I first learned to swim
On the black sand beaches in Auckland.
Now I swim
In an ocean of black hair at Beijing airport.
I won’t drown,
Because I bleached my hair blonde.
I have one citizenship
Celebrate New Years twice
Kowtow three times
Avoid the number four
Left China at the age of five
Am connected to the world by six degrees of separation.
“Foreigner” is not a dialect
Recognisable on a map of China.
“Chinese” is not a face
Recognisable on a map of New Zealand.
“No where” is not a home
Recognisable on a map of the world.
At home we speak English, Mandarin, and everything in between.
Two way miscommunications
Peppered with broken accents and Chinglish.
My parents do not understand me,
No matter what I say.
Steak with chopsticks.
Dumplings with a fork.
Fried rice and cheese.
Wontons and ketchup.
Stir fry spaghetti.
Soy sauce roast chicken.
My belly is a melting pot,
A smorgasbord of fusion food,
Without a price tag,
Without a place on a menu.
“All the world’s a stage.”
And we learn as children
To rehearse a script to the question:
“Where do you come from?”
Until it becomes muscle memory.
Performing, reinventing our identities
With chameleonic range;
Until our audience is satisfied.
My life is a patchwork of stamps
Sewn into my passport.
Read its pages, not my face;
It remembers my journey
Clearer than my faulty memory.
Our lives are made of fractured hellos and goodbyes,
Strung together in a messy montage.
And tears at the departure gate
Are a bittersweet ritual,
That never gets any easier.
I deliberately choose
To wander aimlessly,
While there is still so much world
Left to see.