you’re the one i want to be reminded of

on a journaling date with a friend*, among musings on white supremacy, zines, and the word chink, we talked about the importance of honoring ourselves.  not just the parts that we’re proud of, that we have meticulously groomed through years of self-reflection and self-help, that we are willing to share with the world.  no.  we talked about honoring our small, silly, scared selves.  our little kid selves that have hidden in closets or under the covers while fires raged around us, that have bullied other little kids and reveled in feelings of power and belonging, that have been hurtful, or mean, or violent in order to stay resilient.

we talked about how much time we spend pushing/pulling away, and painting over these parts–all in the name of being smarter, better, faster, stronger.  but how crazy is it to think that actually… we are enough.  and we have always been exactly what we needed to survive–small, silly, scared and all.

so let’s try this again, to a different tune this time.

to the one who reads under her covers with a flashlight:

thank you.  thank you for being pensive and introspective.  for three hours a day, on your daily commute, you listened to dido and sat with your thoughts.  you were scared and lonely, and you learned to shut out the world and savor solitude, even in a crowded train car.

thank you for being rebellious.  you fought–hard–and perhaps this is the part that makes me feel small and silly.  i admit that when i see holes in walls or trip up during difficult phone conversations, i resent you.  i have a hard time forgiving you for the defenses that you put up, the excessive cursing, and the questions you never asked when you had the chance.  but bundled with all of that, you challenged authority and pushed boundaries, and where would we be now if you hadn’t been brave enough to do those things?

thank you for being a good friend.  ten years later, i still aspire to your honesty, creativity, and expressiveness in love.

thank you for staying angry.  surviving one year at your elite manhattan private school was not enough to make you complacent, and when people called you the ‘ghetto asian girl,’ after you were done feeling ashamed that you weren’t rich enough, white enough, upper west side enough, you got pissed.  your outrage led you to consider the intersections of race, class, and gender as you firmly planted your feet as a working class asian american woman born and raised in queens and said, fuck you.  my name is monna.

one time in the winter, you walked down a street in the neighborhood you grew up in and someone pelted you with a piece of ice.  through your hurt and rage you pondered the prevalence of violence in cities, in poc communities, against women.  you thought about what it’d be like to feel safe in your body, and you resolved to work towards that, always.

thank you for being fierce and resilient.

love,
the one who tattooed your favorite literary character on her wrist.

*shout out to SHJ, one of the best things that has ever happened to the mullet, and my life. ❤

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