This is the first time I had a panic attack.
It started as a simple attempt at relaxation during AP Computer Science class. I accepted an ear bud offered to me from a project partner of mine. As soon as the little thing was snuggled into my ear the nostalgic mumbles of Jay Chou occupied a good half of my mind. Absent-mindedly I was typing out lines of code, trying to remember that I’m not sitting in the back of an old Toyota driving through a typhoon storm, and my mother was not pretending to be annoyed by my sister and my attempts at imitating the loose jaw and nasal voice characteristic of Chou.
Then the strangest thing occurred: some of my classmates conversed or sang off-key as per usual while they work on their own projects. For the longest time I listened to each syllable pronounced. For the longest time I knew not what they meant.
What year is it? Why are Taiwanese people so good at English all the sudden?
Why did I think I’m surrounded by Taiwanese people?
I stopped coding and attempted to convince myself that I’m in America. A shaking hand ran across the laptop before me. Right, a school laptop. That was not a thing in my elementary school eight years ago. But, still. The syllables ran on, a flood of syllables clicked against my ears, and I listened, drowned, only with a fixed eye upon the light at the surface of the water knowing full well all is but an illusion. My heart’s pounding was another chaotic noise that I failed to comprehend.
I pulled out the ear bud, thanked the person giving me the music, wondered and continued coding.