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Going Home

July 23rd, 2023

When I actually think about it, I don’t think my life has changed all that much this past year. I’m not sure if it’s the sun making me feel this way, but I think I’m a lot happier regardless. The problem is, when I actually am in a good mood in a happy life, I don’t spend my time reflecting on why it’s so great and instead just live it. I wanna stop doing that. Not just to further appreciate the happiness I endure, but to remember what got me there.

Going back to visit the fam in Hong Kong was actually a bit of a scary prospect. It was starting to seem like every time I made the return trip, something real shitty happened. I remember the last time I went, I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t get to spend so much time with my family (worked my ass off in a winter job I hated), didn’t have as much sex as I wish I had, and forgot to say goodbye to my dog. Going back to New York homeless wasn’t exactly the icing on the cake I wanted, either. But I still got the apartment. And even though I got myself wrapped back into addictions I’m rather ashamed of and lost a lot of friends along the way, I made it through. Perhaps ironically, I learned a lot about love in the process.

For a while it upset me to admit just how much a few weeks of homelessness actually affected me. I repeatedly try (and often fail) to not let things get to me. My usual answer to an argument is to apologize and move on, even when I think I’m right. That’s because I usually value maintaining friendships more than I do winning arguments. My usual answer to a breakup is to do nothing and wait out all the drama until I’m left alone to build myself back up. That way I stop opening the wound and can just let myself heal. I thought I could do something similar with the Week of Job, but the process ended up feeling more like bottling up my emotions than controlling them. When its ripples started to affect my personal life, I ignored it until it was too late. I hate to call it trauma. It doesn’t feel like it should be. But when handling it, I can’t really think of a better word. Damage? Hurt? It all sounds so dramatic when it really wasn’t. What it was was me realizing my ability to be frightened. And my unwillingness to accept that.

But something happened in April. A strength emerged in me that was exclusive to my solitary. An ability to forgive myself. And, really, to love myself through and through. This idea of that kid who, heartbroken and jetlagged, lugged an 85-pound duffle bag in the thundering January rain to some guy’s couch when all he wanted to do was crawl up inside of it and fall apart. This kid who, at 15, used to mix screwdrivers using the super-cheap vodka that his parents bought to clean the kitchen countertops. A kid who makes mistakes and is often selfish, but tries. To accept error, admit fear, but to not let that nullify how proud I am for coming this far. Yeah, that sounds cheesy. But who said there was anything wrong with that?

Learning that self-love and forgiveness has changed my way of looking at others. Just as I’m fallible and idiotic, so is basically everyone else. I know that’s nothing profound, but it sure as hell is one hard thing to accept. Even so, I’ll probably still be just as comically judgmental, but I don’t think I’m gonna put much passion toward that project. I think this year, I just want to be nice.

My theory about traveling home from Hong Kong coinciding with misfortune proved true. On my 16-hour flight back (where I was seated next to a goddamn toddler), I got hit with a 102° Omicron cocktail that left me bedridden for over a week before it turned into a case of tonsillitis that my doctor told me came hours away from killing me. You’d think that having another close-call with death would change my perspective on things, but it doesn’t. Because I still wanna be nice. Guess maybe I’ll get less mad at my friends for calling in sick instead of having a night out. I’ve gotten better. Started rebuilding a social network. Making new friends. Getting back out there.

Here’s the tail end of the blog post where I mention I’m 19 and still figuring it out. A disclaimer that I’ll always appreciate reminds me of how much of an idiot I really am. And that’s okay, to be an idiot. Because I’m 19. I can’t even go into an American bar without wigging out over something to do with my ID. Sure I’ve lived a lot. I’ve been to funerals, I’ve seen the world, and been through enough exasperated heartache to fill a bad CW show. But the fact that I’ve learned so much in the past year means that I probably have a hell of a lot more mistakes to make. I think I’m finally ready to start loving. To stop viewing people as a means to an end -- a way to further connections or a tool to battle my awkward life -- but to view love as the end, itself.

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