins to blanket my face—red and dry from two weeks of Scandinavian weather—I realize that envy is the killer of appreciation.

I take one last bite of my sushi before the beautiful waitress with the perfect nose asks if everything is alright.

“Yes,” I tell her. Everything is more than alright.

I message my friend in London, wishing her the best.