When I was young, I thought that I would be able to breathe underwater. Water was, to me, just a thin film that covered an area of air, until I decided to fill my bathroom sink with water. In the end, I ended up inhaling water and figured out that water takes up space and is not just a thin film that sat above air. When I was a bit older living in California, I held on to the side of a swimming pool and took a lap around the pool until my hands slipped and I fell into the deep end and when I woke up, I was on the floor beside the pool coughing up water. I am scared of swimming. I joke sometimes about death.
I am not afraid of eating alone. I don’t like to drink alone. I prefer reading Hemingway to Stein. I pretend to speak French and Italian. My first language is Korean but I am a native English speaker. I’ve only loved in English. I’ve loved less than a handful of women in my life. Love is a painful process. Opening up is a difficult process to me. Friends have commented on my mysterious past. I’ve thought about moving to countries across the ocean where I can’t speak their language, from where I can’t come back home. The sound of trains reminds me of old times back in the city, by the 4-train station. I have read more books in Buffalo than I have in Westchester. I know more about Hemingway than I do about my brother. I have read more Bolaño than I have Poe. I am more American (North, Central, and South) than I am Asian. I feel more connected to the United States than I do with Korea. A body of water separates me from my past and my present.
I have been in fights. I have been mugged. Death is something that I accept and have accepted ever since my friend jumped off the library of NYU. I am afraid of dying with my glasses on. I am afraid of sleeping with my contacts on. I am afraid of drowning. The “S” on my keyboard is the most worn out on my laptop. Swimming is something I do not enjoy. I have never owned a swimming pool. I have never lived in a house. I have had sex in public. I have never had sex in front of other people. I have had sex while on drugs. I have smoked marijuana, opium, crack, snorted coke, popped ecstasy, and tabs of acid, but not all at once. I have never ridden a horse while high. I rode a horse, my first and last time, bareback in California and saw a snake inside of a rusty tractor. I was almost swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean during high tide. I have injured more people in my life than I have hurt myself. I have tried to make one thousand cranes for a wish but never got beyond folding twenty.
Writing is a way for me to forget that I exist even if I write about myself. I am not who I am. I am who you think I am. I tend to over-exaggerate things, for example, in my fourth grade class, I told my class I held a fish out of water for over a minute and my teacher asked me if the fish died and I changed my story multiple times until I settled on twenty seconds because I did not understand time until I got a watch in sixth grade. I worry about my parents, my mother especially. I worry about women, especially women who I’ve slept with. I have the tendency to develop feelings of intense jealousy and possessiveness. I never thought that my friend would be the one to be murdered by his mother’s boyfriend. I could smell the bodies from the apartment. I can’t go to fish markets to this day.
I know more about Chinese history than I do about Korean history. I am incensed by the atrocity committed by the Japanese in Nanking. I am disgusted by the atomic bomb. I am disgusted by genocide. Racism makes me feel sick to my stomach. I feel lost in this world. I have dreamt about flying to the moon. I have dreamt of watching the world from a distant planet. The world is killing me. Death is something that we can look forward to. It’s something that we all experience; it’s something that while sad is welcoming. It is a reminder that we are alive. Death and love go hand in hand. While I can say I love you a million times, the best time for me to say it is before I die.
I love you.