Here’s the script SGJ and I wrote for our 24 speed film

Dear Mom,

对不起,过去两个月我都没和你打电话 [Sorry, I know I haven’t talked to you in the past two months.]

America is great. I can’t walk anywhere. Roads are designed for cars, not pedestrians as they are in China. I have never met so many people who looks different from me talking to each other not in 2D. (Scene: “me” watching Friends but with Chinese subtitles) Everyone tries their best to learn my name. (random people trying the name) Oh, and I sort of know how to order food in the cafeteria. (Every morning, I get the exact same sandwich as the person in front of me.) I hate all the sauces, but they are more edible than the “Asian” food they have at the international table.

I haven’t talked to you, because such an exciting new life consumes too much energy, and I just can’t really summarize it verbally in my mother tongue. Not everything is just about you, your past abuse, Or your invalidation of my emotions. Or your perfect life plans for me about how to carry out my career as a young Chinese woman in this world that’s not designed for us. Or finding the perfect match to start a perfect family before age 28.

People here, unlike in the news you read, are actually very friendly. They have the best intentions, and are genuinely curious about me. (Scene: “What’s your real name?”) They help me assimilate (Scene “You should catch up on all those films”). They help me improve my English (“Can you say that again”) They explain everything to me (“So you never had cheese before?”).

One thing they probably will never understand is, why, in such an exciting life, I can never talk to you. You see, I can only do it in English, which won’t make sense to you, but it makes me feel safe, as I don’t need to worry about being triggered by your spell. Mandarin is the furthest language from English. This distance protects me.

Of course, life is a little bit stressful in a new country. Don’t worry, it only took me a week to overcome the fear of using English to make an appointment in the Counseling center. (打电话,放下,打电话,把电话拿远)By the way, the Counseling center is where you go when you have concerns. (wellness center scene) My concern was…

The nice lady, white, probably 40, middle class, looked concerned the whole time. (“I’m so sorry to hear that, here’s a tissue”). I don’t remember what exactly I told her, but half of the time I was in tears. Even with her professional training, she couldn’t tell me how to not panic by merely seeing your meassages.

I guess, the hardest thing is, I didn’t realize that I was pretending to be a happy foreigner until I became exhausted with the exciting new life (“How are you doing?” “I’m doing great”).

Maybe writing this letter is pointless, but this is the confession of my struggles. It will take time for you to understand, so I won’t tell you everything all at once.

Yours sincerely, Me

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