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Dreams of the world. Dreams of mine.

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I had these dreams when I was a kid. Which was not terribly long ago, probably around when I was between 7 and 10. I saw myself flying, levitating above creations, looking down on vast lands covered by luscious forests, prairies steamed in haze and bathed in honey-dipped sun glare, white-headed rugged heartland mountains, broad valleys topped with blood red soil, spattered with bristling bushes and spiky fir. Sometimes I was floating above the city, winding my way around the tall buildings, gliding on the wind while leisurely laying my eyes on the disastrously mind-numbing traffic. “Not much to see,” I thought profoundly. Then I would suddenly jerk and shudder, and gravitate towards the unwelcoming surface of the Earth. I could feel the tremendous pressure on my chest squeezing my heart and lungs, and the streams of blood that rushed into my head and eye and thrust on my eardrums. But never did I touch the ground when I was flying high. In a blink, I would have the familiar feeling of comfort and safety, of the blanket spreading over my stark skinny body. “Mom, I probably need you!” I could hear myself murmuring. And there she was, always beside my bed, waking me up. No, she had always been there. Because then, I had not had my own bed yet.

For years and years my parents had been keeping me on the ground. Even in my dreams. “Do what you want son; do it well, but don’t do anything crazy,” they said. “Crazy”, for them, entailed a set of criteria regarding a number of professions and undertakings deemed morally derogatory or physically unfit and unsafe for me. Those such as singing, acting or dancing, if I would do them seriously. “Well, nothing crazy,” I replied. It was my brother, not me, who showed any inclination towards the arts. Then, I was too little to know.

I used to read lots of magazines of different kinds. Before middle school, I read car magazines. Those flashy, shiny and (sometimes) uncontrollably speedy things we all so loved to crash (well, not really in Vietnam, but some people, only those who were very wealthy, had cars). I could find myself spending hours, even in class, drawing car designs and interiors. I did not do such a good job, unfortunately; still I was fascinated, captivated, absorbed, terribly distracted from class. It was quite a pastime for a while, until I was a little older, and my parents bought a computer. I can now still remember these words my dad told me: “Son, there are lots of ways one could use a computer, playing video games, sketching or typing out an essay. But why don’t you try looking at the inside of the computer, seeing how it works, and working your way around it. It should be an adventure.” Indeed it was. Soon enough, I was the PC troubleshooter of the family, and piles and piles of computer magazines littered in the home. Then, I caught glimpse of an audio video magazine, and at once I was mesmerized by the luster, the sheen, the gloss of the technology marvel that was the speakers. And disc players, and amplifiers, and television sets and headphone and headsets and cell phones too. All of these, however, have never amount to more than trivial interests; each has been none other than another way to escape from the confinement and animosity of the classroom. School, and my classmates.

Junior High was a jungle. Predators went seeking their prey. Wolfs howling and lions roaring, elephants stomping and gorillas banging on the chests. Sometimes even literally. Amidst the chaos and turmoil of the wilderness, it dawned on me that among very few was I that did care enough to help out during naptime, sweeping the floor and rearranging the tables, and to be polite to the teachers. Several encounters with the most popular and violent students of the class, then, escalated my status from an eyesore to a sole and lone bull’s eye, the most prized and delectable prey of all the jungle. There I would sit at my table, quietly and diligent attending to my business; in a flash, a pellet or a piece of chalk would strike me from behind, or on my exposed arm and face. And there were more that I simply do not want to dwell on. The natural progression of incidences of violent assaults, verbal attacks and violation of personal property inevitably prompted my parents to convince me to switch classes. My response:

“I want to deal with this.”

Four years and I made no friend.

Looking back at my childhood, which I only have thirteen days left to live, I cannot recall how many times I had defied my parents’ wishes and defeated their every attempt to guide my life in the direction they saw fit. Neither can I imagine how I always wanted no grow up, if only so that I no longer had to bend myself to their command to be commended as obedient. What a grand feeling, whenever I thought of the prospects of growing up and breaking out of a kid’s shell. I never failed to draw up outrageously glistening visions of my own future: imagining making money out of thin air, for example. Or simply getting married before the age of 30 (my parents had me when my mom was 30 and my dad 32, old in comparison to most other parents).

Now, my dreams are still soaring high, my feelings still grand and my heart still relentlessly disobedient. But deep inside, from the bottom of my heart, every moment I feel a melancholy seed sprouting in silence on grimes of nostalgia and loneliness. Four years of lonesomeness and oral disuse had left on it a scar, trapping grains of desolation and unexplainable, indescribable temperaments. The temperaments that, though unwelcome, has launched me into the sky of artistic endeavors, of expressions and limitless possibility, but also of restlessness and uncontrollable cravings. I am living my dream, my American dream of transcendent self-discovery; but the more I look into myself, the more I find unrest and loneliness. A craving for companion. A craving for understanding. A craving for love, for lifelong friends, for all-night chatters.

That might sound grand, but it is as simple as saying that I want a boyfriend. And a little bit more understanding from my parents. And just the freedom to do what I love to do, to decide what I want to do. I cannot want anything more for myself. The rest of my dreams are the world. And the world is in my dreams. For it I can wish for a thousand things; but for myself, I can only have three. Does the Genie in the Bottle not think so, too?





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