There will be times when I gloat, and no matter how often those moments appear, I never seem to be able to show off my academic intelligence.
This is the first time.
Yes, yours truly here is the recipient of the Award for Academic Excellence for being a student with A+ average. You'd better believe it. I didn't believe it myself but then I opened my score card and there was that A+, neatly printed on the paper. A miracle. What's next? A cure for AIDS?
That wasn't the only award I received, though. On Memorial Day's BBQ Party at Mr. Stephen's, I also earned a gag award that said "Most Original and Only Bellydancer". I love that award so, so much, and keep it close to my heart.
I know I'm backtracking in this entry, but please bear with me as I'm going to backtrack once more.
The day before graduation day (here's the timeline: graduation day was on Friday, June 3; Memorial Day BBQ was on Monday, May 30) - Thursday, June 2, after a nice lunch at Grande Kamekyo across EF's Fisherman's Wharf, Leo, Rex, and I decided to walk to the beach. It was a nice, sunny day, although the wind was cold. And so we chatted.
"I've been here the longest," Rex said with a cigarette wedged between his fingers.
"How long?" I asked.
I gasped. "Fifteen months?"
He nodded. "I started in Oakland. They didn't have UP (University Preparation - language drills, application assistance, gmat/gre/toefl preparation, truckloads of books enough to give us hernia) program then, but I had paid, so they put me in the AY (Academic Year [General English] - mostly fun, games, light grammar, virtually no books). I was in AY for 6 months, then I got into UP for another nine months."
"How was it?"
"Well, at first, I couldn't even say a word in English. The first day, I didn't even smoke because I didn't have my lighter with me and I didn't know how to ask for fire. After it became unbearable, I just asked the other students, 'May I have fire?'"
"But that's great! I mean, it's also common to ask for 'fire' when you want to light up a cigarette," I said.
"Yeah, but the other students were also as stupid as I was and they didn't know what I meant. It took us a while," he laughed endearingly.
I'd heard the same thing from my friends: Najla (an Arab), Andrey (Russian), and Leo as well. They had benefited a lot from staying in the USA and just talk. There is a huge improvement between when I first met Andrey and Leo and now when I'm talking to them.
On Friday, just before all of us went to Tiernan's for the graduation ceremony (it was dreary outside and our principal said that the weather didn't permit us to hold the event on the beach), we watched the conclusion of Little Miss Sunshine in Lauren's class. I cried a bit while watching it, I didn't cry at all during the graduation ceremony, so it was reasonable when I burst into tears in the middle of the night as I watched Leo's videos featuring collage of the students' photos.
And so, what else could I do but write a poem?
there is always the pain of meeting someone,
and getting to know that someone for the briefest moment,
but it feels like it's been a lifetime.
and then you have to say goodbye.
it rips open my chest and crushes my heart.
it will always be there.
but I have the memories to remind me
of the magical moments of friendship.
five damn months
and the pain when I said,
"what the hell am I doing here?"
that pain disappears.
but this pain remains.
and I hope
not even senility
nor all force or disease on Earth
will wipe away the memory
that feeds this pain.
for I know I can take it.
I can live with it.
but I sure as hell
can't live without the memories
of my friends
of the classes and the books
of the bus rides and car lifts
of the here and now
of fisherman's wharf.
and so I cry
as if each choke
could ease my suffering.
and yet I smile
for it is not a suffering
but a privilege
of sharing lessons
of learning and teaching
of murmuring and wailing
of walking down the corridors
of fisherman's wharf.