No Longer Human
I sat by myself in the corner of the train car, the seats were only three colors, the nice citrus orange, the dull grey, and the bright yellow, it represents society quite well, handsome man, beautiful woman, and the ugly outcast. I was sitting on the grey seat near the door leading to the next train car, the grey one was the ugly outcast, and that’s what I am. In New York, everyone walked into the train and sat down, took out their headphones, took out a book, or struggled to finish their homework, but today, I sat alone. It was 3:00 AM and I had just left my mother’s house after celebrating birthday to go home to my apartment, she was really touched by my bright, pink, spiky haired, head popping up in front of her window waving ‘Hi’. When I first left home and lived on my own, all I thought about was my mother sitting at the kitchen table, alone with the radio playing and having her morning tea with a sad frown upon her face, the only sound that would accompany her would be the radio spewing Top 40 music and the humming of the refrigerator. When I visited her, my worries melted away, she was doing fine and a friend of hers visited every weekend. My mother was glad to have a son who loved art and counting numbers, she also loved my sister, whom she wished was still alive, and her husband, whom she wished was still sitting in the living room watching political debates.
Being alone on the train was a strange feeling of loneliness for me, it wasn’t my fault that I was alone but it wasn’t anybody else’s fault that the train was empty. I took out my headphones, plugged them in my ears, and turned on my Itouch, I preferred a simple mp3 player or a CD player but I received an Itouch as a gift and the CD player I had, broke, so I ended up using an Itouch anyway. I selected my favorite album to listen to: Living Room Songs by Ólafur Arnalds, a wonderfully melancholic and delightful neo-classical album that I usually listened to when outside noise disrupted my reading. I wasn’t an avid reader during my high school days, but ever since reading No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai during my college days, a classic Japanese novel that’s highly praised in Japan, I couldn’t stop. I found it during my research on Japanese art and found the novel in a section of the library where it didn’t belong. I was attracted to the pink color and the black silhouette that was used as the artwork for the book cover. When the music started, I opened the book and started reading
The book was extremely depressing and the main character was just filled with gloom and doom, and misunderstood, and unfortunately, I could relate to him. I always felt misunderstood and isolated , maybe it was my flamboyant hair colors, but I wasn’t good at expressing myself, so my hair colors were just a portrayal of what I felt at the moment when I desired a hair color change. Some people said that because I was Chinese, my emotions were never present, which left me confounded and insecure at the same time, it sounded like a racist stereotype to me. Regardless of ethnicity, people express emotions in a variety of ways. I’m pretty sure a smile would stretch across my face when I was happy, but people told me that they never knew I was sad or angry or interested, they said my face was blank most of the time. What most people don’t understand was that, anger was not something I would want to unleash, so I bottled it up, anger always made me black out and I would wake up with a disaster surrounding me. When sadness overcame me, I became a madman filled with tears and spilled emotions everywhere, which was why I stretched that smile across my face whenever I was at least happy. So I always felt less than an human being because I couldn’t express my emotions, the only channels of expression was painting, which I had stopped doing for some reason. My hair colors expressed an emotional phase I had gone through, red hair was’ anger at the world’, pink hair was ‘somewhat content’, and my natural hair color was’ perfectly content’, which unfortunately had not happened in a while.
After about a chapter or so, the train had finally reached my stop and I got off, the train station was oddly quiet, the smell of rotten eggs lingered in the air, the sound of the train screeching as it stopped pierced my ears, and there was a hobo with raggedy, patchy clothing, sleeping and snoring up a storm on the stone floor. My overcoat swayed in the wind that blew out from the staircase leading up to ground level. It was quite a windy night, it was usually cool, but I never felt such cold breezes since last summer. My mother lived in a more suburban area, it was near the water so it was lot cooler than where I lived, the house my mother lived in was not my childhood home. My childhood home was in Brooklyn, the apartment I lived in was on a completely different street, avenue, and neighborhood but it was still in Prospect Park. She wanted to get away from all the painful memories of the past, so she moved into a small house in Long Island near a beach.
My overcoat and my spiky pink hair attracted a suspicious glance from a police officer as I walked up the stairs, his stare made me uncomfortable so I told him “goodnight.” He was probably wondering why I was wearing an overcoat in the middle of summer, it was a gift from my mom to wear in the winter, but I was so excited about it that I decided to wear it to her house. Some people probably thought I was a Triad or some wannabe Korean pop star, but no, I was an oval faced, pink haired, pale, possibly emotionally unstable, Dr.Martens boots wearing, skinny, tall, Chinese guy who seemed to be really good at labeling his own self despite finding life more confusing than humanity itself. I walked to my apartment and listened to the sound of my footsteps echoing in the dark night, women gave me suspicious side glances, men gave me cold looks, some women gave me smiles despite the fact that I didn’t know them, and a dog barked at me. When I reached home, I buzzed for the door to open, walked in, boarded the elevator that smelt like cigarette smoke and sweat, and keyed the door.
In the shower I thought about my mother, my dead sister, my dead father, and my friend, Andrei Romanov, who disappeared during the winter and never came back even after the college graduation ceremony, who was the first person I had romantic feelings for despite him being a male. What had happened during my last few months of my college days seemed to be erased from my mind by pure magic. I can remember Andrei’s soft, dirty blond, curly hair, his long eyelashes, and the black military jacket that he loved dearly. However those college memories came in snippets in my dreams like the missing pieces of a puzzle that had not been solved due to them being lost. I could remember meeting Andrei, how we became friends, and how I developed feelings for him. Why did he disappear? Was he murdered? Why would anyone murder Andrei? Did something happen during the winter that caused me to lose my memory? Why does my brain produce migraines whenever I tried to grab those memories? My head would ache so bad, like a hatchet splitting my skull in half. My psychologist told me it would come back, but it will be so painful, which was probably why they were apparently repressed or erased. I lay in bed in my black shorts and black tank top, my usual sleepwear, and stared at the ceiling and hoped my mother locked up her house and slept safely. I hoped that my headache would go away after my thought session in the shower. I wanted to peel my head open and suck out all the pain, the unhappiness, and depression with a plastic straw, like drinking Pepsi from a tall glass. Then I would fill it with delicious happiness by stuffing it with my favorite foods like chocolate cake, fried chicken wings, and maybe some spicy ramen. I wanted to finally find who I am and call myself Xiang Yu Chao without feeling like I was talking to a stranger instead of me.