My grandmother’s house in Shaanxi, which hasn’t changed a single bit in decades. There’s something intensely comforting about that consistency. Going back always feels like a full-body detox, a time to shed so many of the unnecessary layers that typically weigh me down, a way to simplify myself. Both electricity and running water were knocked out the days I was there, so I spent the afternoons watching my aunts and grandmother trash talk each other over mahjong with the occasional trip into town on the back of a bicycle. And, of course, nothing can compare to hardy Shaanxi feasts, plates of sautéed starch noodles/粉条 and zi juan (rolled vegetable pockets) that I can’t even find in Xi'an restaurants. If only I could’ve fueled up for an entire year. :(
It’s been an exhausting couple of days. So many people have reached out to me through text, e-mail, Facebook in concern, and I feel totally ill-equipped to handle the amount of compassion poured into Boston from all corners of the world. I keep tearing up in public, at work, on the bus, and I can no longer tell what’s driving the emotional backlash, whether the helplessness comes from aftershocks of fear and confusion or from an inability to process the overwhelming generosity of friends and strangers alike.
Despite that kindness, I haven’t felt so isolated in years. It’s magnified by how only a few days ago, I was surrounded by family and now I feel like I’m grappling alone through a blind obstacle course with no idea what lies at the end of it. The gut reaction of “I want to go home” and the harsh realization that I don’t mean Boston, not even with the number of years and contacts I’ve clocked here. I guess that saying about people and roots has merit. Home is where, etc. Maybe it’s because the attack happened so soon, not even 24 hours, after I landed and my head got stuck in the transition, stalled between two destinations without a clear answer of which one classifies as final.