Sunday, December 30, 2012

4-5 AM on a Sunday Morning

We were speeding underground, the tunnel lights flooding everything in warm hues, his profile like a portrait in sepia. I wanted to photograph the shape of his cheekbones and the curve of his jawline as he stared straight at the road, remembering that every moment was fleeting and that physical documents sometimes outlived memories. 
As far back as then, I had wanted to be in Manhattan and told him so. He said he once wished for the same, once wanted to study engineering at some school with a name I can't remember and don't care enough to. But what I can't forget is what he said next...I had asked him why he didn't go, and he'd told me that his family needed him more than he needed his education. That his parents could have never paid all the bills had he picked up and left.
It was at that point that I felt selfish and small and awestruck and young and silly and full of shitty, upside-down priorities, with still so much growth ahead of me.
He was so handsome when we left the tunnel, the sunlight entering our eyes.

Every time I visit the ICA, I end up sitting in this one spot, one of my favorite places in the city, for at least 20 minutes, and I sit and remember everything that ever happened there, everything that creates the energy and magic I feel at that single spot.

The crumbs. The dark black cookie crumbs, Oreos I think, that coated his lips the way bits of asphalt spread across pale cement. The knees. The way the contour of his meat-less bony knees jutted through his dark jeans. How much I wanted to reach out and trace them. How much I wanted to trace all of him--his knees, his palms, the hollow spaces in his frame, the depth of his cheekbones, the bridge of his nose. I wanted his wide eyes to never leave mine, unless they were occupied with dreams.
Our arms were brushing, and I wish I could've felt his warmth more.
He told me about New York, about his court date, about sitting in a 24/7 McDonalds until the morning waned. It was the cheapest hotel they could find.

We talked about suicide, suicidal ideation. She bared to me the skeletons of her family, of her father, of all the devils that gnawed at her, at her arms. She told me that the shallow scars on her wrists had long since faded, that she had made the cuts deliberately shallow when she was insane but just sane enough. Her friend once grabbed her arm which made her squirm in pain, but even the closest never caught on. She buried the secrets deeper than the blade and, somehow, that made all the difference. It's been months since we've talked, but I rest easy knowing she saved herself.
One day, I'll bring a lover here, and I will know that my love is reciprocated and that what I'll have found is true and fair. I will know so long before I even dream of taking them into this space.

On nights like these, when I'm still awake at 4 am, I wonder about why I'm here.

My greatest joys have been the love I've given and the love I've received.

I once gave a Georgetown cupcake to a homeless man with a beat-up bicycle, who then told me, God bless you, dear. I wished then that I hadn't eaten the first one so that he could've taken two, while my friend sat devouring his second. 

We watched 21 Jump Street on the grassy banks of the pond while passersby passed us by with goofy stares. We were cute--we weren't together, but we were cute. I took note of that day and will most definitely recycle the plans when the time is right. That night, he told me about his first time and was surprised when I admitted I'd never fucked. 

Never have I found a reason to be wholeheartedly content with myself, and that is fine. It's probably why I dislike my own birthday celebrations so much. They're overindulgence to me. I just don't see sense in celebrating myself when everyday is already full of celebrations of life. Every breath, twiddle, ache, step, tingle, touch--they are all wonderful celebrations of the spirit, energy, life I've been granted. Why spend my time celebrating what I've been given when I can take that time to utilize my blessings and fulfill my commitment to others, serve my purpose?

Ma lived the first 20 years of her life never knowing the exact date of her birth, only believing that each year that passed had added to her age. If Momma didn't need birthdays, then why should I?

Mo Ba shared in hushed tones during breakfast that Trung was depressed about his girlfriend leaving, but that he had told her he would be fine if he just hung out and talked to me for the next week. She asked me in whispers to make sure I spend as much of my time with him as possible. I felt warm and fuzzy, remembering that Trung was my first best friend in this life. I miss him now and hope he's well and kind to his parents. All I really want right now is to fly back to be with family, to be Trung watching 30 Rock till we pass out, to wake up and make a boba run first thing in the a.m., to laugh at Trung's gibberish and "awww" whenever he talks about Jenny bittersweetly.

I feel like I'm always doing this...leaving when I'm still needed or when I'm happy. I don't mind letting go of happiness, but I feel guilt for unfulfilled responsibilities.
It was strange, funny, and comforting to talk to him about college and what I should look out for. He showed me some pretty kickass party mixes, told me to get some mace asap, and admitted he hates New York. He took the keepsake picture of Puppy I left him and beelined to his room to tack it onto his dry erase board above his desk, where only the special-est pictures go.

I wonder if I have, or ever will have, enough badass mental toughness to work at a psychiatric hospital.

I die a little inside every time someone jokes about rape. 

She's changing and I don't like who she's becoming, but I won't love her any less.

I'm really fucking proud of him, of his artwork, of his sense of self, of his honesty with flaws. 

I really fucking hope my crew comes up with me.

We texted till past 4 am about plans for when he's back--and just that, the act of making plans, got me excited for the adventures we'll soon have in the city.

I found the very first texts between AE! Andrew and I from back when I was 15. How young and innocent we both sounded, believing in infinity when forever is too often stamped with an expiration date. We kept repeating, One day... I do miss him, miss him the way I miss happier times and Cali sunshine and having him feel so close even though he was so far. He came at the right time, with the right moves, with the right lessons for me. He empowered me in so many ways like I had never been before at that age, and for that I owe him big time. He was older but thought no less of me, felt enough like safety to make me enjoy being vulnerable. I thought he was my first taste of love. It's sad that we drifted and ended...I'm left with a number that I don't think is his anymore and a first and last name that gets me nowhere. I don't think I'll ever see or speak to him again, but that shit happens, I'm fine. I still have that tank top somewhere in my drawers.

It's 5 am and my reminiscing's going way back. My mind's restless even if my eyelids droop.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Houston 2012

These have been wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful days.

Most moments...they don't even feel real. Just floaty.

We are all* in transitions, so it's thrilling to wonder about how all these paths will simultaneously unravel. 

(*almost all!)

Awesome is unreal. She puts every dog I've ever known, and probably will ever know, to shame. ♥ The girl jumps through hoops...literally. Like goddamn.

I'm feeling so much, and yet I can't seem to express these sentiments. I fumble with my phrases in conversation, tongue-tied, depend on backspaces and ink messes while waiting for my truths in words to finally arrive. There are ways to convey all the restless things inside me...I just haven't come across the lines that do these feelings justice, that make me re-feel this fuzziness when I read them to myself. 

Momma is not doing well. Momma is sad and still feeling ill. 

(I'm responsible.)

Momma also hates Awesome...

Awesome is an epic name.

Houston is kindness,
Her people warmer than suns.
Why am I so mean?

Eyes that see my soul
Her loyalty amazes
Slobbery type love

Loose Vietnamese men
Blame it on the alcohol
Karaoke night

These haikus are great
This shit goes straight to the heart
(Truth: these are poopy.)

I wrote on Wednesday (12/19/12) at 5:09 am,

"Not even 10 hours ago, I received the first college admission that elicited an emotional response beyond lightly disturbed numbness. Today, I felt for the first time as if my future had been revealed and/or determined (I'm not sure could've been either). I felt for the first time that I had received an affirmation from the Universe. I felt for the first time the promise of exponential growth. Every ounce of myself that I had poured into this process at once ceased to feel as if it were all for naught--I finally could know something, hold something, show something for all these months and years of personal toil. Acceptance into NYU may not have solved my every problem in this world, may not have lifted every ounce of sadness I carry, but it has given me some lightness--lightness in anchorage. Now with a sense of stability and certainty in my future, an anchor, I feel as if I can float a little farther, float a little longer, float a little more worry-free. There's now one less trouble to deal with, and yet there are now so many more.

This is such a distinct sense of achievement that I'm really struggling to put into words. I feel Ba's warmth, but Ma's been asleep pretty much the whole night. I won't forget the electricity I felt at BonChon and Grant, Andrew, Bryan, and Y-Binh's excitement for me when I read the email on Y-binh's iphone...nor will I forget Ma's outward apathy and suppressed disappointment. Nor the feeling of content so quickly killed by nausea after seeing the financial aid statement. But Ba told me, Con will make it worth it, and dismissed the numbers as completely reasonable, telling me the opportunity was too good to pass up. To be honest, I don't know if I'm under-appreciating and over-stressing the financial deal I have by making comparisons, but I just know where I will be 9 months from now (not with a baby, I would hope...). And I do know for damn sure that I will pay my entire way through college, giving back every dollar Ma, Ba will initially help me with as soon as I graduate and make bank. I have 5 months left in high school, and I will bust my ass on shittons of scholarship apps, grinding just as hard if not harder than I have been. Senioritis is dead to me. One day of it was enough of a taste. I've the faintest belief in the future now, and just that faint belief is enough to push me to grind grind grind in preparation for my coming chapter.

I think this is 'happy', but there is still so much guilty and sad and heavy.

All this is so strange and humbling and warm and worrisome and liberating and stabilizing and...wonderful. I'm simply so blessed to have all the chances that I have, all the resources that I can use, all the people that I know, all the family that I love. Life is kind, and yet so very sick and dark."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Some of the warmest words any boy has ever messaged me...I'm beyond humbled by the love I've seen lately...

After a damn long time, I finally feel like I'm fully recognizing and appreciating the miracle of each moment again...Finally, I'm beginning to feel balanced, optimally gracious and grateful, and filled with a healthy melancholy calm. The hells haven't left me, but this piece of the battle is finished.

I believed, and I received...What greater affirmation is there of the Universe's path for me?


"This is about to be a little mushy, but idc, you know me....I'm really freaking proud of you. You deserve this and more (and believe me, there is so much more waiting for you). Over the last 4 years, you have simply amazed me.You're capacity to give is remarkable. You do so much for everyone you care about, yet you never ask for anything in return. Nor do you even expect it. But what astonishes me even more so about you is the way you demand respect. You carry yourself better than any girl I know...and it's not that nobody ever sees you sweat, it's that you don't try to hide the sweat. Your originality adds to that, nobody does anything like are a very special person, not just to me, but in this world. You are extraordinarily extraordinary, and you have a lot of knowledge to share to the world. NYU is just the beginning."