Campus Life wenbo’s walks

Cicadas used to live in my neighborhood

Sometimes, that’s just a minor side plot of ‘Descendants 3’

The other day I was approaching the tracks just before Vassar Street to get my COVID-19 test. For the first time ever, the lights were flashing and a train was passing. I couldn’t believe my eyes: What I had mistakenly believed to be an outdated and unused set of rails in fact had its function.

It’s everyday magic like this on Mass. Ave. that really keeps me going. Sometimes, I can scarcely figure out what to think and cannot believe but what I can see. But for that day, I can smile fondly and recall the mystical train that entered my life and passed by it just as quickly.

Yet that was not all; there was something else peculiar in the air. I couldn’t sense it at the time, to be certain, but it spread like venom through my blood and seeped into my mind. Sometimes people speak of curses so mute that those who possess them cannot speak of them. Sometimes, that’s just a minor side plot of Descendants 3.

I sit and wait patiently in the corner of my room, each passing second making it increasingly difficult to be quiet. But sometimes the amount of time that passes between such sittings makes the world go blurry.

I stand up swiftly; darkness pulses through my vision. Maybe I should take a walk. I’ve been in hibernation for 19 years, after all. I feel the need to stretch my tired joints and molt my previous coat. I’m surrounded by love and people I love deeply, some to the reaches far beyond the moon, yet I struggle to love myself. I fear that I’ve hibernated for too long.

Back in high school I wrote this poem titled “my chance” for the literary magazine. It detailed my reproach toward the passage of time, how I felt abandoned by a train I had waited so long for. Nearly three years later, it sometimes seems as though nothing has changed. I feel like I’m not even given a chance to board these trains, let alone take hold of these narratives; other times I feel like I’m moving so fast that I get nauseous and lose where I am.

I mean, it wasn’t a good poem. It just sorta… was.

But that was the venom that seeped through my veins, the feeling of loss for something that has not yet been lost, the utter condescension of my brain telling me that maybe I’m truly not good enough for any of my aspirations. Life moves too fast. I feel like the driver in the trolley problem, except both paths lead into distinct but somehow identical pillars of concrete. It’s not so much of a moral decision; it’s just deciding whether or not to flinch, or to even try.

I often take the back alleys of the city when I go on walks now, to avoid people. Aside from the pandemic, I’m afraid that if I have to see people, I’ll be forced to confront my own existence and powerlessness. I burrow into the concrete, waiting — no, wasting — 17 years of life to emerge from the ground in a frenzy, trying to make up for all the time I lost.

Those are the cicada days, the days when I fear to lose so much, I almost lose everything that makes me whole. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Cicadas come and go every two decades or so, but I can and should live my life without their wings weighing me down.

I remember on these walks in the crisp spring air that I am still loved even when life’s pace seems out of reach and out of control. Times get tough, but alone I am not, even when I feel as though I am. My friends have always supported me through the highs and lows, and I am forever grateful for each and every one of them.

I remember all the wintry panes of frosted glass that have kept me warm before and the gentle coo of the nightingale during the humid summer nights that have kept me awake. I remember that bad days fall like autumn leaves in magnificent waves of color as life learns to begin anew.

And then I remember you, your eyes reaching into my heart and asking it the questions it’s feared to wonder. You, the steady hand that broadens my perspective from concrete dichotomy to showing me that there are three, four, or indeed, an infinite number of choices and paths that I could steer onto instead. You, here with me, right here, right now, reading these words and wondering if this paragraph could possibly be about you.

So with that, I shed the old and usher in the new. This past year has been difficult, and sometimes in its shadow I forget how fortunate I am to have a chance at all. But I know things will be alright, and I’m willing to work through life’s problems to iron out the wrinkles. I suppose it’s time for my own metamorphosis so that I can spread my wings with you all by my side. Just as long as I don’t turn into a cicada, though.