The Paper Kites - Bloom
|me:||llibrary on tuesday or wedesnday?|
|rehdblob:||lol library on Christmas is it open|
|me:||LOL whoops probably not|
|omg sad life|
|i just proposed learning programming at the library on Christmas|
|rehdblob:||yeah I almost forgot that it was the 25th soon|
After living in this nation for sixteen years, I finally got my certificate of naturalization last Thursday. I took an absence from work that day and arrived at a theater filled with hundreds of people-some bursting with joy, some frantically looking for their family members, some tugging annoyed children on hand, and many speaking in broken English to immigration officials struggling to understand what they were saying.
The entire procession took about two hours, and I stayed half awake as middle aged white men gave prolonged speeches, as “God Bless the USA” came on, and as the exhaustive list of previous nationalities was recited (no surprise almost half the room stood up when they announced China). The whole time I was just sitting there twiddling my thumbs, wishing it wasn’t so dark so I could study for the three midterms I had coming up-one of which was HA- Asian American studies, where we were learning about the Chinese Exclusion Era and how the orientals were designated “aliens ineligible for citizenship”.
At the end of the two hours I received my certification of naturalization. It’s a piece of paper authenticated by the Secretary of the San Francisco Department of Homeland Security. San Francisco, 旧金山where the first wave of Asian immigrants landed in the late nineteenth century, carrying dreams of golden wealth and boundless opportunities-dreams that were unabashedly wrested away from them in a storm of anti-Asian discrimination. It’s where Dennis Kearney of the Workingman’s Party wrecked havoc in 1877 as the city erupted in violence under cries of “The Chinese must go.” It’s where the Asiatic Exclusion League was formed in 1905, and where a century ago, citizenship was all but a dream for the impoverished Chinese laborers living there-the victims of an insidious wave of racial discrimination that demonstrated its oppressive might though the social, political, and economic limitations imposed on the Chinese. It’s where I now buy my clothes at the shopping center in Powell and Union Square.
I’m holding the certificate in my hands and it feels very thin.
Some people are just quiet because they have too much to say.
Two more days until school begins…time to start meditating HAHA sdknglfjglsfdjg
As I was walking home today, I decided that I wanted to see the mural one more time before going back to Berkeley. After all, on my list-of-things-to-do-when-coming-back-to-Arcadia (in addition to reuniting with old friends over shaved ice-mango+mochi with Stephanie, 626 boba-Honey boba with Kathleen Josh and Ryan, Souplantation-grubbing with the gov. kids, healthy Asian food-Vegetarian with Cross Country girls, Santa Anita Mall-hitting up F21 and H&M with Joyce, and enjoying the responsibility free days of idyllic suburban life), is visiting the mural.
So I took a circuitous route and made a pit stop at Arcadia High School. Walking through old school hallways gives me a strange feeling now. After all, they look exactly the same, the way your voice echoes when you speak loudly is the same, the eeriness that creeps up on you when you are alone, staring ahead at the empty parallel expanse ahead is the same…but now that the halls are no longer part of the daily scenery taken for granted, now that they are haunting bearers of four years of past memories-the sweet, the mundane, and the tragic, and now that you have seen, learned, felt, tasted, experienced so much more, the nostalgia that reeks through the halls is enough to make you turn abruptly around and run the other way-or lie down in the middle of it all and relish those four years not so long ago.
By the time I got to D Hall, I was knocked out of my reverie. I realized that the entire section from D to G was fenced off. Fenced off…construction!? Suddenly, I felt panic. I had to see the painting now. I rushed down the hallway and pried open the gap between two adjoining fences. And that’s when I saw the bulldozer tracks and caution tape.
I didn’t care if there were students carrying their textbooks getting registered or band kids playing dramatic music in the distance or janitors driving their little carts around. In that moment, I just wanted to climb over those stupid green fences and caress the wooden debris that once was our mural. Because it hit me that I would never see the painting Annie and I worked on for almost an entire school year-the admittedly trivial but heartwarmingly lovely legacy we left for just one year.
The bulldozer that knocked it over could not have known that I almost fell off my chair when I tried painting the tree in the top right corner. It was oblivious to the fact that Annie and I stood in the rain blending miniscule objects on that gargantuan canvas, that we snuck into school on Christmas Eve with our own paints and brushes, that our sweat is in that acrylic. It could not have known that the slow completion of the mural unfolded along with the tumultuous events that transpired during those months and that each layer of paint is inundated with memories of senior year. It did not see that our names had claimed that small square of Arcadia High School property, and that it was rightfully ours.
It couldn’t have, because all that’s left of it now is a pile of rubble lying in the dirt.
The janitor asked, “Are you okay?”