Chibimagic's Weblog

July 2003

Posted on: March 26, 2012

As soon as I step off the plane, I am hit with the immediate, visceral sensation: this is home. Surrounded by faces like mine, hair like mine, skin like mine, height like mine. They are family: everything about this place oozes a sense of belonging. It engulfs me like the air, penetrating every alveolus of my lungs. The actual air itself is shamefully despicable: smoggy exhaust, factories, smokers, open coals. I think to myself, no wonder they have SARS–they deserve it. I think to myself, I’m cutting at least 10 years off my life with all the crap I’m inhaling here.

Back at the hotel room, I flip through channels, landing only on commercials. They are evenly split between shampoo, beauty products, and detergent. Seeing the actresses’ gleaming black, black midnight hair, I think to myself, this is beauty. Seeing their milky pure white faces, I think to myself, this is beauty. And by their standards, I am not beautiful. But at least we are measurable on the same scale. At least there is a scale. Unlike those ruddy-cheeked, straw-haired globs of flesh from that other place. Those “beautiful” people would be painfully out of place here; foreign, unwelcome. This is home. This is my home.

Sitting at dinner with 10 family members from my mother’s side, I eye my cousin beside me. This is the first we’ve seen each other since we learned to speak. I’m at a loss for words. In the other place I could flirt, play with language, be clever. But how do you do that with someone you’re related to? In a language you have only a rudimentary grasp of? But this is home–and hot damn do I wish we weren’t related.

In another city, I sit on the hotel bed, listening to other relatives chatter away in an incomprehensible dialect. Sounds pour from their mouths like paper snowflakes too hastily cut. Here and there I catch some of the less mutilated words. I let the rest wash over me, filling my ears, mind, heart. I think to myself, this is home.

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