Frailty of Friendship
Have you ever felt like the impossible was in front of you? Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you tried, you just could not reach the expectations in front of you?
For a long time, I felt like I was an alien walking around on a planet that seemed foreign to me. My parents had tried ever so hard to lock me inside of a bubble and keep me inside, fearing that I would get into even more danger than before. Maybe for some time their methods had succeeded; after many years, the bubble grew smaller and smaller before I grew claustrophobic. At the time, it might have felt like the bubble was getting smaller and smaller, but perhaps it was getting so small that it popped...
October 31, 2015
Crowding around in the middle of the lunch room, many of my fellow classmates wore costumes. It was the night of Halloween, and many of them were dressed up as a variety of costumes that ranged from stereotypical nerds with glasses to masks that made it seem like the entire body was designed to frighten the other. Indeed it was a day where people gathered together into groups and socialized with one another—that was for all people except for me.
Learning the hypocrisy of their ways, I felt more at comfort with the other fellow aliens at my disposal, which were few and far between as the school day went on. A fateful meeting with one of them taught me to appreciate the true diversity that few other people could really see.
“Hi,” I said as I walked up to another classmate typing away at a computer. She always had her labtop in her lap, typing away at the keyboard. Her eyes had always been glued to the screen. I sat quietly as more and more people walked by us.
“What are you looking up on the computer?” I asked. Her eyes widened like I had just set off several triggers inside. She slammed the computer shut.
“Nothing, I’m just looking up a medicine that will help me with my body,” she said. I looked at her with much confusion, not quite making sense of her own words.
“I don’t think I understand. Could you explain further?” I asked. Finally, with a deep sigh, she told me the truth—and it was here that I realized that we loners had more in common than I thought.
“I’m transgender,” she said, “and I’ve only told two other people besides you.” I paused for a moment. In that split-second, my mind filled with excitement; finally I had met someone who was also another alien. Finally I had encountered somebody that also shared similar traits that I carried. She was a person that could not quite fit into the slot that other people could.
“It’s ok,” I replied.
“Oh, that’s great! I was so worried that you were going to say it was over!” she cried. The relief in her eyes. For once I thought that I had finally made a true friend that I could communicate with honestly. We chatted at the table, excitement bubbling up like a cistern pot filling with so much heat it burst.
“Thank you, Daniel,” she said as she left to go to class.
“No problem,” I replied. The board that had provided my foundations started to break a little bit.
Cars whizzed past us as my father and I sat together while driving home.
“So how was your day?” my dad asked. At that moment, I needed to answer him openly and honestly. I thought we could have a deep conversation for once.
“Dad, my friend is transgender.” The brakes to the car forced the car to come to a sudden halt.
“She said what?!” my father asked with a desperate shout. Steam floated out of his nostrils like the devil rising out of his nose. I swore that I thought he would have hit me.
“She’s transgender?” I said, phrasing it like a question.
“No, Daniel! There will be people that will lie to you in order to gain your attention my father shouted.
“Dad, I thought you would be more understanding than this!” I shouted back, but everything that I had to say was but steel bullets bouncing off his ear-drums. Finally, I had come to the realization that he was not as understanding of a man as I thought he was before.
At that moment, the board of foundation cracked a little bit. Though my father’s reaction may have been meant as a warning, it did nothing except make me wonder what he was trying to hide. The old trust I had shattered, and the blow sent a huge dent in the board, barely hanging together.
November 6, 2015
It truly made me feel good inside to finally be friends with another alien. For awhile, I thought that most of my peers had been Christian and straight. Perhaps to some there was nothing wrong with that, but I recognized the conformity that surrounded them—none of them willing to question the institution around them. The boys sat around each other and laughed and joked, while the girls did the same with doll-like grins and Barbie-faced smiles. I distanced myself from them and spent more time with my friend, estranged by the robotic nature of my classmates.
“So how is the transition?” I would ask my transgender friend.
“It is coming along. I still need to tell my parents in order to get the hormones,” she said. She was different, not like the others. I thought it was cool that she was not sure of what gender she was—that she was able to see into the real ambiguities behind gender. For once, I saw more in-depth behind the institution I was under for brainwashing all these children to obey a strict standard. I loved my friend for seeing through that.
In the hallways, we would have our important discussions. During these times we felt we were the most honest with our individual selves. Sometimes it was she to me, but other times she was the one that was willing to help me.
“To me friend is not like a bank account,” she told me. “You can keep giving and giving, and you won’t ever have to feel the need to give anything back in return.” Indeed I leanrned far more about friendship than the simplicity of lessons that my parents told me.
I would actually learn to put such statement to proper use when a foreign enemy assaulted my friend. With much vigor, I rushed to her side when she needed it.
March 12, 2016
People walked by as my friend and I, along with several other people, sat arounda table for lunch. She laughed as she showed off her new haircut.
“Yay! I feel so happy!” said one of our friends.
It felt like she was finally getting closer and closer to going through the actual transition, yet her expression turned to sadness. Her hand clasped on her heart, she began to speak the cold truth of the cruelty she had just endured at the hands of her parents.
“And when I set myself down to take the haircut, my mother gave the hair cutter all these male haircuts, and it was just…just…” She covered herself as if there was a sense of shame across her. When I first looked at her, I would not have guessed that anything of the sort would have happened. Her hair was still shoulder-length, about the size of that I wold have thought there was not too much of an effect, yet I realized the blindness that I could not see through.
Her mother saw another human being. She did not see an alien. She only saw what she wanted to see. Her mother refused to take off the ethnocentric glasses. On her daughter, she could only see the state of manly flesh on her.
“It’s just something that I need to get off my chest,” my friend said. However, I could not help but feel that there was a disturbance. She smiled at me, assuring me that everything was going to be ok.
It was then that she revealed the secret she had kept hidden for so long.
“My female name. I want it to be Hope,” she said. “I want to show that even in the darkest of all tunnels, there is still a light that shines in the end of every trial we go through.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said. She was showing more and more about herself, and I thought that the good times were never going to end. I could see the depth of the relationship we had. How little did I know of the terrible betrayal I was going to make. How little did I know of the cost that it was going to make on her life and mine.
May 2, 2016
Time passed. As Hope and I became closer and closer, the more I felt like I wanted to learn about what it meant to be transgender. The deeper I put myself in the community.
Hope eventually made a youtube channel for herself. I looked through that channel a lot, trying to learn about her friends, trying to figure out what it meant to be transgender. I desired to grow more tolerant over ignorant.
Then the dark truth spread to other people.
I watched in horror as Hope explained in one video where her mother forced her out in front of her father.
“That’s it! I am getting out of this house!” she shouted to the camera before closing out. Even then, I was there for her.
“I heard about what happened with you and your father. I hope everything is ok,” I said in an email; however, I could not help but feel that things were starting to go out of hand for myself as well.
Deep inside, I had wanted to help Hope. I had wanted to be there for her, and most of the time I was, but this time, I was not—could not. The screen prevented me from crossing through.
Inside of that dark room, the frustration boiled to the brim. With a howling yell, I let myself out. My muscles tensed. As I pounced on the desk chair, the words of one of my friends echoed in my ear: “Just scream, Daniel. Let it all out.” Previously I had not been able to do such a powerful echo in the wind, but now I felt like enough had been enough. The human skin that conformed with the rest of the people in my species faded away to reveal the slimy green textures of my true skin. I was Daniel Hur, and at that moment, I was not going to let anyone get in the way of the mission that I had been tasked. For the rest of my life, I dedicated myself to protecting Hope. I wanted to help her somehow. I smashed the desk chair some more as if it was a board from Tae-kwon doe. I punched my fist through it, wanting to break it, but the chair refused to give way. It refused to give way to the force of my blows.
The structures that had been placed in front of me had proven to be too much.
June 31, 2016
Around this time, my English teacher had been surveying the progress I was making in the year she had taught me. I was supposed to go over to her house to talk with her for tutoring. Little did I know of the manipulative ways that she had—indeed she was far more crafty than any of the other teachers.
Inside of the dungeon, we ended up talking in a very intimate way. Perhaps it was just her way of twisting my own brain.
Finally she had managed to slip her hand into the most private area of my life. Finally, she saw her chance to pounce as she revealed her opinion.
“You have to stop the demons from infecting her brain,” she said. She went on in her religious jargon.
“You never know how you could pour so many prayers to fill up her pot,” she said. What? I wanted to say, but then her arms wrapped around my body, and before I could react, she planted a small trigger inside of the middle of my mind. I struggled against the words. I fought against the soft, soothing scent of her arms, but it was too much. Her arms were like a knock-out gas, penetrating through all of my entire body.
I carried myself home, entranced in her spell, prepared to do what I thought I needed to do.
Yet I still gave her the phone call—telling her that I could not align myself with her ways. Her voice was silent on the other line.
“It’s ok. Maybe it was all just really too difficult for you to understand,” she said.
“No, I-I tried everything that I could to understand. It’s just that whenever I prayed about it some more, I just could not bring myself to agree with what you were doing,” I didn’t know how to phrase it. I could see her nodding on the other end of the phone.
“You know, Daniel, at first I was really upset about the fact that you told your father about my condition, but then I remember that you are really close to your father,” she said. “Thank you for telling me all this, and really I do understand.”
“Yes, thank you for being willing to talk to me,” I said. I look back at this time and can only think about how stupid I was by the fact that I actually gave in to the English teacher’s persuasion. Maybe it was she that had convinced me to join the other side. Maybe it was she that had filled me with all the temptations to say those words. I could not grasp what had happened. I cannot remember whether I felt more redeemed or angry. All I remember was just standing there in the dark, knowing I had done the wrong thing.
October 21, 2016
Over time, I became different. I no longer followed the strictness of fundamentalist religion. Back then, it had been the only thing that accepted me with open arms. It had provided me with a community where I could spend time with, but just like how all butterflies need to get out of their cocoons over time, I felt the pressure to get out of mine. I squirmed and squirmed, struggling to burst out of the confines that made my cocoon.
Indeed the board that had once stood in my way had collapsed and given way. Now I realized that there is much more to the teachings that my parents fill me with.
I realized now how fragile friendships can be—that just the slightest bend can break the board. It is so easy for us to think that it is a solid foundation, something that will last forever.
But even with the slightest delicacy the board can snap. With the slightest tear a blooming a beautiful friendship can be smashed to bits and pieces, waiting to someday be built up again.
These emotions bothering me, I decided to pen a letter to Hope during my junior year in high school.
“I understand how hard it must be being transgender…” I said. I paused before I wrote some more.
“I too struggle a lot with the Christian faith as well. Sometimes I can’t understand why people tend to treat people that are different.” Sending the letter in the mail, I hoped the letter would someday get to her.
Talking to her mom the next day gave me the answer.
“She got your letter and was in tears. ‘I’ve been such a bad friend,’ she said to me, so I told her, ‘well, it isn’t too late,’ but then all she did was waste time on video games,” she said, her tone becoming sarcastic. It was your fault that she is hurting like this; it is always the fault of the parent that something like this goes on, I wanted to say, but I held back my words and simple said, “ok.”
While a part of me was led to believe our friendship has ended, a small part thought that our relationship still exists. A part of me wants to believe that we will meet again, and I will meet her again. It may be a slow process—but it definitely is one worth taking.ns 22.214.171.124da2