Endpaper


Mornings at Murphy's

Jen took her coffee with milk and one Sweet’N Low, iced in the summer. I handed her the pink packet, grabbing two Equals for Bruce before rushing to the donut rack for his glazed jelly stick and ice water with a plastic straw. Will took his coffee black with two Splenda and George usually asked for a milkshake, but only if Suzy was working (which she usually was). If not, he’d have a coffee and a bagel with extra cream cheese or a hot dog with raw onions, not grilled. I’d hand Lucy, a nurse practitioner, her cinnamon twist and cup of tea just in time to hear her chide George for his order — after all, he recently suffered a stroke. I identified my regulars by their orders long before I learned their names. They called me “Red” before they learned mine.


You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here

The parties that happened in those last five days were like corrupted versions of normal college parties. They were necessarily more debaucherous than usual, but more than that, the regular components of a party now felt discordant. The people, locations, and drinks were all the same. But as partying mutated into a four-day-long hangover, there was no distinction between a party and daily life. People spoke bluntly in a mimicry of normal, tipsy party behavior, but now they did so because nothing seemed to matter. If a conversation turned awkward or if flirtation was poorly received, there was no need to blame it on the alcohol or the atmosphere — no one would see each other for months, or maybe ever again.


To Choose a Side or Check a Box

I assure you, I do not consider myself a “tragic mulatto,” or feel like every day of life is a punishment for my parents’ sins. The irony is that I would be perfectly unperplexed by my racial identity if it weren’t for the perceptions of others.


Where's Home?

I was running along the Charles when I first wrote the essay you are reading in my head. At first, I thought I’d touch on how having grown up as a military child influences the way I perceive the world. I imagined sharing anecdotes of driving away from a city I loved and watching it disappear in the rearview mirror, or how I learned to use the cardboard boxes as sleds in a neighborhood-wide game. But that piece was written before COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across the globe. It was the piece I had in mind before we were notified of the University’s decision to send us home, for our safety and the safety of others.


(Insert Name Here)

I hear hastily stifled giggles and feel my cheeks flush with shame as the class turns towards me. I am suddenly aware that I have labeled myself as different from the Sarahs and the Charlottes and the Emilys — that I have labeled myself wrongly.


Full of Empty Words

Each cut of the scissors through the noodles effectively severed any connections I had hoped to make with the old lady through our shared cuisine, language, and culture.


Bulletproof

My hometown is ranked 54 out of 100 on the FBI’s Most Dangerous Cities list in 2019, and — based on violent crime statistics — is the most dangerous city in Texas. It is a well-known fact among our population of approximately 65,000.


Every Friday Night

Sometimes, I pretend I’m in one of those getting-ready-montage movie scenes, like the songs from Spotify’s latest pop playlist are actually my life’s perfectly-synced backup track.


To Make a Dumpling

It’s the summer before my freshman year of college, and my mom is trying to teach me as many recipes as she can before I leave for school. One day, she approaches me — she wants me to make dumplings from scratch, all on my own. While I’m usually enthusiastic about cooking together, that day I balk.


Landscape

Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where more than 10,000 Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II, including FM writer Andrew W.D. Aoyama's grandmother.


When Will He Learn Chinese?

I had imagined my first conversation with Nai Nai and Gong Gong dozens of times: Greetings, ask how they’re doing, say that I’m happy at Harvard. It would be slow and awkward; I’d stumble and ask them to repeat themselves; we’d all wear broad grins.


Matteo's Nainai

5-year-old Matteo N. Wong '22 sits with his grandparents in his home in Brooklyn.


If All Space Were Safe Space

I have encountered this feeling in somewhat unconventional spaces: directing a porn film in an artist loft in Oakland, Calif., cheering from the audience as a woman reclaimed her sexuality in orgasm on a New York City stage, and participating in a “sex magic ritual” in a kinky mansion in the heart of New Orleans.


Porn Endpaper Illustration

"It is not the first time I am feeling this way — air light on my shoulders, warmth radiating off the bodies of friends, and a gut sense that my presence, or my humanity, is being realized."


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