the anticrush


Walking through an aggressively collegiate campus like Harvard to get to his place was extremely disorienting, like I was a freshman all over again trying to find my way to class; given my age, and that I did not actively look like a tourist, I imagined that everyone thought I was a student and I hated it. I am self-consciously hyperaware of how people perceive me these days. Seeing N in his element was also extremely disorienting, where I was suddenly presented with a cis California bro-y kind of guy, particularly because he is the most masc-presenting of his entire house. No less attractive but quite odd, another angle from which to perceive a person, and extremely jarring. The whole thing felt queer and wonderful in New York, but perhaps the domesticity of Boston grated on me. Everyone assumed we were together when we went out and I hated it. I'm not sure if this is indicative of a queer crisis or simply the anxieties induced by the poorly defined nature of our relationship. The combination of Harvard + seeing N as fully stressed-out grad student made me sad. In the last year or so I have been striving for mediocrity. I have been striving for it with the same determination with which I previously strove for success. Now I have success in the very blandly mediocre way of having a steady job and good income, with absolutely zero interest or passion. I thought that was what I wanted but I am starting to think that I need to wind my way back into research. I texted Amy about Harvard being whack but in truth I was also jealous. It was nostalgic to be in that space of academic anxiety again, where ivory tower elites simultaneously shit on the tower but also love to be looking down upon the world from it. At the same time, being in that space also confirmed all my worst fears about a PhD: N would say "don't ask me about what I'm doing after, I don't know" or "something helpful I heard was to think about a PhD like an extended fellowship, which is awesome," but it seemed like he was trying to convince himself more than me. Everyone scoffs at institutional success but secretly yearns for it. Those fears will never go away but at this point they are part of me, they've defined half my life, from all those years ago when I was 12 and mom said to me that as humanities people, we weren't smart like my dad or my sister, so I needed to work damn hard. Despite working damn hard all her life she still had so many crumpled dreams and now I've inherited those anxieties. She is a child of the Korean War and her English vocabulary is still better than mine will ever be. I mentioned this fact to N, off-hand, in a positive way where I was impressed and awed by her, and I don't remember the exact reaction but it was something along the lines of "why does this matter at all" and now I'm wondering if he thinks I have mommy issues. I think we live on two very different planes of existence, and our incompatibility is showing. The Pattern said that now was the time to manifest my dreams, and that if my life situation felt off then that now is the time to attempt transitioning. I thought I wanted the mediocre nice New York life with nice steady partnership but I suddenly can't stand to be here, I want out, I am hiding in my room because I feel caged in the city, I want to exist in contexts where no one knows my past, I need to be in flux again. I have come to terms with the fact that I do not like settling, and I previously thought something was wrong with me or maybe that academia was making me bad-restless; I now think it is more the fact that I grew up moving all over the place, that home never felt like home but simply a resting stop for all of us, and functional diasporic depression is simply how I function best. When I was on top the other day he called me "hot. hot AND interesting, a rare combo" and I was pleased until Amy pointed out that this is a very baseline compliment and then I found the observation hilariously sad. I think my fascination with N has been a manifestation of my directionless curiosity that has had no outlet since I stopped doing research (and lacking a structured space in which to do it). The whole fling had been productive in terms of data collection about myself, but the experiment is giving me diminishing returns and the mixed signals that both of us are flinging left and right at each other is exhausting. Maybe this is the comedown from rolling and an absolutely failed crush situation and the end of summer that is speaking but it feels right. I also feel my crazy coming out and I don't like it. I haven't been able to eat since I came back to New York, I feel homesick and sad, and the only thing that has made me happy lately was having a really nice late-night conversation with R yesterday where we promised to make lunch together every day so we would actually eat. I told N I liked him and wanted to continue seeing each other in some kind of non-platonic capacity (which I'm honestly not even sure is true, I think I just wanted to say something that would trigger some kind of affirmation about myself) and got the dreaded, "Can I think about it for a few days?" I have taken it as a no, because anything other than a clear yes is a no. In any case I wouldn't see him until October. I want to go nuclear, and I want to go nuclear NOW, but the logical people are saying to wait for his response. I put off responding to Z's email for 3 months. I told Amy 2 months ago about how I felt bad about not responding but I didn't know what to say. She is the person who would be my advisor at Witwatersrand. Now I know what to say. "omg is this real or escapism?" Amy asked. Both? - Three years ago, I was interviewing Tony the Chinese textile wholesaler in his warehouse in Maseru. I told him my father's family was originally from Fujian by way of south Asia. Where, which village? He asked excitedly. I didn’t know. I could go back now with an answer in hand.