I waited to find the old clunker parked outside of the dormitory—a noticeable red, but referring to the vehicle as red would be wrong. Years of wear and rust give the color its own flavor. The bleached out sticker on the windshield, meant to look like a tattoo, now just looks unfortunate. If cars could wrinkle with age, Christina's car would be the elderly woman with the back tattoo of which has drooped and disfigured too far for anyone to ever want to see now.
"I'm really into hip-hop right now," says Christina, and Nicki Minaj infiltrating my ears as we drive down the road.
Christina says something to this effect at least once each visit—and her opinion changes often. Last time I visited she was infatuated with Latin culture. She wanted a man who could speak Spanish with his body and tongue, and was listening to a rock band whose lyrics I could not understand. (I chose French over Spanish in high school.) I remember Christina telling me she had been in love with Latin culture in her high school years.
Nothing is ever new for Christina—she always revisits the same places in her life with some sort of pride. I did not know Christina before this past year. She could only be revisiting what she would rather proudly confess, or her life could have been an amazing spark of multicultural interests and social peculiarities. Either way, I envy her.I always held my head down to the floor, feeling ridiculed for some quirky interest I had throughout my schooling. Now that being a nerd is “chic,” I can at least walk around in Star Wars t-shirts without wondering who is staring at me disapproving.
Before Christina’s love for Latin men and music, her entire world was Korean pop and Korean dramas. That is how I met her. Christina streamed all of her Korean fix from several websites with the English subtitles following slowly behind, and the fast-talking gibberish of people from Korea—either transferred there or native—cheerfully telling their life to strangers in video-logs. I watched a few episodes of a drama with her once; the entire show was colorful—not in language, but quite literally colorful. I could only compare the scenes and actors to walking into the “Care Bears” aisle of a toy store. For weeks Christina would mimic the trends of Korean culture, she saw displayed in her dramas, by sporting a ponytail on the side of her head with colorful bows pinned in her hair neatly. She was different.
I often wonder if modern Asian culture is really as bright and colorful as it appears in media. Their world seems fantastic, yet quite possibly a fantastic ruse to make us burn our red, white and blue’s for something more confining and structured.
Despite the conspiracy, the fun is not lost on me. We all have our guilty pleasures, I suppose—I used to watch the Jersey Shore with my roommate. Christina’s guilty pleasure just changes once a week, and is often reminiscent of a life she used to live.
Typically I just move forward. If my taste changes, I can blame it on a new discovery. But she finds comfort on past affinities. Many of us marvel at our past selves as if they could never be greeted again warmly. For better or worse, who we are evolved from who we were. And, like Christina, there is a reachable thrill from reliving memories and finding new solace in old things.
I might be embarrassed to remember the me that was, even just a year ago, but she has just as much worth as the me now; and I have not completely given up on the things I used to love. It is for this reason, one might find me still lurking in areas of a library or bookstore from my past, smiling as I once did.
Perhaps I will turn out to be one of those elderly women obsessed with antiquity, clinging onto every old photograph as if it were my last. I hope Trey can bear it.