Niko + Changchang
One golden afternoon when the sky was frosted with azure, I walked slowly around Museum Island with my mom who’d finally gotten TAP clearance to fly from Kansai International to Berlin Tegel Spaceport, she confessed as she'd popped a TVC in her mouth that while she was never going to love the idea of having a gay daughter (What about the Shinto ceremony in Osaka? What about her dream of spoiling two, fat akachan with slices of otoro and parading them through Kobe like the Japanese royal family?), she did find some consolation in the fact that I was dating you (who she described as brilliant), a word which made insanely, primally jealous since she has never, and I mean, NEVER, not even after the goddamn Asteroid Apocalypse, acknowledged a single one of my political, intellectual, or artistic achievements while studying art and theory in Berlin. So, I revised the story because I could when we ate dinner late that night at our favorite Charlöttenburg restaurant (you remember, the place that used to serve those vegan sausages, with sautéed o-kale and o-squash, synth dill cream sauce, and spicy o-sauerkraut. So köstlich!). Anyway, look, Chänglein, I lied because I could, just like you did when you said you were breaking up with me because Nutella's "disappearance" had broken your heart and made you crave the affection of other women. The truth is, your vocabulary of power has always been much bigger than mine, you just didn't know it then (and I was never going to put that Luger in your hand). I became a stronger woman when you left, but I became more damaged too because I couldn't show my grief to my gay friends without being labeled a drama queen. I had to pretend I was tough, tougher than I actually am. I felt that constraint every time I wanted to cry because this was the performance my friends expected of me, the performance I wanted them to expect, until I was trapped in my own performativity. You were the only woman who made me feel safe when I fucked up or fell apart. You made me feel lovable, even in my rage and conflict-obsession. You were my biggest mistake, Changchang, and seeing you this past week has been the greatest joy of my life. Sorry for being a pain in your ass.
Return to Story Index (Babel)