On Monday, a friend from high school called me up to ask if I was still alive after the bomb threat, to which I replied, I was. Then she said the world was going to shit, and I agreed. Anything else, even a good-bye, after that statement would have felt disrespectful, so we stayed silent for a minute and hung up.
The day before Thanksgiving break, Wilson was not going to be indicted, and Michael Brown was dead. Brendan Tevlin was dead, and some crazy brown man was on the loose. I was falling in love with Toni Morrison, and a teacher I had asked if language was always and completely incapable. We said yes, and she stopped class fifteen minutes early. She asked about the jury decision, and we mumbled responses. “I don’t,” she said, “see race. I don’t think Wilson is a racist. I don’t see people saying what happened to Brendan Tevlin is racism. I don’t understand how you can hold a gun up to someone and just see a color.”
In middle school, more than anything else, I wanted to associate myself with something—even if that something was a gimmick, and even if I had to make that thing up myself. I wanted it to be extraordinary and grandiose, as perfect as power. I thought, and still think, we were at the head of a movement that dissipated because our models were teenagers not adults, our roots were in comedy not in history, and our aims were personal not collective. It dissipated like many other attempts at Asian Pride—the cultish “Got Rice?” song of the 1990s, the young business professionals with import model pasts, and all the other suburbs in or around or away from New Jersey with yellow middle-school kids drawing mochis on their English notebooks.
You don’t have to write to know obsession like I know obsession. You don’t have to create to know what little reward feelings provide, how your personal tragedies sound out loud, how little is left after a relationship’s dissolved like sugar in some wet and blistering heat. You don’t need a broken heart to know that there is nothing as undefined as dissatisfaction. The things that drive you to do what you do are right on the underside of your gut.
That paragraph was blunt. I wrote it with abnormal, un-conversational conviction. I wrote it to both glorify and qualify, to make death as close as breath. I wrote it in a world where the dead do not die but pass away, kick the bucket, depart this life, meet their maker. Where death is often viewed as dark. Where death in the media takes form in ghosts, zombies, and other members of the supernatural more often than not. Where death seems unnatural and deviant, something too far to touch.