I wanted to be a mermaid. Besides knowing Ariel’s “Part of Your World” song by heart, my sister and I would each have a pair of jogging pants and fit our legs in one pant leg and flop around singing: Look at the stuff! Isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? I don’t remember if we even spoke a word of English, but we kept on singing. I would have been a Tagalog-speaking mermaid if we hadn’t move to Hanoi shortly after that, where English took over my brain and made itself my own tongue.
There were other wishes, of being a nun (don’t ask), a flight attendant (still, to this day, not tall enough) until somewhere along the way, the dream was to do something so big and important that I would (imagine, a megaphone) SAVE THE WORLD. Attempting to return to that moment of clarity, when everything was so simple, when I could look at something and immediately assess what it could mean for me, when there were no tints or hues in-between the blacks and whites, when something was either good or bad –the right thing or the wrong thing– is difficult.
Regression, is difficult. Reduction, almost impossible.
There was nothing like “context” or “perspective” in the moment I am trying to remember, just a clear road of good, the right-doing and true love. If I had not lived how I have lived, hunting for the full spectrum, would it have been an easier road? If I asked someone who had not strayed from that simplicity and innocence (or in some cases ignorance), what would they tell me about their life? How much did “growing up” change them? Would any of them be able to say that they have become exactly what they wanted to?
Possibly. But I imagine that they would be hardened. That if you ask them How or Why? All they could tell you is “Because”. Because. Because. Because. And nothing is reducible by cause. Even the cause, became something else, was something else, at any one point, it was different. Yes, it has been difficult to live, to grow and to become but the wonderful thing is that because I am not a mermaid (just a mermaid), I feel softened by time, and not hardened by it. Despite the complexity and the maximalism abound, I feel pliable and that all… is still possible.
In time I will be, something else, always changed, or changing, never resting, always in-between.