Sept. 20, 2007

kiteflying

a.k.a. The September 21 entry, one day early.
feature CNS-ripping soundtrack: Soraya - Suddenly.

well. before we go insane with the necessary martial law remembrances at work, there is this. i was in the middle of writing something completely different, taking off from a recent conversation she and i had about wanting to be the kind of college friends who could afford not talking for a long time but still slip into comfortable conversation during reunions. she had not consented. at this point, i am sorry but i could not give more.

anyway. i was in the middle of something like that when i came across this image, kiteflying. so i chucked that old entry and opened a new Word document.

and here it is.

ps. by way of respect, i point you to my entry exactly one year ago. let me sit back and marvel at how far i’d come.

kiteflying

Once I dreamed of flying a kite.
So I badgered my father, “Buy me a kite.”
And he said, “Kites are for boys,” and then, “Girls like you deserve the sky.”
I must have been ten, around four-feet high. I liked the outdoors better than I liked the kitchen.
And so, sitting on our roof (clandestinely) with cheap soda in one hand, I watched as the other boys standing on the other roofs clutched their own strings, kites prettily riding 4pm winds on summer afternoons.
Of course, the skies then were pretty. It was April.
But I kept on saying, “I still want a kite,” anyway. I grew up thinking I wasn’t the kind of girl who deserved the sky just like my father said.
Despite my insistence, my father never made me one, though. I insisted summer after summer until my father’s line of reasoning shifted from “Kites are for boys” to “When you’re old enough.”
Old enough. What exactly did he mean? I grew from ten to eleven to twelve, still no kite. I was twelve that summer of 1997; it was to be my last summer with my mother. After that, I forgot all about kites and thought about my mother instead.

Funny how, just when you’re not looking, not even thinking about it, the kite comes along.
Her hair was long, and her laugh, like summer.
I sat beside her in class, not knowing I was to learn kiteflying, finally.
I met her in December, and by April I was falling.
She was a pretty kite in all shades of green.
My father had said, Kites are for boys, yes, but I do remember him saying I could be old enough for them. I was already eighteen when she lent me her string.
And so we flew clandestinely.
I stood on old rooftops since deserted, holding and pulling and letting her be, the wind in her face, her hair. Her laugh rang out like it was summer.
The sun was out, and the afternoon’s just warm enough and the wind, just right. We were as far apart as her string, but I’d never felt so close to anyone than at that moment, flying a kite with her name.
I still remember how she’d looked against the sky – a lot like the sun, but brighter.
I remember not looking around to check if other boys were looking on in envy, wondering, What’s a girl doing with a kite? Weren’t kites for boys?
So what if people were asking questions? So what if my father had been right the first time?
I was kiteflying. I did not care.

But I would ask her anyway, “Would you rather” – this was several nights later – “That a boy had held your string instead?”
At night, the wind would quiet down, and I’d pull her close, my kite tired for the day, setting her down beside me and running my fingers into her hair, her string dangling down the side of the bed. The air around us would hang thickly, and there would be sweat on her brow.
On some nights she’d need more fixing. On others, she’d be even farther away than she was from me during the afternoons.
On that night, she’d just said, “You and me, we’re both kites. We deserve the sky.” And then, “When I’m strong enough, I’ll fly you instead.”
And as with other things, I waited and waited and waited.
What exactly did ‘enough’ mean?

She was my first kite so I did not know how kiteflying really ended, before she and I realized we were through.
So this is how we ended it:
She and I, on an abandoned rooftop; it was May, and the summer was dying.
It happened in an instant. I didn’t know how I knew it, but I just did:
She was a kite more in love with the sky than with me.
So I did what I thought was best: Opened up my hand with her string, slowly.
All those afternoons of clutching her string a bit tighter than usual in the midst of strong winds flashed before my eyes.
Sometimes, she’d cast me a look that almost asked why it was I hadn’t just let her go then, but then there were times she’d look too painfully thankful I hadn’t. I didn’t know better then what to do.
But that afternoon in May, at the edge of summer, I felt like I had grown wiser. Finger by finger I let her string go until I held nothing in my hand. Looking closer moments after, I noticed how badly my palm had been scarred with the holding on, her string thin but sharp.
When I looked back up, she was right where I realized she should have been right from the start of everything: In the sky, where she was fully, freely by herself, where people could see how beautiful she looked with the clouds, her string endless.

On some nights I still wondered where she’d be at night, when the wind’s quiet and the air was thick and warm. But then, I figured, she chose the sky. Everything that happens after, I no longer had a hold over.
It is with this resignation that it ends.

*

Postscript
But how to go back into kiteflying again?
I’m not exactly so sure. For a while, I thought I’d never fly a kite again, not really because I realized my father was right the first time, when he said kites were for boys, but more because the wounds on my kiteflying hand seemed too tender even beneath the scarring.
So for a moment I forgot about kites and thought about my scars instead.
And we all know what happens in gaps like that – something comes along and hits you on the head while you’re not looking, and it’s almost funny, almost déjà vu, only it isn’t, this hasn’t happened before, because it feels like the first time anyway, in that sweaty-palmed, chest-pounding kind of way, my heart beating all-too audibly against the roof of my ribs, that sort of feeling only summer used to bring.
Only now it’s August and it’s raining, and somewhere, a group is singing, Look up, rain is falling – looks like love.
And I’m thinking, maybe it is; or, maybe it could be.
You don’t fly kites in rain though, so maybe it is also true that I won’t be flying a kite anymore.
Because I’m thinking, let’s be paper boats instead – side by side just floating, the current underneath us and raindrops falling all around. #