For the record: breathing is overrated.
The brain can go six whole minutes without any, and I was at a solid three airless minutes when mom finally said; “Okay, bǎobǎo, you can go, but remember your curfew, okay?”
I enthusiastically nodded, as if this whole time my neck and jaw were held together by screws, and mom letting me go to the movies with her tonight instantly made all the screws loose.
She keeps telling me things in that way of hers that either should be illegal or patented, and it’s affecting my ability to remember things like my name and species and all the reasons a Chinese girl might want to avoid falling in love with her 5’4 New-Orleans-born-and-proud fierce-as-fire afro-haired best friend.
Wǒ de tiān na.
I saw her figure standing in front of the cinema, waiting. I was hoping she wouldn’t come. And hoping she would. And hoping I’d stop hoping she would.
“’Sup, Tay? It’s been awhile.”
She turned around, cracking a smile that reached just below her eyes.
“If you miss me, why don’t you just come out and say it, Issa?”
I wanted to hold her hand. (It’s right there, it’d be so easy.) To make her mine. To be hers.
But underneath the streetlight, seeing clearly the clash of oil and water, I’m reminded of ‘different’ Uncle Ray. His marriage made people talk – they think they’re complimenting with words like “inspiring” or “courageous”, but I see the pain etched on his partner’s face that he tries to hide.
I don’t want to be a life-changing story, I just want to choose who I love.
And it’s her. I choose her.
As soon as the movie ended, we headed to her house. It’s closer. The streetlight, I reminded myself, always fades in the morning.
Always fades when dawn comes.
“I love you,” I say to her, only it comes out as “See you tomorrow at school?”
“I love you too,” I say to her, only it comes out as “See ya, Tay.”