To Toua and Ben

This is long. Took me weeks to write because it’s about two of my friends turning their backs on me because they can’t handle I’m Bipolar. They were my best friends. One even like a brother so this was emotional. There’s literally 9 different ways I started to write this one and threw them all away. On paper it’s 17 pages, so it’s long.
I don’t know where to begin

I mean I get

having a Bipolar friend

isn’t the easiest situation to be in

but how everything came to an end

is where my heart sobs and head spins.
Toua – we started an equal friendship

that over time became more kinship.

No matter how pissed off I’d get

I never let anyone talk shit.

We were basically the only two

Asians in school.

Billy was busy gang bangin’ and running with his crew.

Getting suspended or not even showing up.

So really it was just us.

Nobody gave a fuck

but we somehow had fun

calling each other Gook and Chink –

not caring what anyone, even the teachers, had to think

about us reappropriating racial slurs.

No matter how many times reprimanded you were a Chink and I was a Gook.

I even had it occur

in my rhymes as I wrote about making nukes.

I embraced the stereotypes.

You just shook your head knowing at that place and time

that just how I was gonna be like.

I mean, we truly were like sister and brother

because nobody could annoy each other

like we did.

We also egged each other on for the good and the bad – we just did.

When we met you were trying to get into rap

and you talked like you had an actual opinion.

I still look back

and remember you trying to be a critic.

How I thought it was whack and just laugh.

I was going by Shorty Pain

You said you were Weapon 5.

I was having none of that and gave you a new name:

“2APac” now work on your rhymes.

And you tried… I remember you tried.

You just wanted to write

I saw it inside.

Words came easy to me

but you were a broken English Refugee.

I still remember telling you to just write,

don’t worry about the rhymes.

But of course you never really took my advice

and kept trying to rhyme.

I remember others in that school didn’t think I could battle rap

but you had my back.

You always had faith in my skills

and we dreamed of an empire to build –

but we were kids

and try as we did

we had to grow up.

And outta nowhere my life began to erupt.

My brother was killed and they had to operate on my heart.

You visited me in the hospital.

I got so torn apart

unsure how to get over these obstacles.

I don’t remember

if it was you, me, or whatever

but I lost my cool

and said it shouldn’t have been my brother, but you.

And it was just like that we were

no longer on speaking terms.

But time heals and we learn.

We’ve been through car fires

and other times swearing we hated each other

but I’ll say it again in each other we inspired

and were just like sister and brother.

All I did was send a text

and just like that we made amends

and went back to best of friends.

But then you told me you signed up to go to Iraq

and I swore to you I wasn’t ready to lose more kin.

Asked you to rethink that.

You didn’t.

Let’s face it –

Neither of us was ever good at being able to listen

especially when passionate about what we were facin’!

And at this very time

you were occupied

with the woman who’d become your wife.

I remember the turbulence

every fight you had

I’d tell you “Toua, you’re being immature in this.”

You sent me a letter from Iraq.

Well not a letter but a fucking gag!

I remember trying to open up a glued piece of paper

thinking what soldier wastes a stamp on the crap?

Toua – Toua does that!

Why? Because he can

he’s that type of friend and man.

The first time you came back

we were at the Hmong New Year.

Maika drove us there.

I said you had to marry her before you leave and you got very sincere

and said “Krystal, I don’t want to leave behind a widow.”

Marriage is never simple

but you two had to overcome your cultures forbidding you together.

As friends and family got angry with you

I never saw the issue.

I mean, I find culture important.

So you probably thought I’d be one to not support it

but I knew you were in love

although you’d shrug

and swear that’s not what it was.

“She’s just the one, no love.”

As much as your families tried to put you to shame

you both overcame

and settled down as the Yangs.

Next up was fatherhood

and I knew you were a nervous wreck

which I think everyone understood.

But you never admitted you were nervous

it was just in our talks, even texts

that this is what is going through your head.

You two got into a nasty fight and said you’d like “an abortion, that sounds good” or “kick her in the stomach.”

I told you no matter where you and Maika stood, this child you’d still love it.

Come August and the birth announcement.

The pictures of Horus had me all around bouncin.’

I truly saw him as my nephew.

I remember sitting in my car

we were on the phone and you suddenly said “Thank you” for all the support this far.

You even said you wanted me as his godmother.

There we were again, sister and brother.

All your kids I got close to

and loved as my own niece and nephews.

They were my niece and nephews.

I adored everything they’d do

even if it was annoyances to you.

I just saw it as precious.
I honestly think my mind was always broken.

Maybe even before my brother died and my heart cut open.

But suddenly it came to such extremities

that some things I have no memory.

I didn’t want to be awake

for so many days.

I didn’t want to hallucinate.

It wasn’t the world I’d create.

I wanted to be me.

You tried everything to fix me I believe.

From getting me to talk about being raped

to deciding I had to sober up.

I flat out told you there’d be only so much you’d be able to take

until you had enough.

You weren’t a pill or a shrink.

You were Toua – Forever my Chink.

But the way you think

just wouldn’t give up on me.

I get it, you’re a vet of the Army –

as tough as they come

but this would be the time you’d come undone.

Not even a trained soldier

can fix the Bipolar.

I told you over and over

again you couldn’t fix it.

But you thought different

and again just wouldn’t listen.

God knows, I owe you a lot for driving me to the hospital.

Giving my mom the emotional support as we tired down from all these mental obstacles.

Just as I saw it

You had to quit

You had to give

You had to submit

but you wouldn’t admit

that you gave in.

You put the end of our friendship solely on me.

Maybe… maybe… just maybe…

if I didn’t have this chemical imbalance

we wouldn’t have faced this challenge

and I’d be showing your kids their potential in writing talents.

But I’m not.

I don’t see them anymore.

I don’t see you anymore

It all just stopped.

We weren’t as thick as I thought.
Shit Ben, where do I begin?

We were the strangest of friends.

You the cool geeky science guy.

Me the history lover who does nothing but write.

Dear God, back in high school

I threw pencils and books at teachers across the room

and it never fazed you.

Just shenanigans you’d expect I’d do

to try to get attention

because I wasn’t getting the challenges I mentioned.

You just knew my moods and tensions.

I remember my goal everyday

was to make you make

your “what the fuck” face.

The racial jokes we made

were worse than Toua and me.

Ghana 2004, you were no longer a wetback but “Damp Feet.”

I was “Sea Legs,” no longer a gook –

the racial slurs we made for each other.

We’d joke about deporting you

while joking I was making nukes.

Everyday it’s just the thing the school

knew it was us two

and we had no control over the jokes we’d do.

I remember every time I’d spaz

because of your procrastinating lazy ass.

Every week I swore I hated “your Mexican face,”

but it was just more jokes we’d create.

“Damn anal Korean.”

No matter our disagreements

we always had each other laughin’.

You came out to me and got no reaction.

We hadn’t spoken for a few months so I was just happy to see us fall back into our patterns.

“Damn Koreans” “Damn Mexicans”

just like that we were Krystal and Ben again.

With my family you came to live

and we were honest to God best friends.

But we started to clash

and as much as you annoyed me

my mom loved your agitating ass.

I felt like I had a choice see

either you’d have to leave

or we’d really crash

and just like that we spent years not talking.

I went through old videos and pictures

reminiscin’ about us talking.

In all the high school mixture

You dealt with my intense crush on a teacher

introduced me to Eden

who was a better achiever

at getting you to ask “what the fuck?”

So outrageous, I couldn’t beat her

but you tried to draw lines on tables and the ground for me, saying I crossed them mostly for strange reasons.

It was again a running gag –

lines all over tables and numerous in the sand.

While I jumped across them and laughed.

I looked at the pictures and cried

because I missed all of that.

I reached out and apologized.

We both admitted we said harsh words and the bad guys.

Bad fag, bad hag

God there was no slur we could’ve call each other and then spend hours to laugh at.

We met up for your first powwow

and it was crazy how we were right back on our cozy level somehow.

Every other sentence was “Oh I forgot we didn’t talk when that happened to me”

“Yea, it seems weird I didn’t know this” catastrophe or master piece.

That was the only thing we needed to do to get back in sync.

Took a little bit because our instincts

still felt like we knew what the other would think.

In a way we did.

We just had to catch up on our pasts to truly get

back into each other’s thoughts.

We constantly talked.

I listened –

you wanted out of Minnesota.

But to me you didn’t

otherwise you would’ve seen the volcanic soda

with sweet grass aroma

bottoming out to the ground.

You took off out of state

when I was at the bottom

but you had a lot on your plate.

So I listened closely to your problems –

even though I had so much going on.

I was barely holding on.

If it hadn’t been for Toua and my mom I’d be gone.

I look at how our relationship became

and wonder would you have even cared

if I no longer could handle the pain

and was no longer here?

If you did What would you have missed?

A friend or an ear to bitch?

Because every time I tried to tell you what was wrong

suddenly you couldn’t stay on the phone long.

But I shrugged it off as Ben is going through a lot.

He just needs to talk.

Look at what I’m doing to Toua –

I’m making people nuts or giving up.

I’m a bit too much.

Ben doesn’t need that right now.

So when we talk, I’ll have to act happy somehow.

Yea, that’s what I did for you

but you probably didn’t notice

because it was always about you.

And I really didn’t care if you did know it

because all I wanted to do

was get you through.

Then all of a suddenly you flew to Germany.

I supported you but there was a little hurt in me

but again all I wanted to do

was see you make it through.

Then came the months not talking.

All of a sudden I have a 763 area code that keeps calling.

You know I don’t pick up my phone

so you better find a way to leave me a message.

You were back home

and I felt a completeness in my soul

Like “this is Ben and Krystal back on a roll.

Wit, sarcasm, racial jokes.

It’s seriously like we never grew

out of high school

with some of our wicked humor

but here we are trapped in the future

and there isn’t much going on.

Stress, jobs, family, cars.

Good God, how’d we get these cards

when back in the day we did work hard.

In our own ways of course

but nonetheless we tried to stay on course, of course.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar

and it isn’t like you gave me the cold shoulder

You just wasn’t much of a supporter.

So I knew I could never tell my emotions to you.

They were too intense and it was again all about your issues.

You thought it was great when I acted manic

but got upset when I said I was intensely depressed.

“Get over it” you said and I had it.

When Carrie Fisher died

I vowed to never hold back or lie

about the fight with Bipolar

and your callousness stung my mind.

I’m telling you the intensity I have no control over.

All I wanted from you,

my supposed friend, was support

like for you I’d always do.

You made fun of my openness about Carrie Fisher.

My devastation and how deeply I was going to miss her.

I ignored you for a few days.

The callousness you kept having to say

finally drove me to say

how your reaction hurt

and you had no idea what you were saying.

And it did finally occur

the way I was behaving

was a bit out of hand.

But FUCK – I just wanted you to understand

that talking about this disease isn’t easy.

Those around my who have it don’t take care of themselves.

It was her she got me believing

life wasn’t over.

I just needed to take care of myself.

Ben – I’ll always have Bipolar.

Everyday I’m reminded I’m Bipolar.

If it’s not the moods

it’s the daily pills.

But I shouldn’t expect out of you

to know how that feels but it’s real.

I used to not want to talk or acknowledge this shit

and knew if I started talking about her I would.

That’s still something you’ll never get

and honestly probably never could.

There’s better ways I could’ve explained all of this

without going cut-throat

but my mood I can’t always control it.

Just fuck it though.

I apologized and apologized

even though there was a lot done on your side.

I’ve gotten over that.

Wouldn’t have been the first time in fact.

But now the fact is you did turn your back

and I still yearn for my friends back.

But if you can’t understand the imbalances I struggle in

then I guess once again

we’re better off not being friends.

Don’t think for a moment that doesn’t kill me within

because it did.
But just like with Toua it is what it is at the end – I lost my two closest friends.


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