He took a couple large steps toward his bed and sprang upon it with an impish grin that suddenly lit the darkened room. As he landed, it was as if time had softly halted and he lay there for a half-minute in slow motion, his long limbs aflutter, stomach and groin taut, strong shoulders recoiled, and hands landing somewhere behind his head. I reached forward into the air and plucked out what appeared to be the heart of the universe suspended by a palpable strain threaded between us. This heart was silvery and beating, as small as a thimble that capsized as I drew it closer. Warmth spread towards me, a single sunbeam that permeated my entire body. It was at that moment the heart of the universe decided to speak.
Bienvenidos, it cried in upside down exclamation points.
Never had I been greeted in such a way. I had studied hundreds and hundreds of religious texts—Judeo-Christian theology, the Qu’ran, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and critical philosophical theories from old, haunted bookshelves littered all across this earth. But this—this little beating sunbeam I knew from the deepest recesses of my childhood. Light! Light! Light! The Greeks called it ἀγάπη, or unconditional goodwill. Time whirred into motion again, and little golden flecks fell at his feet.
Him! I had briefly forgotten, but there he lay—a teasing and complete stranger, still donning that impish grin. I took one more look at his tussled blond hair and icy blue eyes and was immediately seized again with the urge to tear all the clothes off his body. I had been there the whole night wearing a dress that defiantly wished to cling either to the ceiling or the floor; but it was as if a timer had been set to explode somewhere deep behind my navel and nether regions, leaving me with a mere ten minutes before I lost total self-control.
Instead of walking towards him—as would have been the only natural response—I heard myself mumble a few departing words and escaped into the cool night breeze.
He came through the door and stood still on his porch, as material as the planks beneath our shoes— and it was as if my body had faded into the night, translucent— as if this was how I had always been to him and to myself during these past two months— as if I was gossamer on a long autumn’s night. How could I have expected or wanted for him to see me? How could I have wanted to or been able to give anything of myself when all exertion of self-understanding remained but a ghost? And there he still stood, material as tree bark against my diaphanous skin.
I have traveled this green earth
And never understood
How violently and delicately
The wilderness rushed within
Who knows, maybe my night serves as a defensible position for us. Our voice. Asian America. Perhaps our cadenced dialogue is a defining factor of our current political collective in America, a dynastic rhythm of silence and speech that threads us to our ancestors—Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Shinto that we had shed our bodies from only to be subsumed in a wrought Christianity by assimilation. Perhaps we have to take our time to speak, and perhaps our ways seem yet indefinable because our histories are long and complex, traversing numerous cultures, wars, religions, and political ideologies.
Or maybe, this shit isn’t that deep and I just wanted to talk about sex on a Christian blog.
Regardless, I’m thinking of all of you again, and as itinerant and terrible a religious person as I am, I wanted to raise a prayer of peace for you who continue to search and for myself—
I pray you would find what relics of hierarchical Asian society and Christian America, of your families and personal histories hold you back. What iron bars keep you from being all that you were meant to be—bare as from before you were born—as you are. And I pray for release from that which continues to subjugate us.
Because we are a wilderness
Waiting to be heard
Created by: Charlene Choi
About the Author: Charlene is a nomad based in Los Angeles and is a strategic planner for nonprofits serving marginalized communities. Find one of her creative endeavors here.
Photo: taken by the Author. Port au Prince, Haiti.