I hope you write not for the promise of bright lights, but because your story illuminates a corner of your soul. — Roshani Chokshi
you never really recover from being homesick, i think.
you can forget sometimes—the joy and terror of city living makes it easy to remain distracted—but all it takes is just the sound of a door closing, the smell of curry cooking from the apartment next to yours. then all at once you're there again: 16, wide-eyed, and home. there is food on the dining table downstairs, you can hear your brother singing to himself (off-key) in the bathroom. the world is wide and unknown, and so is your future; but you're home, home home home, and you know deep down that you're safe, loved, and watched over.
but then you breathe out. you're here again, alone in a city apartment. living higher above ground than you ever did as a kid. your tea is cold. the sky is already dark, and you still have dinner to make. in a fraction of a heartbeat, you wish for all the things that passed you by as you grew up. the early mornings before school. sunday morning coffee and stir-fry with oyster sauce. you wish that you hugged your parents longer, that you took a little bit more notice of your brother. and just like that, you're broken again.
you don't recover from being homesick, but you cope. you start counting down the saturdays until you fly again. four saturdays, then a final presentation, then one. only a couple more. you pick up your tea, and you make dinner.
the smell of an orange reminds me of mandarins during chinese new year—sweet and sour intermingling with the aftertaste of firecracker-smoke. handfuls of five-spice, five-aroma-powder (a steady hand is the best measure). steamed buns too white for a bakery. lots of pork. noodles for longevity. the smell of green tea and mo ink intermingling. dragons and fox spirits. chinese people exist in red and gold, they say, and ruthless practicality. our ancestors built us like this because that’s the way they built themselves. our lineages are woven into our skin, our blood, our tongue, in the soft enunciation of a thousand different characters. each one of them contains dynasties of history and culture, more than a single pinyin. and we are made of three of them. sometimes more. always more.
— what does it mean to be chinese?
F E B R U A R Y
i got sick yesterday. in between being drunk on my own deliriousness & copious naps—i've found solace in slower thoughts. noticing the black of a pot of coffee. the white of piano ivory. the sting and itch of a late evening mosquito bite. of inspiration. of a story wanting out.
So here's to the young ones who grew up out of the soil, for whom holidays & family reunions will always bring a season of discomfort. Who came into this world with clenched fists and had to learn how to tame wild gardens—cultivate sun-warmed hearts & tender fingers. You made it.
Heyhey. You're not the things you create / ideas you have / mistakes you make. These flow out of you, for sure, but you can't make a home in the rivers alone. You are your butterfly heart, soft wings beating despite it all. Bright eyes, ocean mind. You're still all here. Be well.