Poetic Gibberish | Wild Mushrooms

mushrooms.png

Just a couple of wild mushrooms
Flourishing where they never
intended us to grow. 

May our sparkly spores
reach far beyond the edges
of the boundless fields
we'd lay & count sheep.

wild mushrooms


Recently, I have been reflecting on a friendship that unexpectedly became really important to me. When I first met this friend, I was sure it was one of the many fleeting acquaintances you make during the first few years of college. We met at summer orientation before freshman year.

Our initial connection was cordial: shared trendy interests amid somewhat similar upbringings. We're both Asian-American gals who grew up in SoCal under the watchful eye of conservative, religious parents. We could relate to shopping at Pac Sun, seeking out cheap all-you-can-eat KBBQ, balancing out AP classes with social life—all while making it to church on Sunday. Moving to Boston, we were both in a new situation, surrounded by new friends who coupled us as "the tall Asians".  

In some ways, it honestly could've been anyone. Our nervous jitters of starting a new chapter of life drove small talk and dissolved with drunken laughter. Though I did very little to maintain this friendship, it (luckily for me) continued on. 


Our mystic bond formed during the middle of college, as I faced an unexpected emotional & psychological challenge. 

 

The summer after sophomore year changed me.

I spent the first part of my summer abroad studying graphic design. It was unreal. This experience came after several semesters of taking a series of random courses in hopes of unearthing a suitable major. Focusing on graphic design inspired me. It gave me a direction. The people I met, the work I saw genuinely motivated me. I returned back to the States feeling inspired and confident about the future.

 

Then, my dad was diagnosed with cancer.

Look, I knew it was a possibility—in the way that anything is possible—but I'd never considered it until it was reality. And though I had already known other people who had been diagnosed with cancer, I couldn't anticipate how it'd feel when it was my own parent. I was afraid. Confused. 

 

I was especially unprepared for the intense emotional drop from an extreme high to immense low. 

When I received the news from my dad himself, I was across the country in New York. In the almost 10 years living away from my family, I never felt so far than in that moment. It felt so ridiculous to find something out like this via a scheduled conference call. With a dial in number. 

I had plans to spend the second part of summer in New York, studying in an architecture program at Columbia University. (It was my other dream.) I'd just bought fresh supplies for my drafting studio class the day before the call. However, I couldn't bring myself to attend class in any of the following days. I withdrew from the program and flew home. 

 

 

I changed. A lot. 

At the time, I just couldn't talk about it. I couldn't do anything. The only thing I could articulate was the simple fact that my dad was sick. Alone, I'd inexplicably burst into uncontrollable sobs. I know I wasn't the one undergoing medical treatment, but I felt very different. I couldn't go back to being who I was before.  

The following fall semester, I begrudgingly returned to Boston to continue college. I initially planned to take a gap year to help my parents, but my dad urged me to focus on my studies. 

 

I became a social recluse.

I was back on the same campus, living in the same apartment. Somehow, I felt like an entirely different person. 

The previous 2 years, I put all my energy into proving out my extroversion—like most do in their freshman year of college. The people I'd subsequently surrounded myself with couldn't empathize with this drastic change. We no longer had much in common since I didn't give a shit about Thirsty Thursday, Facebook-stalking frenemies, or sorority mixers.

 

At a time when I didn't even want to be around myself, 
this 'wild mushroom' friendship managed to bloom. 

I cannot reiterate how undeserving I was of this camaraderie. This friend went beyond the call of friendship. 

She was one of the few people I could confide in with all the ick I was feeling inside. She asked, but she didn't judge. She didn't tell me I was wrong, dumb, or childish for feeling this way. (Many people did.)

She just listened. Before this, I really underestimated the impact of being a good listener. 

After saying it out loud, I slowly became able to accept the things I was feeling. I was able to own my fears and tackle them a little bit a time. She—selflessly—gave me a steady shoulder to lean on. 

 
 

This friendship grew to become one of my favorite relationships.

This friend is one of the most incredible humans I have the pleasure of knowing.

She is smart, talented, and honestly one-of-a-kind. Plus, we both have off-beat names and could empathize with each others experiences. 

She is the type of person who asks, "hamburger or hot dog?" when everyone else is asking boring questions about your favorite color or what kind animal you want to be. 

She was the only person I'd crawl out of my gloom-hole for and hang out at a house party. Mostly because the themes were always dope.

One time, the theme was a satire of every other basic ass theme party we'd been to: Sex Cells. Literal cells. Upon arrival, you pick sperm or egg—and receive a corresponding cell doodle to stick on yourself and matching drink. I still remember "Egg" got these tasty gin fizz cocktails made with frothy egg whites. (Her roommate was a bartender. Do not try this at home, kids.) A definite upgrade from FourLoKo and Jungle Juice.

 

We complemented each others quirks. 

After making plan for lunch, I'd oversleep all my alarms to wake up in a panic. Luckily, we both usually started our days in the afternoon and having lunch at 4PM was completely acceptable in our books. How I miss those days. 

She's the only person I'd be willing to cram into an extra-long twin bed with to nap in the middle of the day. (We're both really sleepy people, okay?) 

We'd often have impromptu sleepovers, dozing off while sharing our own whimsical dreams for the world with Futurama reruns playing in the background.   

 

Since then, we've both taken rather unconventional paths: going back to school for a second round, pursuing our individual passions for art. We don't keep in touch in conventional ways, but often send each other artwork that the other may like. She makes beautiful sparkly magic—and somehow materializes it into physical art.

I have no doubt she will make this world a more lovely place. She's already done that to mine. 

Thanks Yae Jee. 🍄 

Lessa Chung