Last Friday, I went to a birthday dinner hosted by my ex-neighbour. We’d known her family for about 22 years and it wasn’t exactly something I could easily say no to. Especially with my mom saying things like “We can’t say no to them.”
The birthday was for my neighbour’s mom, who’d had a stroke a coupla years back and she’d actually made some remarkable recovery. She’ll forever walk with a cane, and now has to shake with her left hand, but her face is pretty much back to normal. This is significant because when someone speaks with a slur, we automatically slow down and speak louder. The old lady has always been sharp, and I think regaining her speech at least make us less irritating to her. And of course, there’s her smile – knowing and just a little cheeky, like the stroke never happened.
But something else did.
I had a kind of seizure myself.
They were triggered by a series of events and I had a kind of grand mal episode with the standard blackouts in between. And when I came to each time, my world was slightly changed.
They played a small slideshow tribute. They showed photos of the old lady when she was young and all the places she’d been.
I realise I have almost no photos of myself after graduation. My existence has a photographic gap of more than eight years.
I will take more photos. I will make new memories. I will make memories worth photographing.
I was seated at a table with people I didn’t know. And didn’t like.
If you’re in any traditional Chinese sit-down dinner, you will be stuck with these people for at least eight dishes plus dessert. It is a punishment consistently overlooked by Amnesty International.
My wedding dinner will be a small restaurant booked for the night. Everyone will know each other. Everyone will get to order something they like. And it won’t be expensive since I don’t actually have many friends.
There were relatives from all over. Hong Kong. Louisiana. Toronto. London. Boston.
My mother’s family is close and it hasn’t gotten them through some shitty times. My cousins and I however, have drifted apart.
I can change that. I think they want to as well. When they’re close, families don’t feel big, but the safety net does. And I want that.
My neighbour’s mom is 81.
I will be 31 this year.
We should only live as long as there are people to love us.