Sacrifice

Writing is so difficult for me. I find myself in so many moments throughout the day when my pulse is beating straight into my fingers to write. But those moments usually occur during the actual occurrence of inspiration, such as a class, a conversation, or a beautiful solitary walk. In order to transform all of the feelings, beliefs, and meanings into words, I must stop–pause–and write in that very moment. But is that the same as the criticism toward today’s obsession with photographs, in which we, as a society, are becoming less fully present because we are too busy worrying about capturing the moment on our digital cameras/smartphones in order to post on Facebook? By the time I get home and sit in front of my laptop or sit with a pen and journal, the majority of my inspirations and energy are depleted.

Being a writer is such a paradox. Admitting that I am biased, I do believe that writing is a way to truly understand the nuances of being a human being more than non-writers. That is why writing falls into the category of Arts & Humanities. And at the same time, writing requires so much sacrifice of one’s life and the possibility of experiencing so many other possible moments.

Bird

A little defeated, a little relieved, she shuffled toward her light switch. She glanced at her fingers as they momentarily rested on the flip, expensive nail polish chipped and peeled. She heaved a sigh and turned off the main light, leaving her room almost unnoticeably less-bright. She loved the light because it gave her a false sense of hope that it was still daytime, and she was willing to sacrifice as much electricity as it took to keep her in her happy delusion. It’s okay, utilities are included in her dorm payments. Along with her soul.

She shuffled over to her next lamp, mindlessly wiped off any residual moisture on her thumb and the side of her index finger, and twisted the somewhat broken light switch four times until it finally turned off. This time, her action had created a greater reaction than the first time, but it was still light enough in her room to read, write, even cut your toenails safely. The Christmas lights strung around the room were on, and they were never, ever off.

She turned to face her bed. Time to crawl in and think about everything else that she might–no, will, she must think will–conquer tomorrow. Perhaps it was better that she put off coding those notes for the next day. Perhaps it was meant to be done on January 18th instead of January 17th, because everyone knows that January 18’s are much more fertile with epiphanies and other good stuff.

She looked back at her laptop. Just a few hours ago she had read in a book the words, “word processor,” and didn’t understand for a few seconds. That is how little she has used her laptop for words, writing. “Gossip processor,” “photos processor,” even “cat processor” would have rung a louder bell. She walked to it and placed her hand, this one with less chipped nail polish, on top of the open Macbook, ready to close it and end the night.

A twinge of guilt poked her, just bit more annoyingly than her unfinished coding, about her possibly ruining her resolution of writing everyday. But what was she to even write about? Her day was an overflow of lethargy. She had no encounters with the Lord that day, no anecdote that she found hilarious and hoped to God that others would also find hilarious, no life lesson to be shared. The only thoughts fresh on her mind were when she had shuffled toward her light switch, a little defeated, a little relieved.

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.