Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home for the Holidays

It's nearing the end of the holidays, I'm sitting at my folks' kitchen table listening to Rob Dougan while fixing my dad's broken laptop. I picked up The Bridges of Madison County from the Cary Memorial Library about a week ago (go ahead, laugh) for some light reading, and in my head, I'm imagining I'm Robert Kincaid on the open road with a carton of Camels and a guitar from my ex-wife, and this broken laptop is actually a collection of cameras from 1965. It's written in a very overblown fashion, but that's no different from the way I imagine myself. A screw falls into a crevice between the monitor and keyboard, and my phillips head isn't small enough to dig it out. Expletives. There's a box of Ritz crackers and a 10 minute break in the pantry with my name on them.

My mom sits in the living room watching a Chinese melodrama about med students in the 1950s ("so-and-so loves this girl, but she married another man, and everyone is too Chinese to resolve anything, and, oh gosh, it's just so engaging and reminds us all of what it was like back then"). She sees me munching on the crackers and decides she wants to have an opinion about it:

Ma: Those crackers are full of salt. And you say you want to be a doctor. Throw me that bag of almonds over there.

Me: *munch munch munch* Hm. Do you think white people get offended when you call them crackers? Crackers are things you eat...not really an offensive term.

Ma: They are unhealthy!

Me: What, crackers or white people?

Ma: (Glowers)

Me: Anyway, I thought almonds had a lot of fat?

Ma: Well, we have plenty of fruits! Have a banana or a pear! Wash one of those pears and slice it for us!

Me: Nah, I'm good with these crackers. But here, have some almonds. =)

Home, home, home. In the mix between my grandparents calling in to ask if I've got a wife yet, and the visible and increasing crotchetiness of my folks, I dash off letters, emails and phone calls to friends and marvel at how much has happened. Friends would be good placeholders if it weren't for the fact that they change too. So I guess instead, they become crude-variety mirrors for referencing change, distance covered, growth and affirmation. Only what's lasted has been good--I'm thankful for that in my family too. My dad standing in his underwear yelling down the hallway about where his pants are, my mom muttering under her breath about the men in the family being a pain in the ass, hot pot, salmon steaks, Chinese dinner parties and kids being compared (polished pianos sitting in dens), Aiyah this, Aiyah that, and plants on the windowsill that incite cantankerous complaining when someone forgets to water them--this is the life we worked for, fought for, broke kitchen appliances for, kicked over furniture and screamed bloody murder for. We earned it; we earned the hell out of it.

Some favorites of the season so far:

No comments:

On Piano Lessons and Cancer Patients

              When I was six, my mother and father saw me once playing with an electric keyboard at a friend’s house. While the adults ate ...