Reflections Conclusion

Lauren, a.k.a Bestie, is still my heroine throughout my daily life. I also still do well to remember the lessons that I learned from the other girls. Bestie however, comes out as the brightest. Love really does tie a lot of things together and I learned that as along as I love what I do, I can go through life’s hardships fairly easily. With Bestie, I closed the void that filled my heart before.

Even when the going gets tough, hope will exist. All it takes to heal and persevere is a little guidance. You have to heal self-hatred yourself. You have to experience the wounds’ closing yourself. But as for helping hands, there’s always someone. You might have to look closely, you might have to look far off, you might have to look somewhere new. But they’re there. All you have to do is look. They might even be there and want to help, but they’re afraid of letting you down. You just have to dive in though. Seize that moment for yourself, only for yourself. Chelsey taught me that. Maybe someone else can teach it to you too.

 

Reflections Part 7: Love Arc

 Michelle and I drifted onto our own paths from that point on during that summer. On my own accord, I made a new friend though. This one became real special to me. Our first encounter was when my sophomore year was still in swing. I had some spare time after school, so I waited in my workout clothes, studying my AP Biology book before wrestling practice started. This girl walked by and then sat next to me. I was surprised, as this was a total rarity.

Besides, what could’ve compelled her to do this? Fate’s kindness perhaps, if there was such a thing. Eying her Pre-Calc Honors book and her looks, I thought, much to my amusement later on, “This chick’s hot.” My sapiosexuality was further enhanced after I saw the difficulty of her math problems along with another bro, Pauly. This girl was Lauren.

Later in the year, Paul was my partner for a Spanish project. We had to record a movie presentation of us doing a mock job interview in Spanish. Paul enlisted the help of one gal, but she was nowhere to be found. So then Lauren took up the job. It was only then that I saw her strength. She just let so much through. It was refreshing. It was then that we became friends. We hung out once over the same summer as the Daisy-shaming.

We were at Rubio’s, with the scents of Mexican cuisine permeating the air, and I just finished eating. We were wondering what we should do next. Suddenly, we noticed that a couple other friends came in too, Brandon and Ken. We tagged along with them. Lauren’s adventurous side came through. She wanted to go to Codornices park up in Berkeley. All of us were unsure and indecisive, being male adolescents, but Lauren’s energy (and maybe that beauty too, males are always more submissive to it) convinced us to go try it out.

We got to hang onto our receding childhoods by going down a cement slide on a piece of cardboard at a fairly quick speed (it’s a wonder that there have been no lawsuits or big safety schtick from this attraction) and afterwards we walked into the hills to look at some natural beauty. Seeing the water snake through the ground and the trees populating are, I realized that I didn’t venture out a lot in my life. “Maybe I could definitely live a little more,” I thought to myself.

So what was Lauren’s uncommon strength? Well, one night I was trying to relax in my room while my dad and step mom were arguing. I was looking on Facebook like any teenager in the digital age and saw a picture of Lauren with her adopted dad. I then realized something. It was the power of love. I then got up into my bed and cried a little while.

See, Lauren was one of those girls who were most likely affected by the population policies of China (it’s unfair to say so for sure, as I was not there and she was too young to remember anything, but it’s most likely so), where the One-Child Policy is in effect. She was abandoned in front of a bakery, presumably because her biological parents were going to be affected negatively by this policy. Lauren was an adopted girl who had a lot of enthusiasm and a real taste for life. I saw a great deal of strength coming from her value of the relationships she had with other people. Not only that, but she was able to thrive on the love of those who didn’t have any blood ties with her.

I found that particularly beautiful. She didn’t allow the fact that she was abandoned in front of a bakery to drag her down in her endeavors. One time we she told me herself that she was an optimistic person who liked to assume that people will always choose the responsible choice. I found this truly ironic: if people always made responsible choices, we wouldn’t even have met. She would either still be in China or she would never have been born. And I wouldn’t be here reflecting about this.

If she was taken out of the equation, my life would already be significantly different. I wouldn’t have learned of her strength and ability to love the things that she does. I could say though, that if I were her, I probably would have been embittered from being abandoned and would never have had faith in humanity in the first place. Because of this fact, along with other qualities, I came to admire her deeply and to this day, I consider her to be my best friend.

Reflections Part 6: Strength Arc

My embarrassment of Daisy made it so that we were awkward with each other for a long time and she withdrew herself in my presence. I thought of her as no less and I appropriately decided to give some needed space. It was at this point during the summer, that I realized that I would become a dramatically different person once the summer was finished. Maybe not as a person that people see on the outside, but as an individual who views himself in a certain light. That light was about to change. A process was occurring where the filtered shroud of self-hatred would finally give away to the pure light of self-love and true acceptance.

Daisy’s shaming lead me to become angry with myself, however. While I was learning to forgive myself, I was ashamed. I perceived it as my first real failure in a friendship. Still angry with this problem, I came to realize that there were other people who had it worse than I. I would realize this after getting to know Michelle a little better.

Michelle’s Korean heritage was obvious sometimes, when she might allow her personality to come through in emotional bursts that people could see as plain crazy. I understood that that’s just who she was. There were other less obvious aspects of her Korean heritage though, which I was able to find out about through unexpected means.

It eluded me that Michelle would reveal to me aspects of her life that seemed like things she would only tell a close friend. It was while I was helping her with an English Honors prerequisite paper that we had to complete during the summer in order to get into the class. It was through this paper that she revealed more of herself to me.

Her loosely organized stream of consciousness was an infant struggling to find its existence, passion trying to become palpable. It had quite a few stumbles, her passion. She had asked me to guide it, to strengthen the shaky foundations of her idea for her paper. “I don’t know what to write,” she told me. She was worried. Absolutely must, must get an A in this class.

“But you have so much to write about,” I insisted.  Having talked with her before that, I simply did not understand how she could experience so much and not know what she could write about. It didn’t make sense, but later on I realized that her light was enveloped in darkness. She had a strong light. It acts like a dying candle though; flickering in, out, in, out. Then whoosh, a slightly stronger wind might come in, carrying the flame out of existence.

I worried for her, as I stayed up late at night with my laptop’s screen illuminating my face as I looked at her Google doc. I worried about her light, about her passion that derived from her pain. I admit, when she wrote of her mother, I winced and held back tears. She said she didn’t like to write about her personal life. I only strongly suggested it because I felt that her life provided a lot of material, a lot of passion, to work from. We didn’t have a huge time frame mind you; we just needed to tame the beast as fast as possible.

Still, this last minute piece of work was beautiful in its own right. The struggle of this summer paper was something to be marveled at. It struggled to find its own form, to find its proper expression. It gave me a reason to worry. I worried, that like the candle’s flame, her passion could be extinguished. Even with all the winds she had encountered and all the flickering that had happened already, all that it would take would be a slightly stronger wind. Whoosh. Gone. All that energy just carried off into a different place.

Though, in a way, her energy already was at a different place: Los Angeles. “Home,” she called it. While I’ll never truly understand why, she belonged there. It was where her heart was. That sense of belonging, the need to belong to something or somewhere though, I could understand. It was all part of her passionate struggle. As I read her essay more, I was surprised at how much light she allowed through.

Her light, I realized later, was covered by a veil. A veil of darkness, supposedly protecting that little flame from flickering. A veil created by her own flesh and blood, her own mother. But the most disturbing part was that she allowed it to be draped over her flame without her knowing. It took me a long time to realize I had done the same thing as well to myself.

A veil like this one is thick. Small flickers of light run through some weaknesses in the embroidery, but besides that, the light isn’t allowed to be seen. I believe that there are people who can lift up this veil. I call them friends. I wonder now, if that’s what I did. If I helped her lift it up, even if it’s just for an essay. One time, we talked on the phone and we were talking about Martin Luther King Jr., or at least if the Civil Rights Movement never happened.

“We probably wouldn’t even be friends,” she said. It seemed so casual and normal to mention that probability, but I was surprised. I thought about it for a second. There was a small warmth in my heart. A flame. Even if it was just for a second, to have my veil lifted, suddenly, surprisingly. Its unexpected arrival… I welcomed it. The conversation flowed from there and the veil covered me once again, but I wasn’t fooled. I knew that flame was there.

As I finished editing her paper, I felt satisfaction from getting it done. It took me a good few hours, time mostly spent to try to understand her struggle so I could make the proper corrections. Her paper wasn’t structured well enough to grant her an A, but I hoped she’d get something decent for it (when I found out she got a B+, you have no idea how relieved I was).

I thought back to when she described her mom crying. Crying for her daughter. I felt pain for her mom. I felt pain for her. But I was glad that she allowed me to see her light, even if it was just for her grade. I didn’t realize it then, but Michelle’s struggle taught me how to stoke my own little flame. When I got it to burn bright, it was nothing like I’ve ever felt before in my entire life. It burned bright and engulfed my body. The veil was fully lifted. Whoosh. I believe that by learning of this girl’s perseverance, I inherited her own might to maintain everything that I’ve learned so far.

Reflections Part 5: Serenity Arc

Image

From the second girl, I learned serenity and self-acceptance. For several years, I was like any other human being, especially one of adolescent age: I was torn apart by self-hatred, seeking acceptance from my friends and any other people I thought of as important for giving myself a sense of self-worth. The self-hatred was something that I still did not understand at the time. Why did I feel so worthless? Why did it even begin? My heart was sick and it had a void in it. I wanted to fill it in, but didn’t know where to start. That was before I met Daisy. This girl was nothing short of fascinating.

Dipesh, a friend, was talking too much as always. I do not recall in what context he was saying this or why he would even say it in a classroom, but he remarked upon Daisy’s sadness. I looked over at this girl, and it was as if I did feel sadness from her. A hope was born: maybe she could understand my own sadness. After school ended, I befriended this girl and talked with her on Facebook (surprise, surprise) over the same summer that I thanked Chelsey.

When I talked with her, I felt secure, safe. Her quirkiness gave her a freedom over many girls at our school, who suppress their natures in order to come off as more ideal. Her nature was even more unsuppressed in person, as her body seemed to be animated by an uncontainable energy. The safety that I felt as well as the combo of the sensation that I was able to see a genuine side to her the whole time lead me to develop affections for her.

Affections aside, there was something that particularly impressed me though. She had this one picture on Facebook with her smiling and holding up a “V for victory” sign with her hands. In the description of her picture, she thanked her friends for helping her through her rough year. It read:

I have to say… even though life has been a little too crazy, but my love for choir has never diminished. I will never forget all the good and bad memories I had with this group. 2011-2012 AHS Choir Ensemble, the Variety Show is our last performance together. Thank you all for such an amazing year; thanks for being there for me. For those few special ones, thank you for your support at all times, and help me grow stronger as a person. I will not forget the lessons that I’ve learned these past few months and I’ll try my best to always keep that smile on my face.

Lastly, Patricia. Thank you for harmonizing and practicing Keep Holding On with me over and over. We’ve made it! The message from the song is for you and the other friends who are still here to cheer me up on a bad day and laugh with me on a good day.

05/24/12 has become one of the most important dates in my life that I’ll never forget. Thank you all for being part of it. ♥ 

I realized I had come across something huge. The smile in the picture and her value of her friends were both things I would do well to remember.

One day, I admitted my feelings because she asked me. I guess I was being too much of a pest. I couldn’t really contain myself, but it happened. Afterwards, I went to bed and cried. But these weren’t tears of pain, no. There was no pain, even though I embarrassed her so. Instead, my tears formed a gateway to a place within my heart where love and peace dwell.

It was a real warm place, this expansive meadow where gentle slopes filled the background. At the epicenter, there was a flower: a daisy. Naturally, it was the kind of flower I could think of. I admired daisies for their simplicity, and this one matched well with this environment, where the grass was of a bright monochrome of green and the hills sloped gently, caressed by an easy breeze. It was in this place that I started to remember Chelsey’s embrace. It was in this place that I started to forgive myself and accept myself for who I was.

Reflections Part 4: Healing Arc

The healing began in a way that was unexpected, even while my self-hatred reigned. The hatred continued to enslave me from its throne, laughing. The neutralization of the venom that seeped into me started to occur without the hatred’s knowledge, and thus the healing was able to take root safely. It took reflection to realize what was happening. So begins the story of my healing.

It was the last dance of the eighth grade. With deafening music, conversation with other people was out of the question. Any attempt would eventually end with a loud “What!?!” and then a feeble “Never mind.” Sweat poured off the bodies of everyone in the dancing crowd. Middle schoolers getting freaky while the rhythms boom was a sight to behold. It must’ve been unimaginably awkward for the teacher chaperones hanging out on the cooler outskirts of the gym floor, which was covered by a blue tarp. The disk jockey put on everyone’s favorite music with his bleached, spiked mohawk.

I simply drifted among the sweating bodies. It went like this: find a group, dance a little, and drift away once more. Totally worth the five dollars for entry. I tried to seize every moment possible, no matter what trace of fear I had. Despite my self-hatred, I was unusually courageous during dances. I didn’t participate much in the lascivious and lusty activities of “grinding,” which was best described as rhythmic dry humping.

Eventually I was able to receive an opportunity to do something far more elegant, far more complete, when the slow song came on. The sweaty bodies all responded by breaking their lusty locks of their hips and started drifting. Since most everyone was comfortable with who they had near them, they didn’t have to drift far. It didn’t matter much to me. Anybody alone and drifting like me could be with me for the moment. I was moist from sweat, but it didn’t matter. The body heat and sweat poured off everybody that was present in the gym and there was no more than two feet of space in between everyone. There was something charming about such intimacy. Nobody could be judged for their smell or for the sound of their voice, with both of those senses being respectively drowned out by everyone’s sweat and the universal noise made by the giant loudspeakers, which were around ten feet tall.

When the song came on, there were a few seconds where I was drifting and drifting. There was some fear of still drifting while everyone else had each other for the moment. The fear was deep inside, where it was not obviously felt. You have to seize the moment, the fear said. Otherwise, you’ll drift forever. The few seconds that took place in reality were lengthened in the separate dimension of my mind.

Then I found her. I called her name. I was glad that she decided to take the moment with me. Chelsey: her kind smile was an element of her that earned her respect and characterized her warm individuality. We took the general slow dance form: boy puts hands on or near girl’s hips, girl puts arms on or around boy’s shoulders. We started with some distance between us and I looked into her eyes for a few seconds, taking in and appreciating the moment. We rocked side to side to the rhythms of the slow song. I didn’t know what was even playing. The song didn’t matter. Only this moment mattered and my focus wasn’t on anything else. Seeing other people with their partners didn’t matter either.

One moment, please.

Instinctively, we drew each other close. Her gentle arms were clasped behind my shoulders and neck, her head resting on my chest. My hands, awkwardly perceiving the sensation of the curves of a female’s body, were around her completely. We rocked, rocked side to side. The moment was ours, not anybody else’s. It seemed so natural, so real, to seize that moment. The warmth of the embrace stopped me from drifting, and brought me to that moment. After the song ended, everybody broke their bondages to each other. All of our separate moments ended simultaneously. We separated, and she gave me a smile. We drifted apart and I was left wondering about what I had felt. I felt a warmth in my heart, a feeling I’d be able to recognize better in the future.

I drifted again, seizing moments that, for the most part, paled in comparison after that moment. I drifted until we had to go home, when the dance ended. I had yet to fully realize the implications of that moment. All I knew at the time was the beauty of sharing a close moment with someone. I clung to the memory of Chelsey’s embrace, recreating the feeling. The recreations of my imagination were only mere echoes, though. I kept the memory locked up inside until I decided to talk to her three years later, the summer succeeding my sophomore year in high school. You could say I was searching for a validation of that moment, to see if it was something she felt too.

It may seem impersonal to talk on Facebook at first, but sometimes it’s easier to say things when you’re only looking at the relative simplicity of a computer screen, rather than the numerous complexities contained in a human face. Especially when I’m concerned with the pretty ones, which always seem to leave me flustered.

“Oh, so I actually wanted to talk to you for a while now because I wanted to thank you for something,” my message read. After I sent it and the words flashed back at me, a maelstrom of fear hit me hard, and I realized what I had done. When she asked me about what I wanted to say, the storm only intensified to a new category. The panic attack unglued me. I knew I had to center myself, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do that moment justice. I rushed quickly, my chest heaving in and out, my cheeks and ears warm with blood, as I moved in on the kitchen.

I quickly grabbed a drink of water and guzzled it down. With my minor retreat, my breath readjusted itself, but my condition still wasn’t right. I had to nail this. Moving quickly, I came back to the computer screen. Even with the brainstorm that was still ferociously tearing up my rational thoughts, I gained the resolve to finish what I had started. I opened up a new tab on the browser and put on a song.

   Carpe diem.

I constructed my thank you message to the tempo of the song I had on. It’s name was “Last Legs.” After I finished, I re-read it to be sure it was alright. Too much or too little expression wouldn’t be any good for that moment. I pressed the enter key and the message was sent across the world wide web at an unimaginable speed. Fear started leaking out of my body and relief took its place, flowing in with the pleasure of accomplishment. I knew that she wasn’t the kind of girl who would become upset from the level of emotion I tried to express. Yet the fear consumed me. To this day, I have never figured out why I felt so afraid. Maybe people don’t need a reason to be afraid.

   Her message came back. She was glad I told her, she said. Her words added another dimension to my sense of accomplishment. Relieved shoulders dropped down. The intensity of my previous fear made me feel alive at that moment. I was absolutely consumed, enveloped by the implications of the moment I decided on making. I learned, without realizing, how to seize any moment I wanted to, after having stepped, no, leaped out of my comfort zone. I learned this from Chelsey, who became the first of my four lights at that moment. After becoming truly alive at that moment and subjugating my fear, the lesson became clear to me and I was sure to apply it to my life in future situations.

Reflections Part 3: Self-Hatred Arc

It didn’t stop with my heart though. My self-hatred decided to manifest itself within everything I did. In the sixth grade, I started wrestling. This decision to join the team seemed like some kind of divine calling I had or something, when I thought about it; you get a kid who hardly knew that the sport existed and who didn’t even know what it was, and he wants to wrestle. Huh. The sport was good for me; it got me into shape and it was something new I was trying out. I really liked it. My self-hatred didn’t have much of a voice when I wrestled, either. Until high school came around that is, where my hatred then bled into what I loved to do. I ended up feeling worthless in one of the things I felt like I was best at. Horrible didn’t describe the feeling.

Sophomore year, my self-esteem was probably at one of its lowest points since the fifth grade. I was shamed by my defeats at the hands of teammates who took the varsity spot from me. The worst part was when people asked me how I did in league and in North Coast Section. “How come you’re not on the wall?” they would ask. The wall was the place for our league champs, where they’d have their picture join the legacy of the Albany High wrestling program. Every time the question was popped, my hatred thrived. The hatred was king, reigning over my mind and heart, where it gripped all of my ambitions with an iron fist. It loved to control me, placing doubts when it can so that I would never stage a coup. So how did I stage my coup, if this self-hatred was so strong? Why, I got some help. I only had to look.

Reflections Part 1: Self-Hatred Arc

They say that a piece of writing is never finished, only abandoned. Until then, a writer checks their prose repeatedly, making sure that everything is up to their standards, that everything is tweaked into the right rhythm and voice. As I wait now, waiting for the time to finally abandon one of my pieces, to deliver it to my audience, I think back to the process that I went through to give up my self-hatred. The healing began way back in the eighth grade and ended with four girls who became embodiments of my faith, in the here and now.

Before we begin that story though, we must first begin the story of when my self-hatred began. In elementary school, I’ve always been a well-liked kid. Everybody around me was fairly kind to me. If there were kids that hated me, (I’m sure there were because nobody can please everybody) then I didn’t notice. Except I did notice one kid who did hate me. Me. I don’t know where it began, to be honest, or even why it began. Self-hatred is such a magnificent torture, I bet nobody could say why we put ourselves there in the first place. It’s just a kind of poisonous belief that we take in from any kind of source, like society or family. For me, it began with a voice in my head. You’re not good enough.

When this crap started happening, it was only exacerbated by having teachers who I didn’t like. The student teacher was best described as an uptight despot and the teacher herself was a psycho with the pink streak in her hair. Good stuff for a disempowered fifth grader, right? My self-hatred meanwhile spread from my mind into the rest of my system, where it took root and started to hollow my heart. That’s really what it felt like, too; it’s heavy like lead and pushes upward and bloats you with darkness. You’re not good enough. Why are you here? You don’t belong here.