comfort food

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

From the smell of fresh baked goods always circulating the house to the comfort of a warm bed, the idea of home sparks warmth and happiness, and I have been so lucky to consider my home in that way.

The white door that creeks and the roof that leaks is where I find home currently, but I have a vision of where I want to be or see myself once I have finished growing up.  

Being a mix of all cultures, the Philippines in itself represents me. Living in a higaonon hut on one of the several islands, I would devour salty chicken adobo and lumpia.

Settling into my home, I would write in my journal about the culture that I experienced that day while looking out from my hut into the orange sunset reflecting off the ocean. 

With beams of warm colors bouncing off the water, I would feel my late grandmother and her mother, wrapping their arms around me with their soft, delicate arms. Eventually, I will feel a sense of comfort and understanding of my surrounding culture.

Living the simple life and knowing my roots, I would sense closure and be able to flee to my new home in San Fransisco, California. 

Even though I was not born there, my roots are in California and more specifically, San Francisco. Like my little Filipino grandmother, I would come from the Philippines and go to the Golden City.

My fate would bring me to the perfect two bedrooms and bathroom apartment on the seventh floor having an auburn red door. Decorated with poems written by my father, my apartment would have the smell of essential oils embedded into the walls, specifically lavender representing my mother’s spirituality.

This would be my sanctuary where tears would be shed, laughs would explode, and love would be felt. 

The Mission district, where my brother was born, would give light to the art forward theme that I created in all the rooms but made sure that every area had its own distinctive flair.

Wanting to explore more about my culture and ancestors, I would travel to the plains of Africa. Settling down in Nairobi, Kenya, where the lifestyle is filled with the history of the Bantu people and the Swahili language, my home would be in a Kikuyu house with no rooms.

Compared to my other homes, I would be connected with the earth where elephants and antelopes have carried their children on their migratory voyage.

This home would give me insight to my African heritage before Europeans came into their territory, before slavery, and before segregation. Instead of learning about the hardships of my culture, I will learn about the rich tradition that the country brings. 

I have always been a homebody. I find extreme comfort with the idea of my home and enjoy its atmosphere. I am excited to see where my future home may be.

photo credit: pinterest.com

Remember

By no standards are my Chinese skills any more than proficient. After moving away at the age of 12, things started to fade for me very quickly. After six months I forgot how to write; after a year, my reading; then finally, my identity.

By the time I entered the eighth grade, I had been thoroughly white-washed. Granted, I am only half Chinese, but I was raised to embrace my Chinese background, to be proud of my heritage. But it was slipping away.

I went back to China the summer before I entered my Freshman year of High School. I wasn’t able to handle the street-food, my 8-year-old cousin was speaking better than I was, and I had lost a connection with the country that raised me.

Before I left my Grandmother repeated something to me that she had told me before I moved away. “Remember,” she said simply, “Remember where you come from.” When she said this, I realized it was a plea for me to clasp onto my cultural identity that was on the cusp of being extinguished. I had a life in China, friends, family, and a part of myself that never seems to board the flight to LAX when my visits end.

So I listened to her, I pushed myself to retain the identity I found in being Chinese, I acknowledged the comments of being only half, being unable to communicate, but they don’t bother me. When I listen to songs from my childhood, when I go back to visit, when I speak my native tongue, no matter how poor it is, I feel like myself again.

There are certain things in everyone’s life that hold invaluable, unspeakable significance to their sense of self, to their state of being, that without it, they feel like a bulb without its filament. To me that is the ability to speak in Chinese. As soon as the words escape me, I feel that connection again, I remember the people, taste the food, experience the culture. I am eternally grateful to my Grandmother for what she instilled in me because I know that at my lowest moments I always have something to lean on.

Happy Birthday Derek

looking back

tonight i have been feeling extra reminiscent.

i saw a picture from where i used to live and i couldn’t help but think, don’t get me wrong i am so grateful to be where i am and to have met the people i have, but i can’t help but think what it would be like if my mom never got re-married.

what if i still lived half with my dad and half with my mom? if i never came here at all?

i’ve never thought about the house since we moved out, but now that i am, i miss it.

i miss the holes in the walls separating the living room and the hallway where the old buddha statue sat on the ground.

i miss the CD player in my sister’s room and i miss when she would make me dance in front of her cool high-school friends.

i miss when my siblings would get along and when my grandma would still cook for us during the holidays.

i miss the little cabinet in the hallway across from my dad’s room that held all my shitty clothes he would find for me.

i miss the trampoline and my brothers old drum set that was in the garage.

i miss when my dad would take me to blockbuster, when he would let me ride my sisters’ electric scooters, and when we would sneak into the elementary school down the street to play handball.

i even miss the pasta he would make every single night, the scratchy popcorn ceiling, and being forced to sit on the floor in the living room and watch avatar with my dad.

i miss my family, i miss my old neighbors.

i miss my family, my sisters, my brother, my dad, my grandma and her boyfriend (rest in paradise by the way, marvin). like i said, feeling a little extra-reminiscent tonight.

i miss being young. shit! one day soon, i’m going to miss being the age i am now.

how do i make the time stop?

photo credit: pinterest.com

 

Home

Photo Credit: outsidevan.com

I’ve lived in the same place my whole life, but I’ve never realized how beautiful it is until recently.

Maybe I just didn’t notice it before or I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it, but lately I catch myself staring up at the mountains.

It has been raining a lot lately. On my drive home, I noticed that the north-facing slopes are so much greener than the south-facing ones.

But Dad says this isn’t supposed to happen. South and west-facing slopes are usually the greenest, at least where we are, because of sunlight and rainwater, he explained. The south-facing Topa Topas are just dry because of their rocky terrain.

I’m not sure why even still I think of the fire when I’m admiring the mountains. Maybe it made me appreciate them more.

The trees still seem like skeletons to me. They are black and withered and don’t really fit in with the bright grass that’s growing in. They used to be so much greener. But at least they are still standing. I’m thankful for that.

There isn’t really much to do in this sleepy town, especially after having been here for sixteen years. But despite that, I can’t think of a better place to have grown up.

This Blog was an English Assignment.

“At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house.”  (Thoreau) Write a description of your “home” or your many “homes.”  You may write about the home you have or the home you dream of having in your future.

Photo Credit: afterorangecounty.com

I’ve lived in one house for my entire life, nestled in between two mountain peaks that form the Ojai valley. There are only seven houses on my street, but it was an entire world to explore for my neighbors and me when we were five. We used to walk down to the end of the street and admire the sunset illuminating the overgrown grass and painted white fences. Home, to me, is the smell of the pepper trees that lined the end of the road, forming a green and red arch, as if to welcome me to the end of the cul-de-sac. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days, when time passed so much slower, when it felt like summer all year long.

For as long as I can remember, the ocean is where I find peace. I can’t exactly describe why, but Solimar Beach is a magical place. Home, to me, is poking my toe in the center of a sea anemone, giggling as it squirts water back at me, as its turquoise and bright green tentacles stick to my skin. Home is my dad lifting me up onto his shoulders, then scouring the tidepools, searching for different creatures. As we wade further out into the shallow water, he teaches me about the tides, then we stop for a while to watch the sun sink below the horizon. Solimar is the place I will always want to return to for the rest of my life.

I like to think that, someday, I will make a home everywhere. I’ll sit on the balcony of my tiny apartment in Madrid or Barcelona, peering through my neighbors’ laundry, hung up to dry on clothes lines, down at the bustling city below. I’ll enjoy the morning sun as I sip coffee with condensed milk – a flavor that I despise now, but I think, someday, I’ll come to enjoy. I will smile, knowing that I’m there alone. I’m not sure how long I will be there for, probably not more than a year. After that, I’ll move on to somewhere new. I’ll live in a rainy forest along the Oregon coast, then I’ll go work at a school in Argentina or Chile. I’ll work on a ranch in Mexico, outside of a small fishing town. I don’t really care where I go; I just want to see the world.

It is true that home is where the heart is, but my heart is everywhere, I think. Growing up in a tiny town has made me appreciate the things that are routine. I love the fact that I could probably draw a map of my hometown purely from memory. It’s incredibly comforting to know a place so well that it becomes a part of you. But it has also instilled in me a desire to leave what is comfortable, to explore and to experience every place, culture, and way of life that is different from mine. A home is a place where you can come back to time and time again, and know that you belong, where you would go to without any hesitation. I’m lucky to have places like these.

Retrospect

Isn’t it ironic how, being so far away from home, I have never before felt closer to my country?

9,338 kilometers, to be exact. That’s how far away my childhood home is. My best friend, my room, my horses, the forest by my house. I haven’t looked back a lot in the past years; I don’t really miss it all that much. But, from time to time, I wonder how my life would be if I had never left Germany.

Photo Credit: mapio.net

How would it be if I would still come home every day to my dog barking and my mom talking on the phone? How would it be if we still had our family dinners every day, with the good, old German Wagenradbrot and Kochkäse. If we still went to the Biergarten after spending all afternoon at the barn; then, we would walk home, probably fight a little bit as usual; and, then, watch some sort of wildlife documentary together because we couldn’t agree on a movie we all liked. What if I still woke up to my dad feeding my dog every morning and the rain bouncing against my blinds?

I’ve realized that this part of my life is over. I haven’t spent my birthday at home since I was thirteen. My siblings are both legal adults now and go to college in California. Next year, I will too, and I will leave another home. That is okay, though, that’s how it goes. But, there isn’t a single day I don’t feel as if I owe an apology to my parents: for taking their daughter away from home too early.

Warmth of the Cold

I love fall. The sheer aesthetic of sitting by a window with warm glowing string lights, drinking some sort of hot tea, surrounded with the smell of books. The fact that it is finally cold enough to be wearing wool socks and sweatshirts. The feeling of cold air filling your chest from the inside, making your home feel so much warmer.

I have to admit, I miss the cold winters back home in Germany. Right now, it is almost freezing there, the leaves that are turning red-orange, some almost pink-purple, are covering the roads like a warm-colored blanket. The lakes are topped with a paper thin layer of ice in the morning, and windows and cars are frosted the way they would be in movies. Horses’ coats are becoming thick and soft, and cows are being brought from their pastures back into their winter barns.

Credit: view.stern.de

I remember how much I hated the feeling of biking up the hill to my house after school, watching the clouds turn to a darker grey as the sun set behind them, and feeling the warm air in my lungs being replaced by the cold, making my throat hurt by the time I got back home. But I always loved the moment I walked through the door, embraced by my jumping dog and the heated floor, maybe even a fire in the chimney. The best days were the rainy ones. Your house just feels so much cozier when you don’t want to go outside.

 

Credit: moondog.de

I miss that weather. I miss the grey skies and the rain-soaked lawns. I miss the muddy roads and paths going through the forest by my house. I miss collecting chestnuts with my friends and cooking them with their whole family. I miss being freezing cold with numb fingers and an icy nose. I miss how later in the winter the trees would look like they had been covered in powdered sugar, reflecting the grey-purple of the afternoon sky.

I miss my home.

And no matter where I’ll live throughout my life, no matter how many times I’ll move and find new homes, that will always be my first home. My family’s home. My real home.