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?

 

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Short jean shorts with a vibrant patchwork

I see a stack of short jean shorts and that same feeling comes back. Yellow dandelions blossoming on green hills. The springing of summer. That long lost feeling of looking forward to something; of changing into a young woman from a preteen. The start of a new life filled with sunshine and warm weather.

In the mid nineties, small bright tribal patchwork on jean shorts were trending. My body and mind was changing and I had new ambitions on… being a likable girl. I gravitated towards the funky colorful yellow-orange vibrant patchwork pretending that it was just a short term whim; that it wasn’t really me because I tended to think through things.

Wearing it would be like like bursting out of a timid dark place with flashing colors. There was a new season swirling around, and I’d be embracing it with a giddy smile. There’d be new adventures and new places to find. Sun in tinted hair, sliding through the streets in rollerblades. Chasing after a white puppy on a leash. Concrete school with spells of spring break. New boys, new social circles, new freedoms, new events to participate in. I would be drenched in all this dreamlike glory of newness. The air would smell like springtime in full boom, as I bloom.

Morphing into a newer body, those shorts would curve and hug around me like it was meant to be. I’d swing my hips and dance on them while being the sunny girl I always saw myself as. The world would shimmer under my feet, the trees would sway and dance with me. It was a new season, and I’d spin with the turning globe. The possibilities awaited, and the possibilities were infinite, omnipresent, and endless.

I begged to buy those shorts, and I was finally able to. Once home, I rushed to try them on. I jumped in front of the mirror in hopes of witnessing magic before my eyes. The frumpy, wide, saggy denim hung around me. What a disappointment.

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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

Surely dying

I’m sitting here on the empty Jacuzzi staring at the ceiling with water droplets spritzing near my face, as I try to feel fulfilled. In my room, I spray all types of scents to calm my senses but it just numbs me down. I have every material thing that I want and I make a lot of money for a chick who claims to not need a lot. I turn on the bright blue therapy light that mimics sunlight to feel like I’m sitting under the sun. I meet a lot of people every day whom I don’t call my own. I have the love of my two parents but I want a big family that’s fifty times bigger and will have my back. I have the guy that adores me but I also want one who doesn’t. I’m climbing the capitalist ladder but I believe in socialist type stuff. I’m maintaining my status as a whatever, but it’s just killing me inch by inch. I don’t take pills, smoke, or drink to cope but that doesn’t mean I’m happier. I can’t follow spiritual leaders and luminaries who say pretty things because in the end they’re just humans like me. I can’t support any religions with an open heart because they talk too much of discipline, but I’m fueled by instinct and desire. I have realistic aspirations now and still want to do significant things for the future, but I don’t if I don’t have to. I can have kids if I want to but I may just let my body shut down. There are twelve months in a year and eight of them are already over and I can’t get the past three or four years back.

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The smell of anxiousness

Bring back those anxious feelings of my childhood: the distinct smell of dry noodle mixture and seasonings inside the chemical smelling 80’s plastic lunch box. Bring back these feelings of isolation and fear of differences, the fear of rulers and authorities (teachers), and the fear of rules and systems that used to cage me within the school boundaries; where my mother would be on the other side of the gate after they closed it on me to begin this school thing. Where I had cried and cried because I wanted to be back into the arms and comfort of my mom, my home. The lunch time tiffin box was all those things I feared. I still smell it here and there, and my stomach tightens as I sit in my office today and contemplate whether it was worse then, or is it worse now.

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