Monday, June 2, 2008

I had a bowl of Cheerios in one hand and a glass of water in the other, and to commemorate Summer, I convinced myself to do one thing at a time - "Wait, sit down," don't go upstairs and watch Grey's Anatomy while you're eating your breakfast.

I sat down at the kitchen table and was struck by how alone I was. By the sun flooding in through the bay window and the French-style porch doors filled with light. By all of the space I had to think. And I thought of my grandfather. So many summers he visited us and sat in the chair to my right, the head of the table, eating his breakfast in silence. Oh, not for lack of things to say. I'd developed a habit of minimizing the overlap time of our breakfasts so that as he sat down I was just finishing. He felt it was necessary - I felt it was boring and constraining - to dispense no-doubt hard-earned pearls of wisdom whenever he could, whenever it was just him and me, his flighty, dreaming, American granddaughter. True to form, I nodded obediently and then slipped away at any convenient interim in that day's life lesson.

Every summer I used to wonder vaguely whether that would be the last time I'd see my maternal grandparents, then feel no remorse as school started and life filled in the empty guest room, the two chairs at the kitchen table, the spaces my grandpa and grandma occupied. The first two weeks without them would be strange, and I would miss them, and then gradually I would get caught up in other thiings and think about them less. Because they were my relatives, but a seasonal part of my life. I might have counted on seeing them again, the two were so intertwined - Summer and Grandparents visiting. And later on I knew I would see them: They were trying to get their citizenship and had to come to the States every year. I wonder if I saw them for the last time eight years ago, the last time I went back to Taiwan. My family went back last summer, but I stayed home and went to my Differential Equations class.

If I could sit at a kitchen table with my grandfather again, I wouldn't run away. I would ask him to tell me stories. That's something that's changed in me - I hesitate less before I ask questions. One thing I've learned as I've gotten older is that no one expects you to know everything (people expect you to be curious). So questions are okay. I'd squirm a little less if he decided to share grandfatherly wisdom with me. And I would ask him to tell me about of the funniest things that happened to him as a boy.

- - -
My grandfather drinks a lot of water. He's kind of a fitness nut, and he's really in shape. He goes walking every morning, complete with warm-up and cool-down stretches. This is what I thought about as I filled up the Brita pitcher this morning.

Yesterday, my mom was telling me about a book she'd browsed through at Barnes and Noble, something in the self-care/medicine section. "Haha, yeah, that's what my RA said his mom would always tell him!" For all minor ailments, colds, etc., "Drink some water and get sleep!" Oh, the curative powers of water . . .

1 comment:

alice said...

I wish I were closer to my grandparents. I've only seen them about four times in my life; the first three times were before I turned seven, and the last time I felt embarrassed that I could harldly communicate with them because my Chinese is so terrible. =/
Anyway. I like summer, too. =)