Flavors of Home
Tick-tick-tick. The sound of the stove igniting into a dancing blue flame. Its warmth was comforting, but get too close and it would sting like a thousand wasps. It was the catalyst that helped create the dishes I now call my comfort foods. In my household, rock sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and pepper to name a few. The chunks of honey-sweet yellow crystal that I would sometimes snack on like candy. The pungent fish sauce that would punch you in the face with the slightest whiff. The dark-brown-almost-black liquid gold that would make just about anything taste a little closer to a Michelin star meal. And the peppers that came from our garden with a heat that would leave you crying for milk. In my household, these were the staple ingredients that almost every dish had at least one or more of. I grew up on these wonderfully sweet, salty, and spicy flavors, but none of this would’ve been possible without my mother. As a little boy, I sat on the counter and watched as my mom threw countless items into the pot and let them go to war with each other. Popping oil, a violent steam, and a bubbly golden liquid. But after all the commotion had settled there would always be something magical left behind. The flavors compliment each other and it was like one big pot of happiness. It was thanks to her that I am now able to recreate these nostalgic flavors for myself. Oh and I forgot to mention one last flavor that made all the difference. The flavor of love.
Photo by Kwon Junho
I’ll admit it. As a teeny child I was a thief! At a target I saw an opened pack of muffin liners. Very colorful and fun looking muffin liners. Naturally, I was itching to get my hands on them. I reached into the torn package and fished out a few. After looking around, I stashed them in my pockets and dashed to my mother’s side. From then to the time we got out, I put on an innocent little facade and I managed to sneak them home! It was a success. But I wasn’t the only thief as a child.
In kindergarten, we had a “bring-your-stuffed-animal-from-home day,” so I brought my mother’s precious praying bear Ty Beanie Babies. I positioned it at the very front of my cubby to flaunt how cute my stuffed animal was. But, after breaktime, it had vanished into thin air! Frantically, I ran around keeping my eyes peeled for the little brown bear. It wasn’t on the ground, nor behind the cubbys, nor in my backpack. Just when I gave up, I noticed a glimmer. The gold glimmer of the tag in the dark corner of a cubby. A cubby that wasn’t mine. I bolted to my teacher and tattled so hard my lips were flying everywhere. The little rat who tried to steal my stuff argued with me and gave some dumb excuse like, “It’s mine! I brought it from home!” Liar. In the end I got the last laugh because I got my stuff back. Anyways, my stuffed animal almost getting stolen is probably karma for stealing those muffin liners. What comes around goes around…
Photo by Verstappen Photography
It’s 12:00 AM. A few minutes passed by but now it’s 3:00 AM…? I think time just passes by faster at night than it does in the day. Why? Maybe it’s some deity punishing me by making me work longer than I can rest. Actually, deity is far off it’s more of those people with weird three letter titles You probably know a few of them like that Jeff Bezos dude. Those poor people working 12 hour shifts and still barely get paid anything.
Anyways I’m a night person. I absolutely hate hate HATE mornings. At night time I feel so much better than any other time of day. I’m also a lot more productive so why should I get punished for this? Whenever Mom catches me up late, she always gives me some dumb lecture about icky adult people stuff. “Jobs, blah blah blah, responsibility, blah blah blah, ‘normal people.’” Ugh that last phrase especially ticks me off. What even is a normal person? I’m 1000% sure a normal person is not someone who has to work the majority of their life. Maybe that is what a normal person could be defined as in today’s world. But to me? I don’t think it’s normal. I think my mom just can’t see the few decade old open wounds in her mind. Well get well soon I guess 😦 Her pickle jar ears just refuse to open. Phew. So like I was saying, I’m alone in the late hours of the night. No people and no thoughts to bother me at all.
Photo by Altınay Dinç
Magazine covers, instagram likes, and money. I want to be them. I want to be born like those beautiful beauties who don’t worry what I worry about. Laying down in bed and scrolling with my phone above my head, My eyes feast like there’s no tomorrow. The way that dress hugs their hourglass figure as if it were born to be worn by them only. Or how their face is so perfect any hair would fit right in like the last piece of a puzzle. Don’t even get me started on their porcelain, sin-free skin either. I want to be them. So what if it’s shallow? Is it so shallow to want to love? You’d be lying if you said yes. Such a shame I was born in this body. They say it’s what’s inside that counts, but I don’t care. There’s like a little hurricane inside my head but the water out here is all cold. I want to be them.
Photo by Milada Vigerova
Soft Doughy Red Dreams
When a potter makes their pottery out of that dream-like substance, they must be ever so careful with it once they are done shaping it to their heart’s content. One little tap from the real world can make it all come crashing down. “I want to be an artist when I grow up!” “That’s not gonna put food on the table.” “I wanna be a chef when I grow up!” “Do you want to wake up at 6AM everyday and work until 12AM?” “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up…” “Well you’re a sophomore now so you better decide soon.”
Those poor bowls and vases that I meticulously crafted. Those poor pieces squashed so violently its guts sprayed out like that of a bug’s. They’re gone for good. But, maybe it wasn’t all that bad though. Maybe it was for the better. Maybe they are right. Childish innocence is a pure thing. But it is nothing more than a bubble holding back a tsunami of harsh truths. Real talk: the only way to survive in this cruel world is thinking realistically. But I’m a dreamer, not a realist. The two halves of me are constantly at their little war in the back of my head. I’m torn and I don’t have a clue of what to do. Younger me had mounds and mounds of that soft red dough, but now, not even a speck of it remains. No more clay left to create any more pottery.
Photo by Earl Wilcox
One thought on “Its My World and You’re Just Living in It”
Thank you for sharing your childhood because I can relate to everything on here, especially this quote. “There’s like a little hurricane inside my head but the water out here is all cold. I want to be them.”