They ring the door bell, as if the rhapsody of pots and pans knocking onto the patio floor isn't enough to get everyone's attention. I open the door to help them inside. They carry a full meal with them, that is just how they travel, esp to visit me. Over the years, I've learned to be grateful when that is all they brought, no more and no less.
The smell of dumplings, vegetables cooked in ginger and garlic, and salted beef fills my tiny apartment and makes my stomach growl. I rush to finish packing, stuffing the last items along the sides. I am sure I packed everything, but sometimes that still doesn't seem to be enough, somehow.
We eat quickly. Mom asks me whether I have this and that, with a tiny bit more of panics in her voice each time she asks for something that she's sure I forgot. I review their locations in the suitcase with her, throwing everything out of orders. Dad pauses and checks my travel documents and makes copies to keep with them. He walks briskly between the printer and my bags, stuffing everything neatly wherever they belonged. I watch him without knowing how to help, my heart quivers at the sight of his legs bent from age while walking the stairs. His salt and pepper hair drawing streams into the space before my eyes, back bending up and down like an arched bow. I get up to wash the dishes, letting the gushes of water slip through my fingers as I scrub and rinse.
We walk outside to see it's another sunny California day. I duck into the sun warmed back seat and close my eyes. Dad is at the wheel but mom is driving.
"Slow down, you are gonna kill that person."
"Oh my god, why did you just do that?"
Her signature soft voice disappears then, and we get the driving coach side of her, all commanding and snappy. She throws up her hands whenever possible, and they have the tendency to take over the steeling wheel and once, even the emergency break. The short ride to the airport today was almost calm, save the occasional sharp inhales she's learned to do recently, at the sight of any car coming within the fifty mile radius.
Still, the car jerks now and again, and I feel breathless and dizzy.
The commuter terminal is the size of a petri dish. After checking in at the counter, I hug them goodbye at the start of the security line. It's an awkward western gesture for them, but they try pleasantly to accommodate me. I can feel the frail frames of their shoulders shrank to childlike proportions under my arms. The years have slipped by all of us unnoticed, cruelly taking away their statures while mine felt over-sized with all the growth. It seems like only yesterday when their big strong arms last held me on the first day of primary school, waving them away through hair and tears both fighting to get into my eyes.
That bit hasn't changed perhaps.
As I strip for the security scans, I look back to see them standing just at the other side looking on. Somehow we've found ourselves in the land of the giants, so their heads can barely peak above the dividing screens and between the even taller moving crowd. But they shift constantly to keep me in view, two dark heads with just a tiny patch of foreheads bobbing up and down in a sea of tallness. Each time I make another turn and think I'd lose them for sure now, there they are again, hands waving at the sight of me turning.
|Photo courtesy of the Internet - you know, Google etc.|
For a while that is all I can see, and it makes me feel like a small child held in their big arms again. Somehow, for a little while at least, that is all I want in this too big world.