Ageism runs deep

Ageism runs deep.

It runs (ran) through my veins bitterly.

There I was, twelve years old, just walking around the park barefoot pretending that I was in a Disney cartoon. Running through freshly cut grass (hindsight, not the best thing to do), singing to trees, pretending to be an Olympic ice skater on my roller blades in the basketball court. The occasional stuff that I did.

Those were good times. I walked on the open grass; the wind was blowing and singing sweetly to my ears. The park was empty and the sky was gray blue I think. I found a spot in the middle of the empty basketball court and laid there. Weird things happened when I wished hard, so I didn’t wish if I didn’t mean it. I just laid there… feeling; floating in the gentle flow of the wind. I imagined the man I would love one day; a prince on a horse who follows me. Who always finds me. With my hair spread out on the ground, I looked at the sky with a smile on my face. Thinking about my future, thinking about my handsome, manly, wise prince. I closed my eyes and stayed in this state of bliss; I could feel him, he was so close to me in my thoughts, he was whispering through the air to me. I sighed and gently opened my eyes.

I shrieked and abruptly got up after I saw a smiling little face pop over me and block the blue skies above. It was an obnoxious little boy; someone completely different than who I had imagined. I was so angry at that little boy afterwards. I was completely irritated that my privacy and tranquility had been ruined by some annoying little kid. I treated everyone younger than me with no real respect in my head, especially younger boys. They automatically turned into little brothers and they were seen as annoying little roadblocks along the way.

Granted he was nine and I was twelve; in my eyes I was decades older. After he caught me, he became completely smitten by me. With the basketball in his hands, he giggled at everything I had to say, like, “Get out of here!” at him. It was already annoying to be caught by a little kid during vulnerable times, but it was even worse to have earned his undivided attention and whole heart. I felt disgusted and wanted to wash him off like dirt. But no matter what I said or did, he kept wanting to be near me. It was a vile situation. I felt like a sicko thinking that a kid three years younger than me was completely in love with me. Feeling mentally nauseated and humiliated, I ran away. But then, that annoying kid started running after me. We were running down that park amid cut grass, me genuinely running away, him, giggling with a basketball in his hands chasing after me; as if I was playing hard to get. I wasn’t playing. I hid behind a building like fearing for my life, however, that obnoxious kid found me. I then ran away again and he ran after me again, laughing. I was mortified that someone could have seen this fiasco; me being chased by a nine year old. Gross, I could have been his baby sitter.

Damn, it’s weird to think that if I was a hundred, he’d have been ninety-seven. Grosssssss.

Vegetable seller

When I was a kid, I reclined near the balcony door under the sunlight and overheard the veggie seller shout out vegetables he was selling for the day.

Such a lively thing it was; the crows were crowing… the birds were chirping, dogs barking, music playing, people talking, cars honking, kids yelling, bells ringing, whistles blowing… there were even monkeys screeching from trees somewhere.

I lived and thrived off noise.

It’s 2018, and I once more hear the vegetable seller repeatidly shout out the vegetables he’s selling as he walks down the sleepy neighborhood mid day.

I loved it, and I still love it. It makes me happy to know that some things haven’t changed since childhood… even though I’ve moved on and my realities have shifted.

2018-10-19 06.51.22

Chicken-broth like foreign scent and blinds

The rare subtle scent of something like mild diluted chicken-broth or a faraway whiff of miso soup does this to me. It took me years and years to figure out what this scent really could be, and up to today, I’m ninety-five percent sure that it’s related to meat; and most likely chicken. This rare, and what was once a welcoming foreign scent, takes me back to that new land that I flew into late into the night filled with excitement and hopes. Wonder shining from the eyes of a child who is looking towards the window; marveling at the engineering of…
blinds. And it also reminds me of the missed realities; like bloody chicken tendons and flesh, and aggression brewing in the kitchen from an aunt who really cringed behind her believable warm smile.

Now that I know now what I didn’t know then; can this foreign scent, once so full of hope and curiosity, ever become tainted?

 

Digital Camera

Mr. Mock

It just came to me out of nowhere, but I think his name was Mr. Mock. He was the gym teacher who made elementary school ten times more fun, especially for extremely playful kids like myself. Why would anyone want to sit around, study, and get lost in messed up thoughts when you could be flying and giggling in the air half way during some leaping jump? You could be chasing kids around in hide and seek, or you could be running away from them in a game of tag.
Gym time was just that, and Mr. Mock made it fun by incorporating sports elements to it; although I cared less about sports. We played a game of kickball, as I remember it. It was the closest to tag that I could play during school. My heart skipped a beat every time we were to begin gym class. Not only was the whole concept of gym fun, but I also had a budding innocent little crush on Mr. Mock.

He looked like a Ken doll, or Flash the superhero from some TV show in either the 80s or the 90s that had always stuck with me. He had brownish hair, blue eyes, and a sharp jawline. And he always wore gym clothes, which included a track jacket.

Yeah, so granted I was probably nine and he was probably over forty, now that I look back… and embarrassingly bite my lip. As a kid, your concept of “a crush” is really really innocent and extremely vague. You have to remember that as kids, we’re brainwashed with romantic ideals from television and movies that constantly showed adults in love. It was always like “maybe I’d grow up and get a chance”… I guess. It was super innocent.

Every time he gave me attention in the class, I felt like I was the only one. When you have a crush on someone, it distorts your mind into believing that they’re paying attention to solely you, when in actuality, they’re treating everyone the same. But I do remember one time, when he was teaching us how to play baseball, where I felt extra special. I was sitting down with all the kids and listening to him explain the rules. Obviously, I didn’t care. He took my hand and used me as a demo to explain to the kids. He said, “If you’re left handed, you stand to the left” and he led me to the left, and he said, “If you’re right handed, you stand to the right” and he led me to the right. I think I got my directions wrong, so he playfully said left, and pulled me left, or right, and pulled me right, or left, and pulled me left, or right, and pulled me right. I giggled so happily and ostentatiously, and he was laughing too. Basically I was in zen when I sat back down. I felt so special. I thought Mr. Mock would always know who I am.

He did, when I saw him in the parking lot in front of K-Mart. To my childish embarrassment, I was with my entire family including my grandparents when we got out of the car as Mr. Mock was pulling his cart out. I think I froze still, but Mr. Mock did acknowledge and said, “Hi” or gave a nod, or something.

The next day in gym class, he called me “Ms. K-mart” and I felt special and acknowledged. Of course, when I thought about it years later, I wasn’t too ecstatic thinking that K-Mart actually went bankrupt and that company became a joke. Anyway, this was back then. Still, I think he would have remembered me years later. But soon enough, I never saw him again.

I did visit that place when I was in my late teens and entered his empty office in the gym. I never even knew there was an office in the gym. He had a picture of an elderly pear-shaped woman sitting down on a chair at his desk. Maybe it was his wife, but it couldn’t be his mother due to the newness of the picture.

So that was that. Right this minute, I wonder where he is now. In a nursing home? No… he can’t be that old. Maybe he’s in his sixties now. Either way, I doubt he’d remember me. We’d have to zoom back to the past, back to the gym class when he playfully pulled me left, and then right, and then left and then right again. I can still hear the echos of my giggles.

1994

Greasy pizza

We were little kids who sat in the school cafeteria during lunchtime. The cafeteria special that day, as it was every other day, was pizza. I used to think that pizza was a big deal, but the school pizza really, really sucked. I had a friend from Botswana next to me and a friend from Korea across. The Botswanian friend grabbed her slice of pizza and downed it. She slurped that stringy white cheese and said it was good. I glanced at my piece of oozing pile of lump before me. There was hardly any pizza sauce in it. The cheese looked man-made; it was was white and tasteless. I turned it a bit and looked under it. The dough was almost white and seemed uncooked. The bread had little holes in it that made it look like a big soggy biscuit. Amid my dissatisfaction, I grabbed it by my hand and took a bite off its cold triangular tip. The cafeteria was white and windowless. It looked like a big gym, but when I had revisited it many years later, I found out just how tiny that place actually was. It’s funny how things appear so big and grandiose when you’re a kid. I somewhat recall what I was wearing; probably light blue jeans, white sneakers, and a sweatshirt. That was the type of outfit I wore pretty often during those days; although they weren’t of my preference. My hair was probably half tied in a pony tail with a colorful clip that had strings and charms on it. My skin was smooth and wheat colored. My grandma used to say that to indicate that I was neither light skinned nor was I dark. It never looked like I was smiling, but I was a pretty
happy little kid. I always wanted to be around people and have fun.
All around me kids ate their respective soggy pizzas.
This was a big deal to me.
It took great distance and a lot of effort to get here, but here I was, in America, making new friends. Kids were just kids, no matter what our skin tones were or what our cultures were. We talked to each other like the vacant vessels that we were. Empty, and so open. We were filling it, I was improving on my English. Such genuine friendships, such innocent jokes and real laughter. We finished lunch, I threw away my greasy pizza. That, I just couldn’t open up to. I headed back to class with hands in my pockets alongside my friends.

1994