Tommy’s Hope: Purpose

Chapter Four: Purpose

March 23, 2008

Trying to hold back the tears, I gently let go of grandpa’s hand and walked out of the room.

I can feel him tear my heart apart

I can feel him heal my soul

I can feel him in me

He tore my heart apart, but healed my soul

I can feel him live in me

We were one soul

I understand

I understand the purpose

I can’t change me, but I can feel the power to do good

I can feel the purpose

The purpose to do good despite the mountains to trek

I came in trying to find out if grandpa’s secret and the subsequent rumor that stretched across generations was true. I did not find that answer, but I found something greater. I realized that it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter who or what defines you. You mean something to someone, you mean something to the world so long as you find your purpose and do good.

It doesn’t matter that I am gay or grandpa had a secret that destroyed his relationships. We can’t change who we are, but all that mattered was if we found our purpose in life and did good. He did. That is what I strive for.

Tommy’s Hope: Righteous

Chapter Three: Righteous

March 23, 2008, Cincinnati’s Hope Medical Center

As I slowly approach the room, I was nervous yet determined to get it right. Times like this remind me of how fragile life is and how life is short. Sooner or later, we will all be like grandpa. It must have hurt to keep a secret for so long.

As I gently hold onto his hand, I scan around the room and see that he is hooked onto these bulbous machines monitoring his vitals. He is falling in and out of consciousness.  

Sometimes I like to think about the past. I like to think about what once was and what could have been, but sometimes it’s just plain hard. It’d be nice to go back and relive some moments, some moments I wish I could redo.

Thinking about the ones I love, like grandpa. Wishing that I’d relive some moments with him, but not like this. In better times. I’d love to catch up on what once was and what could have been. It’s just so damn hard to see him like this. It’s so damn hard too see someone aging and hooked onto machines.

My thoughts start to shift away as I notice grandpa starting to move. Grandpa, weak and barely audible, whispered: Sometimes life doesn’t treat you right. You try and find your purpose in life. Life ain’t fair sometimes. In the end you got to find your purpose. In life there are lessons learned, lessons taught, lessons passed on. In the end you have to believe you did right.  

I whispered: you did right.

 

Believing

Chapter Six: Hamilton

Part I

He already missed Friday nights where he and his friends would go to a bar or stay in their apartment chugging bottles of beer one after another like there was no tomorrow. They’d hookup and tried things that they shouldn’t have. They’d tear their hearts open and share secrets too sacred to tell anyone. But that was behind him suppressed.

For the thought about it, he would break into pieces. He’d try and move on, but these memories were too sacred to sentimental to think about without falling apart. He focused on the road ahead. Highway 68 was empty; it seemed like was no end in sight. It was a long stretch of nothingness.

It felt peaceful and he hadn’t felt like this in a long time. It felt odd, he was used to the bustling city, but he grew into liking the peacefulness. He felt at home- more than he felt in the city or behind white picket fences. It was a place for reflection- alone with his thoughts- something he hadn’t done in a while. He was grappling with his own thoughts and feelings. He had been running away from his demons that he was too afraid to touch.

Part II

He’d been asked if he had a girlfriend far too many times. He’d change the subject and ramble about some philosophical subject that no one cared about. He was running away from the truth, maybe cause he was paralyzed with disbelief and fear of rejection- just like the rest of us when we are dealt with truth that we don’t want to believe or accept ourselves. It isn’t people told us how our lives should go. They said you’d marry the opposite sex and raise a family. A happily ever after ending. Just like them fairy tales.

Deep down he knew he was different. He wasn’t part of the fairytale ending we were told when we were younger. He was so consumed on suppressing his feeling and making his folks proud- he forgot to live. He knew he can’t live like this anymore. It was eating and he,too, just like Jack, was dying slowly inside.

Part III.

As Hamilton was riding back home he picked up something from the ground. He had a gut feeling it was something important. Slowing opening the letter, he felt a sense of uneaisness. He thought about his own life and how unerringly similar it was to his. He thought about how Jack never the chance to live and will have the chance to hug his loved ones again. Jack gave up on life and for some reason he saved someone else’s. Hamilton’s.

Hamilton thought about Jack’s words and decided believe. Believe in life. Everything is going to be alright.

 

 

Broken

Chapter Five: Jack

Part I

Highway 68 was nearly empty at this time of day. Everybody is home with their families or sitting watching the TV. Some of them are probably dead sleep. Jack, himself, was tired. He was reminiscing about all the times that life went right. The times when he wasn’t estranged from his family and when he had a job. He wondered if it will turn out fine at the end of the day. He was at an all time low.

He was also flustered by a secret he held for far too long. It consumed his thoughts and it slowly ate at his soul. It was too painful. He was dying slowly, maybe not physically, but mentally and thought about ending it all. At the end of the day, he was broken deep inside. He wanted to die. Walking solemnly for some time, with his head down, on Highway 68 he arrived at an overpass ready to end it all.  

He thought about suicide.

Part II

Jack slowly walked to the bridge. The evening breeze blew gently on his face. He wanted to jump so desperately, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew he was a lost cause, but he wanted to make sure that someone else won’t. He wanted others to try and find happiness- something he could not.

Having a habit of carrying a pen and notepad, he scribbled something short, but meaningful:

Dear friend,

I was living in misery. I lost my job, my family, and my livelihood, so I tried to start anew. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore. All I found was loneliness, despair, and regret. Yet strangely, I feel nothing personally. A void. I’ve kept a secret that was eating at me- slowly and painfully- and far too scared to tell. Isn’t it strange that those who claim to know are the ones who really don’t?  Deep down I can’t bear it anymore. It is far too late for me to find happiness. Wherever you are in life, Please do not give up.

-Jack

Home

Chapter Four: Hamilton 

It was evening and cool by the time Hamilton had reached the city. The cool summer evening. It will be alright. He won’t be going farther. This is home. It’s fine to take it slow.

His mother, knowing that it was his destiny to go,  still patiently waits on her doorstep. She waits for her son to return home one day. His bed untouched. She gently strokes the soft retriever, whispering her wishes and hymns she used to sing with him. Praying for her son to come home. Hamilton longed for home, but it was his destiny to go. He wrote his mother almost on a daily basis.

Dear mother,

I am doing well, but I long for home. I miss you and the times we had together. I hope and father are okay and doing well. I will be home one day. The city is bustling with activity. See you soon.

– Hamilton.   

Dear Hamilton,

Father and I are doing well. We long for your return, but I know you are doing great things. We miss you very dearly.

-Mother

Several months passed by, Hamilton found a calling in the civil rights movement- as an activist for the unheard- while holding a job in the city. Mother and Hamilton were still corresponding. Expecting another letter from his mother, he was taken aback when he received a letter from his father.

Dear Hamilton, my only son,

Mother isn’t feeling well. Please come home.

-Father  

Worried sick for his mother back home, he was at a crossroad. Was he going to leave everything behind- everything that he had made for himself in the city. He took a glance at his mother’s faded photo and put on his glossy black leather motorcycle jacket and headed out- home. He felt that he was losing control of life as everything unraveled before his eyes. It was the perfect disaster. He mounted on his motorbike and started it, but before he went, he stared at his apartment and bid it farewell for he loved the city.

He rode into the summer’s dusk with a slight breeze that felt liberating. No, he was not happy leaving, but he felt happy. He was liberated, only if it was just a couple of months. The city was liberating for him- he was unstuck from his past that he so desperately wanted to get away from.

 

Lonely Road

Chapter Three: Jack 

Whttingdale is empty now. Everybody has left in their trucks. The weather is still dry and hot and crops are not going grow in these conditions. It’s a dead end road and those who stay are going to drop dead not long after from starvation. At the heart of it all, there was this fervor goin’ round town that they were going to strike it rich elsewhere… so why stay?

Jack, a young man of 30, whose family left him for something better, was one of ‘em residents who didn’t know what to do. He knew, like most residents that this place was a dead end road, but he had a job and children to feed.He missed them so much and hoped that they’d come back some day just to see them again. He was tired of walking a lonely road. He needed that job to take ‘em out to the fanciest restaurant there was.

Everybody was moving to Longwood, but he knew that factory jobs wasn’t the way to go. It’s just another dead end road. Factory jobs were filling up fast.The city was the way to go, so he went. It was a long road there. He had to make it- he gave up all for it.

A full moon shone brightly when he started off his journey as a new beginning begged.  He had driven all night and the effects were showing. Barely able to open his eye- he tried to sleep, but kept thinking about what he left behind. He worried for his kids. It was really a fairytale without a happy ending. He lost his family, and then left his job that defined him for all those years to start anew. Anew with great uncertainty and a longing for home so far away.

He asked God it had to be this way. He caught himself half way and thought… maybe … just maybe… it will all work out.   

The Whttingdale Beat: 1969

Chapter Two: Hamilton

1969 was a big year. There was the presidential election, which resulted in a new president being elected into office. There was the moon landing. There was the hippie movement and the music revolution. Sexual revolution and the whole nine. None of that mattered to the Whttingdale residents of course.

They were either concerned with the yield of their crops or moving out to Longwood. There was one fellow by the name of Hamilton who was different. Unlike the rest, he was young. Some early thirties. Though young, his demeanor was that of an elder. One of the very few intellectuals in Whttingdale, he engrossed himself The Times and caught himself watching the news daily. Times are changing he very nonchalantly remarked. They are so free spirited experimenting daily in these new music and lifestyle tastes.

For he knew in order to made a diffrence in 1969, crops and moving to Longwood was not the way. For he had to get up close to the action. For he had to move to the city. Unlike the rest, crops were not a means of living. With the drought, it was a dead end road. For he knew moving to Longwood was not the answer either. Factory jobs as not a great way to make a living in the long run. Very wise indeed, but in theory. Practice was another matter. He did not have to worry about such things, as how to make a living. His father and mother worked in the restaurant business. They owned a local tavern around the corner. The men in the town made them quite rich. The men, at the end of the day, tired from toiling away at their land quite fruitlessly came to ease their pain by ordering some whisky. The drought made everyone poor, but Hamilton and his family. It made them rich.

Hamilton was alienated from the business. Liquor made the men worse. With their family and most importantly with their health. Armed with some cash from the restaurant business, he wished his folks farewell, packed his bags and hopped in his Mustang and sped off to the city vowing never to return.

One might think Hamilton selfish, but as an intellectual he saw something no one saw or at least if everyone took notice did not react. Probably turning a blind eye to the problems they faced. He was ahead of his time. Many, like Jack would also soon realize this. Alienated from his family, he would long for going into the city to find new opportunities. However, he would be called into the city for a very different reason.

Even the Strongest Bleed

I am no superman by any means, but I like to consider myself strong and can get through tough times with little to no trouble. But even the toughest guy bleeds, we are all human. I have never cried when things got tough or experienced loss until recently. The first time I cried was at the thought of my friend’s departure due to his graduation from university. To be honest, it was nothing compared to the imminent loss I will have.

I recently bawled my eyes out because of one of my beloved professor retired and will depart back to her home far far away. Based on my recent experience, I’ve been thinking of why. Why do we cry at loss? Why do the most toughest and level headed people cry as well?

In my opinion, it is because of emotions that we, as humans, all feel. Maybe it’s fear? Especially the fear that you have that you will most likely not see ever again? Maybe it’s because of the impact and influence the person had on you? Especially, a person who has influenced you and helped you greatly. As you know, one of my beloved professors retired and is moving very far away.. This professor has been such an influence on my life, as a student and a person. I bawled my eyes out two nights in a row (and as I am writing this) thinking of her. I just wish, if I ever become a professor (or wherever life takes me) I could be half as good as her. Never had such great sorrow until now. I hope to see her again before she leaves. Time is running out.

In the end, I don’t have all the answers. Maybe my readers will, who knows? Maybe my readers could help me? All I know is we all bleed. Even the toughest and level headed person cries. And that is okay!

 

 

pc: Huffington Post

Who Am I?

Everybody has heard about the riddle titled ‘Who am I?’ where the guesser has to guess the identity of the person or thing based off of clues. It’s something I have trying to understand for myself. Something I have had internal fights about.

Now, I am an American. I not only have an American passport, I am proud to be an American. America has offered me opportunities throughout my life with not only educational opportunities, but awesome job opportunities and awesome friends. I not only go to Drew University, but got my dream job working for a police department for a year. I was like a fan boy when I got the job. Just like a girl with Bieber fever (is that even still a thing?). It’s the best.

Yet, at the same time I’ve had a sense of uneasiness. You see, I am a Third Culture Kid. A kid that is raised outside out of his or her parents’ culture. You see, I am Chinese American. I am more American than Chinese (Jersey represent). If you are wondering, I don’t watch Jersey Shore, but Vinny is cool.

I try to stay away from Chinese culture when out in public for fear of stereotypes. Fear of being judged maybe? For fear of being not American? However, my skin and whatever Asian features I have give my Chinese identity away. Maybe it’s those damn squinty eyes? Damn! My cover is blown. So who am I? Am I Chinese or American? I struggle with this everyday. I still don’t have an answer. I am American through and through. Yet what about my Chinese identity. Am I not doing justice by not acknowledging it? I don’t know. I am still on a journey to find it. Thank you.

Fearless

Let me take you back. I was tasked to write about homelessness in a college class. I could do any topic pertaining to homelessness. I thought about writing a comparative study on homelessness in different countries, social and political causes of homelessness, deviance and homelessness, and LGBT youth homelessness. LGBT youth homelessness seemed the most interesting and I would enjoy writing it. Yet, I had doubts about writing it and I was fixated on doing the others “just to pass the class.”

In the end, I threw away my doubts and wrote about LGBT homelessness. I am so glad that I ended up writing that topic because I, for one, knew I would enjoy the process. Second, I learned a lot about the seriousness of the problem. Third, I wanted to shed light and educate people on a topic that is not discussed or understood well.

In other words, I decided to do justice to those millions of homeless youths, of which 20- 40 percent identify as LGBT. Many of them are bullied and kicked out of their houses. Many of whom end up on the streets and engage in harmful activities, such as survival sex. Activities, such as survival sex, may lead to acquiring HIV. This leads me to the fourth reason. I wanted to find a solution to help end this atrocity. Yet, the fifth and final reason was the reason that led me to doubt myself. I am a member of the LGBT community.

All my best friends know, but I was not ready to come out to my professors yet. In my mind, I was afraid. I was afraid of the reaction that my professor might get the hint and find out I am gay. I wasn’t ready yet. Trust me, no one likes to do what they are afraid to do as it might reveal our insecurities and vulnerabilities– reveal our flaws. No one likes to be exposed and feel unprotected. Yet, I decided to do it because I felt that I needed to give a megaphone and I needed to do justice to the voiceless. I needed to tell it like it is. I needed spread the words so that, together, we can find a solution.

My message isn’t so much about coming out and not being afraid of being you. My message for you is to do what you are afraid to do. You might learn something and teach others in the process. It might even make you a better person and want to do justice in this world. I know I did.

 

pc