April: Treasure Hunt

You take after me. Head of dark, coarse hair, a little uneven and frayed at the edges. No matter how I try to smooth it out, a few untamed strands stick up stubbornly from its sides.

Those tall, slender figures on TV—we don’t look like them, but that’s okay. We’ve learned to love being pocket-sized, venturing into spaces they can only dream of going. Who wants to be lanky and stick-like, anyway? Our Chineseness is tattooed on our bodies for everyone to see. On you: 小床刷—little bed brush. On me: slanted eyes like two lines of ink. Behind these artful strokes lies five thousand years of history.

Here is where our similarities end. Your back is sturdy and straight, unlike mine which lies limp until my mother reprimands it. You’re reliable and I rely on you like an extension of my body. We make great partners, you and I. Your head is full of qualities I wish to possess, qualities I get to have for a moment when I hold you in my hands. We chase dust bunnies, but only you don’t recoil at their touch. I scrunch my nose while picking out the gray strands that stick to your hair, and chuckle at this revamped joke: What gets dirtier as it cleans? Answer: You do.

Dear partner, dear friend—I think I can call you “friend.” After all, we’ve spent countless afternoons these past few months together, me squatting and you kissing the floor, as the country wails and breaks, again and again. Dear friend, we’ve been in each other’s presence since as long as I can remember, yet only recently have we been present to each other’s fortitudes and faults. The hair I’ve shed from stress, the crumbles of my clumsiness, the bits and pieces of me that weren’t strong enough to stay—you know it all. And without complaint, you erase the evidence of my weakness from the world.

Dear friend, thank you. This year’s pressure is a mountain that juts through my shoulder blades, pushing me under crashing torrents. But together, brushing soot particle after soot particle, this mountain will become a hill. Soon, with you in my hand, I will rise to the surface and my lungs will fill with sweet air.

Dear friend, I am sorry. I tucked you away in darkness for so long. It must have been uncomfortable lying in that drawer, each year stretching into the next. The isolation must have been worse; from these past months, I know how it feels: a profound hollowness that swallows you whole, bamboo and horsehair and all. Because of me, you suffocated in darkness, craving dust bunnies and someone to comb your bristles.

You were not alone; I was there, trapped along with you. Behind narrow, secure walls, we were shielded from all the precipices and landslides of the outside world.

But we were also guarded from its valleys and waterfalls, its sunsets and flower fields. You in your drawer, me in the confines of childhood. Your sturdy back yearning to stretch, my slouch becoming permanent from too much comfort.

Now that we’ve been thrown out into the open, three thousand miles from that dark safety, convenience slipping past our fingertips, we can find these treasures together. Between nooks and crannies, in pocket-sized spaces, you as an extension of my body. Let us chase dust bunnies in fields of dirt cakes. Maybe they’ll lead us to the breathtaking edge of the world. Dear friend, let us hunt for treasure.

“Treasure Hunt” is an essay for my Experimental Essays course this Spring 2021 semester that answers the prompt: Choose a thing—a material object—that carries, or holds, or withholds some particular meaning for you. Take a hard look at it. Interact with it. “Say it,” or explore it, in an essay of 1 to 4 pages.

Monthly Favorites
  • Book: If It Bleeds by Stephen King
  • Show: Penthouse – the most dramatic, plot-twist-laden Korean drama I’ve ever watched about several ultra-wealthy families whose children attend a prestigious music academy.
  • Short story: “New Fruit” by Te-Ping Chen – “New Fruit,” has a surreal aspect, with the “peculiar” qiguo fruit with “a taste marvelous and rare,” creating strong moods in those who eat it–elation the first season it is introduced (the state media call it “a new fruit that is a symbol of our new nation”), but a powerful regret the following year. (Summary from Lit Hub.)
  • Article series: Hyphenated by CNN – cultural stories exploring the complex issue of identity among minorities in the United States, beginning with a focus on Asian Americans.
Recent Life Updates
  • Sunday mornings are my favorite for a few reasons: (1) no construction (2) I get to buy the most delicious, locally grown Honeycrisp apples from the farmer’s market! The seller always gives me a free cucumber too. I’ve also gotten a scrumptious Apple Bear Claw from Seylou, a wholegrain bakery.
  • My laundry room has a surprising number of books and textbooks. A few I’ve read are: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly, Endangered Economies by Geoffrey Heal, and Understanding North Korea through its Cities by Jun Sang-in.
  • Check out two of my recommendations of books by Asian women in my school’s Dear Asian Youth 🙂
  • Spring break was very much needed. I flew back home, met up with friends, took some really nice walks, and ate an ocean of seafood.
  • If you have trouble sleeping or you get anxious, try the 4-7-8 approach to deep breathing. I often wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and it helps me fall back asleep.

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