Welcome Home. Finally.

I don’t think I ever really absorbed the depth of the phrase, “you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.” I understood it conceptually, but to experience it is a whole different level. It’s so common that it’s almost silent when it is uttered, and it flies over your head without a second thought.

Yes, I guess I could be talking about friends who I have lost in the past or past relationships that I still miss. Those are the personal connections that come and go in my life that I will undoubtedly learn to appreciate more as I reminisce about the memories associated with them, but those are only the smaller component in the wider scope of what I’ve come to realize after leaving my college campus in a rush due to the pandemic.

I learned to love my hometown. And hate it. It’s complicated. We’re working on it.

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The Asian Image Amidst COVID-19

It’s hard to accept change as the new every day. It is the human condition to thrive in familiarity: when I was living on campus and had to balance classes and extracurriculars and events, I would plan my days out to the second on Google Calendar. It was my best friend. Right now, though, our relationship isn’t as strong: I’m learning to live in the moment. But that’s a topic for another day.

Change doesn’t come out of nowhere, and when people have a hard time dealing with change, it’s natural to want to place the blame on somebody or something. Unfortunately, this pandemic has led to the blame being placed in large part on the Chinese. It’s reflected in the way that COVID-19 was dubbed as the “Chinese virus” just because the first cases were seen in Wuhan. 

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The Sentimental *Return* of the Receipt

Before I left home to go back to college for Thanksgiving break, I opened the smaller compartment of my wallet and took out all of the receipts I had accumulated over the past month. Each one was carefully folded into thirds, fourths, fifths, and so on depending on the size of my purchase and how many surveys the company wanted me to take in order to get customer feedback. I was in a hurry to get to the airport, so I tossed these little beings onto my desk in a messy pile. They weren’t waiting to be touched again or looked at. They were just there to be.

I came home again a few days ago and saw this pile on my desk. The first thought that came to my mind was, “How could I have been so irresponsible to discard them like that instead of throwing them away in the first place?”. Of course, since this was my thought, it wasn’t *that* elegantly phrased. But nevertheless, these were receipts. These were transaction records that were no longer needed since I couldn’t return the food that had already been consumed or the shirt whose tag I ripped off months ago.

So why hang on to these strips of paper?

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I recently spent a weekend with my dorm friends in an AirBnb in the middle of the woods near a small lake. I will admit that the location itself was kind of bland because the only thing to explore was the lake, but it got me thinking a lot about what constitutes our environment around us and how that may affect our thought processes.

I think we undervalue the presence of clouds in our lives. I grew up in Washington where there was no one day where the clouds were absent from the gray sky, providing the atmosphere that is so commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest. I grew desensitized to those bodies that oversaw my 18 years there, but upon moving to California, the first thing I noticed was the sky. It was flat. It was 2D. There was nothing to indicate dimension and it saddened me to not have any signs of distance in the altitude above me. My eyes were accustomed to layers and levels of the sky that were so large in numbers that I couldn’t distinguish them all.

Continue reading “Clouds”