Chinese New Year

Celebration of the Year of the Horse officially ended on the day of the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year. 15 days of feasting, drinking, covering various corners of Shanghai to visit relatives close and distant, at the end of which my holiday spirit was nowhere to be found and I was more than glad to face the rest of the year with quiet acceptance.

Right in the middle of all the busing, taxing around, tired of having to choose between entertaining guests that are not mine and hiding out in my sister’s room, I left the house to have lunch with a girl friend.

The Korean restaurant we had originally planned on visiting was closed for Chinese New Year so we went to get dim sum instead. I’d hardly warmed my seat when she asked me how my trip to Vietnam was.

“Great,” I responded. “I want to learn Vietnamese this year.”
“Do you have a boyfriend in Vietnam? Is that why you go back every year?”
“If I had a boyfriend in Vietnam, would I only visit once a year?”

How could I explain to her why I loved Vietnam? That if Europe stayed in the past and China focused on the future, as friends have postulated, then Vietnam was the present. That for someone whose thoughts are occupied by nostalgia and worry, the present is like waking up from a long nap, pulling aside the curtains, finding the world outside covered in snow and seeing it anew.

My girl friend stared at me for a minute and suddenly chuckled.

“What is it?” I asked.
“I was just thinking about how unpredictable life can be.”

Another pause in the conversation as I sipped my tea and stared out the window.



I didn’t realize the week leading up to Chinese New Year would be so hard.  I was not prepared for this.  I knew the day of, next Monday, might be tough, having to go to work and all. But I figured work would keep me busy.  This week though is killing me and it’s only Tuesday.

Why am I not going to SoCal this weekend for Chinese New Year? That would’ve been the smart thing to do.

J. Shih called earlier to let me know he’s flying out to Taiwan tonight to see his mom.  Chris is driving down to Irvine this weekend.  Even Joy, who I randomly bumped into yesterday, is going to L.A.  to visit her mom and sister.  I’m surrounded by friends who want to share their excitement for the upcoming holiday with me; I feel like the beggar outside of a restaurant watching the patrons eat through the window.

This is such a lack of foresight on my part.  I forgot how difficult Chinese New Year is for me because last year I spent it in Shanghai with my dad, my grandparents, my cousins.

It doesn’t help that I’m still sick.  I’ve made up my mind to not take any sick days this year but this flu is really kicking my ass.  I’ve been sick for a month straight now and I’m at the end of my patience.

If I put on my red shoes and knock the heels together three times, will that take me home?