05/30/17, 10:37am, sitting on my bed in Beijing, in the middle of reading Calvino’s Invisible Cities

It has come to my attention that I have in the past devoted significant amounts of time towards gaining a single adjective attached to my being, like being well-read, or being carefree, or being obliviously attractive. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not yet sure whether I should be ashamed of it.

05/29/17 at 3:44am

I need to remember who I am without my grandma, my mother, in order to progress and not regress when I return home. I need to be conscious of the ways in which I’ve improved, and in that security of who I am and who I want to be, keep a strong eye on what it is in my grandma and my mother that I do not wish to take, and prevent these things from seeping into my still impressionable mind.

Some things:

  • I should not push onto others what I think is good. I should not push onto others anything. I will keep myself to myself unless asked.
  • I should not comment whatsoever on anything about others. Compliments should be reserved for that which they deliberately chose, which means I can compliment an outfit, but not a character trait, and not one’s bodily appearance. I especially should not comment on anyone’s eating habits. Because any sort of influence on a person is negative: I don’t want to push anyone in any direction; a person should float free and choose in which direction they should go.

05/29/17 3:32pm, sitting at the supper table with LaoLao reading Einstein’s Dreams

Reading novels like Einstein’s Dreams, texts that survey human life and distill it to simple actions of arbitrary and interchangable men and women — always put me in an odd state of mind. The Bible. One Hundred Years of Solitude. I can’t quite describe it. It takes me out of the present, takes me out of engaging truly in interactions: persons are people, and everything is somehow mechanical, a board game.

05/21/17 8:51am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

It’s the end of a semester and I’m sitting on a thirteen hour flight listening to nostalgia-inducing but not necessarily inherent nostalgic music; rather, it’s music that I listened to while high just about a year ago from now — the end of freshman year, last year — and listening to it now makes me think of all the very many things that are different in my life. it’s quite appalling to think about: how very many things change over a year and how although I now know that, did know that a year ago, how I can still think through my year and how I got to the state of being in which I am right now and still somehow be appalled at everything that has changed in all the ways I could never have predicted: people in my life that I had never even imagined I would even meet, people who were so very different in a good way that they had effects on me that I could not have predicted, such that I am now not only a person that I did not think I would be a year ago, but I am also a person that I did not even fathom could exist a year ago, let alone in myself, with life philosophies and paths and hopes and dreams and pride and humility and interests and sadnesses and reasons to live that I wouldn’t have even started to understand a year ago.

I guess I should get used to this, but of course, I am sure, I will again be appalled come this time next year.

05/21/17 9:42am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

And so, I am sitting on a thirteen hour flight and I am thinking about people, and sex, and the person I have sex with, but also people, and also sex. Junot Díaz is not helping me not think about sex. I think about sex, and I think about all the sex I will not be having in the next three months, and I am a little sad, and I think about HJ, and I am even more sad and while the whole thing is a bit sad I’m happy that I’m sad in the first place. Having people to feel sad about is kind of one of the reasons to live, I decide. Not that it’s completely necessary, but it does add a wonderful glow to living, if you’ve got food and water and shelter and all already.

And I’m still thinking about sex, and I really can’t stop, and I miss HJ so much that I take out my phone and try to look at photos of him. I have only four stored on my phone, because my phone broke. Not that I have that many photos of him or us anyway: we’re both not photo people. And because I have no internet, I can’t look at the fuzzy five-second video of him saying hi in a red shirt that I like, or the photo of us together with the good camera where my face looks a little bigger than I want it to and his eyes are in the middle of closing, like always. But I do have the four photos that I took of him two days ago in the morning on the bare bed in his boxers looking out the window at the blue, blue sky. Here they are:

In the first photo, the exposure is great for looking out the window and not so great for looking at HJ: he is nothing but a slight sheen of skin on bare back and a silhouette of a cowlick. Immediately before the first photo, you and him opened the window shade on the day and let the blue, blue sky filter into the empty room. You lay more or less side by side on your stomachs and looked at the view and the buildings outside but mostly the sky. You kissed his back and jumped up to take a photo because You Wanted To Get The Blue, Blue Sky And You All In One Photo, because Wouldn’t That Be Great? so you hopped off the bed and stood naked behind the bed and aimed the camera at the window and him before the open window and took the the first photo.

In the second photo, the exposure is not so great for looking out the window and somewhat better for looking at HJ: the blue, blue sky is blown out to white and the only vaguely accurate color of outside is are the trees, which are magnificently, stubbornly, lusciously green. HJ and the room are sort of colorless, but you notice that there’s a square fan in the window on the left. It looks like it’s almost the same moment, except you can kind of tell that it’s not because the shade in the window on the left, which is the only one that’s down, is a little concave because the wind is blowing lightly (not violently, which it often does: the window and the wind suck and blow those shades so much that it rattles and flies out with a ghoulish flapping, and suctions the door shut with a bam that is extra-loud because the door doesn’t quite fit the frame and is just big enough that it can only close with a yank, which the wind provides sufficiently). In the second photo, you can see his shoulder blades jutting from his back, and if you zoom in really close you can see one of his eyes, the other one hidden by the blanket, and it’s looking back at the camera with a smirk. You just know it’s a smirk, even though his mouth is hidden behind the blanket, too. You know that look.

Right before the third photo, you decided you Kinda Want A Photo Of Your Entire Face! so you hopped up on the bed and got back next to him and aimed the camera at his face, letting the outside exposure blow out to white because Oh Well That Probably Wasn’t Going To Work Anyway. You take this photo really fast. In the third photo, you can see most of his face. He’s smiling slightly in that perpetually good-natured way of his, but only half his mouth makes it to the picture so you can’t see the entirety of the lopsidedness of it, but still  now that you look closer you’re thinking about how He Really Does Kind Of Glow Like Your Friend Said That One Time. His elbow is huge because it’s close to the camera. He’s kind of not looking at the camera and you think maybe he was looking at you with that soft look and it’s both good and bad because Well He’s Not Looking At The Camera Again So When Will I Get An Actual Good Photo Of Him but also He Was Looking At You With That Soft Look and that feels pretty nice, you guess, and Oh Fine It’s Really Nice That You Have This To Look At. His cowlick is sort of blurry. The hairs on his arms are in sharp focus, though.

In the fourth photo, you don’t exactly remember but it kind of looks like you took two photos really fast to get two copies to double the chance of success with the third photo and this was the photo that you would have deleted if you were into deleting imperfect photos, but since you both think things that are slightly awkwardly imperfect are hilarious, you smile a warm smile at this photo. In the fourth photo, his eyes are in the middle of closing. You think this photo is hilarious. You think how this photo is so quintessentially HJ. You feel an outpouring of affection for HJ in this photo. You miss HJ a little bit more. You kind of wish you were more used to outpourings of verbal affection with each other before the summer started.

05/21/17 9:53am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

You keep flipping through photos because What The Heck You’re Kind Of Enjoying This. Here is another photo: it is you and MH on the grass outside your dorm. You think about the half-conversation you had the other day: you asked, Did Your View Of Me Change This Year? and she said, I Suppose It Developed and you said Yeah Me Too. You think about all the late night conversations you had in the fall. You think about all the late night conversations that you didn’t have in the spring. You wonder what happened. You sort of know what happened, but you don’t really know why. You think, It’s Not Really Completely Your Fault. You think about how distant MH was, how odd you thought it was, how confused you felt. You think about how slowly, you branched out, and then stopped bothering to invite MH to things, or ask to eat together. You remember how she would do small nice things, but nothing else. You remember wondering whether she was mad at you. You remember wondering if she was going through hard things. You remember wondering why she always said things were fine when you asked How Are You Doing, Really? when you kind of knew they weren’t because you could hear her late night conversations that she now had with JV instead of you when she thought you were sleeping (which you usually were indeed doing before they would begin talking). You remember talking to her when you both talked to each other about how different your style of friendships were: how you handpicked friends and stuck to them like hell and she loosely spent time with whoever and that it was hard for her to keep friends without constant exposure. You wonder if you will be friends next year. You think it’s kind of a waste. You think, that was awful to say. You think, I’m actually going to miss her. You feel sad because you will probably not be friends next year not for lack of trying on your part but on hers, and it will break your heart.

05/21/17 9:59am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

You’ve somehow made it to the last song of Blonde and this is your Breakup with JKm album and you’re thinking a little about that, but you realize it was kind of good because you realized that right before you put it on you hadn’t thought about him at all for a long time. He unfriended you on Facebook so you never really knew how he was doing but you really hoped he was doing well, and then you saw a video made for the band that he was in (not really by accident, but whatever) and there was a segment just of him telling some random story about a small quirky observation he made about the months of the year and he’s laughing and he sounds so happy and you realize you hadn’t seen him like that in so very long and you feel both sad that he couldn’t be like that for you, that he would never be like that with you ever again and happy that he is doing that, that he is doing well, that even though he never wants to speak to you again you Did Not Ruin His Life and maybe even eventually he’ll look back and be Truly Happy About That Year, even the not so great parts.