I remember getting a B on that English paper back in 12th grade, a satire, something about dead skin cells, and it was my suggestion. “Ew!” my friend said. It was her immediate reaction. I didn’t know how to tell her that I see past all the “ewness” and I love it. I deal with stuff that’s not so pretty all the time. It’s a gift. Dealing with stuff that’s not so pretty is a beautiful thing and sometimes it feels like I’m one of the few people who understands this. Plus satires are meant to have gross things in them to use for exaggeration purposes and dead skin cells seemed like the perfect touch. I even kind of remember my English teacher commenting on the paper that she liked it. But who knows. My brain could be making up that memory just because it seems like that memory would make sense. I bet some Psych major out there knows exactly what this is called. But I’m no Psych major. I’m just the girl who can not flinch when people talk about dead skin cells.
More and more her thoughts grew, like an ulcer inside of a stomach. Then one day, the VCR in her brain ejected a novel.
The robins were everywhere. It was starting to look like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. They were searching for the unlucky worms kicked out of their apartments due to flooding.
Sometimes we have robins after us and we are the worms—no safe place to crawl when pushed to the brink of insanity. So we take the first step we have to because this step is the only way out of our current crazy situation. We are forced to take a chance on our lives. No one really knows what will happen, but those who are resilient will survive and even thrive.
Sometimes we are the robins and we are after the worms—taking advantage of new opportunities that pop up, even at the expense of someone else’s life path. So we find people when they are vulnerable and pounce when it’s the appropriate time to snatch away the future that was supposed to be theirs. Maybe at first this new future belongs to us and feels good, but not long after the guilt sinks in and you live in fear someone somewhere will do the same to you one day.
The million dollar question is, are you the robin or the worm?
Halfway through college I was Job. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to wear my glasses in front of anyone. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want to wear colors, only black and white and gray. It’s funny how I dressed according to what I learned from watching “A Cinderella Story” and listening to the commentary because twirling around in my downward spiral is what I thought defined me in the moment so I thought I needed to “dress the part.” What I’m talking about is, in the commentary of that movie, she says Sam dressed in colors when she gained her confidence back, but in gray and blue when she became really insecure after being made fun of for who she was. So I started doing this when I felt really down on life.
Then you said you thought of me when we were discussing Job in class and I was like, “you knew me in college?!” But I quickly realized you were referring to something else about me that is related to the story of Job. I can’t remember it now and not being able to remember what exactly that was frustrates me. It’s not something I usually do—share something really personal about myself with someone I just met.
Whenever you share something really personal about yourself to someone, that person takes a part of you with them. At least it feels that way. If you never see them again, it’s like that piece of you goes with them and you’ll never be able to take it back, like a sent text message. If you do see them again, you know they hold onto a secret side of you that could be unleashed unintentionally to other people you may not want to know about it. And that’s dangerous to know.
I got a text from a girl friend asking me if I wanted “in” on going out to the bars. There was promise of green beers and other such St. Patrick Day’s things I can’t remember exactly now. I politely declined because it was a weeknight and I had to get up early for work tomorrow. She politely understood.
I don’t remember how long ago that was, but I remember a little of how I felt when I got that text, like it was so predictable she would invite me out. Like it suited her to be going out and it suited me to be staying in. I wasn’t always like that.
We had just finished a tournament and we were trying to find our way back to the van so we could get some fuel for our bodies. Somehow I had injured my foot so we were going kind of slow. All of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of a parade of people wearing green. At the front of the line was this guy who wanted a light. He saw me and came up to me to ask for one. Being a non-smoker, I had to tell him, “no.” He looked disappointed with my response and the girl next to him didn’t look too thrilled he was talking to me. I was relieved though. That meant he had someone waiting for him, the type of commitment from a guy I was not looking for at the time. Afterwards, my teammate asked me if I knew “that guy.”
I don’t remember what street we were on, but I remember the smoker was wearing a green top hat. I wondered if he was really Irish because he didn’t look it to me. Looks can be deceiving though.
I just sat down and Emma White* said to the class, “How come none of the Asians are wearing green?” Then she glanced over at me in my green sweater and goes, “Good job, YuMin!” I felt good about myself, the way you instantly feel better when someone gives you a high five.
This happened in seventh grade and for some reason, every year on this day I think of it.
*name has been altered to protect identity
“You have to think for both of us.”
That’s what she said to him and ever since I saw that scene, I have felt like that every time when I’m faced with making a big decision, except for me, it’s not someone else thinking for me, it’s like there’s two of me thinking things over. When that happens, I feel like my head is going to explode.
So I try to think of the things that give me chills and sometimes that helps me make a decision. Someone hitting a high note. Someone killing it in a dance battle. Someone delivering a really good TED talk. Someone landing a triple salchow. Someone killing it in a rap battle. Someone doing a dunk shot. Just to name a few.
These things don’t come with neon signs telling me exactly what to do. No, they are more like will-o’-the-wisps, like little blue floating gems that light a path. I follow them gem by gem until I can see the big picture and when I arrive at my destination, I’ll know I made the right decision.
What gives you chills and what are you going to do about it?
I really need a Dyson vacuum cleaner. If only to remember the one who told me about it. It was at work one day when I was talking about the hairs in my carpet. “This will solve your problem,” she said. And that’s all she needed to say to get my attention. I went to Target the following weekend to check it out and realized it would set me back more than I had to spare, more than I was willing to give. But that’s why I really need it now. To know I can set myself back $500 and it will be an investment, not a dent in my wallet. I need something that will carefully pick up every mistake I have ever made and suck it into oblivion. I will think of her every time it wipes my slate clean. And Anne as well with the carrot-colored hair. For a slate that ended up on Gilbert Blythe’s head. Maybe I’ll find a lost earring or two in the carpet. They are my Lost Boys. Once I get them paired up again, I’ll go fetch Wendy. If a Dyson can do that, it is worth every penny.