i'm not ready

May 20, 2022

how to remember

I hoard fleeting moments in an endless list of scribbles on the Apple notes app. I hoard nostalgia and grief, joy, and fury in a selection of haphazardly-curated Spotify playlists. I hoard memories of a carefree Canadian childhood in home movies saved to my phone. I hoard them and keep them close to my heart, like the dragons hoarding their precious jewels in all those stories I’d loved as a child. I hoard them so that I may remember the precious seconds that everyone else has already forgotten. So that I may remember the precious seconds before they slip away into darkness for good.

The sunset I saw on New Year’s Day in 2020. The feeling of playing Sibelius’s Romance on stage for the first time. The taste of glacier water in Banff. The way my grandpa laughs when I call him honghong instead of gonggong.

My mind is a chaotic collection of little bits and pieces—a corvid’s cherished collection of shiny random things—brief, hazy encounters with the world around me. There are gaping blanks in my mind that taunt an imperfect memory. A hollow feeling lingers in these blanks; it’s the unshakeable inkling that you’ve lost something utterly irreplaceable and entirely replaceable.

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of piano again. It makes me think about my last piano teacher, Ms. Doina, every time. I wonder how she’s doing.

I took my last lesson with her in my junior year of high school and sobbed on the entire car ride home. Life simply got in the way, and I could no longer give piano the energy or time it deserved. I lost touch with her soon after that. I wonder how she’s doing.

I remember I showed up to a lesson in seventh grade, crying over something I don’t even remember anymore. She tried to ask me what was wrong—but I wouldn’t speak. She let me play through Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso once—and I poured everything into it. It was magical.

Honestly, I was a rather mediocre piano player. I hated practicing and polishing my technique. I rarely practiced for more than an hour a day. But music was cathartic. Even now, I find solace in piano—the only effective outlet for my anger, stress, and pain.

Before I moved to the United States, my third-grade teachers gave me a mini yearbook to remember the class by. In it, they’d drawn a picture of themselves, writing “Remember when we paper machéd the sun and made a mess?” Strangely enough, I still do.

We’d blown up balloons and covered them in paper maché, letting the mix of newspapers and glue harden before we popped the balloons, and painted them in a messy jumble of yellows and oranges. I stumbled across the book a few years ago, on a day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by the world. I lay on the scratchy grey carpet of my bedroom floor, clinging to that memory for a few hours, thinking about a time when life was simpler, slower. I wonder how they’re doing.

The list of precious memories, lessons, and people is endless. How do you thank the people who are no longer in your life for the indelible impact they left on it? How do you know to cherish your last time seeing them before you know it’ll be the last? How do you make sure you’ll remember the moments you shared with them before you forget?

The world is moving too fast for me to remember every little moment and every little thing.

i’m not ready to go.

make it slow down.
won’t you stay a while?
we used to feel like we had all the time in the world,
and now you’re getting ready to leave.

i’m not ready.

one last cup of tea,
one last story,
one last joke
before you go?

please don’t forget me.
please come back again.

will i be in your thoughts,
the way you’ll be in mine?

time is slippery,
and the mind is flawed.

so stay a while.
just a little longer?
don’t leave my life just yet.
stay before you leave.
don’t leave my life just yet.

i’m not ready.

it is inevitable
that you will soon
become a memory

of something,
of someone,

some day.

but please don’t make that day today.

i’m not ready.

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word chaos by catherine hu, a tech/enviro student at ucla with a terrible sense of direction and a passion for storytelling.

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© 2023 | made with 🤍 by catherine