o captain, my captain
It doesn’t make any sense, but this has always been the line that comes to mind when I think of my grandfather. My grandfather, the Qing scholar, the lifelong academic, my mother’s favorite. And this is the only thing I can think of now that he’s gone. That, and how strange it is that the 23rd is such a popular death day for people I like.
I hope, against all odds, that there is an afterlife, and it looks like a library with soft lighting and dark wooden window seats and a gigantic collection of leather-bound books that automatically change when you’ve read them, and he and my mother can now geek out together about Chinese history and literary heroes.
When I’m surrounded by really upbeat, peppy people
letter to future me
Dear Future Me,
I keep trying to reach you, and I think I’ve gotten a little lost. (I never did have a very good sense of direction.) I wish I could just not mind being lost, but I strongly suspect that I have control issues.
The other day, someone was telling me about how he’s trying to be more present instead of constantly striving to become his ideal future self. Clearly, I fail at that. This entire letter is proof.
I told my friend and her boyfriend recently that I thought they were freakishly mature and misrepresent what people around our age should be like. By which I mean they are in their early to mid 20s and have their shit together, and most people I know—myself included—definitely do not. And I talk to them and think maybe we should, and I get scared that I’m taking too long or maybe won’t ever find my way, and no one else in my life will either.
I keep thinking of this line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower: "We accept the love we think we deserve." And I think of most people I know, and I suspect we don’t think very highly of ourselves. This is a natural part of the coming-of-age story, and it’s totally fine for people to be a little lost in adolescence and young adulthood, but I feel like that story should have ended by now for most of us. Shouldn’t it?
When I was young, I thought that I’d reach 18, and everything would magically be perfect. I would be intelligent and charming and beautiful and wildly successful, but in the meantime I could be totally immature and lost and stupid, and it was all okay. And then I reached 18 and extended my deadline to 20, then 21, then…the indefinite future.
Future Me, I know you’re not going to be perfect. I know you are going to be the product of current me and whatever experiences I accumulate in the meantime, so maybe I should try to gear those experiences more towards reaching the “you” I want to be. But I’m not. And even though it doesn’t feel like it, I want to say that’s okay. Because maybe the “you” I want to be isn’t the “you” I’m meant to be.