Wednesday, February 07, 2007

People who mattered - One

Yeah I am gonna write about people who have come and changed my life. They work in the most mysterious ways. As I wrote earlier, I would write them out one by one. A lot of memories are already escaping me. I feel time has picked them up and taken them to a happier place. But I like them to be with me, they really meant something to me. My memory won't be here to serve me forever, so I might just as well write them out.

Before I start, I got get some rant off my heart first. Three days ago, which was on Saturday, I went out a bit and came home bored and didn't want to sleep. I actually stayed up till 6:00 in morning. Ok, I know online shit doesn't work for a FACT. But I guess my judgment went on vacation for a bit, so I did this match.com thing. Did a little profile etc and started to wink people randomly. Then I forgot about it till today. I received an email from match.com. A white dude who I winked replied. The reply read as following: xxx has received your wink and is not interested. Even internet nowadays can have attitude! This bugs me because it shouldn't bug me since I didn't expect anything anyway and then when I get rejected it bugged me. Being bugged by this actually bugged me!!! I actually felt a bit down. But whatever, that is that. Off my chest. haha. Let's write something that is useful!


The first person I want to mention is truly a friend and nothing but a friend. Let me name him Mason (his name would be in Chinese, but I think I will call him Mason, randomly named but I like it).We met each other in 1st grade. That was when we were both 6 years old. When we were that young, friendship was pure. We didn't become friends because we could network the shit out of each other or it was a cool thing to be his friend or to be my friends. He was a very nice and tolerate guy. I was spoiled but we worked out our relationship just great. He was a true pal. He looked like a minority ethnicity group in China because his feature was a bit different. He had natural curly hair and big brown eyes. His smile was wide and full of sunshine. He was pretty cute for his age and would definitely be hot now. People would definitely think he was mixed with some other western race. We were both the tallest in the class. If he was still alive today, he would be probably just the same height as I am now, just a bit over 6 foot. His Chinese first name associated with ocean and in its ancient context, it also incorporated "deep and perpetual" and similar meanings to the word.

We were both good writers. We would compete with each other and earn 1st and 2nd spots in state sponsored writing contests. We have always competed in the literature area and English area. Despite the effort that Chinese people exerted to their education system to teach young kids English, the methodology and teaching style were just fucked up and kids would never learn anything beyond "what is your name, how old are you, and what time is it". We were also running student bodies though he didn't really get involved in it because toward 5-6th grade, he became this anti-hero character in the class. We needed people like that to say NO to teachers who order students to eat chalks because they wouldn't shut up in the class. Ok, I know it sounds very horrible! But it really wasn't that bad! God I guess I am not helping with the Communism stereotypes by writing these lol~~~ Also, we would setup class debates on philosophy topics such as the ancient Chinese theory regarding human nature. The most well spread theories were "Humans were born to be evil", "Humans were born to be nice", and the all famous “Humans were born to be blank slates; it is the education and society that forms who we are". Every side had a prominent philosopher who also happened to be the giant educators back then. So yeah, we were debating these when we were like 10. He and I were the advocates for things like this. We actually started a new trend that eventually led the whole school to do this. It was pretty formal actually. Each team consisted of 6 people, one handled opening, one handled closing, two handled forward attacking and one focused on rebuttal. I was always the guy who handled either opening or closing since these two were the most important roles. He would always handle the rebuttal role and also attacking role. I know it must sound very stupid and boring to a lot of you who is reading this. But back then, for a while, it was all we were going school for. It was so liberating. The crushing blows you landed on the other team eventually made them cry just made me and Mason very happy. Of course this came along all the attentions, dramas, and fears generated toward us.

Haha again it sounded very political and very impure. But really the friendship was very sincere. We were friends because we enjoyed things that we did. We both loved video games and we would sneak out to play arcade sometimes. Well that eventually led to a beating for me but it was grand times. His family and my family were kinda well off back there. But my grandmother believed that kids should not have any financial power so that they would not be spoiled with material distractions. Mason didn't live with his grandparents, so in a sense, he was a bit more spoiled financially. He always gave me money for lunch and arcades! I loved him!! Ok that came out wrong but really he was truly my buddy. I always paid him back but back then no other kids were like that tight. When your friendship at that age involved green and still stayed tight, I think it just made it that much cooler lol. Omg we were silly kids.

Also, Chinese schools were very political. God (I don’t believe in god, but this is a conventional way to put it if you know what I mean) sent us a BRILLIANT teacher who taught us how to stay real. I will write about her later for sure. She has changed my life and other kids’ lives in that class. (Btw, in China, grades 1-6 are taught by the same teacher who handles both math and literature. At grade 5 there will be a second teacher who teaches English). But overall it was very prematurely political. Student bodies were up and running at a tender age of 9 years old and the leader candidates which were chosen by teacher's favors and students own abilities. These leadership positions were incredibly important since it ultimately could directly lead a person to an unlimited political career path. But they were chosen so early on that it segregated the student body by political class already. People were just 8 years old -_-... Sigh. I am sure a lot of people do not see it this way but if you get rid of the decorations they put around the actual elections etc, it is exactly what it is. It is a premature political arena. Personally, I think it is AWESOME. But I am sure it is probably not the best way to grow up lol.

The reason I am introducing this environment is that back then we both had different agendas. We were both kinda antihero characters. The difference between us was that he just really didn't give a shit but I actually cared for a great deal. Everyone was everyone's friend in a sense in the class since the 60 people practically grew up together from 1st to 6th grade. But most people weren't friends because of that kind of environment. A lot of students including me felt the absolute superiority over others, not only because we had all these activities going on and we were successful at it but also we killed it academically. I wasn't a math wiz but I could write. Others were studying calculus at grade 5. You know stuff like that just really put students apart. We truly thought people who had bad grades were second citizens and they were retarded. Oh good o'times, we were such silly kids haha. But despite all these, Mason and I would go out everyday after school, play arcade, go out and eat, watching TV, going to tutor sessions, and some other random stuff.

Although we weren't the best students in the class, we were on top of our games. I was highly feared and respected in the class and I had a lot of enemies and he was just really causing trouble to the teachers all the time. We were an odd couple and every knew who we were. Everything changed. I got sick (I will write this later). Not going into too much detail now, but briefly, it was an auto-immune system disease that caused my muscle to lose its strength. I was left with a lot of almost paralyze muscles on my body. Worst part is that it started on my weakest muscle in my body, the eyes. It was devastating and it shattered my self-image. I used the past 12 years to cope with it. The only person who stood by me was Mason. He was just as good friends as we used to be. Nothing changed. I really thought I looked like a monster because I literally could not open my eyes, but it never bothered him. It was so touching. I actually expected it. I knew he was gonna be there and we would always be pals. I think at that time I really felt secure. I felt that no matter what I would have Mason by my side. It gave me strength. Most important it gave me comfort despite I was terrified and desperate. I don't think any 11 year old kid can impact another 11 year old kid all that much. But I think back then just that tiny comfort every time I thought about him when I was thinking about my own death, it was just tremendous.

I started to battle my own fate when I was 11. Mason told me he would always be there. He would help me through it. I thanked him. When I was 12 years old, which was my last year in elementary school, toward the end of the last semester, Mason fell. He was ice-skating and he fell. He broke his leg by falling. We were laughing at it because he was a tall guy and looked strong. Who knew he would be so fragile? He had clutches for a long time. Usually broken legs would heal in 3 months but his leg got more swollen everyday. He told me it hurt like nothing else.Then we graduated from elementary school. It was that summer that my disease got even worse. So I went away and sought after other treatments. Mason and I separated for while. Then after a long medical journey, my family found Children Hospital of Los Angeles which had extensive experience on the disease. We were going to give it a try. By that time, I was already taking Chinese herbal medicine as the last resort in China and miraculously it worked. We weren't going to give up on something that actually worked just because another western hospital told us that they might have a chance at it. But we decided to come to the States anyway. That is when we found out that Mason's leg was broken not because he fell but because the tissues and bones were already fragile from cancer. His leg wasn't going to heal. They might have to amputate the leg. As my last visit before leaving China, we went to Beijing to see him. He was fat, fragile and bold. His silky curly hair was completely gone. He was one of those horrible cancer patients. I didn't now what to say. I felt sad deeply in my heart. It was so deep that I knew I wouldn't feel anything on the surface there but it was definitely gonna hit me years to come. I knew it well back then. But I didn't feel it. We were chatting and talking. I saw him taking shots on his leg. His parents looked exhausted. Their eyes told me they still have hope but that hope was being put out by reality and doubt. Mason was in a good spirit. We chatted and played some computer game. Before I knew it, it was my time to go. We were very traditional back in China. Hugging was NOT part of any custom. I was compelled to hug him though. But eventually tradition overcame my desire. I didn't hug him. In my head, a voice was telling me, "David, you are going to so regret this if you don't." But I didn't. I walked out the room and I saw him the last time and he smiled at me. And that was it.

Haha, I can't believe it I am actually crying now. I thought I was over this already haha.

Anyway I came to the States. We wrote each other letters a couple more times then we never communicated again. It was about back in year 2000. I had a dream, Manson and I were walking next to the big dirty river that was in our city. It was closer to my grandma's house. It was a very beautiful day. I remembered that in the dream the air was fresh and we were very young again. I was very lonely in the States for a while for obvious reasons. But in that dream, I felt calm. I was talking to him and we were laughing so hard. Suddenly, a tornado started in a far distance. We said oh shit let's hide. So we ran into the apartment complex. In China, we only had high rise apartment complex. There were no individual houses back then. In every complex, the only way of going up was to climb the stairs. On every half level, there was always a small window. It was for air circulation and natural light. So in my dream, we were running upstairs. When we reached one of the half levels, the wind ripped the window out and dragged Mason out. I was unaffected by the seemingly mighty wind at all. Mason held on to the edge of the window and looked at me straight in the eyes and said, "David, save me please! Please!! I don't want to die. You are my best friend, you need to save me." Just like in the movies, I grabbed his hand and panicked. I said, " I am trying, I am really trying, don't no, not now, don't go" He shouted out one last time please save me, and he was gone. The dark wind grabbed him away and all of sudden the sky went blue again. It was the beautiful weather again. Then I woke up.In the morning I told my mom about the story and just looked her in the eyes. I knew it couldn’t be good news. But then we weren't used to be superstitious. It might be just a sign. So I told my mom to pull her connections in China and find out what exactly was going on with Mason. About one week later, my mom told me that Mason has died about 6 months ago. I said, "Oh." I was surprised by how calm I was. I felt guilty because I was supposed to break down and cry. I didn't. So I thought I guess distance does pull people apart. What I failed to understand was, when a very tragic event happens in one's life, it takes time to digest the information and the news usually sinks much later. That was exactly what happened later that night. I have never cried so hard. I cried and cried and all I thought was, “this is how it feels like when a person dies. He is not coming back EVER. I will NEVER be able to see him or talk to him EVER again. Our childhood plans were never gonna be fulfilled." I cried till I had no tears and I fell asleep. I have never cried about him since then. I think that is a good thing. I let him go. I give him and myself peace. I moved on but I will forever remember him. Every time I think about him, it is this positive and comforting image that he has always given me. The second time I cried about him is today.

I will forever remember him. He helped me through a very fast-paced and difficult childhood. I wouldn't be who I am today without him. After his death, I learned to treat people a bit nicer. Life doesn't come easily and no one should take it as granted. I already have this experienced first hand but instead of me dying first which was believed to happen, he died instead. He still lives in me and through him; I learn to live my life better and happier each day.

2 comments:

about a boy said...

my god man. put some paragraphs in there! :) nice post!

Silly Billy said...

Wow...great post man. Keep them coming.