Home is Where the Heart Is
Cherry blossoms bloom in the fresh, grassy lawn, surrounded by an abundance of dewy rose, magenta, and cerulean-colored hydrangeas. Behind this small, yet picture-perfect front lawn is a house, a house painted the purest of white with an auburn tinted roof, and when entering this house, the feeling of happiness immediately engulfs you. A fluffy golden-furred shih-tzu poodle prances around the house searching for the perfect location to take a cozy nap, usually finding refuge under a bed or in the lap of the first person she sees. This is the feeling of warmth and comfort. The smell of newly-cooked sunny side up eggs drifts among the house, mingling with the permanent scent of sunflowers always kept on the marble kitchen table. This is the feeling of pleasure and familiarity. Numerous beeping noises blast from an upstairs bedroom filled with many video game consoles and discs, but in order to distinguish which game is being played, you must listen to the cries of the teenage boy who plays it; “Who redshelled me?! I’m coming for you next!” Mario Kart, “Quit moving and let me punch you!” Super Smash Bros Brawl, etc. This is the feeling of memories and childhood. There are many words that can used to describe this house: modern, comfortable, Spanish-style, clean, etc. However, there is no word better to describe this wondrous place that summons dancing butterflies in my stomach and twinkling sparkles in my eyes everytime I glance upon it than home.
Victory or Death!
The one main trait that every single person in my immediate family has is competitiveness, that “I’m going to be number one!” mentality. The first time I ever recognized how hostile I was when it comes to competition was the moment Trenton moved in next door. Trenton and his family had recently moved from another state, surprisingly not New Jersey, and decided to settle in our quiet neighborhood, but I’m sure that they came to regret that decision once they met me. I automatically hated that family because of their condescending nature when speaking to my parents. “Wow, you two are so lucky to have such beautiful children! How are they doing intellectually though, since you send them to that private school?” the family once said, chuckling as they said the word ‘private’ as if it were another name for a ghost that children whisper about and create scary stories for. They wanted my parents to feel ashamed of sending my brother and I to a private school, thus acting as if my parents’ decision was as stupid as believing in ghosts.
However, it was the young Trenton who really pushed my buttons. He always tried to beat me in the most trivial tasks, like making a bigger splash when cannonballing in their small pool, or eating more Oreos than I could, or having the least amount of homework per day. In the beginning, I would just shrug off his declarations of being the “best person in the universe,” until after a while, something in me felt the need to fight back and finally beat him at his own competitions, thus prompting a strong rivalry between us for months until he and his family moved out again. The most prominent competition I remember between Trenton and I was our very last, where we competed to see who could collect our mail from the mailbox outside and bring it back into our house the fastest. Once we started, the young boy immediately pushed me into the concrete sidewalk, scarring my elbow and twisting my foot, and cackled as he skipped into the open front doors of his wretched house. When he returned, he was still flaunting his win while my arm bled, but I bet he didn’t expect that same bleeding arm to punch him square in the face, or for that twisted foot to kick him straight in the gut.
It only took them only one week to move into another neighborhood after that incident. They didn’t know this back then, but I am certain that ghosts do really exist, floating around the human world with both good and evil natures. I’d like to believe that I was one of those evil ghosts, or at least similar to one of those ghosts, destined to remove them from my neighborhood to maintain internal peace, or least peace for myself and my family.
For the Future
“Doctor, doctor, doctor,” my grandfather chants, “Surgeon, surgeon, surgeon,” my grandmother pleads, “Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer,” my father prays, “Dentist, dentist, dentist,” my mother exclaims.
These are all the occupations my family is begging me to choose between in order to become successful in the future. They want me to become financially stable by 25, a difficult task for a young adult just finishing college, find a supportive husband in the next five or so years during or after that, and find a high-paying job that grants me the highest amount of money possible. I appreciate the high expectations they have for me because I know they want me to live the best successful life that I possibly can, but why does success matter when there’s no happiness?
Dear future me, I hope you’re incredibly relieved when you finally move out of the house in order to pursue the college degree that you want. Don’t follow anybody else’s dreams and aspirations, just your own. I currently haven’t decided what that major will be yet, but I’m sure something had clicked for you and you’re finally at ease with the world.
Dear future me, go out and find the love of your life, a lovely boy who is always there for you during the highest and lowest points of your life, someone who you love for who he is despite his imperfections, or the things that Mom and Dad don’t like about him. Maybe I have already met him unknowingly in the present, but whoever it is, I know he will make you feel like you’re the luckiest girl in the universe.
Dear future me, go seek a fulfilling job, hopefully one relating the the degree you graduate with, that always brings a smile to your face and allows you to enjoy what you do without complaint. Sure, it might not pay as much as a doctor would be paid, but at least you are experienced and content with what you do everyday.
Dear future me, good luck out there in the foreign world. I hope that I have laid a strong enough foundation for you to achieve happiness and success in our own way.
Blue and Red Stars
A neon pink Hello Kitty t-shirt bedazzled with fake gems and glitter. Horrifying, dirty cargo shorts with over 4 pockets, each with a coffee-colored marble button larger than a quarter. Mismatched colored ankle socks with holes near the pinky toe. A pair of worn-down navy blue Converse with laces that are way too easy to trip on. This is the outfit I would wear 5 years ago when going out and about and adventuring the vast world. My father’s camera roll in full of photos of my brother and I wearing such incredulous outfits, but I am not ashamed to look back at them once and a while and admit how much I like those outfits. It reminds me of the past, a past where the younger me never had to worry about whether or not she wore a certain shirt the previous week, where the younger me didn’t need to ask my parents splurge on such expensive shoes that would get muddy and dirty no matter what she did, where the younger me had to follow no expectations on what she should or shouldn’t wear, where the younger me would wear things for her own happiness and not anybody else’s.
The world certainly works in quite an odd way. Now, although I have access to better-looking, mature, and plain clothing with way less glitter and sparkles and over-the-top designs, I feel more embarrassed wearing what I have now than in the past. I worry about whether or not this shirt looks good with these jeans or if these shoes work with this bracelet or if this hair clip works with this belt or if this sweatshirt matches this scrunchie and other meticulous, trivial things like that. I’m even afraid of wearing pajama pants to school or when doing completely mundane errands outside the house in fear of public humiliation. One day, I hope that I have the confidence and self-assurance to just shrug it all off and wear what I wanna wear despite the standards and expectations set against me.
One day, instead of walking around skinny blue jeans in the brisk winter weather that dry out the moisture of my legs, I’ll wear my favorite pajama pants publicly, printed with a plethora of blue and red stars that reminds me of the comfort of curling by the warm fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa at my favorite location, home. One day, I’ll wear the pajama pants that remind me of my true self.
Good Night, My Love
My mother says, kissing my brother and I on the foreheads. Both of us are too scared to sleep alone in the dark, where monsters and creatures dwell waiting to consume us, so my father suggests that we sleep in the same bedroom with a night light on until our fears melt away.
They don’t. Not for a while, that is. It takes me 3 years to conquer my fear of the dark, while my brother only takes several months. He eventually moves back into his own bedroom, leaving me in my solitude, scared and afraid. The only things that brings comfort in these times are the kisses my mother leaves on my forehead every night after she thinks I am asleep; in reality, I am not. I don’t sleep because I wait for her soothing voice and gentle lips that assure me everything is going to be okay. I’m sure that she knows that I am awake, but we are both too content with the situation that my bedtime doesn’t matter. My mother does this every night, even when she has just come home tired from a long day of work, and eventually, I start to conquer my fear of the dark because of her blinding light and radiance that can overshadow any monster or creature ready to eat me.
But she longer does this anymore for numerous reasons, primarily because of our growing ages and differences. I am too old for kisses anymore and no longer afraid of what lurks in the shadows of the night. I no longer need her sickly body to trudge upstairs to my bedroom only to stay in my room for less than 10 seconds for one menial task that neither of us really wants anymore. The goodnight forehead kisses are gone, and I’m trying my absolute best that my distancing relationship with my mother won’t disappear too.
Dave and Chunsin, a retired older couple with two gorgeous, shiny, black labradors, live right next door in a beautiful, rustic house with decorative bushes of leaves and a bounty of prickly roses. Dave, a tall, bald man with a demeaning glare, definitely acted with the exact opposite nature as one would expect; he was filled with laughter and smiles all around. Everyday, he would carry my brother and I over the brick wall into their house to play, even if he was in the middle of grilling a steak or watering his blooming roses. Chunsin, a short woman with tiny hands and feet, was the embodiment of love, caring for my brother and I in so many ways. She always offered delicious home-cooked food when we were carried into her house, my favorite being her delicious soba noodles, or let us watch her soap operas with her in their living room, or helped us with our elementary school homework with us even if she had other matters to attend to.
I never really knew why Dave and Chunsin were so inviting, especially when it came to my brother and I. They let my brother and I barge into their clean home every single day only to unknowingly destroy it with stains on the couch, scratches on the dining table, spills in the rugs, etc. They have other businesses to attend to that are far more important than the recklessness of two children, so why primarily focus on us? Confused, I simply shrugged this thought away and continued to dance around their living room, chanting a song I learned that day in music class about apples and bananas.
It wasn’t until 2 months later when I finally understood why Dave and Chunsin always cared for me without wanting anything in return, as I finally saw their grown-up son walk into the glass front door of their home. He was no longer Mama’s little boy that she could read bedtime stories to before his curfew, and he was no longer Papa’s little boy that he could play baseball outside with every afternoon. Contrary to what I originally believed, it turns out that I did give them something in return; I gave them the happiness of feeling familial love again. It was as if my brother and I were their second and third children whom they could care for and love, just as they did for their eldest son, because they yearned for the feeling of activeness and fun in their lives again. I always believed that I was selfish for imposing on Dave and Chunsin’s lives without providing anything back, but now I realize how much I gave back to them too, even if it wasn’t physical like soba noodles or delicious steak.
A bond, by definition, is a uniting or binding element or force. Amongst humankind, it brings two people together, intertwining them into an interpersonal relationship with a certain extent of love, either platonic, romantic, or familial. Once you share a personal bond with another person, it feels like you are floating on Cloud 9, as you always know that there is someone always there for you, willing to embrace you in their comforting arms at any time.
There is only a small handful of people whom I share a close bond with, as it’s hard for me to find the right people to befriend, to cherish, or to love. For as long as I have remembered, I haven’t let people into my life easily, even those who I have known since infanthood or childhood, such as family members. I bring down a barrier against those who aren’t close to me because I’m scared that I will be susceptible to getting betrayed, hurt, or anything in between, which is odd because there hasn’t been a dramatic event in my life to initiate this aloof trait of mine. Nevertheless, my introverted personality continues to triumph within the daily life, as I prefer to work alone in my own solitude and quietness. However, it’s not as if it’s impossible for me to make friends or to love; it just takes a lot of time and patience until I open up to others. Those who are willing to wait until I finally break out of my reserved shell are the right people to befriend, to cherish, and to love.
My father always tells me that my initial detachment to others will only be temporary because it’s merely a stage of growing up. As much as I want to believe that he’s right, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to fully expand my horizons like others can. I just pray that in the future, I can teach my own children that it’s okay to be vulnerable with those who they place total trust and faith in, those who they have special bonds with. Maybe they’ll be able to experience new adventures that I was unable to embark upon.
The house on Crawford Street will always be known to me as home. A place of serenity, a place of tranquility, a place of refuge from what lurks outside. It has served as my home for my entire life, so I have never experienced anything different from living here.
I love the scenic front yard, the sage, rosemary, and lavender bushes sprouting from the concrete surrounded by fallen cherry blossom petals. I love the vines that shadow the address plate of my home, always a topic of discussion amongst the neighborhood association that absolutely despises how it looks. I love the rusted metal wind spinners hanging near the front door that entrance you like magic when it spirals.
I love the small backyard, the jelly-bean shaped patch of grass for the dog that I’ve always wished could be turned into a nice pool. I love the outside sink that only sprays icy cold water, no matter which direction you turn the nozzles towards. I love the bamboo shoots that leave behind wilted leaves whenever wind blows, even if it is a hassle to rake up those fallen leaves every single day.
I love the inside interior of the home, the high ceilings where many balloons from festivals and amusement parks have floated up to, stuck until they finally start to deflate after days. I love the mismatching tiling of the floors, some wood, some marble, and some rug, with the imprints of a muddy foot of a dog. I love the walls where some of the cream-colored paint is starting to chip away while other parts are still fully opaque, since my parents only bothered to repaint certain areas after I drew on the walls with permanent marker.
But change is coming. One day, in the near distant future, it will no longer serve as my escape from the metropolitan world full of traffic and unfamiliar faces. It will simply be a location in my memories, a setting device of literature for the stories I tell to others in the future. But in reality, my home is like another person, a person that I dedicate my entire happiness and livelihood to. When the time comes where I have to leave the home on Crawford Street, I must be prepared to say goodbye to the one thing that has always stayed the same in my life for the past decade and a half or so. I must say goodbye to another family member forever and let another family take it into its own.