To Shulin

Shulin was an undergraduate at MIT while I was a graduate student there, but I didn’t actually meet her until after she’d gone on medical leave, at which point my mental health was already broken enough that I probably should have left already. We both left Boston relatively soon afterward, but we’ve managed to stay close friends online despite this.

“To Shulin”
July 2018, in Catonsville, Maryland

I’m not sure what would have happened,
if we met before we both broke.
But, whether we knew it or not, we met
when we needed each other as friends,
When someone to walk with, through the Boston night
was a balm I didn’t know how much I needed,
And when your confidence in facing uncertainty
was something I needed to learn.

You gave me the courage to leave MIT,
before the place managed to kill me.
You reminded me how interesting the world can be,
when the depression had made me stop thinking,
Our conversations helped me feel much less alone
as I battled to finish my thesis,
And without your help, I’m still not sure
I could have made Word do my bidding.

I know how much you have done for me,
and how much I love being your friend,
And yet I also feel guilty and fear
I have never been able to do much for you.
I’m just glad you continue to talk to me,
even if I sometimes wonder why:
I feel honored you still think me worthwhile,
whatever I think of myself.