Home for Thanksgiving
When you don’t go home for a long time, and then you do, sometimes it’s like your eyes are suddenly peeled open. Think orange ringlets, zested into neat spirals, and the air around you is fresh with the citrus scent.
Shocking, yes. You ask yourself, how could it feel so different? Nine months. How could it be so different? What is so different? The space seems smaller, you think, as you suddenly recall how your little body used to slip right under the futon, all the way to the wall, the shadows cloaking you in the most secret nook during a game of hide-and-seek. But the altar is still there, with offerings to your ancestors of another land. And so is the sticky corner of the medicine cabinet, encouraging a wrestling match before opening up access to its wares. Your mother, the steam coming from the wok every night, the white glow from the Mandarin dating show everyone is addicted to, the one you literally cannot understand.
It is not pretty. The thought knocks you down, as waves of guilt and pride wash over you all at once. It is not pretty, but they don’t mind. Your mother’s face gleams as she sets down the plates of delicious food at the dining table. Grandfather trods upstairs for his afternoon nap. Grandma yaps away on the telephone, smiling as she sneaks you some of the Pocky she bought just for you. Your father whooshes in from the yard, smelling like the familiar Marlboros, refreshed and content. You are certainly not the only one to note the peeling ceiling, the chipped cabinet doors and yellowed walls in the kitchen, the cracked leather sofa. But it is odd to note these things after all this time. After all, you lived here for most of your life.
Deep down, you know. You know those are the visible reminders of sacrifice, of the people who gave freely so you could have the world. It is not pretty. It’s lovely.
Sometimes, we can’t see things clearly up close.
What will you see in nine months?