Ella & Maude

Her name is Ella, she is a 34-yo woman that works as a content marketer by trade. Ella lives by herself, in an apartment under her name, on an island primarily occupied by families, kids and dogs, and she has a routine to keep her shit together. Ella prides herself on living an independent life, knowing this independence doesn’t come natural for her. For example, Ella is not the best feeder for herself. She hates grocery shopping and feels innately incompetent in the kitchen. Nevertheless, she tries her best to get this job done. Sometimes she lost track of what she’s doing as her noodle dances in the boiling water. Sometimes, she makes the ugliest egg in the world and still enjoys it.

Her name is Maude, and she never ties herself to the ground. Maude is full of curiosity about many things, behind her, there is a long list of “interests” and “skills” that she once tried to pick up but eventually let go: Taekwondo, Japanese, Photography, singing, guitar, French, yoga.  And yet, she continues to want to learn new skills and fancies about being really good at random things.

Ella is always rushing to be on time for things, and she struggles to diagnose the root cause of this eternal state of rushing. As Ella lives alone through the pandemic, her self-dialoguing behaviour has significantly developed during this period.

Maude has the softest eyes for the world. If she wants, she can see beauty in almost everything, and she tries to not abuse this talent of hers. Still, more often than not, Maude is easily touched by many “unremarkable” things: A man reading in the park, fallen petu als in the shape of love, a city swallowed by an imaginary dragon of speed. Maude is always playing some sort of childish game with herself.

Strictly speaking, Ella is not so much of a pretty woman, and she has never been 100% happy about the way her body looks. Since she has memory, she has wished her legs are skinnier and longer, but she gets by with what she got. Like many other 30-something women, Ella works hard to keep in shape, and she’s very skilled at finding the most flattering angle of herself. But fundamentally, Ella knows her charm goes beyond that.

Maude speaks her own private language, and she is quite comfortable being the odd one out. She excites herself by walking the roads less travelled.  And sometimes, she walks them with bizarre objects in her hand. She can easily make acquittances with literally just anything. For Maude, every object is alive, and each of them deserves to have a name.

Ella likes to dress herself in her own sometimes-quirky, usually-whimsical ways, and enjoys a kind of agelessness through the freedom of clothing. Sometimes, Ella thinks she is still the little girl that she remembers herself as, and she behaves like one when she is alone. But sooner or later, something would usually happen and reminds her the need to deal with many matters as the grown-ass woman that she is now.

Maude is as passionate about many things as she is indifferent to many others. She would emotionally engage in the life of literature figure like Isabel Archer, and she indulges her sentimentality in all sorts of music. Her heart would float every time she sets her eyes on the moon, and she’d shut off her receptor whenever the man she’s with starts to explain NFTs or democracy to her.

Among her friends and acquittances, Ella is often known as the mean one. She doesn’t say nice things easily, and hides her emotions behind ironical jokes. In her mid-thirties, Ella suddenly realizes she’s more closed off than she’s aware, and she has lost more friends along the way than she’s ready to acknowledge. But some friends do stick around — a tiny, close circle of people that keeps her grounded and accompanied — as they learned to live with the peculiarities of each other.

Maude treasures every physical and digital trace of the past, and looks after a whole garden of trivial memories. She sometimes dreams of the friends she has lost, and journals about the sense of loss when she wakes up. Maude keeps a detailed log of every stream of her emotions. Instead of hiding them, she lets her feelings out in every way she knows. Maude is convinced that, as long as she keeps digging into them, she’d be able to find gold.

Ella’s love life officially recessed 3 years and 4 months ago. Since then, she has dated numerous guys, been on and off apps a few times, had a couple of flings, and watched all of them slip away. Emotionally, Ella is jaded, passive, and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s always Ella’s first instinct to fight against the role that most men expects her to play, an approving audience, a human ornament that comes with some harmless wit, a freelance improviser of some convenient intimacy.

Maude, on the other hand, falls in love a little at every chance she has, and refuses to let her intelligence get in the way of her feelings. Maude is not shy of showing affections. She enjoys stroking the hair and gently touching the face of the person she likes. Maude is honest with her desires, and validates her sense of “being happy”, even a fleeting, shallow kind.

Over time, Ella is convinced that she doesn’t have much luck with men, and is determined to not make it her problem. She buttons up her strongest emotions, the need of being with someone, love and all that, and concentrate her effort on redefining a new, independent type of personal happiness. 

Maude could always sense the moment when her “transitory happiness” starts to leak away, and quietly, she observes the familiar bleeding of her own. “One must be mad to want to voluntarily repeat this cycle,” she would write in her notebook. But still, no bleeding would stop her from embracing all the potential hurt in the world. Stubbornly, Maude believes there’s no pain she cannot endure.

At the end of the day, Ella is always striving to grow stronger and freer, and Maude is always the girl who just wants to feel everything.

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