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208 pages, Hardcover
First published June 9, 2020
“They could support a teenage pregnancy, but not this, not a person who drifted from one moment to the next without any idea about where she was headed.”
“Where am I going and how do I get there? What have I done and what will I continue to do? Will I ever wake up and look in the mirror and feel good about the person staring back at me?”
“I’ll tell you what I wish someone told me when I was eighteen—it never goes away.”
“What is ‘it,’ exactly?”
“All of it, any of it, just it.”
“Han was a sickness of the soul, an acceptance of having a life that would be filled with sorrow and resentment and knowing that deep down, despite this acceptance, despite cold and hard facts that proved life was long and full of undeserved miseries, “hope” was still a word that carried warmth and meaning. Despite themselves, Koreans were not believers, but feelers—they pictured the light at the end of the tunnel and fantasized about how lovely that first touch of sun would feel against their skin, about all they could do in wide-open spaces.”
“Fine,” a word you used when you stubbed your toe and people asked you if you were okay and you didn’t want to sound like a little bitch. When your mom gave you Cheerios after you asked for Froot Loops. Something you said to people who asked about your day and you didn’t know them well enough to give them a real answer. Never a word used when talking about anything of value.”
I wanted to be the type of person that walked with their back straight, the dirt under their fingernails pure. I didn't want to be a chain saw, I wanted to be a plastic baggie. No shredding, just holding. I wondered what animals lived under the shadows of my bones. I hoped they were animals of nobility - lions and eagles and horses with long manes - and not what I feared - vultures and wolves and drooling hyenas.
Words were funny like that. One moment they could wound you, turn into bricks that would sink to the bottom of your stomach. The next moment those bricks were transforming into butterflies, eagles, pterodactyls, Frisbees, various flying objects rising to your chest and nesting in the spaces between your ribs.
We laughed and made marks on each other's bodies, wet red spots that even after they dried would still shine for days afterward, make us smile whenever we saw them reflected back in mirrors and windows, little red beacons that screamed to whoever stared at them, "Hey, hi, hello, howdy, look at me, I am alive and loved."
I wished for all five of her fingertips to become permanent islands on the fabric of my shirt.
I hoped before our kiss ended I could figure out how we could go back to before, to my bedroom when we had just met, and talking was as simple as opening our mouths and saying whatever thought popped into our minds, the words flowing out like Froot Loops from a never-ending box - colorful and sweet and so light that you could hold a whole handful without feeling like you were weighed down by anything.