It is hard for me to remember that we are on the same side.
A girl brought up to understand love as a negotiation between
have and want, a woman molded as an empire fighting to keep itself
from decline, learns that even sneaking a breath is a transaction first.
I confront myself with this geometric riddle: how many sides does a sphere have?
Infinite, or one. And if the latter, we could stand on this globe directly
opposite, each of us pulled to the other’s footprints through a diameter
of solid iron and molten ore, and still we would be on the same side.
It will be hard for you to remember that we are on the same side
when you trudge through the clotted ravine of growing up into
the realization that you will not live the life you thought you might.
What descends belies the wisdom of this mantra you taught me. But if you look
into darkness you will still see, after some delay, pixels of light, and in
that gray, me beside you. You only have to wait for your eyes to adjust.
Mingpei Li was born in China and lives in New York City. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.