The wind is kissing my cheek, so soft, not too warm, not too cold. It is traveling through the blankets covering you and me. The blankets are dancing like the waves at the shore. No one, nothing is making any sound.
Then, some white jumps into the sky near the sea and pushes the dark away, followed by some gold and some red. Soon, more gold and red cover up the still-sleeping sky. In the middle, it comes up a super bright dot. Yes, that is the sun. She is like testing the waters, so shy. All of a sudden, she jumps high and pushes the gold lights and the red lights to the entire sky.
The sky is waking up. The whole world is waking up.
“I don’t think I could ever write up this beautiful sunrise. I don’t think I could even find a word.”
“Hmm, why do you write?” You ask me, ignoring my praise for the sunrise.
I stand up, patting my butt to get rid of the sand, “Let’s take a walk, shall we?”
I never walk along the beach with my family. My family hasn’t had the opportunity to see the sea yet, although our home is surrounded by water and there is a long river nearby. We have taken lots of walks there, in the evenings of summertime, when the wind was warm, not too hot like the daytime when you would rather stay at home and eat the entire watermelon. It was just right.
There were all four of us, my dad, my mom, my brother and me. Sometimes, my dad would join us a little bit late. He would still be at work, or finishing up dishwashing since my mom would do the cooking. I would see his smile when he was walking towards us far away under street lights. My mom would wave at my dad, and call his full name. I would see her eyes sparkling.
My dad would hold my hand, while I was holding my mom’s hand, which was not as dry and rough as my dad’s hand. “It’s like we were kids. I am an adult”, my brother would refuse holding hands with us. It was dark. My dad would turn on the flashlight on his phone, and try to light up the road. A few seconds later, there would be some music flying out of my dad’s phone. It was outdated and loud. My dad would be swinging his arms like a soldier, letting the music fly here and there. I felt it embarrassing. My mom would laugh at my dad. You couldn’t even sing, she said. My dad would be humming, ignoring my mom’s teasing. It was darker. No one could see us. I would start enjoying the music and singing along with my dad.
My brother would finally join us thanks to my mom’s command. We would be holding hands, walking along the bank, laughing. What were we talking about? Random stuff. I would ask my mom and my dad to walk in front of us. I would pull out my phone, open the camera and focus on my mom and my dad. Walk, just walk forward, naturally, I said. From the back, my dad looked like such a young boy. My mom would be swinging my dad’s hand and laughing. The floral dress on my mom would be dancing gently along with the soft wind. They were like a young couple. It was beautiful.
“It is beautiful. But, why do you write?” You stare at me.
“I don’t think what I am doing is writing.” You stare at me, harder.
It is translation or transcription, or maybe visualization? I don’t have the correct word. What I am doing is not writing but actualizing the stuff in my mind. Sometimes, it is the memories that sticking in my mind, deeply, like the story of walking with my family I just told you. The memories are so beautiful. They make me warm. They bring me hope. They remind me that I am loved. I have to let them out, onto the paper or the screen, and into this world. It is far from writing. I am far from a writer. There is a photographer adjusting the angles and the lights, and there is me tapping on the big camera button, done.
What I am doing is just recording. I record what I see, hear, smell, feel and remember. I listen to the self in my mind. I listen to it so hard that sometimes I have to close my eyes and tighten up all of my muscles like lifting weights. What I am doing is just listening to myself, and sometimes, talking to myself.
Writing is far more than talking to myself. It is talking to hundreds of thousands of souls in the universe. Writing is a re-creation. Writers write to rebuild the world, to make it into multiple worlds. Writing is a creation. Writers create new worlds, new experiences and new senses, which we ordinary people can’t even imagine.
“Hey! I will still use the word, writing. I just love this word, writing.”
“Hmm…” You were about to say something.
“But please don’t take it seriously.”
It is shameful for me to call myself a writer. I don’t write every day and I delay my writing a lot. More importantly, I don’t think I am brave enough. Writers are fearless. Tearing apart themselves, hundreds of thousands of times; peeling off one layer of themselves, and another, and another; digging deep into the darkness, facing the ugly self, the selfish self, the weak self, the self that we are all hiding so much and so long.
A few months ago, the #metoo movement spread many places in China. My WeChat feed was full of #metoo stories. I also wrote a story about a girl who was sexually assaulted by a few of her older cousins when she was around five years old, maybe older, can’t remember. Yes, that girl is me. Fortunately, nothing was serious.
However, the extreme weirdness, the extreme shame and the extreme fear are still so real and deep today, too real and deep to be forgotten. I have pretended nothing happened and all were just my illusions. Unfortunately. I still remember that night, lying down on the wooden bed, staring at the wrinkled ceiling, my body was trembling. I hugged myself so hard but my body was still trembling, so hard. Mom came over. “Mom, will I get pregnant?”
“Why did you write that story? You were all innocent kids. You were just playing games.” Mom immediately requested a video chat with me after she read that article.
“No, mom. No!” I shouted in front of the screen. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong when I was five and when I was twenty-seven a few months ago.
It feels so lonely when your family, when your most loved and trusted ones, misunderstand you and blame you for your pain. It feels so lonely when you are in sorrow, in darkness and in helplessness. It feels so lonely that you are trying to bury yourself into the sand, and wish you never have to come out and face with the reality.
Yes, it feels so lonely. But you are not alone. I am not alone. We are not alone. This is what writing is for, to tell us we are not alone, to help us feel less lonely, to connect someone somewhere in the universe with us, someone who is also sitting on the beach, watching the sunrise, and murmuring, “it is beautiful”.
Writing is beautiful. I often come to books when I feel lonely. I often write at midnight when I need someone to talk to. I wrote three hundreds or more articles in my blog during college. I deleted all of them after I graduated. So naive! So silly! So shameful! Ah, that late-night-sensitive-little-girl.
“Thanks for writing this.”
“Keep writing, please.”
Then I remembered he and she, and he and she, told me. It suddenly felt empty, so empty, in my stomach. I tried to search for the deleted articles, in every blog I used and in my hard drive. No luck. I told myself it was because the god wanted me to forget about the past and grow up.
“That’s unfortunate.” You tell the truth.
“It still feels empty in my stomach, now.”
Fortunately, the diaries, the essays and the writing assignments from high school, middle school and even elementary school are still lying safely and comfortably somewhere in my home in China. From then — the deleted three hundred articles, I keep all of my writings and keep writing.
I wrote about the unexpected suicide of my best friend and my self-blame five years ago, the sudden death of my grandma and my PTSD two years ago, and the first time being cheated on and my tiring soul one year ago.
Now, every time those things happen, I don’t see them as pain although they are painful, I see them as stories, stories that I can write someday. Obviously, there’s plenty of beautiful memories, like that one, I told you, walking along the bank with my family. When I am writing, I am experiencing the whole thing again. Beautiful memories are more beautiful, painful ones? Not that painful. Then you will realize, you finally grow up.
I am not old, I am still young, or quite young in some people’s eyes. Although, there’s times that I feel I am losing. I am growing up but I start losing. I am losing a lot. I am losing my childhood, I am losing the security and the warmness with my family and friends around, I am losing the people I love the most and love me the most, one by one.
So much fear, inside of me. The fear of losing a family member, I can’t even believe I am telling this to you, I will be so anxious if they don’t reply to my message or pick up the video call for a period of time; the fear of my own death, when I am driving, sometimes, I am so afraid that the car will explode in a sudden for no reason or someone drunk driving will hit me from nowhere; the fear of lacking deep connections when I am old, my desire of living in this world will be largely decreased if there’s just me, alone.
Yes, humans are social animals. Yes but no, humans are lonely social animals.
“You are not alone and you won’t be alone.” You look at me, softly.
“I am a lonely animal. Did I mention my writing is just talking to myself?”
“Well, let’s sit down. Tell me, your loneliness.” Your eyes are still so soft.
I don’t have many people to talk to, sometimes, no one. What a shame! When I was in primary school, I often would walk to the school and back home by myself. On the way, I would be walking while thinking. I would be talking to myself, the self in my head. Sometimes, you’d hear me murmuring. Someone asked me if I have an imaginary friend. I don’t know if I can consider myself as my imaginary friend. I call that writing too, talking to myself. When I grew up, I wrote a lot on paper. That feeling is so much like talking to myself.
Sometimes, I would talk to the trees, the flowers and the little animals, and even the bikes, the scooters and the cars. I remember that family of milky dandelions, standing up from the green grass, swinging left and right. I would be bending down and staring at them. Then I would be inhaling air into my belly and blowing on the dandelions. I would see the seeds flying around. I forgot to make a wish. I would be running home, then taking out a pencil and paper and writing down the repeated murmuring and the conversations with the dandelions.
When I was in middle school and high school, I would take a bus to school and back home every weekend. It was an hour drive. Sometimes, I would be sleeping. Oftentimes, I would be leaning on the bus window, staring at the scenes, the houses, the mountains and other cars and buses, while talking to myself, the same self in my head. I would be writing the same story again and again in my head, if I can call that writing. I would take some notes using a real pen on a real paper if there’s something important. Oftentimes, I would be extremely careful to not interrupt the conversations in my head. I guess, there’s not just one self. There might be multiple ones.
No, unfortunately, I don’t have a split personality. When I am growing older, the stories in my head become much more, far far more. After a certain number of times the story repeating in my head, I would feel the urgency and the necessity to write it down. I guess, I am just not smart enough. The storage capacity of my brain is not enough to have too many stories, far far from enough.
The stories and the memories, I have to let them out so that I can free up some capacity for more stories and memories.
My mom is my most loyal audience. She reads every article and she tips each one, a good amount of RMB. “Mom, 20 RMB is enough, please don’t tip me 200 RMB every time. It’s too much”, I have reminded my mom a couple times. So does my brother. I remember my brother sent me a message immediately after I published one article, when it was midnight in China. I am not sure if my dad reads my writing. I guess so. I have received some tips from him a few times. Fathers rarely speak.
Or if it is because we women just have too much to say. My mom has made some nice comments to my articles. “Mom, please try to write something.” Mom has been more and more sensitive since reading my articles. “Will you write about this? You should write it” I nodded, she smiled. “Hmm, please don’t write about this, okay?”
I wish I could write down everything, even just for myself and my family.
I wish I could remember everything so I can write down everything. I should have made a wish when I was blowing on the dandelions, so many times. I should have made a wish that I could have a brain with unlimited storage.
I wish I could remember everything, every detail. I wish I could remember the number of dandelions standing up from the grass. Was it milky dandelions? Was it green grass? Was the sky blue? Were the people on the street happy? Did anyone say hello to me and did I say hello back?
I guess, I am just lonely. I am missing my best friend, missing my grandma, missing that late-night-sensitive-little-girl. I can’t see them anymore. I wish I could remember everything about them. I am missing running on the playground with my friends, missing competing ping pong with my family, missing lying down in my mom’s arms, missing working so hard together with my high school classmates on the college entrance exam, missing playing chess with my brother in summertime.
I wish I could remember every detail, the time to seconds, the faces pale or ivory or brown, the laughs or if they’re giggles or smiles, the tears like the storm or the rain in early spring, the conversations and the pauses, the people in my life, the loved ones, the passengers and the strangers.
I am not alone.
Who is singing,
Who is dancing,
It’s like the world is missing，
I am here, sitting.
No one is laughing,
No one is crying,
No one is even here,
Only my heart is beating,
This is why I write.
“How about you?”
Originally written and workshopped at Stanford Continuing Studies CNF 49 Intro to Creative Nonfiction taught by Caroline. This is my first English writing class and my first time writing about my personal feelings and thoughts using English lol
It has been quite long since the last time I wrote something on Medium. Thought I should share this piece. I will continue to write more, if you’d like to stay in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org 😎