I feel like I’ve aged a lot in the past week. I’ve been swept by scary news around my family, almost-homelessness in a country 8,000 miles away, my loved ones back in Manila in lockdown in a state that has essentially imposed martial law, the loss of life-changing opportunities that I had thought beckoned the fight and narrative of why I chose to come to America, and so much more. Turning 20 in the midst of a global pandemic, I write to you from a dormitory in my campus, now more still than ever. For every student who talks about how New Haven is boring (or worse, scary) is always so mistaken. There are no cars on the street in the dead of night, no lights in the Saybrook courtyard anymore, I am the sound of what is left. * Time right now is not difficult because social distancing it’s hard. It’s difficult because my brain is scrambling for the sense of normalcy prior, even if it were a disjoint existence. We’ll see more of this in the coming weeks, but the impacts of a societal and economic collapse will live on with us forever. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, basically. At one moment I’m chuckling about a quarantine joke about never having been loved in 21 years. In the next, I’m furious about someone’s shitty mockup of a “Zoom University” hoodie that they plan to sell for 17 dollars each to be printed on the cheapest online supplier over a Yale Blue Gildan. I am distant from my family (part in choice, part of necessity), and thinking about why I must live in this day and age and time. I cried even harder when opportunity was taken away from me. I write gentle thank you’s and then become rough on myself for still seemingly knowing nothing. I am my worst enemy. I sleep for 18 hours one day and then 30 minutes the next. I am pining for perfection and self-destruction, simultaneously. I share another document containing links to help the impacted that only 1% of people will actually click. I recede and play Plague Inc. and name my disease “Furry” and wonder if my Car Seat Headrest tickets will be refunded. I wave at the shut-off shower lights as I stand in the hottest water at midnight, I sing in the suite and cry onMore?
I frequently forget that when Will Toledo released Twin Fantasy, he was the age I am today. At nineteen and in college, a lull in life that I can’t characterize with anything but the feeling of being outcast and past my prime–my fears all center around whether I have already been at my most prolific.
but the lord was not in a fire There are always two sides to it. Some describe it as the falling and then the terror of the flames, inextricably impossible to actually understand unless you are right there: no matter how many times we have seen this unravel on television. Or in the moment before it, another writes, is a lifelong struggle with our body–the only vessel that we must live with for our entire lives. Here, it’s as simple as crumbs on teeth, a self-induced fear of eating, and how in essence, it is just as easy to wipe ourselves from the face of the earth as with a wrapped, store-bought craving. The ability to erase ourselves does not ever diminish our lived lives. If anything, it adds value to it. If we were brought into an ephemeral, dying world without choice then temporary goodness is what we must do. The acceptance of this is integral to the act. During the first week of my freshman year at Yale, and precisely a day after I first settled in early in the dormitories at Vanderbilt Hall it happened (I was there early for the international student orientation; I came out of it with no friends that I still speak with until this day). I was lying on the Twin XL bed, feeling myself spilled out on it; getting used to an indentation and hum in the basement that would mark my next ten months on this campus. Then, I heard footsteps and a loud knocking on my door with a member of Yale Police stepping in and asking me if I was okay. She was very sure that I might have intended to kill myself that night. In around late 2019, I began thinking intensely about whether my coming to America had been my biggest mistake. On this space in the internet, for so many years, I’ve fawned and talked about how I lifted myself up–out of depression, out of fawning over the piano, out of revelations in school trips–and it had all led to my becoming. Now, I am more understanding; I do not bear knowledge of everything, but have given myself the counsel of empathy. It might be hard for you to believe, but talking to people is easy. It’s staying interested that’s the hard part. That I am fine with my voice filling rooms and memories, butMore?