It wasn’t even muttered under his breath. The word carried over the sound of a busy Berkeley street, broke through the jackhammers of construction and the noise of commute, and hit me squarely between the eyes. My stereotypically-small, almond-shaped Asian eyes.
“I want you to say or shout or scream one thing you are angry about while holding this rock, and then you are going to chuck it as hard as you can into the ocean.”
One after the other, I threw those rocks into the ocean. One after the other, I shouted my grievances to God. My anger grew louder as my arm grew tired. And for the next few days, my predominant emotion was rage.
It was terrifying.
I have spent many years trying to fit the mold of what I thought was lovable, a carefully defined outline of a person that grew narrower and narrower with every wound received, with every critique given, or with every loss. And, like a preschooler hyped up on sugar, I've learned that despite my best efforts I can never stay within the lines.
I sat on the plane en route to Mexico City, mourning all the things I hadn’t checked off of my to-do list. My four years of high school Spanish had yet to resurface, and I had only made it to “Él es un muchacho. Él bebé leche” on DuoLingo. My list of “Things to Eat” only had one all-inclusive bullet point: tacos. I hadn’t begun Sandra Cisneros’ Woman Hollering Creek—a book I have owned since college, purchased for some class, and never opened because, let’s be honest, in the deluge of assigned reading, SparkNotes became my dear friend–like the one with all the extra meal plan points at the end of the semester.
The older I get, the more I have learned that I am a strange mix of obedient and defiant. There is a rule-follower in me–someone who refuses to “California roll” through stop signs on principle. But there’s also a side of me that wants to join the rebel alliance, who shakes my fist at “the man,” who spent every Simon Says as a child trying to beat Simon at his own game and look for loopholes.