THEY CALL HER YU
EMMY SONG (ROCKVILLE, MD)
On some days, Yu is rain, making a menace of already gray Beijing skies. It makes her world smaller, small like her family’s apartment, because in a city of 21 million, finding one’s own space is hard enough. She is at home where streetside vendors shake flimsy umbrellas in her direction, where wet underwear twists around clotheslines, where rain trickles through her straight black hair like doujiang down her throat in the mornings. She finds solace in the rain. Occasionally, Yu is the vibrant jade bracelet passed down through her family. A physical representation of her ancestors’ dream to create a better life for their descendants. Encircling her wrist, she imagines it is a handcuff, chaining her to the desk where she studies and recites. Sometimes, it is her motivation to find a better future in America. Most of the time, it is her yueding to her family, her own steady rock, standing behind her unfailingly. Other days, Yu means meeting, as in taxicabs crossing paths with bicyclists and pedestrians, millions oblivious to their intersecting lives. As in crumbling gray apartment buildings, stacked next to skyscrapers As in ancient gardens and folklore a subway ride away from modern architecture. As in the gentle melody of Mandarin, meeting her ears with its familiar and lively dance as she gazes out to the city, her city.
a part of the Journeys series
06 | YALAMERICA.ORG
crammed like salmon into concrete blocks.