What seems like a lifetime ago, back in February, I traveled to Bainbridge Island, WA as a 2020 Resident at the Bloedel Bunkhouse with Seventh Wave Magazine. There, nestled among cedar trees and ferns, an essay I’d been mulling over for a couple years got lovingly nurtured. No one among the fellow residents and editors thought the idea of braiding together themes on language, identity, and eucalyptus trees was too crazy. No one thought it wouldn’t fly.
At Bainbridge, co-founders of Seventh Wave, Joyce Chen and Brett Rawson along with Featured Artist Malaka Gharib (yes! I got to chat and collaborate with this talented genius and author of I Was Their American Dream. *Swoon*), co-created a community of deep intention and loving purpose. The Bainbridge Residency, and the experience of working with Seventh Wave has been nourishing and eye-opening in so many ways. During this time of lockdown, of uncertainty, of rage, the fellow residents and brilliant writers, Anne Liu Kellor, Frances Lee, Kofi Opam provided not just shining light but imaginative and meaningful ways of creating, ways of knowing, and ways of being. They’ve all taught me how to take risks creatively and politically.
You can experience the risks they’ve taken, the challenges they pose for us, as readers and active agents in our communities, by peeping out their work:
Anne Liu Kellor, “Miseducated: Encounters with Blackness and Whiteness”
Kofi Opam, “Holding Patterns”
Frances Lee, “Becoming a Bridge Person in Precarious Times”
I’m honored and inspired to be a part of this fellowship. So very grateful for the experience of writing and dialoguing with Seventh Wave, which helped bring to light my latest essay, “Foreign Domestic”. The piece started as a hazy attempt to reflect on language and my mixed race experiences. Written when shelter-in-place was enacted statewide in California, when the college classes I was teaching were suddenly shifted online, and when our four year-old’s preschool closed, Seventh Wave and my fellow Bainbridge residents pulled me through the chaos, the vertigo, the mad hustle, and kept me writing.
So very grateful for this opportunity to mediate on the first lessons my paternal grandma taught me about nature, on eucalyptus trees in California, and how the loss of language doesn’t necessarily equate to loss of identity or culture. Have a taste of “Foreign Domestic”:
We are all nomads here.
Either forced from our ancestral homes or fixing for better breaks, each leaving behind pieces of heart and soul to feed the body and tend to kin. Displaced. Dispossessed. Estranged. Reinvented. Assimilated. Sacrificing the familiar to be marked exotic not just by others, but also turning stranger to family, and foreign to self.
Read entire essay here.