Time is trivial here. I drift through my house, my feet lightly brushing against the carpet. I am a visitor and it appears as though I speak a different language now that I am back in my parents’ home. I stumble upon memories as I go through boxes in my closet; I find old letters, diaries from my first years of immigration and the sadness of the past comes back. Every thought is on paper and as I read, each word sinks in, adding another layer to my new sadness. There are many more boxes, many more letters and many more objects of the past. I tell my mother about these little discoveries, how some of them make me smile and laugh. She does not understand the meaning behind keeping such a collection. She only remarks that I should get organized. “It’s not about organization, it’s about the memories,” I argue. But my mother insists that one does not have the time to go back to such things and that if they were organized…
“Nevermind,” I say and go back to my closet of memories.
Despite the languid air I feel around me, for I am just a traveling visitor, my family reminds of the importance of time and of age. My mother believes that if she had arrived 10 years earlier, she would have been done with her business and could have possibly reached a proper age of retirement. And then there is my father, who has a sore neck from a cold because he still believes he is immune to cold weather . And my grandmother, who has white hair that she has not groomed or cut in some time, who does not hear well, who walks slowly and sleeps half the day. I am constantly reminded of life passing and that of my niece’s just beginning.
This is a house of memories, even if my mother does not remember the past. The common thread that held us together is the losses and goodbyes and the starting overs. We rebuilt ourselves just as we made a home for ourselves. And time helped us cope with our wounds even if it did not heal them. But it’s important to acknowledge what we once were: ordinary people with bigger dreams, imprisoned and looking for a way to break free.
I drift through my house, gently walking down the stairs into the kitchen, making coffee, making tea, sipping it on the porch under a half October moon as the crickets sing and my grandmother laments a disorderly kitchen. I take one of the many unfinished diaries and write a few words: languid, lament, lethargic. I look at life happening around me and the countless cups of tea that we make and the fatigue that lingers in my mother’s eyes. But before I can form a sentence on paper, someone interrupts and then it all matters, every ticking moment that will one day be just a memory.

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