yours, tiramisu

the faces gone with the wind

The dog I'm checking in on this weekend must have figured out that I'm only ever going to take him for a walk and then leave him alone at home, because after the third walk he started to refuse to go inside the garage when I bring him back. I tricked him inside with one of the treats I carry around for just this reason, though I could still hear him whimper through the door when I made my getaway. Please, I don't have any heart left for you to break.

Anyway, look at this goofy picture I snapped of him after the last walk! I don't think he likes the afternoon heat much. Hopefully this isn't the last time I get to see him.

yours, tiramisu

Only a few weeks remain before I go back to Asia for the first time in more than a decade. The suitcases my mom dragged out from the attic sit in a corner collecting gifts, white Nike polos and Adidas shoes. American things, she tells me, stuff her siblings and parents like. They're just normal things to me, maybe even strange items to gift someone, and seeing them as such reminds me of my privilege and just how far away they live.

Dad's not coming along with us. I know he has something like forty days of paid time off accumulated, but Mom says it's because she's worried about him losing his job. His company's laid off thousands of workers this year. I don't think he's in danger yet since he's been there a long time and worked thousands of unpaid hours over the years, but I suppose you can never be too safe, especially when the stakes are so high. Mom works three jobs but none provide her with health insurance, and my brother hasn't started his job yet. I would protest — what's a family vacation without everyone there, after all — but I know my hefty medical bills are to blame, so I keep my mouth shut.

This trip has been a long time coming. It was first supposed to happen when I was in high school, but my family went without me when I opted to take chemistry over the summer. Internships kept me busy every summer in college, and COVID-19 ruined plans to go home as a graduation trip.

I hesitate to say that I'm going home because it's my mom's childhood home, not mine, and because nowhere really feels like home to me. I was only a little boy the last time I went back, and I scarcely remember anything. Going back will be like seeing everything and meeting everyone for the first time, I'm sure of it, and I think the cultural difference might hit me harder now that I'm grown.

But it does feel like home in some ways. My grandma can't even tell me and my brother apart over the phone but her voice just sounds so right to me. It's the same way Mom and I talk. And I remember feeling this deep sense of kinship when all of the relatives on my mom's side last gathered to see us, as if we were drawn together by blood we shared.

I think this trip will also be the last time I get to see my grandma. She's still surprisingly healthy and vibrant for an octogenarian; she gets up at the crack of dawn every day to do tai chi on the nearby mountain. I hope she has many years left in her. But I have to be realistic: I've only managed to see her once in the last twenty years, and I know it'll only get harder for me to escape my responsibilities in the years to come.

My paternal grandma passed and none of us got to see her (not even my dad, I don't know why), so I'm sort of preparing myself as if this will be the last time. I hear people talk about their grandmas in so many different ways, usually poignantly, and can't help but feel like I've missed something. I don't remember a single thing about my grandma that passed — not her face, her voice, or even her name.

My paternal grandfather doesn't have many years left either. He suffered a major stroke a few years back, around when my grandma passed, and now he can't hold a conversation. I don't think about family often, though now that it's on my mind the fact that I don't have a single memory to remember either of my father's parents makes me feel empty, untethered to my past (in a bad way).

I think about this sometimes when my Indian friends complain about having to attend large family gatherings with hundreds of relatives. It's not hard for me to see how tedious it can get, but I still envy how they've held on to their traditions and culture and how they can see the roots that anchor their family tree.

#english #life #wordvomit