By: Thea Buen

Slabs of cement make up this suburban sidewalk. It runs along Camino Largo, Spanish for “long road”. But I’m not in Mexico or the Philippines. I’m in my hometown in America. Where I fell off my bicycle, skidding off the curb, scraping my knee. Where I rollerbladed down the driveway making a sharp turn into a few years later in high school, when an ex-boyfriend’s best friend lectured me on how to let go of the ones you love. Asshole.

I learned to drive on this long road, passing the four way stop, venturing out to the 60 freeway, changing onto the 57 then 5, to the 55 and finally the 405, arriving at my university. Back and forth for four years, preferably at night, where the quiet freeways were my stage, singing really loud not realising upon exiting, the next car can hear me at the red light.

I grew too ambitious for my hometown. Many times did my parents drive me to the airport, back onto the 60 then the 605 to the 105, exiting through the tunnel just in time to see the sun set over LAX. Many times I bended time, returning eight hours behind to lounge around in my Hello Kitty slippers and watch the news, amazed at how sensationalized it is but then it’s interrupted by police pursuing a speeding car. Where I never feel guilty about sinking further and further into the sofa, and the best thing ever is when my mom asks what I want to eat.And when I land, it’s like I’m wrapped up in my childhood blanket, transporting me onto the 105, to the 605 and then the 60, getting off the ramp into my hometown.

I wake up early not because I’m an early riser, but because I’m jet lagged. The sun rises as I’m lacing up my trainers, heading out to run on these slabs of cement that make up this suburban sidewalk. I stop at the now busy intersection, thinking which way to go, when someone screams at me, “Go back to fucking China!”

Where am I? In a dream where I wake up and everything’s fine? If only I can rewind time, start this day over; back to my bed I climb. Or how about a film, where the audience roots for the protagonist for murdering this racist swine? Hurry up, screenwriter, give me a clever response, a meaningful monologue or simply a single line.No, I’m in my hometown. Where I let my guard down. Where I’ve been attack because my skin’s brown. In. My. Hometown.

You know, when I’m on a plane descending over my hometown, I’m on cloud nine. The roads below are like my blood line keeping me alive. Straight lines intertwine, then wind and unwind. Hills, houses, churches, and a Costco make up my city’s skyline. I’m a kid impatiently waiting in line. Then on a rollercoaster as it inclines.At a cross roads, I run. Past the medical centre that was once a movie theatre that my brother I waited hours in line to see Star Wars, Episode One (yes, it was shit). I sprint up the hill I used to begrudgingly walk, out of breath, during long run days in junior high school. I see a ruby red van that looks like the one my mom used to drive, and a similar navy blue truck my dad had that I desperately wanted to learn to drive in because it was a manual, and I didn’t want the easy way of an automatic.Back on Camino Largo, I look out at the horizon, towards a snow capped Mount Baldy, covered in a thick haze of smog; a blue sky filled with different layers of cocoa and cloudy marshmallows that I only see in southern California. Finishing my run, I nearly trip over the curb as I arrive home.

My mom asks, “how was your run?”“Fine.”

She says, “That’s good. Now, what would you like to eat?”

Photo courtesy of Untitled. © Sam Tipton.

Thea Buen is an art consultant and writer based in London. She’s currently editing her first novel “Sleep the Clock Around” and learning how to skateboard.Instagram:  @thea.buen

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

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