The New Neighborhood: All Safe All-Around

We arrive. And while pulling up to the driveway, little did I know, the spot where we’d be parking for the next 10 years was in front of me. Here it is, our new home. Looking back on this memory, I notice that I’ve changed, everything’s changed, how I used to view the house as a grandiose castle once, now looks to me as another duplicate from the other hundreds in the neighborhood, the place I see every day, where I go after school and flop down on my bed like a pancake.  How I used to see my home as a castle is still a question to me. But as I walked in the front door for the first time, hesitant about whether to keep my shoes on or off I looked up and through my eyes, saw a world of possibilities: the sight of the tallest doors and frames, those that could reach the sky, and a massive living room, one that could compare to a football stadium. After deciding that the smart choice would be to remove my shoes to avoid a massive scold from my Asian parents I walked around a bit, and as curious as any 5 year old would be, I walked towards the back door and sprinted outside to the background as the sight of bright green grass came into view. There it was, the miraculous view that caught my eye, with the big tall trees that stretched up to a thousand feet, to the brand new swing set, everything that a child could ask for stood ahead of me, waiting to make its memories. The new house set in a neighborhood, one safe yet chaotic, where everyone loves one another, was now mine. Little to say, the house that had once looked to me as a new wonderland, slowly but surely made its way into my life to become a memory. 

The Trees and Their Seasons

There’s not much to them. Noting special about the trees in front of my house. Although I do get a clear view of them from my window, that’s simply it. Like I said, nothing crazy about them, so why am I so intrigued? Perhaps it’s because of the way the gentle leaves flow off the benches when struck with the smallest gust of wind. Or maybe it’s the duality of the appearance of the trees during seasons. When September arrives, I finish lacing up my shoes and strap my backpack as I get ready for the first day of school. Although the minute I step outside and look up, the bright orange mixed with the auburn tint of the leaves catches my eyes. A couple of months pass, now settling down for winter break,  I hear rumors of the first snowfall and rush outside to see the branches of the tree wrapped in a white blanket of snow. And in a blink of an eye, springtime welcomes us with the sounds of birds chirping every morning and the bright green grass in our yard that the rabbits like to visit occasionally. Sitting at my desk covered in scratches and paint stains, I take a break from studying for the spring exam and look up from my textbook, open my window and see the sight of a tall tree with pale green leaves with flowers. And after what felt like years, we reunited with summer. Suddenly, a loud siren captures the ears of those in the neighborhood, we all open the windows to hear the commotion just to see the blue ice cream truck passing by the bright green trees reminding us that summertime is here.

“The Warm Smell of Bread”

After six hours trapped on a plane, more so a machine filled with crying babies and odd odors, I stepped foot in the rental car with only one thing on my mind, the aroma of my grandmother’s homemade pho. The annual trip to Georgia is an occasion my family and I never fail to look forward to. This time of the year is not only special because we get to visit all my relatives, but special because the entire family travels over 2,000 miles for my grandma’s famous (within the family at least) pho. For as long as I can remember, no matter the occasion, nor rain or shine, every time my family has hosted a celebration, my grandma’s pho would always be at the top of the menu list. For events such as passing a driver’s test to graduating college, it was never truly a celebration without the sight of the massive silver pot boiling above the stove. My earliest memory of this valued dish dates back to when I was 5 years old. As I ran around the kitchen chasing my older cousins, I caught a brief whiff of the beef broth, and at that moment, my brain started experiencing a rush of serotonin and felt my heart rate starting to increase faster and faster. From that day on, whenever I go back to my grandmother’s I am optimistic, hoping to experience that euphoric feeling once again, that everlasting feeling could only be described as warm as the smell of bread.

“The Special Box”

Some may say it gets tiring every year, but I like to think of it as a tradition. It’s the same cycle and it’ll always be. As I unwrap the old reused blue tissue paper and look into the bag and my jaw drops, I gasp while looking around dumbfounded. However, don’t be fooled, it’s the same act I put on every year. Getting gifted a new camera on my birthday every year is only something my parents do. And you’d think at this rate I’d start getting tired of seeing the same old pair of black lenses, but somehow, after years of this recurring cycle, I have yet to face any feelings of discontentment or woe. Never failing to experience joy and nostalgia, I can still sense the same surge of dopamine that visits me annually, like how it felt the first time I had ever received the camera. Although it’s true, sometimes I do view this as strange, always knowing what’s inside that wrapped present every year, yet still feeling anticipated? I often wonder why. Perhaps it’s because the tradition holds such fond memories that I feel are too valuable to discontinue? Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to see parents’ disappointed looks when they realize the excitement that has gradually faded over time. Almost similar to the idea of a music box, are the photos captured and collected on the cameras over the years. Oh, how something so minuscule can have such a significant impact, holding memories for a lifetime. 

Must everything come to an end?

There was never anything special, not any day, it just felt the same. Well, until it was all taken from me, then I could finally sense that something was wrong. Just a day ago we were having fun, smiling at each other at the dinner table while mom scolded us for not cleaning, or laughing whenever we played truth or dare at the supermarket, and all of a sudden.. it just vanished?  How is it that one day your loved one is right beside you and the chances of them being stripped from you are impossible, until the next day when you’re told that an accident has occurred and you have yet to accept that the last time you’d ever got to see them again was at last night’s dinner?  I’ve always known that nothing lasts forever, I’ve been told that my entire life, but then again, I was simply a child. Hearing that same phrase over and over again, I had just rolled my eyes and pushed the thought away. Until that morning, when I had to learn the hard way, I had wondered, why did I let this happen, was it a sign of preparation from God that I kept ignoring, was it my fault? Something that I pondered about for 2 months while locked away from society, no friends, no family who were all asking the same question, “Why did she march so far away?” although never knowing that I’d, “gone away to come back.” To rediscover myself, the person I am without him, but until I find the answer, acceptance is my only answer.

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