Lilly

1. “Wǒ yào chī turkey,” my friend says, and tosses the ball to me.

I point at her, “Tā yào chī turkey,” and then at myself. “Wǒ yào chī mashed potatoes.” It’s the week before Thanksgiving break and we’re spending our lunch period in Chinese Club playing memory games. It’s clear where our minds are going.

“Tā yào chī turkey, tā yào chī mashed potatoes, and…” The game’s next victim looks around the room for inspiration, “Wǒ yào chī cranberries!”

Of the five of us, two of my friends speak the language, so the game is mainly us other three getting closer and closer to the correct pronunciations while they try to fool our memories on the English parts. At first, I’m apprehensive that I’ll mangle the four words I have to know, but I quickly put aside that particular bit of irrationality and focus on not being pelted with the ball when it’s my turn to speak. Later, I find myself quizzing my friends on pronouns and the difference between titles and honorifics and realize that what used to be fear has rapidly become an insatiable desire to understand.

2. One of my best friends asks me three times if I want to learn a dance to one of her favorite songs with her. As full of mixed feelings as I am (It would be fun! but you can’t dance! Yeah, but it would be hilarious!), my ankle makes the final call. “I can’t do any footwork while I’m still in the boot,” I remind her each time, and she groans and apologizes for forgetting. But maybe, I think, maybe after. A year ago I would’ve said “absolutely not” and left it at that.

3. Someone stays up late with me telling me stories about their family and I think to myself, I want to have stories for people to tell about me.

4. “Lilly, you’re covering my calc book,” says my friend, chuckling, trying to push my head off of her line of text.

I turn to look at her. “Wǒ yào chī bagel,” I say, and she laughs. ♦