Last time I saw you was 2012, at graduation. You were there as my dorm parent. It has been a long time. I always wanted to come back to visit. But to be honest, East Machias was really an out of the way spot. And after waiting for too long, all the people I wanted to see were no longer in East Machias, so I gave up. It has always been my regret for not being able to visit Maine again. It was always so beautiful up there.
From Maine, I have gone on to many places and done plenty of different things. I have gone to college and even graduate school afterwards. I have learned to enjoy life and dealt with stress. So much stress. The more I grew up, the more I understood the stress in my life. When I was in high school, I didn’t really know I could be stressed. I knew people that were stressed with everything a teenager had to deal with. But me, I was never, at least not until my junior year. Could you believe it? I traveled across the globe on my own, during a time that 3G was not a thing and I had no cellphone, to a little town all the way up in Maine when I was 15, but I was never stressed until my junior year. I had no idea how.
It was for the AP US History exam. I had attended a US high school for barely a year before I had to take the exam. I struggled through that class everyday because I decided to take AP history while barely speaking the language well. But it was my choice so I fought diligently to stay as an A student. I had worked hard throughout the whole year so I really wanted a big finish with the AP exam in May. Thus in April, as soon as we came back from Spring break, I immediately dived into preparing for the exam. I studied all day and then worried all night. There was always this feeling of burden on my mind that I couldn’t really explain.
One day, I was taking a quick study break to get some water. When I passed by the living room, you were there with some other teachers and one or two students. Everyone was watching the news with full on attention. Curious, I stopped. When teenagers watched the news at 7pm, there must be something important going on. With the water pitcher was still on my left hand, I sat down on the end of a couch. I asked you what was going on. They killed Osama Bin Laden. You answered while still staring at the screen. Oh shit. I swore then immediately caught myself because I remembered you were a dorm parent. You quickly glanced at me then didn’t say a thing. I knew you let that swearing slide.
The anchor guy kept talking about how this would be the news not only the US but the whole world was waiting for. They showed on TV footage of a bunch of troops climbing out a dark tunnel, or cave, or might be an alley. It was too dark for me to see clearly and that might be their intention: showing off their achievements while not displaying too much information.
You talked to the room but looked at nobody in particular. Wow. This would really relieve the stress for the US in the Iraq battlefield – you said.
Right at that moment, it hit me. Stress! That was it. The uneasy, worrying, heavy feelings I had been experiencing was stress. I was just stressed over studying. That was good to know. I was afraid something was wrong with me. It’s kind of funny now, thinking back, that was my first reaction to such a big international news. “Ah, I figured out I was stressed.”
I had all the information I needed from the TV. Osama bin Laden was dead. I couldn’t really care less who got the job done. It could be the US, UK, Sweden, whoever. So I stood up to leave. You called after me to remind me that study hall hours would be in half an hour.
While back in my room, noting down a list all the wars that the US involved in, I thought of Iraq. You remember how back then the US decided to invade Iraq because of 9/11 and the Al Queda? Isn’t it hypocrite that after we killed Bin Laden, we were still there even till today? I didn’t know that the US wouldn’t pull the troops out back then of course. All I thought of was how glad I was not having to study an extra war for the exam. But at the same time, I wondered what excuse the US would use to explain to the young kids who later have to study US History why they involved in Iraq. Just like how they used some excuses to justify why they were in Vietnam years ago. “To stop the spreading of communism” – so vague, so ambiguous, and so selfish. Many of my Vietnamese people died for that of an excuse. Sorry, I shouldn’t go into that. That’s too heavy and political for this letter. My last letter to you can’t be a political discussion.
All that aside, I have been rambling non-stop about many random things. I just wanted to say I missed you. Really much. I said not being able to come back to Maine was one of my big regrets, because I missed the chance to see you for one last time. Ms.Pond, you were the first person I ever met in the US ten years ago. You welcomed me with open arms and I would never forget that. Next time I’ll come to Maine, I’ll bring this letter with me and burn it by the little stream next to our dorm.
If there’s an after life, you will deserve the best one.
So long Ms.Pond,