The night is beginning. The date is July 4, 1998. I am at an Independence Day celebration on base at Fort Leonardwood, MO. My cycle of Basic Combat Training is taking a short break in observance of our national holiday. It is about the time when the day and the night get mixed up in dream-like ways. Day oceans of bright blue swirl with night oceans of deep plum. The moon has risen enough to be seen over the trees, the stars are waking and twinkling, and the sun is going down to bed. I sit on metal bleachers, absorbing the moods and emotions in the cool summer air filled with corn dogs, flashing roller-coaster lights, cotton candy, rock music, screaming girls, laughing children, bargaining parents, and the scent of silent remorse on pine.
I sit on metal bleachers, in silent remorse, missing a girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. Letters take days. The telephone is a miss at best. I miss her, now. I want her, now. I am cold at my side where she would normally sit, holding my big arm like a personal heater on cool nights, her head on my shoulder. It may be a decade later, but I still feel the same sense of wanting and sorrow that young boy felt for that girl. He loved her wholly and lustfully, perhaps the best a teen boy can do. In the end, it was not enough.
In that moment I spent looking up at the moon, she was looking at the moon, too. I felt that connection instantly. I knew she was looking because there, in the round of the moon, was her smiling face. There was laughter, there was her hand on mine, there was the scent of her perfume, and the perfume of her lustful young body. In that moment, I was not just connected with her, I was physically with her. I remember that lonely boy’s eyes tearing in lonely love for her, wishing he was not so god-forsaken far away.
Was it a dream I had while gazing into the hollows of the moon? Was it a dream that I was out that night? Was it a dream that I was even in the Army? Or, was it a dream that the young boy and young girl were ever in love?
I still look up at the moon. And, although the young girl’s face is no longer there, that young boy always comes back, climbs up onto those metal bleachers, and reaches out for the moon, longing for a connection with love.
To Another World
The window to the playground is a windscreen to a galactic spaceship on expedition to the Nolana System. Outside, enemy fighters dart back and forth in the front of the spaceship’s commander – he must keep his course! Some of them are black, others are brown, and a few are brightly colored in reds, yellows, and even blues. The colors are a mystery, but they must serve some purpose. Uh oh, the B.I.R.D.S. are dive bombing the patrol teams! Called Doggs, the patrol teams operate via a tether.
“Choo,” one missile away. “Choo. Choo,” two more missiles away. “Switch to guns!” Maverick yells over the radio. The machine guns fire as fast as they can. “Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!”
Suddenly, the windscreen is blocked and all visibility is lost. The pilot scrambles to see. He squirms back and forth in his desk to regain visibility, but the teacher blocks all.
“To the principles office, young man.”
The young boy sulks and walks out into the hallway mumbling.
Suddenly, the engines fire and the pilot is back in to evasive maneuvers!
I once dreamed of being nothing more and nothing less than a combat soldier. Whether Special Forces, infantry, or a tanker… it did not matter. I just wanted to kick down doors, bust some heads, and blow shit up. If that failed, Plan B was to become a successful businessman. Forget about fame, I just wanted to be rich and own the town. Both failed. Everything had to be rethought. Plan C had to be discovered, conceived, and born.
Plato once said, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”
How my bitter lips turn and drip with honey at the utterance of your name. Sweet like candy on my eye, the animal of myself imprisons your portrait in my mind. With a love like angels for their brothers and sisters, I wish to set you free into my arms.
Desire can take a mind of its own when it becomes full and engorged. My passion is lustful to embrace you, touch you, discover your mysteries, and gaze onto your waking face in the morning bright. Who will rise with more radiance? The new-day sun, or the girl of yester night? Let me kiss the winner.
Like the wheat in the field, when our days turn gold and our hair turns silver, what harvest shall our memories smile upon? I want to smile upon the wheat of the wheat of our field.
If I come call and woo the woman of my love, will it be you who comes to see me?
Sick and tired of being sick and tired of this freaking rat race we call work and life and the whole fat bitch smothering me away, I accept an offer that will change my life. Anyway, I hope and want it to change my life. Have you ever bet all-in for the opportunity to get back out the rabbit hole you have fallen down? I did.
Wow, I thought, can this really be happening? Two people really believe I am capable of achieving a goal as opening my own brick-and-mortar office. For reasons not entirely known to me, I have always desired (and almost need) to be socially recognized for my prosperous achievements, to feel constituted in the community. And, yet, I do not feel constituted in the community and I rarely receive any kind of positive recognition, at least not enough to fill a need that has developed. So, with the potential of an opportunity to step out of this rat race and set my self up for a great retirement, I jumped on it full-tilt.
For the week it took for my application to be reviewed, I daydreamed how my life would change over the next five to ten years. I would continue to live in the cheapest place I could find, here, in my current town while I continue to work my full-time job. Essentially, nothing would change, and the extra earned money would be banked or reinvested to increase my sales. Once the income to my full-time job would be equaled or surpassed for eight consecutive months, I would then switch employers for my full-time income.
I imagined renting in the new town with my new office until I could afford to build the house I dream about with its impacted-earth walls, wrap-around covered porch, and the ten acres I require as personal space. Overtime, my second-hand items would get replaced with new items that I have been patiently waiting for. My life would become one of daily physical fitness, daily conversations and play time with my son, daily success, and daily happiness and self-content. That is what I wanted, anyway.
It was the day dream.
And then, the dash. I got a phone call informing me that I am not a suitable candidate at this time.
The Dream of the Lion
The dream of the lion. House is filled with everyone I have ever cared about in my life. I see the lion outside and we all close and lock the windows and doors. I see the lion outside the front door. Next, it appears inside the house in front of the door. This “teleportation” into my domain (the house) tells me the lion is somehow a part of me. My heart races in response to the lion’s entry; I prepare for battle. Ready to charge the lion, he turns and walks down another hall. We walk parallel down our respective halls. I am scared for the people in the house. We walk faster. Faster. Faster. An object obstructs my view of the lion. I move back and forth in my hallway trying to find the lion in his hallway. The lion has disappeared. Suddenly, I am stricken with paralyzing fear and panic. I can feel my physical body reacting despite the fact I am asleep. The different people scream from all over the house as the lion attacks them omnipresently and simultaneously. Despite my fear and hesitation, I pursue the lion in all places at once. He is always escaping and outside my reach, yet still pursuing and killing my people. I end the dream to end the killings. I am yelling, “The lion is in the house!” I wake up yelling, “The lion is in the house!”
I had a serious crush on women like Nichelle Nichols who played Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek, Molly Ringwald who played Claire Standish from Breakfast Club, Jennifer Connelly (Natalie Becker) and Maddie Corman (Polly Franklin) from Seven Minutes in Heaven, Miriam Bialik who played Blossom on the television series Blossom, and of course the Fly Girls from In Living Color. However, in my eyes, all of these women were still mainstream, like mainstream America, no different than white America. There were no women I could relate to and felt totally attracted to because they did not understand the duality of my upbringing, the twin cultures of my house. It can be confusing at times. Not only because of the American and Korean cultures, but also because of the military and civilian cultures.
The 1990s were tumultuous in many ways, some good and some bad. But, besides puberty and my teenage years, junior high, high school, my own short military career, Civil Air Patrol, love, fun, and adventure, I met Selena, and fell in love with someone who understood a duality in upbringing, and twin cultures in the house. She understood suffering and the ascension through cultural, economic, social, familial, and personal barriers. And, all from the mixed-ethnic background. I bought her CDs and listened to them almost every day. I learned as much as I could about her. But, as usual, no one else had even heard about her. That did not matter, though, because she was the first other interracial with a mutual understanding. My best moment with Selena was when I spoke with her on the phone. It lasted seconds, really, or just a minute or two, but it seemed much longer. She said I sounded cute, and it made me blush. I could not say thank you because of my insecurity, but I could only chuckle anxiously.
When Selena was shot and killed, it was like my JFK assassination, my Elvis Presley, my Marilyn Monroe, or my Martin Luther King, Jr. I was in class at my high school when I seen the news on a program called Channel 1. I could not express my flooding emotions there at school, but I left at the end of the day and found a private place to let go. I cried. I was scared, I was lost, I was right back in the storm of turmoil.
Because I never felt fully accepted by my full-blooded counterparts, I never felt assimilated with my community, or any community except one – the military community. And then, I was introduced to a multicultural retreat hosted by a community college an hour away. My high school principle wanted to send me because he knew I was mixed. When I told him that he could send a white kid, too, to the multicultural event, and I emphasized “multicultural,” he became angry about my comment. He did not see things the same way as me. He saw it as an opportunity to do behavior correction on me, and I saw it as an opportunity for one sub-culture to gain exposure to another sub-culture. I was tired of the pressures, the prejudices, the antagonists, and the negativity directed at me by both teens and adults in my high school and community.
A young lady and my self was sent from my high school to attend the multicultural retreat. I think it was eye-opening for both of us. Where I was an outcast and she always sat with the other kids, the retreat was an absolute role reversal. We started with all the white kids segregated from everyone else. Although my colleague was mixed, just as I, she appeared Caucasian, and was sorted into the respective group. The group was then removed, and we, the “minority group,” was made the “majority group.” We were told of the correct procedures to follow during lunch, and instructed to correct anyone who did not follow procedure. If I were to tell you that the Caucasian group was not told of the correct procedures, can you surmise how lunch developed? We then shared our personal accounts of prejudices and harassment. This was the first time I was not told it was “all in my head,” and that something like that “could not possibly happen.”
That night, we partied at the motel. This was definitely not part of the program, but the adult chaperones were all gone. Later, we learned they went to a bar for their own party. Everyone partied together. In my experience, the Midwest harbors and perpetuates their own stereotypes. That night, all the walls were gone. It was amazing to be friends with dozens of people, practically overnight and of all ages and backgrounds. I was not the most popular, but I was accepted as one of the group. Nobody made fun of me, I danced with almost every girl, and shared drinks with all the guys. I felt I had finally arrived. I felt constituted in this community. I think it goes without saying, yet necessary to say, that we could not return to our respective circles with this same inhibitions. The real world outside our retreat did not operate on the same terms.
I have only felt such integration and value in a community as when I was at the multicultural retreat, in the Army, and, surprisingly, in college. Everywhere else, I just feel pushed to the outer boundaries of the group.
“Do we not all spend the greater part of our lives under the shadow of an event that has not yet come to pass?” — Maurice Maeterlinck
At the multicultural retreat, I also met someone. Although I was in a relationship with another woman at that time, I fell in love with a kindred spirit. After the retreat, I remember how we used to talk for hours almost every day after school. My parents were furious with me for all the long-distance calls billed to their phone, but it was more than worth the punishments.
She was beautiful like Zoe Saldana, equally fun and flirtatious as me, a straight-A student, a little quirky and nerdy, too, and shared a mutual attraction. She was on her way to Yale or Harvard, while I was on my way to the Army. We kept in touch through Basic Combat Training, but lost touch after that. My letters and phone calls to her house were not, of course, accepted. Unfortunately, with Susan, I am constantly left thinking, What if…
When it is time, it will happen, is all I can tell myself, but it is no consolation.