sad, happy, oh! (part two)

These are special days. Shaking the last of my Formosa Ali Shan into a filter. Carrying the teapot carefully down the stairs. All my traditions and favorite hand motions. Except, I open my laptop in a room I hardly recognize. I grab an orange from a newly marbled counter.

Over the past few weeks, the house I’ve grown up in has undergone many changes. Gone are the dusty blinds. The heavy carpets. The sink that clogs. A new coat of paint – white, refreshing – covers everything now with a radiant, happy glow.

In the kitchen is a new refrigerator that gives you water, and many varieties of ice, from its door.

images-2Impressive to most people in the nineties, maybe. But to me it is a modern day miracle. I cannot stop drinking from its unlimited resource. My wonder in filling each glass comparable only to my gratitude (and general astonishment) – that this year so many dreams are coming true, and all at once.

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I re-read my last post. And, it occurs to me that the impression it gave might have been a negative one. It was negative in many ways. Only not how you might have imagined. If you’ll allow me an explanation, here are the things I did not say.

First, in January. My mom handed me an empty box. “For your Christmas ornaments,” she said cheerily. “Take whatever you like, all your favorites. Because, this year you’ll be having your own Christmas!” I felt like the coyote in a roadrunner cartoon. When he finds he’s run too far off the cliff, and is holding an anvil. When my mom stepped away, I wiped my tears behind the Christmas tree and felt very helpless.

Inhaling that smell of sticky pine, I realized that I will miss my parents. Gigi, even. How funny, that all these years of being a caregiver – sharing such an emotional context with both my parents, and well into my twenties – yields the simple (and effective) casualty of missing them. For weeks I wrapped myself in this awareness. I had the serious sads.

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And then, real loss.

In March, I found out that one of my cousins drowned in a river in the Philippines. We shared the same birthday. She was only a teenager, playing hooky with her friends.

Before you say anything, the truth is – while this was the sad thing I referred to at the end of my last post – I’ve since realized I have no right to share it on the Internet. The condolences are not mine to collect. It affected me as death should affect anyone. A painful, humbling thing that bows your head and silences your heart. And, there are no right words, except that she is so missed. And, she was beautiful.

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Somehow, since realizing the great picture (of marrying, moving, and finally pursuing my own career), it is only now that I’ve decided to re-watch every episode of Vicar of Dibley, wile away hours marathoning Mel Brooks films, to write down half a dozen bakeries to visit, thanks to Unique Sweets. I’ve also managed to capsize my large pile of borrowed books, by reading and returning some of it.

In the mornings, the cups of tea multiply while I write thank-you notes to the absurdly generous people who have sent gifts. My heart beats rapidly, contemplating the sudden existence of flatware and plates, cookbooks, and one gorgeous red picnic cooler! I think of all the memories these luxuries will make and my one dimple aches and aches.

On one big renovation day I made tacos. I laughed with my mom and the construction workers, while tossing warmed tortillas on their plates. That night we marveled at our new kitchen, and drew out plans for the garage. I pictured my mom cooking, d and me visiting, and I made peace with the impending happiness that engulfs us all.

Somehow with all the things to do, it feels as if time has finally slowed enough for me to enjoy myself and be happy with the present. Perhaps this is not more important than, say, crucially securing an apartment. Procuring a job? Finalizing wedding plans! And these necessities are still getting the attention they deserve. But, I also recognize a present that I will not always have. A present so kindly and gently ushering me into my future, that I savor my gratitude for it.

And this feeling? Oh, it’s happy and a little bit sad. And altogether, it’s very much wonderful.

 

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