I realized --
I was trying to assimilate her
These were traits her culture respected
Traits her family respected
But I scoffed at her for bowing and talking so respectfully to teachers
I blankly looked at them as they speedily chit-chat, only being able to pull out a few words that I understood out of their gibberish lingo
I felt out of place.
She found a place of comfort from others,
Where they could talk about dramas and idols non-stop for hours
And just laugh – the kind of laugh that roared from the pit of your belly,
The kind I couldn’t give her.
She answered so thoroughly in class,
And I was proud.
And I rolled my eyes.
It’s not as if I was the only one to complain
There were others.
I asked her again and again
To come on adventures with me
To just let herself go for a bit
But she would say no.
She didn’t want to burden her parents,
By making them drive or put forth money.
She didn’t want to go out of her comfort zone.
And I blamed her for that.
Blamed her for not being like me.
There were other things we could do though.
Things that didn’t cost money.
Things that could make her feel comfortable.
So we went to her house,
Baking, watching Nodo Jiman, eating little cheese curls and drinking Mitsuwa cider,
It was nice.
But her mom would speak to me in her language, ask how I was doing,
Ask what I’ve been up to.
And I knew what to say,
But I was too insecure to say it aloud.
Afraid that I would make a mistake and stumble on one of the words,
And make that graceful and gentle language sound wrecked.
I had an insecurity, and a cultural unawareness,
And I turned that into anger and pushed it onto her.
But she wasn’t to blame.
I remember once hearing about a Hawaiian story from my uncle,
About a bowl of light.
According to the story,
We are all born with a bowl of light, representing our true and pure essence.
But, when you experience resentment or fear,
You drop a stone into your bowl of light, blocking some of the light.
I felt myself becoming heavy and guilty,
For I was one who was known not to judge.
A stone does not grow. Nor does it move.
I turned over my bowl of light,
And let all the stones crash into the ground.
And once again I felt the freedom in acceptance.
And the source of light and love returned.