I had two best friends

I was cleaning up my email inbox and I found this piece of writing from two years ago. Ever critical and self-conscious about my latest work, this is chilling to read because it is so apt. What’s interesting is I don’t think I’ve ever really had a “best friend” since, at least not in the common sense. I’ve had very close friends whom I might have called my best friend in middle school, but now I feel like that’s not how I would describe my dearest. Anyway, here’s the story from my childhood, unedited.

I had two best friends

In Kindergarten and Grade 1, I had two best friends: Nicholas Dhaliwal and Jesse Jacobson. Every recess and lunch hour we would hang out by the school’s boundary and collect chestnuts or play soccer on the field with the big boys. We would discuss pressing issues like if you ran faster with karate-chop hands or with boxer fists – I think Jesse won because he pointed out that he saw an Olympic sprinter run with karate-chop hands.

Out of the two, I had met Nicholas first. He was in the same morning class as me in the first half of Kindergarten and continued with me when we switched to the afternoon class. We were the fastest runners in our grade. He wore Nike shoes like me and was taller and skinnier than most of the class. Best of all, his nickname was Nick.

Every gym class, Nick and I competed for first place. If we were skipping rope, I had to skip longer than Nick. If we were playing basketball, Nick had to get to the basketball bin first.

Later into Kindergarten, Jesse joined the class. He was the new kid and had long blonde hair that he slicked back behind his ears. Imagine a childhood version of Dog the Bounty Hunter. That was Jesse. He was of Irish descent and the first kid I knew to wear cologne to school. And damn proud of it.

All through Kindergarten the three of us forged a friendship made of steel. Or titanium. Always the greatest and strongest metal we could think of. We maintained our cameraderie with code names and top secret missions. If we were assigned to form groups in class for math or pick members for a team, we always schemed to end up together – sometimes by chance, mostly by choice.

After our first school year together, Jesse had his birthday in the summer. His party was at his house. There was a clown who made balloon animals and a magician who performed magic tricks. We ate rectangular Domino’s Pizza and shared a cake with quarters baked into it.

From birthday parties with clowns to Power Ranger play fights, we shared everything with each other: stories, secrets, and even first kisses (we were five and it made the girls at school laugh).

One day, in the middle of Grade 1, Jesse said he was moving. He was leaving for Mexico with his Mom. Jesse was excited and talked about going surfing; I was confused and sad. Here was one of my best friends about to leave. He said that he might move back in a few years. He didn’t.

Shortly afterward, I found out that I was leaving, too. My family was moving from Vancouver to Coquitlam, a forty-five-minute drive away.

That summer brought on mixed feelings: I was excited to live in a new house and sad to leave my remaining best friend Nick behind. I was going to leave my co-op where I had lots of friends and learned how to ride a bike.

For many, Kindergarten and Grade 1 are a long time ago but at age six everything is a first and time has a relative feel to it where there are few experiences to base your choices from; childhood is a time when you live through experiences that you do not know how to live through.

Being in a different school district, I had professional days off at my new school when my old school had class. Because my mom worked nearby, my brother and I took the opportunity to go back to our old school to visit our old teachers and friends for the day.

The first few times I went back, I even knew which class to go to see Nick, but I started to lose track of which room he was in and during some visits I didn’t even see him. Soon, he was more of a memory than a friend.

The last time I did see Nick was when I went to visit my old school on a professional day in Grade 6. I was walking out to the soccer field at the start of lunch hour when I ran into him on the way there.

He was with his friends, whom I did not recognize. “Hey Nick. How’s it going? Have you heard from Jesse?” His friends did not recognize me either.

Nick recoiled, saying spitefully, “No. Don’t you get it? He’s gone for good. He’s never coming back. Get over it”

Hurt, I pushed Nick down and walked away. I don’t know what was more painful: that I had to accept Jesse was gone or that so was my friendship with Nick.

Moving to a new city was like transplanting a tree. All the deep connections I made uprooted and planted somewhere new, the old roots severed and left behind. Though the tree is in its new plot with fresh soil covering the roots, it still takes some time for the ground around it to become solid and firm.

Window Seat: Groupthink

Ever since I got up this morning, I’ve had a song stuck in my head but I couldn’t quite tell which one it was. There was just this meandering voice and hypnotic beat waltzing from ear to ear. Then I realized which song it was: Window Seat by Erykah Badu. Until I looked up the song on Youtube, I didn’t even know it was Eryka Badu who sang it. Lately I’ve been listening to a CD my dad burned and stuck in the car with various artists on it.. Needless to say, “Track 17” (or, what I now know is “Window Seat”) has been the popular track in my tape/CD deck.

I first stumbled onto Badu’s Window Seat from this post by Jay Smooth. I know the video and post have been out for a year already, but I don’t think the message of either really got to me until today: “look how far we’ve come, look how far we’ve got to go.” The world we live in (patriarchal, racist, ableist, classist…) survives by a machine that squashes differences and the drive to connect with one another. When we’re old enough to want to ‘fit in’ then we learn fast that we already fit nicely into the categories of “straight” or “brown” or “woman” or “other,” and there’s no easy way out… These mechanisms of oppression prevent us (because both privileged and oppressed ‘us’ are held back) from entering a world without hate. Groupthink and oppressive cultures posit us against each other.

So with this social consciousness in mind, I commend the bravery, passion, apprehension, fear, courage, and dedication that Ms. Badu employed to make her music video for “Window Seat.” Imagine: you’re a completely nude black woman walking downtown in Dallas, TX. If we are post-racist, then why is that such a scary thing to do?

Take a look at the video then check out Jay’s post. I’d like to hear what you think.

Erykah Badu – Window Seat

Jay Smooth’s post: http://nildoctrine.com/nil/erykah-badu-window-seat-video/

i will stop petitioning

i
will
stop

petitioning for a greater audience,
a grander stage on which to perform

my tricks of the trade
will remain
in the soul possession of a few
dedicated people

whom i care for


there is money enough in the world
so i give you my love
for free


life's too short
so let us dance to the sound of bombs

in a crooked world
a proper action is revolution


one wish in a world at war:
a day of peace


so
i
invite a modest, brave soul
to take interest

nothing can ever happen twice

Found this gorgeous poem on Paulo Coelho’s blog. If only we could always speak like this to each other.

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

not like that

to you
i do not want to be sexually enticing
i do not want to be all that is attractive


i want to be myself


yet
that is whom i withold

closed
i am a rock
i am a stone

and scared of hurting
i try to be alone


i do not want to be touched
with your eyes
like that.