Saturday, January 04, 2020

PANIC! AT THE
STATE OF THE WORLD

I am reading 1984 in the plane back from Hanoi to Singapore. It is my first flight in 2020, and I am seated in 28A. This is a fact that anyone who watches my Instagram stories would know, because 28 is my favorite number and I felt lucky to have been assigned the seat. Hanoi was a strange and curious destination, we ended the last decade and began the current one there. We stayed in our hotel room while the decade turned, watching people across the world celebrate it on Instagram and hearing the Vietnamese people honk in traffic in acknowledgement, hearing fireworks but not seeing it from where we were. We went to Ha Long Bay, where we kayaked and I swam, in cold waters which reminded me of when I was alone at Manhattan Beach, swimming by myself in an ocean made cold by the Pacific currents. Are they actually the Pacific currents, I don't know, I don't have Internet on this flight to help me check facts. Lucas asked whether reading would help one write better, and I said yes. I don't know why he asked this, but I also told him writing helps one to write better. This I know, because I have been writing for twenty years, and as Winston Smith discovers in 1984, the more you write, the more you will discover and hone your ability to write. This holds true for most activities, of course, as universally known. I know how to weave together words in a pleasant or even unpleasant manner, to evoke some sort of emotion in some sort of person or another. Sometimes I see my family members or even my friends, and I know the people who have lost their loved ones (in death) are the ones who most hold on to the idea that there is a life, or at least a something that happens, after death. It helps them to make sense of life and the world. It helps them soften the blow of the loss, so that the loss is not permanent, and that indeed they will one day be rejoined by the person whose presence they have greatly missed. I understand this raw and desperate need, I once felt it when I went through my miscarriage. I also understand the need for things to make sense, just for me to craft a narrative. God took my loved one away because He loved them more. It is a human need, that perhaps connects us all, to have things make sense. In this flight, for any number of reasons, I am thinking of all the persons and things I have loved and all the stories I have crafted about them. There is Joey, whom I believed and still believe would be a good feminist, because once when I said I wanted to be a designer, replied that I could do anything I wanted, which at once lent itself to the fact that I had the agency even as a woman to have desire and to act upon it, while also betraying his great Americanism in believing that you could in fact do anything you wanted, regardless your person or status. It is in stark contrast to what my family believes. My extended family members and I, with the exception of a very few, have a push-pull, love-hate relationship with each other. The more often I use my voice, whether online or in person, to elucidate that I have a mind of my own, that I own my body, that I am in very palpable undeniable fact living with a person I am not married to, the less they communicate with me. It is not so that they dislike me, we have mostly gotten along since I was young, my cousins and aunts and uncles are very funny people and I love joking with them, but they do not so much approve of nor agree with my lofty ideals. A woman is to know her place, and her place is in getting married, not in educating herself and questioning God or religion or in knowing that it is in fact more accurate to measure distance in terms of time, given that space and time are irrevocably linked. There was Ben, who was soft and tender in the most admirable of ways. He saw me at one of my many broken periods and tried to put me back together, in the tangible way of actually paying for therapy for me. There are losses he had suffered, that eventually turned into his appreciation for Hamilton the way I had so wanted someone else to, when we watched the bootleg recording together. When I listen to Sincerity Is Scary by The 1975, it brings me back to when it was played as the theme on Terrace House, which of course takes me to the first time I laid eyes on Adam in person. I was so tired from my flight to New York via London, and I was ready to collapse. I hadn't seen him in the crowd at first, but when I did, he had spotted me first and he was getting ready to envelope me in a great big hug to welcome me into the bitter winter cold of New York. There is of course Bennett, who set the standard so high for a first date I doubt it will ever be broken. If you could outdo bringing someone to Central Park for their first time there and asking them if you could kiss them, please tell me how 'cos I want to know! All these men, they are quite possibly, very probably, regular men with ordinary lives, but as is my inclination, I weave them into narratives that make them sound like great characters. Not that it takes away from the people they are, I would not replace any of them with any other person in the world. While in Hanoi, Lucas and I had egg coffee, which is now one of my favorite drinks, along with horchata. I finished my egg with chocolate so fast, I ordered an egg with cinnamon, and I also really liked that one. If you have the chance, please go to the original Café Giang, the creator of the first egg coffee, because I also tried a competitor's version, and only the original was amazing. Lucas knew I liked the drink so much, we went to the same café again yesterday, before we left Vietnam, and I had an egg matcha, which I also greatly enjoyed! If you'd like food and activity recommendations for Hanoi, feel free to let me know. Lucas and I were also shown around by his Vietnamese colleague who also happened to be back in Vietnam, and we ate at some delicious back-alley stalls that we'd never have found without a local's know-how. In my previous post, I said Lucas feels like my comfort zone, and Tina told me it's amazing that I have a comfort zone, because when you have mental health issues and you don't quite feel like you belong, sometimes there are parts of you that may only feel safe enough to show up around a select few people and I realized she was right. Through the past eight months of unearthed, recurring, repetitive trauma that I faced with my religious family, or with capitalism, Lucas saw me when I was at my lowest, when I was (and still am) taking the birth control pill to manage my period pains, when I struggled with money and when I raged, when I went to therapy to figure out my sexuality, when I was being irreverent, when I was completely bitchy, when I was politically engaged, when I was basic and boring. I was and am all versions of myself with him, and that's not a thing that happens very often. 

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