Today, I read an old NYTimes article about the Xianmen Square Massacre and felt — off. There I sat, reading, confused, with something bubbling up inside of me, something I really couldn’t recognize at the moment even as I contemplated it. I opened my mouth. And suddenly, there it was: with no control over myself, I began to weep; great, croaking heaves and downtown open mouth, wetness flowing out of closed eyes. So this is emotion, I thought to myself.
And upon reflection I see now that it goes back to that artist and meeting him (nay — more like seeing him, meeting being too far a stretch for the encounter) in person, as a real human being standing in the lobby of my building. It goes back to reading about Liu Xiaobo not one night ago for the first time and reading his poetry after having read American poetry and then waking up to a small, glowing notification on an iPhone: China’s most prominent political prisoner has died under guard at a state hospital. Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was 61. It goes back to talking to the international Chinese student co-worker of mine, watching her Chinese insecurities and Chinese envy fall out of her like stale water, and yet hearing her speak about censorship, and protest, and student voices in stifling dorms. It goes back to my own college, and our conversations, and our own protests; the things I am scared to say; the person I feel coerced to be. It feels so immediate. It feels so imminent. It feels so personal. It feels so real. It feels so real.