The Fall

I could never talk about how much I truly loved my mom when I lived in California without crying. It wasn’t because I loved her so much, but because I was faced with all the wounds that made it impossible to really love her while feeling bitterness. I was bitter at the mistakes that she made, I was bitter about the fights, and most of all, I was bitter because I knew that the flaws that both she and I had prevented us from having a perfect love. The kind of love that we both deserved, but even more, the love that she deserved as my mother; as my parent.

I believe that is why God separated Adam and Eve–man–from Himself. Why didn’t he just ground them or discipline them in the Garden of Eden? Because he knew their hearts, and he knew that we all, as fallen humans, could not truly love him without the distance and absence of Him being fully present and TANGIBLE in our lives.

My relationship with my mom has grown infinitely since I moved to New York. I can sit, think, and talk about how much I love her without crying. Because the distance has slowly healed us, both her and I. And although our love and relationship has healed so much, I know in my heart that for us to truly be able to perfectly love each other, we must be together loving each other.

And that is God’s plan. The separation from Him has taught us how much we need Him, how much He has done for us, how the people that we are today is through his undying, giving, merciful, parental love for us. But that is not all! He does not simply benefit our relationship and two-way love for each other in the distance, but He promises that we will be together again, in which our love will be perfect.

I believe that is why he has given us Earthly parents when He is the truly Father. To use each other biblically and faithfully in order to learn what true love us, and to learn how imperfect and not entirely true our present love is.

When I talk to my mom on the phone, even though our phone calls never exceed five minutes, I know how much I truly love, appreciate, and miss her by recognizing all she has done for me, all the plans and hopes she has had for me to not harm me, but to grow me into a good human being.

When I know God better, when I pray to Him through this Heaven-and-Earth separation, I realize so much more that He makes more sense than anyone, anything else in the world. Although He does surpass all of our capacities to understand His philosophy, His logic, and His genius, I understand that He makes sense even in my own limited mind. He is perfect, He is love, and He is God.

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Verisimilitude

I dreamed that during my visit home, Mama giddily stepped toward me with light feet and a hunched back. Her eyes were wide and twinkling, and her voice was hushed, as if she didn’t want my brother Ron, who was currently in the shower, to hear.

“Don’t get mad, but… Ron showed me every single entry you wrote in your blog. I read everything you’ve written about me.”

Suddenly, even when I believed that I was still in reality, everything turned into a nightmare. For some reason, I knew she was talking about my old blogspot as well as this one. I knew that she was bursting with happiness because she could read beneath all of the convoluted words and emotions the love I have for her that I’ve never been able to tell her beyond, “Love you, Mama.”

But I was so angry. That was my privacy that was obstructed. I trusted Ron to never, ever show her those entries. My writings are my property, my rights, my separation from home, Mama. I blew up. I yelled at her. I cussed out Ron in front of her, even though he wasn’t even in the room. I told her that it was her fault for coercing Ron to reveal my private, separate life to her. I couldn’t control my rage. I kept yelling at her. I finally stormed upstairs to my room and slammed the door shut.

I waited for around an hour. Finally, I heard Ron coming upstairs (even in my dream, I can hear the deeper, louder, slower two-step-skipping pounds of my brother and the lighter but only slightly quicker one-step treads of Mama), and I walked out with the venom stored and prepared to release onto him.

From the upstairs banister where Ron and I stood, I could see Mama standing downstairs looking at the front door. I paid no attention to her, I was still angry at her. I was still humiliated and robbed of my words, my writings. I was about to tell Ron about the misery he had caused me, about how I have to go through all the trouble of privatizing everything online now, about how he had betrayed my trust, when through my peripheral vision I noticed Mama was now walking toward the front door. I didn’t care much for her action because I assumed she was going to get the mail or check the plants. But it was Ron who said, “Wait, Ma! Ma, what are you doing?” as she opened the door.

So I finally looked at her. She stood at the exit. And in my dream, I finally saw past the mask of anger and pride she usually wears, and I saw her sadness. Her face was not furrowed in rage. Her face was slackened, old, sagging. It was her eyes. I drowned in their darkness, waves of suffering and abuse engulfed me. I also saw in her hands a small pile of cloths and books. She was running away, and without words, I knew: she was leaving because my actions showed that I did not love her.

As she turned to leave, I knew that I would never see her again if I didn’t catch her. I sprinted down the stairs. I ran toward the front door. Everything was in slow motion. In that panic and urgency to catch her, a part of me knew that this was the typical scene of a dream: the more you want something to happen, the harder you try to move your limbs rapidly, the less likely your dream will permit you to run faster, to keep from losing your goal, to escape that permanent doom and regret. I didn’t think I could get to her in time. I thought that I had finally lost her forever.

But I caught her. I held her. And she collapsed into me, the sunken weight of a deflated balloon blanketing me. I cried and sobbed and said I was sorry over and over again. I was trying to say anything I could to make her stay. At first I blurted out that I was so angry because I had wanted to read those entries together with her. As I said that out loud, I knew deep down inside that that was a lie, because I never wanted her to read those thoughts. But as the words and pleas for her to stay frothed forth, the truth came tumbling out: “Mama, I didn’t want you to read them because I was too scared to tell you how much I really love you.” We stood weeping and embracing at the door.

Finally, Mama straightened up from my arms. She looked at me and gave me a tear-stained smile, the same smile that everyone says I got mine from. I was free, I was forgiven. Ron came down to both of us and said, “Why don’t we watch your blog entries all together?” Now, this is where my dream becomes more dreamlike. Ron held in his hands a DVD, and for some reason I knew that it was a film that embodied the spirit and essence of all of my written compilations. I said yes, and we all sat together on the couch in the living room, me in the middle. Ron put in the DVD, and rather than watching on a TV screen, we watched the images come alive above us, as if it were one of those futuristic holograms.

It was a long, red dragon and a young girl in traditional Chinese clothing, also in red, with a Chinese sword. It looked as if they were battling, as if they were both trying to defeat one another.

Suddenly, I felt another bit of anger in me that I needed to settle with Ron. I turned to him and said, “Ron, what if Mama got really mad and hurt by me when she read some of the entries I wrote in anger about her?” He seemed to not really know what to say, and then looked back up at the event above us.

It seemed as if the girl and the dragon had overheard the question I posed to Ron, and they had stopped fighting. They looked at each other with a confused expression on their faces, as if to say, “Did those entries (the very ones they are embodying and portraying) really contain hatred and possibly evoke anger?” Their silent gazes were suddenly broken by both of their laughter. The girl giggled behind her hands while the red dragon laughed with its jaws wide open. It was settled: how could they possibly be actually fighting? It was all for play! Underneath all of the apparent violence and suspense was the innocence and love they have for one another. They returned to their “fight,” but it was so apparent now that it truly was like the traditional Chinese practice: it was all for play and for show; not enemies but comrades.

The three of us watched together as the crimson scales of the dragon would rapidly spiral and flow through the air as the young girl in red tumbled acrobatically with her mate. The bright sparks from the girl’s sword reflected on Mama’s joyful and captivated visage. You’d think the dream would end there.

Ron got up and told Mama that he needed something, I can’t quite remember what. Mama, as usual, quickly stood up without another thought in order to fulfill her duty as Mama. As she began walking away with Ron, I had a slight panic in me: what if Mama is still sad and hurt by what I did, what if she leaves and never comes back again? As soon as those thoughts appeared, Mama turned around as if she had heard them. She put her hand on my arm, gave it a tight squeeze, and gave me a smile that let me know that she forgave me, and that she was never going to leave me.

They walked away from the living room into the kitchen, leaving me alone on the couch. I sat on my own, watching my writing come alive. My writing, despite its surface of shame and fear, radiantly boasting in its Chinese heritage. My writing, despite its surface of turmoil and confusion of how to love my mother, revealing that a mother and a daughter cannot claim anything else except the love they have for one another. My writing, in the end, to be recognized, viewed, and enjoyed by the writer.

Far

Mama, like practically all Chinese adults I know, never, ever walked barefoot on uncarpeted floor. Our hardwood floors were too cold for her, “Jiao bingliang!” Without fail, every single day, Mama would say, “Aiyo, chuan shuang tuoxie!” imploring Ron and me to wear the plethora of indoor slippers (tuoxie) lying around the house. We all know what those slippers look like: the black pair of XXXL Reebok sandals, the plastic it’s-bumpy-so-it-massages-your-soles’-pressure-points-when-you-walk flip-flops, the bright red (good luck color!) bathroom slippers, basically any pair of sandals below $5 found at Ross.

The crescendoing schlack-schlack-schlack of Mama’s tuoxie coming toward my closed bedroom door was always anxiety-inducing. If I heard it, it usually meant that 1.) I’d be asleep and was being awakened more and more with each schlack until she would violently burst into the room to wake me up for work, 2.) I’d be asleep and was being awakened more and more with each schlack until she would violently burst into the room just to talk for no reason, or 3.) I’d be asleep and was being awakened more and more with each schlack until she would violently burst into the room to yell at me for not spending time with her.

My entire apartment is uncarpeted. Considering how old this building is as well as the fact that New York City isn’t exactly known for its “cleanliness,” my roommate and I never walk around without wearing a pair of our indoor-slippers.

Every once in a while, usually on a lazy weekend morning, the blissful darkness of my sleep would be slowly but surely disturbed with the crescendoing sound of schlack-schlack-schlack coming toward my room. With my eyes still closed, I’d undergo a Pavlovian response: my body would tense up, thoughts of, “Don’t come in, Mama! I’m sleeping! Why is she waking me up? What did I do now? Please just leave me alone!” would swarm my head, and I’d squeeze my eyes tightly shut, willing myself to fall back into deep sleep. I’d hear the loudest schlack right outside of my door–I’m practically holding my breath at this point, bracing myself for the door to be burst open, to hear Mama’s loud voice–but the schlack would continue past my door, decrescendo down the hall, and disappear into my roommate’s room.

I’d open my eyes, and I’m in my apartment in New York. Mama didn’t burst into my room to rudely wake me up, to force me to converse with her, to yell at me because I had upset her.

And in those moments, those few seconds, I always wish she did.

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Far by Doris Su is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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