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.
"Sustaining remote connections to both my academic and social life has required a new commute: a 20-minute drive to the Burger King in the next town over."
Ask anyone who knows me — I cry easier than a toddler at the dentist. But for some reason, it wasn’t the hundreds of patients we’d seen in various stages of disease or the abandoned children ecstatic to receive their first toy who finally broke the dam on my tear ducts. It was a stray mutt minding its own business in the corner of a park in Concepción, Iloilo.
It is a trope in popular and academic writing alike to say that the absence of a precise definition of “Asian America” is what binds the identity together — that Asian Americans lack not only a literal common language, but also a common “language” in terms of a unifying ideology through which we can better understand each other.
I wish I could pinpoint what exactly it is that keeps me coming back. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that Waffle House will welcome six bleary-eyed high school seniors who can’t help but order the entire menu on a Saturday night, just as it will welcome families the next day in their Sunday best and truckers who’ve driven across countless state lines the night after that.
It was like this culinary cold war, a pissing contest for who’d eaten the weirdest animal appendage. I was hurt, not just because I had lost the war (my mom was never able to find frozen sheep penis at the grocery store, not even at Whole Foods), but because we were fighting it in the first place. What were we trying to prove? And to whom? Why?
No one wanted to wear it. We threw it around the circle like we were playing a game of hot potato, chucking it from one person to the next, shrieking “You wear it!” “No, you wear it!” Everyone wanted to wear Olivia’s other sweatshirts, which were faded and looked vintage, or her fisherman sweaters. To wear the Harvard sweatshirt would mean being the odd one out.
My name is Derek Schaedig. I am a goalie for the men’s hockey team at Harvard; I am a sophomore studying Psychology; I am a writer for The Crimson; and in April 2019, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, more commonly referred to as depression. I am not immune to mental illness, and neither are many student-athletes.