I assume you may not know me, but I know you. Well, how else could I not know you when your story has been adapted into a book and a movie? You may not recognize the way you can reach me back, because you’re fictional. But I’d like to think you’re real, and that’s good enough for me.
I’ve been reading your letters, just like any other kids my age and some adults who are still intrigued by young adult fiction. You cried a lot for a boy. You were not ashamed of it, too, even when you were with your friends, Patrick and Sam. They seemed to be really nice people, and I learnt that what they did didn’t define them. The fact that they like to smoke and drink doesn’t make them bad people. I like that. And as always, eventually, people stop doing things but their personality stays strong. Who you are comes from inside.
Anyway, yes, you cried a lot for a boy. You were lucky to have friends that appreciate your tears. Sometimes, they would join you, but in cheers. You cheered along, too, but they weren’t yelps or shouts of joy but whimpers of happiness. Crying may seem weak and vulnerable, but I think you didn’t need to stop.
I would like to tell you a story, if I may. Well, how would you reply to my request of patience and lending both of your ears when you’re only inside our minds? However, Charlie, if you were ever alive, I think you would be a good listener. This reminds me of one of the lines in your letter, stating that you’re “a wallflower”. Anyway, now, let’s get to my story.
In a few months, I will be packing my bags then depart to your country, the United States. A few months ago, I was tested whether or not I was eligible to live in your country and represent my nation. I passed. Though I thought that my interview kind of ******, I still passed. After being declared that I was qualified to go to the U. S., I was given a 27-page form I needed to fill. And so I did. The form consisted of student profile, student questionnaire, student’s letter to host family, parents questionnaire, interviewer’s report, medical records, academic records, a photo album, and a contract. I don’t know why, but this form seemed to weigh down on me, even though it shouldn’t feel tiring at all. I had the pleasure of writing my letter to my future host family, because I love writing, but somehow, I just didn’t like dealing with the official stuffs. But gradually, I put up with it and ended my misery.
Today, I gave the form to my counsellor. I was ready to feel satisfied. I was so ready because I had been feeling very ******* of late, and my rage peaked when my mom forgot to print the photos I needed for the photo album for my future host family to see. My anger still haven’t soothed down, though. Which means I am really mad. Little did I know, after all that ice cream of strolls between the school building to the administration to get my academic records and car rides from home to the doctor to clarify my medical records, topped by an icing of stress due to the ignorance in putting the photos together, there was a cherry on top. I had to print another copy of the same form, photocopy my passport photo, get my dad to sign my form, and if all that was not enough, my counsellor poured down a chocolate syrup into my wombs. I needed to refill my medical records which would only mean going back to the doctor for several more times. I don’t want to exaggerate by saying the hundredth time, because I am already tired.
Of course, all I did was put on my poker face for security, even though my mom yelled at me for not telling her sooner about the correct way to fill my medical records. To be honest, that is all I do. Put on a face of a clear expression of unclear emotion. I felt really stupid for not listening intently to my counsellor when we first met. I felt so stupid, I felt like I already wasted my opportunity. My opportunity to be myself to the fullest extent. My opportunity to feel what is unfelt. My opportunity to meet people I have not encountered. My first opportunity to really go.
But of course, that is not true. I just need to do what needs to be done and I’m all good. But I can’t help feeling like a failure. And I have been stifling more cries than I have ever been in my entire life. I wanted to cry when my brother left. All I did was covered my mouth with the bottom tip of my t-shirt and tried to catch myself when I fell. This time, I wanted to cry because I had never been so ignorant in following instructions. I don’t just tell myself this everyday, I am fully aware that I am observant. I see things people don’t. I feel things that people would dismiss. I listen to unspoken thoughts rather than what has been stated. I really like this part of myself. I feel like this is something that makes me me, and when I don’t do well on something simple like this, something has got to be wrong.
The first thing that came up to mind when I was faced with my mistakes was, “So this is my karma.”
I am a strong believer in karma, Charlie. I bet you know what it is. It’s the punishment you get after doing something bad. Nobody seems to know this, but I’m a bad person. I am. I have a bad habit of judging people; of collecting prejudices to make myself feel good; of being good even when I don’t want to; of not making the best of things; of lying, lying, and lying; of constantly hiding even when I have the chance to fully display myself out there; of being a burden to my parents and friends; of being vague about my faith; of not having a voice. I feel weak, but I won’t say I’m a weakling because I won’t make it become me, although all I want to do is to cry all the time because unlike you, I have no idea how to do that.
All I know right now is when I can feel there’s water in my eyes, I blink to dry them out. When my lips seem to turn upside down, I give them a rubdown so that they would look nice and pretty again. I don’t know how to cry, Charlie, I really don’t. I can already see myself next week at school, making an excuse to the toilet, or having lunch with friends and while having a good laugh I find myself crying, and I wouldn’t be able to distinguish my happiness and my melancholy. Neither would my friends.
I’m sorry for making it really long for you to read. I could just make it into several sentences, like, “Didn’t correctly fill out my form. Feeling like a failure. I don’t know how to express myself.” But knowing that you really like reading books as much as I do, I think you would appreciate my effort in writing my story as detailed as possible. I hope you enjoy it, too, no matter how miserable it seems when it really shouldn’t be. But then again, I wouldn’t be telling you a story.
During my inconsolable moment, I decided to make a list of things to remember when I’m an adult. In my mind, I wrote the first one down. I said to myself, “Remember the feeling of holding back.” I muttered the line aloud inside again and again, so that it would feel natural for me when I see someone in a situation like mine. As much as I hate that feeling, I need to be reminded so that others won’t be as miserable as I was. It seems pretty selfish of me, to see other people smile so that I can join them, but if you think again, it’s also for their own good.
The second one is to be sensitive, because it’s the only way you can understand anyone, especially your kids. I feel like people should not forget the fact that others of their kind is others of their kind. They’re not only their fellow citizens, they’re not only what they do for a living, they’re not doctors, or lawyers, or engineers, or archeologists. They are human. The basic form of every occupation. And they have feelings, just like we do. Sometimes we are blocked by the boundary of professionalism that we forget who they really are. There is not a day where we’re not divided based on jobs, religions, races, nationalities, and the list keeps going. But in the end, what we are is not based on those factions. We’re just mortals.
I would tell you more about the four other things I’ve listed, but I don’t want to keep you from doing what you’re supposed to do now. I think there are more things to be listed, too, when my days have moved on. But the four other things I’ve written down are, “Keep in mind Alesso’s quote, that you’re not gonna get any younger”, “Make ‘Listening to Sigur Rós’ a routine”, “Always eat your breakfast”, and “Remember the feeling of being a teenager, because most parents have already forgotten”. I thought that I would erase the last one because it is pretty similar to the second one, but I guess it has a different understanding. I’m sorry for keeping you from doing your job for awhile, whatever it is you are doing now. But I do hope you turn out well.
If you do reach the end, Charlie, now is the time that I thank you for reading this from the beginning to the end. I don’t get listened to much actually, so I think it is very kind of you for having finished reading every word. Anyway, I need to get busy printing my form again. I hope to recognize you in one of the souls I will be meeting one day.