Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way? I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.

230

I’d hate for you to think I’m still writing about you. I’d hate for you to know I’m still thinking about you. I don’t know whether to call it weakness or insanity, to miss someone who has been gone for longer than they were ever around, to wish for a life that would have invited more pain and heartache than I could even imagine. The grass is always greener.

I looked you up again just to read your writings. Something I never bothered doing before because I thought your essays were boring. Now it’s the only connection I have left, your boring way with words. It was always a pleasure talking to you, and I miss that. I’m sorry I forgot that we all have our moments of weakness, I’m sorry I refused to let you have yours. In that moment you lost me. In my moment I lost you. We were never meant to be found.

I’m sorry I invited myself into your life so bizarrely and refused to leave without leaving destruction behind. I wanted to paint the walls bloody so they’d think twice before following. It was a warning to you to not cut so deep. I’m sorry it took so long for me to pick myself up. I could do it again now with all the grace you’d wished for, but it’s never easy to tear apart something you built with love. I’m still learning how to live in the relics.

I think part of me suspects that it will never again be the same. I will never again leave my heart wide open, I will never again kiss without doubt, I will never again love the way I loved you, so devastatingly certain, so sure of a happy ending. Something so intricate was broken inside the day you said goodbye, something delicate and irreparable. Now I see only farewells, be it from betrayal, time, or death, it all ends the same. But I have never been good at letting go. I am still hoping to say hello.

229

I fell in love with you in the dark. Eyes shut, heart wide open, full of hope and a gentle sadness. I knew new beginnings meant leaving something behind, but I carried my baggage to your doorstep, half expecting you to shut the gate. You greeted me all smiles and shyness, with no judgement and only kindness.

I fell in love the moment I stopped being shy around you. I thought that signaled the end, as it always has in the past. But then came the moments I still felt shy around you, then came all the ways you made me feel new. There was something about the way you lived that made the mundane aspects of an ordinary life no longer banal and depressing. It’s in the way you touch, the way you kiss, the way you loved.

It’s the moments when we’re lying in bed together and my arms are wrapped around you way too tight. It’s the moments when you think I’m sleeping and you sneak a kiss only to be embarrassed when you catch me smiling. It’s the time you played me a song that sounded like love, and that was the moment I knew there may be others like you, but I would never meet another like you.

It happened so suddenly, one day my life consisted only of you. Sometimes I think I must have loved you before, maybe a few lifetimes ago, because I don’t know how else to explain the familiarity. You were always there, always on my mind. It was a love I could assemble, a love that was easy to reciprocate, a feeling of being so understood that words were unnecessary. A freedom to be myself, that I had never considered possible. Everything else became background noise, all I wanted to hear was your voice. Everyone else could be forgotten, all I could see was you. Everything that came before was mere infatuation, I have never felt love like this before.

228

I have fought long and hard with myself over this, and I’ve yet to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Maybe it’s the fact I grew up reading books where love came in many forms, where stories were set in an era where polyamory was the norm, so I never questioned that one could love many and really mean it. Perhaps I saw how easy it was for jealousy to destroy people, and I wanted to erase that word from my dictionary altogether, which I have failed time and time again. But since the first time I said those words and meant them, I never felt at ease with monogamy. It never came naturally to me, it went against all of my instincts.

I often wonder whether it’s foolishness or stubbornness that drives us to go against our biological instincts. I find it laughable that people believe they can fight biology in the first instance. I find it dishonest to pretend that once we are in love, we no longer find beautiful people attractive, and we are forced to lie to and withdraw ourselves, for fear of forming a connection with an outsider and destroying what we have. I find it a pity that we are forbidden to love more, as if one tarnishes the other, as if more love could make what is existing feel less. It seems absurdly selfish to want to possess someone so entirely and declare your love by severing their ties with all others.

Yet I can’t help but find it deeply romantic that there are those who do not waver in their faith, who remain devoted till their deathbed to their one and only. Those who remember only one smile, one laugh, one body, who never wanted to share, never had to, and never will. There are times when I wish I could be more like them, and I wonder if something is broken inside me. I wonder if there is something wrong with the way I love, whether I ask for more because I know that I will never be enough. I crave for a love unblemished and so deeply satisfying that no distractions are required.

But I then imagine a world where my actions are not dictated by a lover’s restrictions, and every connection has the possibility of meaningfulness. I can’t decide whether it would be a blessing or a curse to live with so much freedom and possibility, whether it would dilute the sensations, or dampen the experience of being alive. I so desperately want to love and be loved without boundaries. I’m intrigued by the perversely romantic notion that I could go anywhere, be with anyone, kiss whomever I wish, but come back to the person who feels like home at the end of it all, and know that nothing has changed in the way that we feel for one another.

I want colorful chapters, memorable characters, but one love affair to hold me steady. I want harmless flings, candlelit dinners with forgettable faces, the thrill of discovering you have something in common with someone that you’d never expected. I want all this but to fall asleep in your arms only, wake up to your face only. I see eternity in your eyes only. I want to touch and taste many, but to love you only. I am selfish beyond your understanding. I am hopeless at this game.

 

227

After all this time, perhaps I owe you an apology. In my efforts to prove that I was the most injured, I forgot that we only met because of your kindness. I rewrote our story and neglected to mention that once upon a time, you were my prince, and you healed my wounds before replacing them with new ones.

In my eagerness to hurt you, I called you the worst things I could think of. I wanted to give you a taste of my medicine, so you’d never forget me. I chose to be childish, I decided if you weren’t going to wake up to me every morning, then you could at least think about me on the nights you couldn’t sleep, when it becomes hard to breathe and you wonder if I ever learned how to be happy alone.

I know that her smile doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, her tears will never bring you to your knees, and you don’t think you’ll ever love again but you never cared for it much in the first place. Love was always more of a luxury to you than a necessity. In the back of your mind you always saw me as a liability.

But I still miss you so much that it makes my heart ache when I picture someone else sleeping next to you, waking up to your smile and kissing you good morning. I’m not constantly falling apart anymore but I can still count the pieces missing.

At the time, no one else’s pain was comparable to mine, now I know that they all are.

At the time, I didn’t believe you when you said ‘we always hurt the ones we love‘. Now I know this to be true.

226

I have never been very good at saying no to myself. I’ve always lacked discipline, whether it was piano lessons or that last piece of cake, I always chose the easier option. I would conveniently ‘forget’ to practice, I would eat the last piece of cake and tell myself it was better than having an eating disorder. I pretended my lack of control was something endearing, something that made me easy to be around, easily humored, easy to please.

I’ve never been good at facing reality, of accepting it at face value. Denial comes much more naturally than accepting that I could live a life dull and null of purpose, accepting that I could be just as ordinary as the people I deem to be forgettable. But no matter how much I may crave to be heard, I am just as boring as the people whose names I can’t remember, just as cruel as the people I consider despicable, and just as foolish as the people I have scorned in the past. I have been the narrator and I have been the protagonist. But that wasn’t enough, the attention seeker in me wants to play every part. I want to be the victim, the villain, the heartbroken, the heart-breaker. I want to live every life that is possible, I want to explore every avenue. I want to break all of the rules.

There is a part of me willing trade an ordinary life for an extraordinary love, a will that you cannot reciprocate. There was a time when I kissed you and felt an eternity had passed, as if I had been with you since the beginning of time and will be with you until the end. There was a time when I looked into your eyes and saw galaxies and all the forces of the universe could not tear us apart. There will come a day when I draw my last breath and your heart skips a beat when mine stops beating, and you’ll know to find me again, in the next life, or whatever comes after.

 

225

I think what saddens me the most about truly desperate people is the sobering truth that there is no one left in this world who cares for them. It surpasses social hierarchies and class systems, we simply live in different realities. I know for me personally there are people who love me enough that even if I went down the wrong path, if I screwed up unimaginably, if I committed inexcusable crimes, they would still try to pull me back to my feet, until I found myself again. I know people who would give me second chances even if I didn’t deserve them, simply because they remember a time when I did. I know this because I feel the same way about them.

To know that there are people out there who don’t have this, who either never had it or no longer have it, makes my heart break a little. To imagine that it is possible to completely alienate yourself from the seven billion other inhabitants of this planet, to have wronged every person who ever trusted you until they no longer tolerated your existence in their lives, is the most depressing life I could fathom.

This does not mean I feel like I have a free pass to fuck up, to hurt others, quite the opposite. It makes me want to work harder, to be good to my people, to share my happiness with them, and put myself in a better position to help if I ever need to.

When I was little my mother used to point out those who led less fortunate lives, and forewarn me that if I didn’t study hard enough, I would end up just like them. I hope that if I ever have children of my own I could teach them to work hard because if they do, they could make life better for those people. That they can find meaning in life by making the world a more beautiful place.

It can be difficult to see past ourselves when we’re lost in the hustle and bustle of the city, when we’re busy crunching numbers and paying bills, but try not to lose sight of what is really important. To be able to share a good life with someone you love is such a blessing. To see them smile, to kiss their face, to hold them when you’re sleeping, those precious moments when the lights are out and you can hear their heartbeat. To stop chasing happiness and be happy in the present moment is a luxury not many can afford.

I see the big picture for the first time because of you. I see children, I see laughter, I see family, and I see love. I can feel it in the air when you say the words, I can lose myself in a kiss. I can imagine a life filled with joy and kindness, I am no longer terrified of boredom. I am no longer terrified of anything. Because I love you, I fucking love you.

224

I did something that’s either going to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made or one of the dumbest, not that it really matters because we’re just some talking monkeys on a big rock that will one day explode and everyone will die and no one will know we ever existed. So why does life matter so much when we know how it ends? Why do we read stories about things that have never happened and never will, no matter how many alternate universes we wish there may be? Why do we pretend these rules and inventions really make a difference on the grand scale of things, when will we ever learn how to stop hurting each other?

On a grand scale we massacre our own kind and hunt other species to extinction. Even in what is considered the more civilised parts of the world we still cheat and steal and rob others of possessions and affection. We lie to each other and ourselves on a daily basis, we rape and plunder under more legal pretenses, we collect and horde wealth and we never feel like it’s enough.

Our capacity for greatness is overshadowed by the cruelty we administer upon the lesser fortunate. To those who live in parts of the planet that are savaged by warfare we simply shake our heads and pretend not to notice they drew the short straw. We believe in Gods and we hate them, we pray and we desecrate the holy, we are sinners and we worship saints with no religion.

We judge others for the same mistakes we have made or wish we could make. We take too much for granted, we forget life was never supposed to be easy. No one ever escaped this world without tears, without grief, without heartache. No one is ever doing as well as they are good at pretending. No one is really whole anymore but we don’t talk about the wounds that are still bleeding.

We are afraid when others get too close and we’re too accustomed to denial of the truth being temporary. We all think we’re meant for something greater than a tiny cubicle and paper pushing bureaucracy but none are brave enough to call for revolution. That takes patience that takes courage and most of us are too fond of television and we’d never consider ourselves couch potatoes but the world doesn’t hurt us quite enough to warrant any changing.

We are young but not so young anymore and soon we’ll be not young at all and life will have passed us by before we notice it’s a different generation calling out our mistakes. You will have children and you will sometimes regret it or you will choose to save another from the pain of living and always wonder what it might have been like and whether you’d be less lonely in your old age if a chance at being selfish hadn’t seemed so appealing.

The girl who is locked in a storage container screaming at the top of her lungs for help will be sold until her body rots and her soul is putrid. Her parents’ pleas will be lost on deaf ears or they might be the ones who profit and we shake our heads at the injustice but we don’t break the wheel. When she draws her last breath the world won’t falter, people won’t come to her star with flowers and prayers. Life goes on.

We form cute little non profit organisations and shout about the kindness we bestow upon society by caring and we set up even more for the added benefits of tax evasion. It’s enough to drive a rational person crazy. It’s enough to kill those with too much empathy, and we inevitably end up losing all those who do. The more unkind you can train yourself to be, the larger your chances for survival in this concrete jungle.

The girl who was born in a boy’s body will wonder if God made a mistake and kinder souls will tell him God never makes mistakes and this too, shall pass. There will be few who understand and even fewer who understands. There will always be stares of the wrong kind there will always be words that are unkind but you remind yourself that others did not come this far for you to be hiding.

The boy who made a mistake when he was sixteen will see 20 years of a jail cell and in the last 8 his mother stops visiting. After two he learns how to fight after four he witnesses death and by the time he walks out those doors again he’s a trained cog in the machine that never ends, we would never truly abolish slavery. We ban plants and prescribe narcotics, we discover flying and not long after we learn how to dispense weapons from the sky. Killing is much easier to ignore when the numbers are too large to comprehend and the pictures are censored for your own protection.

You want to be better than this but you’re not. You want to destroy the foundations but you’re part of the status quo. You want to take the right pills and snort the right powder so it’ll all stop hurting, but too much of that will kill you too. I tell you she kissed the poison she looked like an angel and his heart stopped beating for a second, then I watched her shatter. Don’t come any closer to this glass.

 

 

 

223

Teach me how to fall out of love again. Rewind the tapes, swallow the darkness, the lonely nights, the dinners for one and empty bottles of wine stacked up on the kitchen counter. Snuff out the scented candles, watch the roses wilt, take my pills on time but only half of the time. My head is pounding and my hands are shaky again and no phone numbers saved in favourites to call against the deafening quiet.

Delete the photos, the messages, remove the love notes stuck to the fridge by magnets I found on holiday when I was missing you. Forget the pillow talk, the sweet whispers, the smell of your hair, the way you like to run your fingers down my spine, I refuse to hear your heartbeat.

We’ll walk in opposite directions, go back to our own homes. You’ll forget the way coffee should taste and go back to spiking yours with too much sugar. I’ll go back to filling mine with too much cream and we’ll both stay unhealthy in our preferred ways only this time I won’t be there to nag you into calling me crazy.

Let go of my hand, cross the street before looking and hope today is your lucky day. Watch the leaves fall in Autumn, don’t think about our first kiss, our lips never touch, you never feel the tingle of my passionfruit lip balm. Untangle my hair from your sink, wash your sheets until you can’t remember the smell of my shampoo and throw away the over-sized shirts I used to wear to sleep.

Tell her we were no more than sweaty bodies tangled in summer nights, that it was more lust than it was ever love, that you only called me baby because you didn’t care to remember my name. Wipe away the tears I never shed for you, rip up the concert tickets we never bothered to book, throw away the ultimatums we never laid on the table, bury the happy ending that was never written. What never was will never hurt you again.

222

I remember when he never loved me. This was before we had met. He was just another nameless boy who existed at the same time as I did, but our lives never collided. He kissed many girls but he never loved them back. They all loved him. He thought he loved one, or at least he really really wanted to. He wanted to so much that he had her name imprinted onto his ankle, in case he forgot to love her. He never forgot, because he never loved her.

I remember when he always loved me. This was the first time I sneaked into his bed and told him I couldn’t sleep. I could sleep, everyone sleeps eventually. But he knew what I really meant. He put his arm around me and that was the beginning of every bad decision we ever made together. Every secret smile, every sordid kiss, every sinful night that ended with messy sheets and knotted hair, I remember. He remembers too. He hadn’t planned on loving me, but he started waking up in the mornings with a smile on his face. He started saying ‘good morning’ like he meant it. He started to prefer coffee the way I made it. He always loved me and he didn’t know how to stop. Love can be dangerous, he knew this. I never knew this then. Now I always know.

I remember later, when he never loved me. This was when my head had gone bad again and I could no longer see the sun. I started to draw red lines all over my body and I was never pretty, I was always sad. He started kissing other girls again and it was easy because he never loved me. He felt trapped but too trapped to tell anyone or do anything to free himself. I learned it is possible to be tangled together with a person yet still feel lonely. We kissed each other less but when we did, we left bruises. When he finally found the courage to be worse at lying, I slit his throat and buried him under the sea. It was easy, because he never loved me.

221

I wanted to remember all the shades of the ocean, my reflection in the waters, the feel of the wind on my skin, the music that mimicked our heartbeats. I wanted the moment of absolute content to last forever.

I wanted to believe that for once, nothing was missing. But I glanced at her eyes and saw a sadness that broke the peace. I felt an emptiness seep through her that no amount of laughter or substance could appease.

She asked me what else is there to do when you’ve lost your way and the light which used to guide you home shines no longer. She told me she danced to his heartbeat and now her feet no longer touch the ground, every step feels like torture. What do you do when you find yourself alone again and you don’t remember how it happened. When memories begin to play tricks on you and you wonder if you were ever happy. When time begins to chase you and you forget who you’re running from. She whispered through crooked lips that it’s hard to smile when he’s not here to hold me. She said it hurts so bad I’m always on the verge of crying. She looked up and smiled the saddest smile I had ever seen.

What do you do when you lose your soulmate except watch your heart get broken over and over again every single day and you ache to hear his voice but you’re terrified of listening to the words you’ve saved. You wonder whether he’s in a better place but you curse every deity you know for stealing him early. You tell yourself everything happens for a reason but easy comfort isn’t comforting. You blame yourself for not knowing how to move on, and you blame him for not letting you. You feel his ghost following wherever you go, you hope he never leaves.

What can you say when the words I love you feels like a knife to your heart and every “it’ll get better” or “you’ll be okay” feels like a twist in your wound. How do you wave away empathy how do you explain that nothing makes the pain go away and you’d do anything to reverse time just to see his face again. She climbs back under the covers and clutches his old tshirt like a lifeline and I watch her bleed and bleed. I tell her darling, in time, all wounds heal. She whispers yes, but in time, all scars ache.

220

Perhaps the most astonishing fact about my generation is what we take for granted. If you’re reading this, you most likely have access to a computer and the internet. How often do you stop to contemplate and marvel that you own something which at one point in history, the most powerful, most wealthy elite in the entire world could not possess?

You are more privileged than the millions who existed before you, and if we’re being honest, most of them achieved more in their lifetime than you ever will. At one point, the best healthcare in the world couldn’t prevent royalty from dying during childbirth. But there are college students all over America who firmly believe they deserve medicine for free, refusing to reconsider when confronted with the reality that ‘free’ simply means someone else is paying for it. They remain adamant that there should be a ‘right’ to healthcare, and if you can’t afford it, then someone else must be forced to foot the bill, at gunpoint if necessary.

Individual responsibility for one’s own wellbeing is now considered ‘oppressive’ to the poor. I hesitate to call them students because it makes them sound young and naïve, when they’re not and have no right to be. These are fully grown adults. They do not deserve a free pass for their ignorance.

Subway workers now demand to be paid the same as teachers and paramedics, because making a sandwich is considered hard labour in modern America. You ought to laugh at the absurdity, but you can’t because it’s your reality.

These ‘well-educated’ yet wildly misinformed mobs believe that the world should just be perfect and will be perfect if we simply listened and conceded to their demands. They’ve never experienced true hardship or suffered in any meaningful way, so the most hurtful oppression they are able to claim ownership for is micro-aggressions.

Any imagined slight is further evidence to them that the world is unjust, that the world must stop everything, and focus on mending behaviour which may or may not hurt someone’s feelings. They’re so accustomed to being pampered all their lives that the moment someone says ‘no’, their brains begin to short circuit and they revert to infantile tantrums, screaming obscenities at administrators for refusing to acknowledge their precious feelings.

I mean, just how self-absorbed and entitled do you have to be, to know that war and famine exist in this world, to be acutely aware of the fact that people die from starvation and abuse, to be attending the top academic institutions that the world has to provide, to be considered the future leaders of this generation, yet be so divorced from reality that campus Halloween costumes are worthy of debate?

You’re not outraged about innocent children being murdered by drone strikes. Civil liberties being trampled on doesn’t bother you either. The NSA spying on everything and everyone certainly isn’t cause for alarm. But oh, don’t you dare offend the college liberal. Don’t you dare tell a fucking rape joke. Don’t you dare use the wrong pronoun. This is what millennials truly care about, this is worthy of their time and united efforts. We are a disgraced bunch. We’re so isolated, numb, and lost in our own worlds that we’ve lost touch with what’s ultimately important. Peace and love are difficult subjects to talk about. Hate and war have become easy to preach.

Don’t be fooled for a second that these ‘activists’ are the philanthropists volunteering at women’s shelters. Most of them cannot muster the courage to leave their safe spaces, for fear of being confronted by the evils of the patriarchy, manifesting in the form of some middle aged man sitting comfortably on public transport. I imagine first wave feminists clawing exasperatedly in their coffins at what the movement has now become.

These mindless entitled babies are so sure that they deserve everything and more, so sheltered from reality, that they are willing to abandon all freedom of speech, so long as their feelings are protected. My only prayer is that I do not live long enough to see them destroy this Earth.

219

Is it so crazy to admit that we’re not so much craving love from a member of the opposite sex, but a connection to another human being on a very primitive level?

Someone who is capable of understanding you even when you’re unable to find the suitable words, because words can often be so inadequate compared to everything that is inside.

Someone who will in fact love you unconditionally because they know unequivocally that you are worthy. They are aware of your worst sins and transgressions, yet they love you all the same, and are unafraid of revealing their equally twisted selves.

A level of trust that does not allow for doubt because time has stood the test and you know they will stand by your side no matter how much you’ve screwed up. Nothing will ever be unforgivable because you could never allow yourself to let them down in the first place.

It’s crazy to refuse to delegate this position because of something as irrelevant and absurd as gender. It’s more than friendship, or romantic gestures, or mere companionship.

It’s an instinctive mutual understanding, a gut feeling, that this person is yours. Not to be confused with ownership or unreasonable possessiveness, you could never keep them by force or manipulation. The difference is that they choose to stay, every day they choose you all over again.

So if by some miracle of the universe you are lucky enough to meet them in this lifetime, remember that you are the luckiest of them all.

 

218

I’m not talking about the cute sort of depression they try to describe in poetry. The quiet classy dignified soft buzzing in the background, a monotonous bland boring sort of sadness that you can try to amputate with Prozac.

I’m talking like the kind where you’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and every cell in your body screams at you to jump, and when you’re better you forget how close you came to taking the leap, and you never bother telling anyone because you don’t want them to worry or judge you for being so out of control.

I’m not talking about the angsty teen who has barely experienced life but think they have nothing left to learn from this world because they listened to too much punk music, and their parents refuse to listen and even when they do they just don’t understand.

I’m talking about the kid that opened up the safe and brought the gun to his head and came so close to pulling the trigger he still sees bullets in his dreams. The kind where you start drawing red lines along your arteries until you run out of space and your skin forgets to heal and the scars begin to grow layers.

I’m talking like the all consuming, self indulgent, utterly unreasonable urge to say goodbye forever by not saying it to anybody. I’m talking being unable to write any notes because you don’t really know what to say anymore, and you lost all your words as the red seeped through cotton.

You don’t know how to explain it because when you’re better it seems so far out of reach and the last thing you want to do is grab it. But when you’re in it you can’t see any light. Your whole universe is blurry and you forget all the reasons for existing. When you’re in it it’s no longer a whim or a feeling but a deeply ingrained uncompromising truth that this is all a cruel jape and the joke is on you and you alone, and the only way out is out.

217

Perhaps I am still waiting for an apology. Maybe some unreasonable, idealistic side of me still yearns for closure, maybe we never really ‘get over it’, no matter what we tell ourselves. Maybe you’ll always feel that familiar ache in the pit of your stomach when our song comes on, no matter how much you want to forget me. Maybe every time I think I’ve really forgotten the sound of your voice, your laugh, your lecturing monotone when you’re reading me poetry, it all comes flooding back at the most inconvenient of times, and I’m forced to retrace your footsteps back to our beginnings. Do you remember it too?

I used to blame you for being older but none the wiser. But age turns out to be a tricky thing. As children we’re told to expect steady improvement, but as an adult you very quickly discover that growth no longer comes naturally. It’s actually disturbingly effortless to remain stagnant, and society will cater to all your childish wants as long as you cry loudly enough.

The older we get the more we’re forced to accept the flaws of our predecessors, as we uncover more unsavory truths about ourselves. How imperfect, how selfish, how cruel we can be. How our own illogical stubbornness drives us to fight relentlessly until there’s nothing left to win, but still we refuse to move on. You realise your parents had no clue what they were doing, just like you have no clue now, and you start to envy them for how far they’ve come, you start to fear how much progress you still have left. You’ll search everywhere for some kind of manual only to find that you’re alone in this, and everyone else is just as terrified. Some are better than you at pretending, and you resent them for this.

So you hunt for a connection, some spark, any sign that there’s some grander purpose to your existence other than the day to day tortures of small talk and paper shuffling, and the thousand other mundane tasks that make up your seemingly meaningless life, and you pray to whatever might listen just so you can stretch out some thin hope in order to not fall apart every morning. But that emptiness inside of you that you choose to sedate with religion or drugs or whatever else works, it never goes away. And God, it’s getting harder and harder to keep living.

On coming home 17 years later

My friend wrote this lovely poem~ Original post here.

When I was five my parents moved us to New Zealand.

I learned how to say Aotearoa before I knew how to write my own name in Chinese.

I knew how to spell New Zealand before I ever knew how to write the two characters that read ‘Taiwan’.

Yet I was always reminded of one thing:

Even if you grew up there, your skin is still yellow; they’ll never see you as one of them.

Don’t forget where you came from.

I know this because I’ve spent my life listening to people

yell go back to your country

from car windows when I walk down the street

and I want to yell back “this is my country, I know no other”.

I will always be immigrant in their eyes.

Politicians spit Chinese, spit foreign like we have not brought wealth;

like we have not paid dearly in both currency and dignity to make this place home.

I have heard the words bloody asians more than enough times,

so don’t worry, I’ll never forget where I came from.

Taiwan, I say, when people ask.

I’m from Taiwan.

But I wish they didn’t feel the need to ask.

Two years ago I moved to Taiwan.

(Or should I say back to Taiwan?)

My mother says when she looks at the sky here she sees her youth floating past,

and she knows the streets we walk down by heart.

She hears home in each step she takes.

She did not want to leave 17 years ago.

It was here, too, that I drew my first breath, spoke my first word, took my first step, learned the word home.

But I was torn from my soil as a sapling, and now my roots have all dried –

slice them open with a pocketknife and nothing spills out.

But if  you cut open my veins I will bleed pohutukawa flowers.

I will bleed the salt waters of the south pacific ocean, childhoods at the beach fighting with seagulls,

and an expanse of long white clouds.

I will bleed quiet night skies filled with stars, the damp smell of bush walks in the Waitakere Ranges,

and the taste of cold L&P.

People here tell me how lucky I am to know how to speak English but

How do I tell them I wish I could exchange my tongue for one that matches my skin?

How do I tell them that when I try to speak Chinese, I often opt for silence because I struggle too hard to find the words;

I guess I just misplaced them when we crossed an ocean all those years ago.

How do I tell them that when I try to write Chinese, my pen is like a lost explorer, depressed and drunk;

each stroke is a maze that he cannot fathom so he sits down to cry.

How do I tell them I wish I could write the intricate characters telling stories in the language that should be carved into the walls of my brain?

My grandfather told me that each Chinese character evolved from a picture and each picture tells a story.

If a picture is really worth a thousand words, and there are over 50,000 Chinese characters,

there are 50 million stories to be told.

50 million stories I do not know.

I have only 26 letters to rearrange, but they work with me,

use my tongue as diving boards,

fall from my lips like fearless skydivers,

deliver my thoughts like practised messengers.

Nowadays I avoid mentioning that I don’t belong

but when people ask me what city I’m from I don’t know what to say.

I was born in Taipei

but Auckland nurtured me with its gentle fingers.

Auckland taught me peace,

taught me how blue the sky can be

taught me, how it feels to take off your shoes and run barefoot in the grass.
Do I say Auckland or Taipei?

I’m not going to point out that I’m out of place

but I can’t claim this city as home and

I don’t know how to talk my way out of this one and oh no my words are tripping over my teeth on their way out again.

I wish I could say what I’m trying to say in English –

no i’m not saying I’m better because I speak another language –
I’m sorry.
I wish I was one of you.

And when I say I miss home I’m not saying I don’t love my birthplace,

it’s just that the definition of home has always been fluid and

my search for belonging has made me an albatross,

gliding along the shoreline on switching currents,

my feet never touching land.

And even though I finally look like I’m home now –

a dark haired, yellow skinned puzzle piece that’s turned up as last,

my edges don’t quite fit as well as I’d hoped.

So I tell my parents I don’t think this is home and this city is a stranger to me,

and that it makes me want to run because they’ve always warned me against the unknown.

I tell them that before I left Auckland,

I ground my heart into sand and let the wind carry it away

so New Zealand would always have a piece of me

and now when my friends walk along the beach there,

I feel each footprint in my chest.

I tell them the sky in this city is thick with a collective memory that I cannot access,

and when I reach out to those around me I only grab empty air –

but my father insists that I’m home now and so I say

I’m home now.