Waking up in the morning, I had to take a minute to remember where I was.  Sunlight streamed through the sheer white curtains and pale pink venetian blinds, illuminating the room with an invigorating morning glow.  Despite the near empty closet shelves, unadorned walls, and the abandoned writing desk, the room was a picture of warmth and familiarity.  I welcomed the solitude and calm, unperturbed by the alarm clock that usually rushes me to work.  There is really nothing that compares to waking up in your childhood bed.


(Pig’s Feet: Dim Sum from one of my favorite Chinese restaurants.)

I love being back home.  I love running around barefoot on the dust-free carpets, using a spotlessly white bathroom, rummaging through the well stocked pantry, and reveling in the plethora of culinary appliances and cookware. How does my mom do it?  How does she single-handedly maintain such a heavenly, pristine haven where you can practically eat off of the floors (if you wanted to)?  Funny how living away from home has instilled me in new found appreciation for home—when all I wanted to do when I was living there, was to leave. 


(My mom and I like to make mango sticky rice)

What is it about your hometown that simultaneously draws you in and pushes you away?  I think it’s the history.  The places where I like to linger to collect my memories.  Like, the hallway of my high school where my first boyfriend held my hand (or I made him hold my hand).  Or my neighbor’s slanted driveway that my brother and I liked to rollerblade down. The old lunch spot next to the library where my friends and I ranted about homework and college applications.  The Starbucks on the corner of Stelling Rd that I frequented during Journalism class when there was nothing to do.  And the foothills where I crashed my bike and subsequently developed a fear of steep slopes. 


(Santa Cruz Beach)

Sometimes I catch myself wondering what it’d be like to relive those moments again.  But, really, I don’t think that’s what I want.  Because despite the nostalgia and overly glorified memories of those “simpler days,” I can’t imagine being anybody else than who I am right now.  Even with my flaws, responsibilities, and burdens screaming at me everyday, I can’t turn back.  This is the place where my life has led to and this is the person who I’ve worked so hard to become.  And still striving to be closer to who I want to become. 


People often ask me why I moved from California to Boston where I have no friends and no family.  I laugh and say it’s because this was the only job offer I received.  But really, I jumped at the opportunity to leave.  I was so eager to get out, move away, disappear to somewhere completely different and new that I didn’t even bother to reconsider the job offer.  I wanted to reinvent myself to be the ideal Me, without being held back by the comfort of familiarity that makes me satisfied with who I am without dreaming to be something more. 


Well, here I am, and I’m still the same person.  No, that’s not true.  I’ve learned to take care of myself, I know what I want to do in life, I’m better at socializing, I am more organized, more clean, a better cook and a better baker.  But I’m still a homebody, still spending my time reading in a bookstore, still harbor a strong dislike for shopping, still clueless about pop references, and still fighting the same insecurities, except I’m just getting better at it.  I needed to leave home in order to grow, but I will always need home to remind me of who I was, and to find comfort in the parts of me—the most important aspects of myself—that’s still the same.