I know summer is already over, but I still want to give some throwbacks on what happened during the summer. It’s been a year when the pandemic happened, before the summer started I struggled with school so badly. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t swim up to the surface all while my legs were tied up by an anchor. However, when the summer started, I felt like I have been to heaven for a minute. I could literally feel tears of joy slide down upon my face. The time has come!
Just before I’m about to get back to Taiwan with delight, my heart is immediately crushed into pieces. The Covid-19 cases in Taiwan suddenly rise from zero to thousands, and the number was still growing. I just couldn’t believe that all of it happened in a blink!
When I got back to Taiwan after the quarantine, I stayed in my house for the whole summer. Exercise, games, practice for SAT is all I did for my summertime. I couldn’t hang out with my friends, I couldn’t travel around Taiwan just for a short vacation. I couldn’t go out and do what I usually do, which is dance. No matter what, I just hoped it would end soon!
Some things really do get better as they age, and the little old house that sits at the top of a hill is the perfect example.
This little house is strong and mighty, and it has seen its fair share of heartbreaks, makeups, first moments, last goodbyes, tears, smiles, storms, fires, spring rain, and much more.
It sits atop a hill, with a view of the mountains surrounding and a window through the trees to look down into the valley surrounding below it. This little house has aged, but it has a story to tell.
The house has sat atop the same hill for over seventy years, watching multiple families grow, being a safe place for kids to run to after the rain starts, a place that is not just a house, but a home.
Even though the white picket fence with the red fence is tipping over with chipped paint, the porch does not keep the rain out, the wood floors inside are warped and worn, the ceiling leaks, and the doors do not keep the winter chill out, it has aged beautifully.
Although those little details seem off-putting to most, to me they make that little ageing house a home.
Last night I found a stack of colored paper. They were 12″x12″ and dusty from having sat on my shelf for the past three years. I don’t remember why I got them, but I’ve always remembered them being there.
I took them from the shelf and I dropped them on my desk, their purpose still uncertain, and I didn’t expect myself to do anything.
I then proceeded to spend a while doing homework, doing laundry, and preparing dinner. In this time I had forgotten about the stack of papers and allowed myself to get lost in the routine that I had mindlessly adopted over the past month.
When I came back to my desk while going through the motions of cleaning my room which I now do routinely as well, the stack of papers had a new appeal to them. It posed itself as an opportunity to escape my regimen. So I sat down and I flipped through the seven different colors that repeated themselves tirelessly and considered what I could feasibly do.
I never considered myself to be particularly talented or artistic in any way, art classes have always marked themselves as the low points in my grade book. But I was suddenly inspired to do something with them. I knew I couldn’t draw so I eliminated that, my painting skills were on par with my drawing, but folding paper, I was a beast at folding paper.
Photo: Museum of fine arts, St. Petersburg
Now I had never really attempted Origami, but I approached it rather confidently because of my unexpected prowess in the field of paper airplane design. So I went online, and I decided to make a crane.
When I finally completed my first crane about 15 minutes later, it looked decent, and that presented itself as an incredible surprise.
But I had done it, I’d done something that wasn’t typical of me during this drawn-out period of self-isolation, and it was invigorating. I had suddenly found a simultaneous outlet and power I had over the nationwide restrictions.
I was restrained to my home, I had little power in that regard. But nothing could stop me from making those little paper cranes. In the last 12 hours, I have made an embarrassing number of paper cranes but I don’t see an end in sight.
White pillowy clouds and pink petals on the warm brick as the sun beats down is her back drop,
As she rattles on about the corrupt world filled with
a dark persistence.
/ / /
Its been seventeen days, four-hundred and eight hours in this house and its been miserable.
The anger, the loneliness, and the disconnect are empty feelings that course through my veins on a loop as I try to navigate life.
I miss them. I miss their laughter and smiles. I miss their clothes. I miss their smell.
My tears burned my cheeks at 11pm. It was the first time I cried. It was the first time I felt completely unsafe and scared.
My body aches for human contact.
/ / /
As a daughter, I go through moments of my life where I don’t see eye to eye with my mother. And I thinks that’s true for most mother-daughter relationships.
The passive comments, the snarky looks, the aggressive sighs; They never fail me when I’m in the middle of a petty argument with her.
I find myself picking on her, never giving her a break, and trying to erase her imperfections like the comfort she finds in rubbing my ears or clenching her jaw when she is stressed.
But earlier today, I found myself rubbing my own ears and snuggling into her neck when I felt alone. I find myself having her mannerisms and saying the things that when she says them, it irritates me. We come from the same branch at the end of the day.
Her and I,
We come from the same branch at the end of the day.
/ / /
I was staring at my wall today, full of photos from the past four years.
The color from Utah,
The smiles from my girls who know me best,
To the heat of a concert and
The breeze from the beach.
I felt warm inside looking at the
Blue and Orange hues
Only to realize the cold reality.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.