a city so grey & wet, a city i call home

this city, with its concrete streets, sirens wailing and torrential downpours that leave my roof weeping and ceilings dewy, is my home. my lover asked me if i thought of leaving this place, one day. i turned to him, curious about this question. what prompted it? is he telling me something? i’ve lived here 8 years, the longest i’ve ever been in one place. i always said i’d return to Maryland, that i would sink my feet in the eastern shore (ok fine, Ocean City) and grow roots here. i am but 30 minutes from the immigrant-rich town my grandparents ended up in when we escaped vietnam. no one from my family lives there now, we are scattered.

there are my closest boy cousins, M & H, who left as children for the city of Angels. they stand doggedly by the sidelines at family functions, not comfortable in their skater gear but stubbornly refusing to conform to the business casual attire followed by the east coast cousins. they smile, but it doesn’t reach their eyes, they itch for smokes of the herb variety. they gamely answer questions of their continuing education, their choice in careers, taking in the silent judgements of our slew of aunts and uncles. i want to hold them, to shield them from the looks, but at the same time, i want them to face this. am i any better than the older generation with my judgements? that i want them to get college degrees and typical 9to5s is irrelevant, because it is not what they want. {2003}

there are my beautiful cousins, B & K, more like sisters than my own sisters. somehow they have emigrated from MD to VA, the direct opposite move i made. during my travels i did not keep in touch with them. our paths did not meet, on purpose. the moment i could, i reached out to them and they welcomed me back like no time had passed. they had grown so — and i had missed it all! K with her gentle voice, delicateness that hid the steely strength inside. B had a hard exterior, so many layers toughened like brown skin from the sun, thickened by disappointment and heartbreak from a boy who did not love her. but like an orange, you peel away the layers and you find such a tender soul that showed such selflessness, a part of her that few saw. {2000}

my adopted home city has not changed much in the years i’ve lived here, instead it is a constant that some would see as dull, as banal. i find it refreshing to know that it is exactly the same day in and day out. i am neither afraid of what the nights bring when i come home late nor angry by the potholes that decorate the surface of the streets. it is amusing that none of my family, save B & K, have seen where i live, where i lay my head, where i call home. it is a pleasure that i live this life, not exactly the way i had envisioned it but exactly the way i like it. {now}

i sat pondering this, in the passenger seat while he drove us to dinner friday night, to meet his friends, to celebrate the last days of Lent. i was tired, i was cranky, the day had been grey, and wet. traffic was slow, it was the tail end of rush hour. my hand was in his as he steered the car one-handed. i had no absolute answer for him. because where i am right now, i don’t want to leave. but should there come a time when an absolute answer is needed, i want the flexibility and the strength to answer accordingly. so i merely squeezed his hand and told him that i was only comfortable with thinking about what i was ordering for dinner, and not so much what could happen in 5 years.


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