I am not who I used to be. When I was younger, people scared me. I latched onto my dad’s leg at any family social event; I always chose a corner to stay in when I was with kids my age. But as the years passed, I gradually grew more comfortable with people. It was like learning how to swim. At first I stuck to the strokes I knew best – the close friends and topics of conversation I could handle – then I went further and further into the deep end, experimenting and learning new techniques, even if it was awkward and scary. Now, with introversion still my constant companion, I don’t mind speaking to strangers or large crowds. I really enjoy it, sometimes.
But that’s not why I felt like I was fading away a few days ago. Do you know what it’s like to disappear?
My close friends in high school literally kept me alive. Some gave me the console my traditional Asian family never could. Others provided me with a place to stay when my house wasn’t safe. A few kept me company on and off at the strangest times, always available for support. Now, with almost none of my friends going to the same college as me, it’s time to say goodbye.
I visit my little cousin at least once a week. We talk about books, sing random songs together, and play candy crush. This has been the routine for the past four or five years. I introduced her to several of her favorite books and felt such relief – like learning I didn’t have a chronic disease – when she told me she knew it was okay to be gay. She knows me and my weird habits better than almost anyone on this earth. With only a month left together I know I won’t see her for the longest time, even with the occasional break from school.
My mother has hurt me and inspired me in equal amounts. The one person I am genuinely happy to get away from, she told me she would have me sent to hell for being gay. All my life, every single day, I’ve wished, yearned, desired, and craved to leave, leave, leave her abuse. Now that I’m so close to gone, for some reason I can’t give myself the full satisfaction of knowing I’ve survived these long 18 years. How are you supposed to feel, flying away from the person who granted you life with her body and beat it out of you with her bare hands?
I am not who I used to be. It hurts, viscerally, to know that I will have to cut the physical connections I’ve made with people who have changed me so profoundly. But it is thanks to them that I will work my hardest over the next few years to learn as much as I can to become the best teacher anyone has ever known – to become someone who can make a change. Even though these people will blur in my memory, their faces fading, their voices losing clarity; the impact they’ve had on me will stay in my heart forever.
As one of my heroes once said: it’s only time.
Well, that was extremely personal and sentimental and melodramatic. Has anyone else had to cope with any huge life transitions involving moving away or leaving family and friends and all of that
heartbreaking, horrible good stuff? Advice or commiserations would be appreciated, we can get past it and recount our lives together! Because that’s what the internet is for… also, as a side note, due to my illness this past week, family drama, etc. I’m throwing in the towel for Camp NaNo. Even though I’m disappointed, at least I got to 25K – and I plan to finish it by the end of this year, so it’s really not a loss at all! 25K is the highest word count of any of my WIPs yet, actually. Hope you’re all doing well and have a great upcoming week! Also, you can check out my thoughts on Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez here.