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  • Lijing Cobb

Dream comes true

I just realized that I'm becoming a writer like I've always wanted to.


This is blog No. 17. Every morning I spend at least 2 hours sitting at my computer, writing, thinking, rewriting, smiling, crying, reminiscing. Making sense. Turning on light bulbs. Finding closures. Healing.


This is the year of good for me, for sure.


I'm a late bloomer in a lot of things, I think. For example, I did not get drunk until I was about 31, and that was only because I decided that I wanted to have that experience after all. My father was an alcoholic, and every day he drank and made us miserable. The alcohol was a malicious jokester whose favorite hobby was to turn on all kinds of switches in my father, and the usual flipping sequence... well there was no usual, predictable sequence, but no matter what sequence it took, morose, animated, teasing, bullying... it always ended up in an angry outburst. On Chinese New Year's Eve my father would egg us on to drink rice wine with him. Refusal not being an acceptable option, I would close my eyes and nose and take a sip, wince, and tell him that it was good.


I despised alcohol. I thought it turned people into monsters.


When I decided to get drunk, I'd decided that I wanted to visit where my father frequented, and I didn't know what was going to happen. Turned out that I was a happy drunk. We played beer pong with hard liquor and I drank a 250lb guy under the table (what???). This is one of my husband's favorite stories to tell people about me. How I threw up everything I owned inside my body after the threshold hit, and how I walked down the stairs the next morning, fresh as a daisy while the other guy moaned and groaned for the next few days.


But this is not about my relationship to alcohol, but just an example of how late one might bloom in an area, as in a 31 year old virgin to drunkness.


My 10yo daughter lives to read. She read chapter books in kindergarten and won the district's Enthusiastic Reader Award. When I was growing up, my family had no money, no books, my schools had no money, no libraries. Reading literature was a novel act to me when I got into college where there was a huge library. In my third year of college we had an American teaching us oral English, and he made us write essays on topics he assigned. Something in my writing touched him. We started dating and he fell in love with me. He said that I should study Comparative Literature in the States after I graduated college in China. I'd never heard of Comparative Literature before (turns out I wasn't the only one. Most of you are probably saying right now, what is that?), but it sounded good and lofty, so I agreed.


Long story short, I read like I'd never read before, in the 8 years I attended graduate school for a doctorate degree in Comparative Literature. All the words I read, no matter how willingly or reluctantly, found home in me. All the thoughts I saw, no matter how straightforward or intricate at first, found resonance in me. All the emotions I felt, no matter how trite or sincere, continue to sit with me in my dark and light moments. Writing all the papers for the graduate courses I took, the 200 page dissertation, and all the research papers I submitted and read at different conferences when I became a college professor, built a good foundation for me to continue on the path of letting words speak beauty and truth.


But then I took a break. From the beginning of 2013, when my second child was born, my life took a drastic turn. I turned from the ink to the sword. I turned from sitting to moving. I turned from thinking to doing. I turned from the books to the world. I found a new passion and purpose, and for 9 long years I went along the new path, thinking that I'd never return.


Until the day I put my fingers on the keyboard 17 days ago. As if possessed by an alien spirit in me, I came back to the familiar path of stringing words together to build rooms, houses, castles, palaces, the entire universe.


It feels right, where I stand today. How I look at things now. How I can wield ink and sword at the same time. How I can sit quietly with my thoughts and move eloquently with my body. How I can apply the fruit of my soul search to daily instructions in my fitness studio. How I can read regularly again and relay the messages I receive by portraying them through the movements in my body. How I can feel at home physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


My dream of becoming a writer is no longer just a dream. The foundation has been built, the materials secured, and the laborer ready to lay the bricks. We are who we are because of our dreams and the efforts we put in to realize them. I am who I am today because of all the steps I took to get here, to this very moment. It's always meant to happen this way, isn't it? Just like the sun is always meant to rise every day, whether it rises into the clouds or pops above the horizon in all its blinding glory. Whether we are awake to see it, or asleep and miss it. Whether we turn our gaze towards it, or away from it.


The dream to be. To know existence. To put a smile on someone's face. To know that the waiting is part of the becoming.


My daughter took this picture of me yesterday. I was happy. I am happy.


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