When I went back to China last summer, I felt a ghost. I didn’t see it, but the aura was overwhelming in my grandparents’ apartment where I stayed for two weeks. At the time my grandmother was going in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy and my aunt and uncle were hardly home, so the place felt more morose than ever. But I remember leaning against the countertop in the kitchen feeling like I was going to suffocate in the humid tumid Wuhan air, and when I stood outside one day drawing in chalk on the courtyard walls all of a sudden I had the overwhelming urge to burst into tears. I thought I was being paranoid. When we went back to the States in the fall, my mother told me that a few years before my grandparents moved in there had been a suicide–a woman had gotten into an argument with her mother in law, overdosed on pills, and died on the spot. Whether you believe in ghosts or not is irrelevant. I thought when I got to school it would be better, that the ghosts would go away, and that I could forget about everything in the past. Of course it never works out like that, does it?

I could strut into a stranger’s dorm room and say boldy “Hi, I’m Wendy!” and they wouldn’t know a damn thing about me, only this curious girl with her purple glasses hugging a sketchbook to her chest, through which said stranger would leaf, and proclaim me talented. Of course. I would smile. This is how I tried to redefine myself. I’m Wendy. I’m that confident girl trotting down the sidewalk in heels and a dress, in ladylike clothes that I would have never worn in high school–see how the city molds people? That’s a great thing about college. The flipside is that nobody is as naive as they were starting high school, when most people hadn’t even had their first kiss. All your kisses, your fucks, your loves (lives, passion) tucked away into a remote corner where you don’t tell, and people might not ask. They might not ask because they’re all too busy trying to find friends that fit and trying to hide their own ghosts in boxes.

A lot of people in college see the past as irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because you don’t need to know what broke this person’s heart because after you fuck them you’ll never see them again if you don’t want to. It doesn’t matter to you. It won’t matter to them, either.

My mother said that I’m too easily broken. That I should develop a hard shell. My response was that people in love are disgusting and disgraceful and I hated all of them and all their false happiness that would eventually turn to drama and argument and anger and breaking up. She said I had issues.

I lie awake at night and ask myself again and again what happened, why something didn’t work out (not just with love, with other things). I read my Tarot cards to reassure myself that my future is unbroken, that there’s still hope out there. It always comes down to change. Forever is five months at fifteen. When you’re ten, the summer lasts an eternity, and now the days slip by like sand and I’m desperately scrabbling to create something, to not waste my time or idle away my life. It scares me to think that someday I’m going to be calling college friends when I’m traveling cross country and we’ll meet for drinks in a bar and discuss the states of our children, politics nobody has any interest in, and tax deductions. I want much more than this provincial life. Gala writes, “Get off the Internet, go fall in love or something.” What about the girl who wants to, yet is so afraid? I don’t do casual fucks or friends with benefits. I’ve been called a tight-ass and old-fashioned and it’s-not-the-fifties-anymore blah blah blah, but whatever. it’s just who I am. I like to save the deepest parts of myself for someone special. Someone who will see the beauty and the ugliness and weigh them equally, then kiss me like he means it.

I’m not asking whether such a person exists, nor am I calling for him to find me now. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m a masochist. In January as soon as it started I knew how it would end. With me in tears. I went for it anyway, just to embrace all the drama. It was nice to be turned head-over-heels. I hadn’t had that feeling in a long time. Maybe if I’d given in and let him fuck me things would be different, but things are the way they are. If it’s fate, and blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah will happen. I know this time when I go to New York in a few weeks things will be different. I will not be ruminating anymore, or agonizing and analyzing. I’m going to laugh and strut and be fierce in heels and flats and all manner of shoes, and I’ll wear my red hairbow as the sun pours on my umbrella. I won’t forget. I’ll carry all the ghosts, feel them swim through my veins, but they’ll be encouraging my laughter and spinning me in circles.

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