Secret Pop

Mar 19, 2003

I am a modern Asian girl.

I think a van just drove past my kitchen window playing some sort of popular, contemporary music with a koto as the lead instrument. The cherry blossoms are always calling me home.

I think I have figured out a tenet of my taste. It was nice to realize it. For the past few years, I have found myself surrendering my tastes. To loved ones. To jobs. To circumstances. To such an extent that I began to wonder if I really had any idea what I actually like. But today, I had a firm grasp on it. And I knew that, had I the resources, I would reinvent my surroundings to reflect what pleases me.

Reinvention is key. It's so easy to just wallow in sameness. To say you thank the lord for all you have. To tell yourself you want for nothing. But I don't think it is the natural way of things. Everything around you -- including you -- it's all constantly dying. It's all falling away. So you have to compensate. You can't sit still. Or suddenly you will find that you are up to your collarbone in flakes of dead skin and the fecal matter of dust mites. You've got to keep moving. And brush yourself off once in a while. It's the itchy build-up you want to avoid. Removal is renewal.

Memory lives in the things around me like scent in a sweater. It's important and wonderful. But it's dangerous. Like the charmed poppies in the Land of Oz. Memory threatens to take on the cast of lullaby. And I linger. And my lids grow heavier. And the passage of time becomes a forgotten thing. I know this from the many times I've gone to tidy up a room and found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor flipping through old postcards or scanning journals whose pages have rippled from having been dropped in the swimming pool. I have gone through my closets and boxed up clothing I don't intend to wear, labeling the parcels "Sentimental." I have saved napkins and wrappers and corks and pennies and candy bars and drinking cups and shreds of unidentifiable substances that were once part of something whole. And then -- at some later date -- I go through it. The distraction is intoxicating. (Is this something only girls do?) Even my fantasies are often retrospective. I am keen to relive. Keen to go back. To revisit. I order the thing I know I like at a restaurant. I go to restaurants I know I've liked before. And the widening of the circle slows down. Until someone or something pops through and nudges me a little further out.

I want the circle to splay out in every direction, amorphous and uncontrolled. I want to find myself elsewhere, in the blobby recesses of the shapeless border that was once a circle but is now reminiscent of a political map of Finland.

I blabbed about my intention to visit Paris to a couple who had recently been there. They urged me to go with great haste. They even complimented my coat and said that I would fit right in. That I looked Parisian already. I was immensely encouraged and flattered. In the persistent tug of war between the desire to look like everyone else and the desire to look nothing like anyone, I often find myself getting rope burns.

So, I will go to Paris. And I will go to South Dakota. And I will go to Moscow. And when I'm in each of those places, I will buy a souvenir and put it in the box with the sentimental clothes. And one day, I will waste another afternoon reliving it all when I should be doing my spring cleaning.

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