thursday (or sursday as someone said one time) the 23th

Mình đang ở sân bay. Chuẩn bị bay ba tiếng, dừng vài tiếng, rồi bay tiếp một tiếng. Đây là lần thứ hai mình bay kể từ khi mình tròn 18 tuổi. Cũng đâu có gì khác biệt lắm. Nhưng hồi chưa 18 thì thấy tự hào hơn, rằng mình được hay “phải” đi đâu đó mà không có ai chăm coi. Giờ 18 rồi. “Đi đâu thì tự mà lo là đúng thôi.”

Mình không nhớ lần cuối cùng mình bay với ba mẹ là khi nào nữa. Chắc cũng nhiều năm rồi. Vì là lâu rồi nên không còn nhớ được cái cảm giác đó nữa, chỉ biết là hay bị la lắm. Rề rà xíu là mẹ la. Đi lơ ngơ xíu là ba la. Nên chung quy mình cũng không thích lắm. Giờ đi một mình quen rồi thì càng không muốn bị la nữa.

Nên hôm nọ ba mẹ đặt vé máy bay, mình bảo nếu không đi chung được thì có gì mình bay đi sau cũng được. Mà rồi ba bảo sao không đi chung với nhau cho nó vui.

Vui.

Lúc đó mình mới nhận ra, hình như lâu lắm rồi mình chưa cảm được cái sự vui vì được đi cùng người mình yêu quý. À đâu, mình có đi cùng bạn bè, nhưng với ba mẹ thì chưa.

Nên là,

Vui.

Mình cũng muốn vui.

Nên mình nói ba là ừa chắc bay chung đi, để được mẹ đưa đồ ăn hết món này đến món khác, để được ba gỡ nắp cho chai nước hay xách đồ phụ.

Để được cưng chiều như hồi nhỏ xíu. Lâu rồi không được như vậy nữa.

I’m at SeaTac International Airport with three other friends. The flight will be in an hour. We are going to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for an international leadership conference called All Nations, hosted by Chi Alpha, which is also CCF — Campus Christian Fellowship.

I didn’t have to pay for this trip. But that does not mean no one is paying. We fundraised for the flight ticket, the registration fee, and the food we will eat there. We asked churches and supporters. We were loved and blessed, and we are grateful. I am grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help and love of so many. I don’t deserve any of this, but others make me worthy.

I put the words here as a reminder.

đã và sẽ

“tớ thách cậu ngày mai đi nhà thờ đúng giờ đấy.”
“hmmm ok.”

sau đoạn hội thoại ngắn ngủi đó lúc cậu đưa tôi về nhà, tôi gặp và nói với bạn cùng phòng của cậu ấy là cậu ấy đã chấp nhận thử thách, nhưng bạn cùng phòng lại bảo, “vì đó là *** nên chuyện đi đúng giờ sẽ không bao giờ xảy ra đâu”.

hôm nay là chúa nhật thứ ba kể từ ngày hôm đó. và cậu ấy đúng giờ. cả ba lần.

tôi coi đó là cách cậu ấy tôn trọng và coi trọng tôi. mấy chuyện nhỏ nhỏ như vậy thôi của tôi và cậu ấy cũng khiến tôi vui cả ngày.

rồi tôi nhận ra nếu tôi cười vì những điều nhỏ nhặt mà bất kỳ ai làm cho tôi, thì cuộc đời của tôi đã khác hẳn, nhỉ?

chắc là sẽ vui hơn. chắc là sẽ đáng sống hơn.

.

.

.

mình nhớ lúc trước mình từng hứa với bản thân là sẽ chỉ viết những điều tốt đẹp. sẽ chỉ viết để cảm ơn. viết để nhớ lại những việc mọi người đã làm cho mình. và viết để biết mình cần làm gì cho ai.

nhưng rồi tất cả những gì mình thật sự trải ra đều man mác buồn và gợi nhiều nỗi cô đơn.

cậu ấy làm mình nhớ lại cách mình quan tâm người khác khi người ta chưa bước quá sâu vào cuộc đời của mình. mình sẽ chỉ kể những câu chuyện vui. mình sẽ vì những cái nhỏ người ta làm — đưa mình đi từ điểm A tới điểm B, nhắn cho mình một câu chúc ngủ ngon, hay ôm mình một cái — mà vui và suy nghĩ tích cực.

cậu ấy làm mình nhận ra dù không phải ai cũng sẽ chấp nhận thử thách và làm vì mình (hay vì Chúa, hay vì bản thân cậu ấy, không biết được), thì mọi người đều có những vẻ đẹp rất riêng, đều thay đổi cuộc đời mình theo một cách rất đặc biệt, và đều xứng đáng có được sự quan tâm của mình trong những việc nhỏ xíu người đó làm.

hôm nay mình viết ít vậy thôi. mình không đang cảm thấy thoải mái, vì bài lúc nào cũng nhiều mà mình thì rất dở trong việc sử dụng thời gian. mình viết một xíu hôm nay để nhắc bản thân nhớ lại mục đích viết của bản thân, và nhớ lại mình đã từng yêu thương người xung quanh vì những điều vụn vặt nhiều đến như nào.

f o u r – f r a g m e n t e d

It’s almost four in the morning of a Saturday that is exactly four weeks from the end of this school year. The end of my senior year. The end of my leadership term with CCF, and the end of my first year working in the Writing Center.

And again, I think of the people that are leaving and just cannot stop feeling uncomfortable. Another group of people will scatter around the world. And it will take me again a long, long time to adjust to a life without them, and with new faces. That’s exciting. That’s scary.

I am exhausted.

Four weeks left to make my passing grade to at least an A-. Four weeks left for a research recommendation report on diversity. Four weeks left for an info-graphic about Native Americans. And I am here when it’s almost four in the morning, feeling hopeless.

Four weeks left to make final impacts as a leader and a disciple-maker. Jeff asked me the other day who I could reach out to in this four weeks, letting them know that I am their friends, and I love them, in the name of Jesus. I know who. I just don’t know how.

It’s always that question. How?

After all this time, after all I have gone through and all I have achieved, the only thing I still never stop regretting doing is no caring for the friends whom I dearly love. I realized how fast time has flew when I am busy with work, school, and my personal goals. And I realized how fast time is also in creating a gap between me and others.

Four weeks left. I am shouting out for help. I don’t want to say good-bye. I’m tired of it. But perhaps it’s how I grow. How? How do I keep these people by myself but also encourage travelling lives? How can I be so sure that I will visit all these friends wherever they go in the next years that I make that statement a way for me to escape from reality — that they are leaving for good? How can it be possible that they even became my friends?

This time, though, I am left behind. I am not the person who leaves, and I am relived.

remorse

“When he saw you, he saw himself. And his guilt. You are still angry and I realize it is far too early to expect you to accept this, but maybe someday you will see that when your father was hard in you, he was also being hard on himself. Your father, like you, was a tortured soul, Amir jan.

I cannot describe to you the depth and blackness of the sorrow that came over me when I learned of his passing. I loved him because he was my friend, but also because he was a good man, maybe even a great man. And this is what I want you to understand, that good, real good, was born out of your father’s remorse. I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building an orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself.

And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.

I know that in the end, God will forgive. He will forgive your father, me, and you too. I hope you can do the same. Forgive your father if you can. Forgive me if you wish. But, most important, forgive yourself.”

From The Kite Runner.

The letter from Rahim Khan to Amir jan.

The letter that frees my tears, at last, after 300 pages of sorrow.

flashbacks

when i was little, my parents took me to daycare every day because they were busy working. they got married right after they graduated, and i was born more than a year after that — they did not have much money. i was not cared for properly — that is usually how my mom phrases it.

i went to daycare. it was not a real one, though. i spent most of my days at an old couple’s house, and they would cook for me and feed me and do all sorts of things that my parents were supposed to do. a grandson of the couple was three years older than me, and we were best friends. we were preschool kids when we hung out with each other. every now and then i try to remember who he was and what we had done together. my mind would flash back to the laughter, the caresses, the time when we invented toys, and the role playing games. i remember his name, still. and then the old clothes of him that i wore. i looked like a boy back then. everything we did, we did together.

then he disappeared. i heard his name here and there after that. i heard he left because his parents were getting divorced. i went knocked on his door times after times, and a lady would greet me — i assume she was his mom. he disappeared. years after that, i was still trying to find his trace. i thought it was such an insult that someone could leave me without saying a word, leaving me with all this confusion. and i miss him. i did not have friends for a while after that — at least not someone like him. i wore his clothes and heard once in a while his name mentioned somewhere. but i never had the gut to ask what had happened. years after that and until now, i doubt that his ever appearance had always been me making up. he might just be an imaginary friend of mine, because his life was so mysterious that it left in me an empty hole. i have tried my best to fill in, but it could never be filled. i was not bold enough to mention his name ever again. i was not bold enough to expect the answer. what if mom asked me to explain more who he was, because he has never existed, in her life, or ever.

i myself never know if he was real. i question my own ability to tell any more stories of my childhood. i question what i had been through. i do have all these memories that i have always wanted to tell others, but what if they are just broken pieces of stories of others. not mine. others. in books, perhaps.

i made new friends, of course. the old couple took care of me until i moved out of the neighborhood. before that, i went to kindergarten and then elementary school. for all those years, after that friend as well as a brother to me disappeared, i hung out with a girl who was one year older than me, and her brother one year younger than me. every summer we would all go to the woods around the house, most of the time doing role playing games. i would sometimes be a cook, other time i would be a teacher, but i was always my girlfriend’s daughter because i was younger, and because i was less capable of “taking care of a family”. well, of course, i was a kid just finishing the alphabet.

it was those summers with them that defined a big part of who i am now. i competed with the boy trying to learn how to bike before him. i beat him. i was a pro after two days and five times falling off the bike. it took five days for him. he fell less. i loved biking and i was adventurous. i accepted all these challenges of the two siblings, including speeding up and also getting into an accident. i was bleeding, but i did not cry because i did not want them to think that i was weak. i did not cry because i really was not hurt. i went home and wondered where my skin went — was it still on the street? if not then where did it go? the day after i went to look for it. well, did not see any piece of my skin. still do not understand how so now. as we grew, we went way beyond the area around my neighborhood. we wanted to explore. we went see the corn fields. we saw lakes that we never knew were there. we were in a city, but on the outskirt. that was the first time i realized what life was about. or maybe just a part of it. a small part. still, those summers defined who i am.

my friends’ mom died because of blood cancer. my family went through that with hers. the neighborhood was there to help. i do not remember exactly how it went. i just know there was no summer that she did not hang out with me. she seemed fine — that was my conclusion when i was eight. when she was nine. when her brother was seven. when they lost their mom. i was little. i was cold. that was what my dad said a long, long time ago. i did not know how to care for others, and i did not know how to express much of my feelings. i was not trained to do that. i did not know how to comfort my friends, and wonder how they got over it. perhaps they never did. i wonder because i just never asked. i did think about that sometimes when my relatives would come over and when they saw my friends they would ask how they missed their mom. at those moments i wonder why they never let her live a normal life. why bringing it up. why asking. why touching to the deepest part of one’s sorrow and trying to comfort them. why don’t they just be friends with us — inventing toys and playing games and let what shall be forgotten forgotten.

at school, i had friends. i was popular. sort of. i learned quick but took a long time to eat. i was skinny and always stayed longer to finish lunch. sometimes by the time i got over a meal it was time for the whole school to wake up from their naps. i did not like naps, so that was fine. i made friends with kids in my class and in other classes. but first though the very first friend i lost when i went to elementary school. we were best friends in kindergarten. we were always together and school without him was scary — i was scared of being alone. however, he ate fast, so every now and then i still struggled through something alone. we went to the same elementary school and we never talked again.

i never know why. i think it was the fact that we were different that who we used to be before that affected our relationship. we were little. we never saw each other in uniforms. we never were friends in a bigger than 100 people school. we were a little bit little and we did not know how to deal with that. he disappeared, and from time to time i wonder if he had ever been my friend, ever. i know he was real because i saw him at the school, and my parents mentioned his name too because they knew we were close. but i doubt our relationship ever existed. why so sudden. had i ever existed to him. question mark. and why me that lost him.

people, other friends, also disappeared. my first close friend in elementary school, after four years, did not go to school for a day and two and then for ever. i cried too much that everybody thought i must have been in love with the guy. i might have. but he was not there long enough for me to realize. they said his parents got divorced. some said his dad gambled. there were stories about him. but i never saw him to confirm the myths, ever again. i cried and moved on.

and i cried again. saying good-bye to many more.

many of them i let go. many of them i could not hold back. now that i am writing and thinking about what had happened, i realized it was really strange how these memories had been in me for so long, fading but still strong enough to get me think every time. am i real, after all, if these people seemed to not be. who am i and what are my values, after all, when these people just left and said nothing. i said that person and that person were my closest friends, but had i ever to them?

fragmented memories…

when i say “existence”, i actually am talking about the real meaning of it. it was like questioning whether dinosaurs existed. were they there. why we can find pieces of them living in our lives, but we can never be certain. i remember all their names. even though i am the worst at names. they were and are just special.

.

.

.

now that i am older and have gone through a lot, i wonder if i will ask my friends that question my relatives asked them — how do you miss your mom? if i will try to find the missing ones and hold them back. i wonder why at that stage of my life, when i was young and did not know what to do, these people with all these situations were there to become the very important bits of my life, and then disappeared, leaving me no words, nothing but confusion. nothing but empty rooms in my heart and mind which i now and then will go in and search for the breath of my beloved ones. we can not just not have memories, but those who carry too many of them bear the burden.

it did not take me much back then to move on, but it has taken me a lifetime to figure out why these images of them have kept flashing back in my mind and making me believe that they were something, although i can trace back to nothing. i can write about them and make them alive on these pages, and that will just be it. sometimes i tried to type in their names on social media, but always end up admitting that this has been over. memories with past tense.

some other times, i wonder if i myself is made of these stories of the missing ones. there will be more, many more. and i will just be the person letting go. and they will never know how much they mean to me.

a lot.

Lúc nào cũng làm tốt lắm…

Mai lại là một ngày mới nữa. Vậy là lại hết một ngày. Một ngày bình thường như mọi ngày.

Mọi người hỏi mình dạo này sao thì mình chỉ trả lời đơn giản ừa cũng bình thường, ngày trôi lẹ, đời trôi lẹ. Nhắm mắt mở mắt thấy lại hết một tuần, thấy lại là thứ hai rồi thứ ba, rồi chủ nhật. Nhắm măt mở mắt thấy mọi thứ rối nùi rồi lại gọn gàng trở lại. Thấy mình xếp đồ mỗi cuối tuần, vo đồ vào thau đồ dơ mỗi ngày, rồi lại giặt và xếp vào cuối tuần.

Chỉ đơn giản có vậy thôi đó.

Nhưng mà mình có mấy cái nhỏ nhỏ trong ngày làm mình vui vẻ hơn. Tìm mấy cái nhỏ nhỏ để cười, cười to lắm. Đời trông thì còn dài nhưng không cười giờ biết chừng nào mới được tự do mà cười lại vậy được.

Tháng Năm rồi. Tháng thứ năm của năm rồi. Mình đặt ra nhiều mục tiêu nhỏ rồi làm mỗi ngày. Tuần này là tập gym mỗi ngày và cười dù bất kỳ chuyện gì xảy ra. Gọi ba mẹ thường xuyên hơn — và gọi là mình gọi chứ không phải đợi ba mẹ gọi. Mình xưa giờ ít gọi lắm. Chắc một tuần hay hai tuần một lần. Nên giờ gọi nhiều hơn và thấy ba mẹ cũng vui hơn, không sợ sẽ không có gì để nói, vì chỉ cần bắt máy là sẽ có người đầu bên kia huyên thuyên.

Mai sẽ là một ngày nữa nhỉ, một ngày nữa của cuộc đời mình sẽ lại trôi qua. Làm gì cho nó khác biệt bây giờ?

Mai nhà mình sẽ có tiệc mời mọi người sang thăm nhà lần đầu tiên. Mình háo hức lắm, nhưng nhìn đi nhìn lại lịch học và làm của mình thấy không có giờ trống gì hết. Mai về đến nhà thì tiệc cũng đã được một tiếng rồi, nhưng mà ừa chắc không sao đâu — có mặt là được.

Dạo này mình có viết chứ không phải không đâu. Viết mấy hôm bài giảng chán quá, viết bài nộp giáo viên, viết trong sổ. Viết nhiều chứ, vì mình không viết thì mình không còn là mình nữa.

Giờ mình đang ở nhà một mình. Lâu lâu mới được một lần như vậy nên phải tận hưởng. Dạo này ngày nào mình cũng phải nói chuyện với mọi người liên hồi, nói xong về tới nhà chỉ có ngồi thở thôi.

Cả ngày hôm nay mình cứ im im đi khắp nơi. Lâu rồi mình mới lại cảm thấy lạc lõng vậy, nên không quen lắm. Lâu rồi mới thấy bản thân đi giữa một đám đông mà bản thân không muốn mở miệng nói gì, không muốn bắt chuyện với ai. Chỉ muốn được để yên, được nhìn mọi thứ. Lâu rồi mình lại nhìn thấy mình của một thời gian rất lâu trước kia — không biết nên buồn hay nên vui nữa; như gặp lại đứa bạn cũ mà mình không chắc là mình muốn gặp ấy.

Mình mong mọi người trong cuộc đời mình đều đang hướng về một điều gì đó tốt đẹp. Bình thường nhưng cũng đặt biệt — với người đó. Mình không có nhiều thời gian rảnh để có thể hỏi han tất cả, và mình thiệt sự không muốn như vậy xíu nào. Nhưng mà cũng chịu thôi. Mình nhớ nhiều người, nhưng không có mong mọi người sẽ nhớ mình. Chỉ mong mọi người biết mình sẽ ủng hộ mọi người bất kể chuyện gì xảy ra. Mình sẽ luôn là đứa nói, “Mày làm được mà.” Mình sẽ luôn là đứa nói, “Dù sao gì tao cũng sẽ ở đây ủng hộ.” Chỉ cần mọi người nhớ vậy thôi. Cứ làm mấy chuyện điên rồ rồi sẽ có mình vỗ vai bảo, “Tiếp đi.” Rồi mình lại tiếp tục điên rồ.

Nhớ mọi người nhiều.