I remember you sitting across from me during lunch and complaining to everyone else about the uncalled for English homework. How does the teacher expect us to write a 2 page paper about Hamlet when we have that math quiz to study for? I silently watched everyone pick through their lukewarm lunches and pass around math packets. We would chat about Instagram follower to following ratios and whether or not that deemed our peers to be popular or not. We never used the word “popular” but we just talked about different people on rotation.
I remember how you bragged about being the oldest one in the class, propping your feet up on the desk and whining about how much you wanted to be done with school and especially this class. I wish I could tell you that we all wanted to be done. Sitting in a class about politics in the final months of being a senior in high school was never a good combination. I couldn’t help but flashback to when we ran against each other in middle school for president and I hated you because you took the time and effort to make stickers while I prepped myself for failure.
I remember hearing your voice in French class and thinking that it was a terrible accent, but mine was probably worse. I looked around that class and feeling a strange sense of belonging and annoyance since we’ve stuck together in that class since the middle school days, allowing the burden of school to slowly whittle off the undedicated and leave this group behind. Although, I didn’t go to France with you, so I couldn’t laugh at all the inside jokes.
I remember training with you during track season and watching you round off the 200 meter curve while I was still coming up on the straight 100 meter. Eventually you would learn of my hidden strength, the strength to never stop until I crossed the line even if it meant that I came in last. I heard your strong voice push through my heaving breaths and I put another foot forward.
Most of all, I remember listening and watching to everyone to the point where I felt like I had embodied most of them. I could feel the mood of the school, but I was always seen on the outside. I watched relationships grossly and beautifully unfold, but I also played witness to the groups of friends shielding the couple from each other after a nasty breakup. I listened to the sharp whispers once the teacher left the room for information of what happened over the weekend. I watched the soccer guys stroll down the hall with the soccer girls as they pass me and I grab my books and walk behind them. They were in my class anyways and I always knew who was going to take whomever to prom. But every once in a while, a gap in the dragging conversations would appear and I would drop my classic “one-liners” and shock my classmates to no end. I gained an odd reputation, not enough to have casual check-up conversations but enough to have a good time in that second.
It’s quite peculiar that when the seasons change, everyone raves about pumpkin spice everything when all I can think about is why my loved ones suddenly turned into ones who irritate me to no end. All of their flaws, which I’ve conditioned myself to accept as a part of them, suddenly became louder and prickles my skin like millions of unwanted mosquito bites. Those who I’ve simply tolerate breeze by me, causing me to grit my teeth and hurt my gums. I stare at my reflection confused and afraid hoping to see words written across my face indicating me if I’m the jerk or if the world is a jerk to me. Then again, you can’t be arrested for being a jerk. You would just be known as someone with harsh words, but no backbone. You’d be known as someone who utilizes their fears to raise yourself higher or you’d be known as someone who appears to have never felt the kind light before. Behind those tired eyes, you can’t help but wonder what the idling thoughts construct the person who’s walking around right in front of you. You hope that they match up with your own thoughts. That your griping of the world matches theirs instead of validating the fact that the world is true as you see it just without the rose colored glasses.
When the seasons change, I can’t help but wish for all of those who give me warmth from the inside out rather than being forced to huddle helplessly underneath my blankets.
Written: 9/28/17 1:32pm (in class)
Excuse me for a moment and let me tell you a story before I forget how it went. This is something I hold very close to my heart, so bear with me as I cast away my responsibilities as a student and as a friend. My heart throbs so much that all I can do is dream about the past and hope the future will arrive soon. And my mind feels as clouded as my darker days when in reality; I am tired of all the bullshit that surrounds me (as if I am an exception).
Hold on a second and step into my shoes. Feel the shape of my foot within the worn out pair that has taken me everywhere. These converses have walked through the pouring rain and blinding sun while patiently waiting for my turn to speak. These slip-ons have crossed the city and sat in nervous anticipation, waiting for a single hello. And feel the exact moment when my toes curl in fear or sadness, but I maintain a cheerful smile. They ask me if I’m able and I nod and spin around in carelessness when all I want to do is book a one-way ticket and never look back. They ask me if I would do it instead and I nod when in reality, all I want to do is drink obscene amounts of beer and wine until reality tastes bitter in my mouth.
Once someone told me that I shouldn’t do something a certain way and the way they said it made me realize how insignificant I was and how nothing I said regardless if I was holding a gun up to my temples or if I was “just being a nice person” really mattered. They got real close and I could smell their foul breath. “That’s just not something you do.” And I wanted to get up close and hiss, “Fuck you.” But I’m just a nice person after all.
You would think in 2017, people would retain the basic knowledge they learn in kindergarten to always be respectful. I don’t think they realize that taking advantage of someone’s kindness is the same as punching them in the face. I don’t think people realize that the simple act of forgetting to say “thank you” can lower someone’s self-esteem one moment at a time until that someone spends hours wondering how they fit into the confusing world and if it’s worth it. I don’t think people realize that there’s an obvious difference between manipulation and kindness. It’s obvious right now, but there have been strong bullshit accusations. I just shrug and say, “I guess I’ll just watch you as you fall down.”
You complain that there’s not enough good in the world when you shoot down all the good that’s directly in front of you. It’s not that hard to be kind, is it? Because you’re just being a nice person.
Written: 9/26/17 5:15pm
My hair is thinning and it coats my bedroom floor. Every time I get up from my bed or from my chair, the hair drifts around my feet and I’m reminded of my stress. Like a considerate person, you ask, “What are you stressed about?” I pull a face, shrug and I’m already dissociating when I say, “I don’t know!”
Every morning, I pull back the curtains and a stream of light streams in. I expect to be knocked off my feet as a realization that things aren’t as bad as I make them to be. Half-way through the day, I open the window to air out the stale air and hope that the cool breeze can help me stop losing hair.
On an odd Tuesday morning, I pick up the broom and sweep away all the stray hairs. Enough has cumulated that it’s enough if you gathered it into your hands, it would look like a hamster from the distance when in reality, it’s all the hair that’s taken the jump. I sigh loudly so that it echoes my mind, but not loud enough so that I can do anything about it. It lingers before it drifts away just like each day as the sun comes and goes, allowing time for night to fall.
I’m sorry that you’ve been reduced to a common office plant. With your colorful leaves and short stature, yet you’re low maintenance, you’ve graced the desks of office secretaries instead of where you belong. You wish you were like that oak tree outside, swaying gently to the breeze while you have to entertain yourself to the air conditioning that’s always on because the boss has a chronic sweat problem and everyone else is wearing down jackets. You wish you were like that orchid, constantly a showcase on everyone’s Instagram feed and carefully watered and maintained because “it would be such a shame if it wilted”. You wish you were like the pointy succulent squad in the front corner of the desk, next to the zen garden and faux waterfall. A little jungle over there. A little sense of peace, instead of the office vibe that the pencil skirts, striped ties and stale coffee give off. You inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, straighten up a little and try to live it up a little while swaying to the imaginary breeze, facing the window where dreams once were.
Written: 6/16/17 1:06am
I think in French, my mind rolling around repeating Je ne sais pas. Je ne sais rein. And I painfully reel back, hold myself back and go back to writing dreams in English. I head down the street for a coffee, but I don’t drink coffee, so I stop inside and inhale all the scents and memories. Memories of you and a sly and satisfied smile behind the recyclable coffee cup, your tongue stained and your breath smelling of a routine morning strike me and I pause to avoid an onslaught of tears. I order a cookie even though I already have a bunch of cookies and my mind reverberates Je t’aime. Je t’aime beaucoup. Back to work. Back home again.
I yell in Cantonese, the pitched notes, the sharp tongue and suddenly I’m reminded when I sprinted down the halls, barely missing the corners to avoid facing my punishments. Screaming and yelling, hearing only my voice in my head and feeling powerless with Stop it! I didn’t mean it! I’m sorry! And the Cantonese got closer until I grew up, but I guess I could order a heaping bowl of noodles instead of hearing how worthless I can be.
I insult myself in Mandarin, a classic, yet difficult language and demonstration of your truest skill and culture as I struggle to pronounce who I am, maintaining my goofiness without fail only to appear rude and of a child. With a singular glance and formal smile, I’m deemed as unworthy as the silence fills the spaces between us until I’m no longer close enough to understand. What a pity.
I dream in Korean, a light weighted and song-like whisper. Even the most vulgar and harshest phrases, come out as balls of marshmallow, melting your mouth and coating it with a light kiss. Yet, I’m lost and I wonder how do I find the correct recipe to success to treat your heart to newfound memories of joy.
Written: 6/16/17 12:16am
All around us, there is life, but you only realize how precious it is when it ceases to exist. Each day is a birthday and every other day, someone departs the world. Tears flow to rejoice the newest addition to the family intermingled with the stress that’s to come in preparing the child for the new world. Tears flow in sorrow as someone whose life has been condensed to numbers has taken their final breath, a whisper to the present that things shouldn’t be taken for granted.
What motivates you to get out of bed each morning? Is it because your school requires your constant attendance or maybe you have a meeting? Is it because every hour counts when you work or because you have a couple errands to run? Maybe it’s a holiday and something will be different. Maybe a new episode for your favorite show comes out and you’re excited to finally watch it. Or maybe, you look forward to seeing the familiar faces the shape how your life flows.
There may be days when you don’t find much worth in one day compared with the others. Brushing your teeth and walking seem monotonous and you wished that something would suddenly appear and give back the spark you had in your life. Your favorite dishes don’t taste good anymore and you beg people you love to help you live again. It’s only until the cloud parts and you’re able to see once again that life is a fragile gift.
Here is my charge for you: Don’t take life for granted. Don’t allow it to become monotonous, yet I understand if it is unavoidable or you find yourself caught in those notions. Walk a different route. Try out that new café. Talk to that someone you’ve been meaning to. Life has its ebbs and flows; it’s best if you just ride it and see where it takes you. Don’t be afraid. Life is an adventure after all. Cherish and treasure every moment you have with them whether it’s big or small. And as always, don’t forget to tell those you cherish that you love them because if they’ve landed a spot in your heart, then you should let them know.
This is my charge for you, simply put: cherish life.
Written: 4/2/17 9:08pm