[Binary stars orbit each other, sometimes eclipsing one another along their respective paths. Their collective brightness varies over time based on their orbits as well. Sirius A is a white star twice the size of the Sun. Sirius B, a white star about the size of the Earth, orbits around it. Their home is in the constellation, Canis Major. They are collectively known as the brightest star in the sky, Sirius.]
we came to this campus with dreams in our heads and with prospects for the future. we moved into our new homes, ready to start a new chapter in life, meeting people left and right, unable to tell who would last, unable to tell who was right and who was wrong. it’s still hard to tell if people have the best intentions for us, and it’s still hard to tell if people will last in our lives. but like any white dwarf, you stayed behind for a long time, and I know (and hope) that you’ll stay for even longer in my life.
Sirius B circles around its brighter neighbor, feeling outshined, feeling a shadow on itself. it forgets that it too is a bright star, it forgets that it has the longevity, the patience that the other doesn’t have.
(to represent you with a binary star system is somewhat ironic, I know.)
memories spiral around me when I think about her. I find myself unable to immediately start writing, there are too many recollections to put onto a single page. I know that by the end of this, I’ll only have represented a fraction of who she is. my thoughts feel disjointed and come in vignettes of moments in our friendship. through it all though, through the rough waters and the grassy plains, she was one of the few constants that I held onto while navigating a space that was foreign to me.
she’s the kind of person that tells you more things in a subtle smile or a glance than through words. others might describe her as “closed-off,” but once you pick up on the right cues, a world opens up behind the walls. a glare that could make anyone stop in their tracks. a smile that could brighten anyone’s day. a laugh that cuts through the air, making heads turn. the slamming of the face of her phone against the desk in frustration. the smug look on her face when she holds a cup of tea, getting comfortable in a plush couch or some blankets. that look of disgust she puts on when someone does something distasteful. the way she doesn’t mess around, straight to the point, she’ll schedule a meal with you on the spot, nothing is just a greeting to her. that’s the way she says “I love you. I care about you."
she’s a 노력파, ceaselessly working on everything at once and balancing all of her efforts. she invests so much time in the things she cares about. what’s most striking about her is her will, her unwillingness to give up. she doesn’t let anything go, and that’s both her strength and her weakness. it’s worrying sometimes to see her feel so much pressure from the weight she bears on her shoulders, but through sheer will, she carries the world and manages, in the end, to take the role of Atlas for another day. in a lot of ways, she inspires me.
but most of all, she was always there. even when I wasn’t. it’s her perseverance, the persistence, the constancy that makes her who she is.
[the introspection method is used in linguistics to dig deeper into the ideolects that we carry in our minds, the ways that we, alone, perceive language. is this sentence correct to me? let me make a list of twenty examples to show that it makes sense to me. after I do it, I’m able to find out that, yes, I have a weird way of using English completely different from anyone else, or maybe not. maybe I’m just one of many people who have a weird grammatical quirk.
this will be my fifth time gathering the memories of a human in this world, taking the dust and heavy metals floating in space and putting them back together again to make a star. we only see the face-value of people, we forget to dig deeper. behind the exterior is a whole universe of stories and memories. every neuron in the brain carrying a thought, and every neuron connecting to more thoughts. all thoughts creating a constellation, and those constellations creating a galaxy.
I label people with stars, moons, nebulae, and planets, but they are all galaxies to me. I try to capture them in writing, but I’m thousands of light years away.]
there was this time when I was playing video games in the library, and she was sitting next to me, face in her hands, she muttered something about how her paper was going to destroy her this time. I very unhelpfully continued to click away, saying absentmindedly, “mood” and talking about how I have so much schoolwork too. this was common between the two of us: meeting up out of coincidence, complaining about schoolwork, her doing the work, me not, me eventually typing away with one hour left before the deadline, her laughing at me as I desperately start reading aloud whatever shoddy writing I decided to craft that night, me sending it in and throwing my arms into the air. it was all normal, everything had a routine.
until she cried.
and that’s when I realized how functionally fixed I could be, how stuck in a routine I am. it snapped me back into reality. I let myself die on the screen, closed my laptop, and asked her what was wrong. the conversation that followed wasn’t very productive, and we ended up falling back on the old routine, but it still hangs in my memory.
I wish I could have said something better. done something better.
she’s often mistaken to be a child, she steps onto buses in Korea, and drivers offer her elementary schooler discounts. she’s actually a whole year older than me.
but in her small body, she holds so much pressure. so much weight on her shoulders. she battles between identities and is split between too many decisions. I wonder how she even stays sane from day to day. I would’ve been crushed under the weight. she punches through a wall instead but breaks her hand along the way.
the world is too cruel, and people are too unforgiving. they don’t think about what they say or what they fail to do. we’re all on our programmed paths, our routines, and our filled schedules. yet she shoves everything aside just to meet someone. being friends with her is realizing how much effort friendship takes in our time. she reminds me that friendship is more than just saying we’re friends. friendship means investment. friendship means shoving things aside and privileging an important person in your life. friendship is constancy. I’m reminded sometimes that I don’t do that often enough.
she wipes her tears off and opens her laptop, “We had a dinner on Saturday, right?”
“Good, I’m glad I have something to look forward to.”
[to keep up relationships, they need to be watered like plants, or else they’ll wilt away. that’s a lesson that I learned from her.
but to keep up memories and to preserve them, they need to be kept frozen. or else they’ll rot and morph, discolor to be different from before. but every once in a while, you let them thaw, revisiting them and letting them melt in your hands. remembering how they tasted, how they smelled, putting it back before it’s all gone.
but maybe memories are more like clay. malleable, tough but pliable. let them sit too long, and they dry out and turn into dust. play with them too much, and they become something entirely new.
I guess what I want to say is…
if memory is ice, then I want to let it melt in my hands. to close my eyes and breathe it in once more before it fades.
if memory is clay, then I want to put it in a kiln, fire it, and set it permanently on a mantle. so that even if it tarnishes, it’ll stay intact.]
but to me, memories are stars: connecting with each other like constellations, dying and giving birth to new ones, and shining brightly even in the darkest of times.
white dwarfs are said to live for 13.8 billion years, and that’s permanent enough for me.