I’ve been trying to think of what to say that wasn’t so bitter. This place is so strange to me though. It gives me a headache. Or perhaps it’s all the sun. Or perhaps it’s dehydration. But my head hurts. This place where you have leisurely mornings in your room with your clean sheets and fresh towels. Where you head to the nearest Starbucks for your coffee. Then go to your favorite establishment for a well cooked meal. And it’s great, it’s Vacation! But in this Build The Wall day and age, people can’t even see who it is that’s changing their sheets, making their coffee, bringing them their food. This town seems to be held up by the heavy hispanic population. This desert, that’s more interested in maintaining the greenest lawn, hotels with lagoons so large they start inside the lobby itself, and Quick Quack Car Washes on every corner… Maybe if I spent more time here I’d grow to understand it better, but just now, I don’t… but it’s only day 3…
Holiday Vacation Day 1
It’s so dirty here. Like really dirty. Not in the sense that, yes, I am surrounded by dirt. But in the sense that there is trash EVERYWHERE. One expects to see tumble weeds rolling down the street, old west style. Instead I see old cups and papers tumbling down the street. Like some dead, ghost town. A zombie movie with hundreds of the walking dead (aka geezers…) I keep wondering why they don’t have prisoners doing community service, but then I remember that it’s the middle of December and it’s 75 degrees out. One can’t quite imagine a hand full of felons meandering down the highway in prison issue orange shorts and tanks… We drove around in a surprising amount of circles, for as many perfect right angles the streets around here form. We made it to downtown Palm Springs where we stopped into the ritziest hotel for a bathroom break, then down the street past odd shops, where I bought a pair of Fucci sunglasses (fake Gucci). Mom was sucked into the bowels of an Italian skincare shop, where they melted the wrinkles from her eyes. And a van popped a tire, which was apparently the most exciting thing to happen in centuries, judging by the crowed it attracted… This place is weird… but it’s only day 1.
So it was a little weird. In all those Victorian movies, people head to Bath. To take in the water and rejuvinate themselves. Maybe that’s what Palm Springs is like. Where all these old people sitting next to me at the gate go to rejuvinate. Maybe the dry air and sun help melt the chill from their bones… I wonder to myself as I watch 9 people require pre boarding wheelchair escorts to the aircraft. Or maybe money just means you don’t have to use your feet anymore. And I take my seat by the window and there are two old ladies infront of me, and old man next to me, and two more old ladies behind me. And all I smell is expensive perfume. I try to nap, but can’t. Instead I chug thru my easy reading book. One of those Chocolate Chip Cookie Murders, but with ghosts, and a full cast of movie star attractive characters, and cheesy dialogue. The flight is short and a glance out my window shows brown. Brown. Brown. I think I see the town below, but all the buildings are brown. Each tiny building with its own blue dot. Swimming pools. And then as we decend, I realize they’re not tiny houses, they’re huge houses. I watch the flaps extend on the flimsy looking wing of the plane, they rattle and bounce up and down, and I wonder if it’ll snap off. Plunging us into the dry desert sand below. The last thing I’ll see are huge rich people homes, and a nose full of old lady perfume… but we don’t. We touch, not so gently, down and the flight attendant welcomes us to Palm Springs, and I remember I just landed in California, not on Mars..
I love the Autumn best. The way we cannot keep it, cannot hold it. Like flame. Ever flickering and changing. I love the impermanence. The falling of the leaves, to dance along the sidewalks, finally free. One final dance as they die. I love the inevitability. You cannot stop the Autumn from happening. The colours from changing. The trees from dying. You cannot stop the air from growing cold and dark. But like a candle in the night, the trees burn bright. Its okay, all things come to an end. My leaves are gone, but they will blanket the earth as the Winter comes. And the sun will keep shining. And when the Winter is done, I will rise like the Phoenix and live again..
The day is over. You go home to your silent house. You set your phone down. You step into the shower. The water is hot, but you don’t care. It rolls down your skin like white hot fingers trying to fillet you. You feel the water free your stray hairs. You feel them glide down your body with the water, down your abdomen and back, down your legs, to get caught in your toes, and then lost down the drain and to the world beyond. You stand there while the water grows cold, your skin gets waxy, and your fingers turn to raisins. Beads of water drip off your eyelashes and nose..
What if you just stayed there forever?
Would anybody notice?
Only your coworkers. When you failed to show up for work the next morning. “Does anyone have her number?” the Charge Nurse would ask, and maybe a couple people could say yes. “Could one of you try to get ahold of her?” And a text message will go out, something light hearted like, “Hey, where are you?” or, “You’re late for work!” And then the wait. And the concern starts, because the staffing numbers are off. And then the anger starts, because you ‘no call, no showed’ and now they’re short staffed. And when morning report is over, they try to call you. But no one answers. And then the Charge Nurse will call Staffing, or the House Supervisor, “we had a no call, no show. We’re short.” And the House Supervisor will say they will see what they can do and get back to her. In the mean time everyone goes to work as usual.. Minus one body..
But you don’t. You turn off the water after 15 minutes. You stand in front of the mirror, but see nothing. The steam obscures the image and you can’t be sure you are even standing there. The house is silent. Nobody came knocking. Your cats look at you like they just saw you 15 minutes ago. Your phone shows no messages, no calls. You flop onto your unmade bed, wrapped in a towel, hair dripping. You hear the sound of traffic outside, the fridge humming in the kitchen, your own heart beating, or is that the clock on the wall.. The day is over..
Not too long ago I was gifted a DNA kit from a friend. I had admittedly been a little scared to use it. As a child I used to make up my own origins. I used to believe I was an alien. That I had dropped out of the sky and into the loving home of my family. Because, as an adoptee of a closed adoption, I could be anything. Anything was possible, Clark Kent was adopted.. Nobody could tell me different. I’d believed I was half Korean, half English, and a fourth Irish, because it’s what I wanted to be. It was my own small world and it’s what I felt..
Then they came out with home DNA test kits. And I was afraid. Afraid I’d finally have some answers and they wouldn’t live up to my dreams. And honestly, a little bit afraid I might find some family. Oddly enough, that it would be that easy. Spit into a tube, send it off prepaid postage, and the door to the mystery would open..
But I did it..
And I held my breath.. With half hope, and half fear..
And around 10:30PM, I got an email. My results were ready..
And after 32 years, I am reminded that I have a storyteller’s heart..
99% East Asian, and 1 faceless 4th cousin. And I am admittedly heartbroken. Just enough to crush my dreams, but not enough to answer my questions. I honestly don’t know what I’d really been expecting. People always told me to look in the mirror and I’d see who I was. But it wasn’t the right answer for me. It’s why I have a zipper tattooed on the back of my neck. There had to be more to me, I felt it, I believed it. But the truth is there. It is what everyone already knew about me, but me..
99% East Asian.. 1 faceless 4th cousin..
…But now the box has been cracked, and the game is afoot..
Last day in Oxford. Spent the morning in the large and unusually laid out Ashmolean Museum. Couldn’t help myself imagining all the statues coming to life and dancing to some disco song. Alas, it didn’t happen. Perhaps it was too early in the day. After, we found The Eagle and Child pub, where The Inklings used to meet up. Consisting of some of the great authors such as Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. I guess it was a good thing I read that book by Lewis on my way here. The sun finally came out on our last day here and we stole upon an opportunity to climb one of the towers for a view of the city from up high. 127 steps up and I was finally able to see The Radcliff Camera in full. From so high, I was reminded of an episode where a young Morse has his eyes painfully opened to the real world. Hard to imagine, in a city so small and self contained. People go about their business in their own little worlds. Worlds so distant and dreamy you could almost expect a young wizard to come whipping by on a broom. No, the streets are nothing like the crime riddled world of Morse and Lewis. It is a place of prestige and intelligence. It is a place that could easily crush the dreams of the faint of heart. But without all that, I can see why it is a place that inspired the campus of Hogwarts, the lands of Middle Earth, and the world thru the Rabbit Hole. It is a place that opens minds both academically and imaginatively. A place I will remember forever.