Last weekend, I flew home to Boston. I didn't gather up the wife and kiddies, didn't call a bunch of friends in town, didn't make plans to hit all my favorite eateries, didn't do much more than pack a black suit and a toothbrush, really. I flew home to pay respects to my grandfather, who had just passed away.
Grandpa savored life. He loved his family, loved a bloody prime rib, loved riding his bikes, and loved a good bargain. A true weekend yardsale marauder, he was. Where do you think he bought all those assorted bikes? As sad as we were that he was no longer with us, we looked upon this as a chance to spend time together as a solid branch of the family tree that he and my grandma nurtured for over a half a century.
Because it was long overdue.
This picture below? Has never happened in our family history. All five of his grandchildren in one place at the same time. We've always been too busy living our respective lives in Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and who knows where else to let our grandma smell-kiss all our heads and take a picture with her.
By the way, it totally messes with your mind when you find out that the cousin you haven't seen since she was 3 is now an architect (top right).
It's also quite awesome to be able to buy your cousins a round of brews in Harvard Square.
And then take them to check out your freshman dorm, regaling them with tales of... well not much actually. College wasn't all it was cracked up to be. But being on campus after not setting foot on its hallowed grounds for 16 years (stop doing math in your head. I'm just old, ok?) really rocked. As I'm trying to pantomime below.
Being home also meant spending quality time with mom. Here's me going to the pub, while mom waits in the car.
Before you all throw internet rocks at me, I did invite her to come with. This was the night she was shuttling everyone from the airport, and we had 20 minutes to kill before we had to get my sister. She knows I need my Guinness. And she just wanted to rest. We both got what we wanted.
It was also quite amusing to see my old room. Since moving out in 1990, my mom has turned my room into her office. But she kept my posters on the wall, like an embarrasing time capsule.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me talking about what a gigantic fish nerd I am. Well, here's proof:
Freshwater Bass of Norh America, yo. Ladies, control yourselves.
This one actually redeems my hip cred a little bit. A flyer I took from a club when I saw Social Distortion in the early 90's.
I had a Facebook page in 1990. This one had staples in it, and it was really hard to change your profile pic. Otherwise, I totally would have.
Whenever I go home to Boston, I have to bring back one thing: a decent cannoli. This means that I dragged my cousins under the guise of sightseeing to the North End, Boston's version of Little Italy. The North End is beautiful. Here's a thousand words to describe it:
But of course, it's also a tourist attraction, so that means lots of restaurants with TVs... playing every iconic "Italian American" movie ever made, on repeat.
These damn tourists also make it as hard to buy a cannoli as it is to ride Space Mountain. This meant there was no way I was going to subject my cousins to it. This decision was followed by the customary "no cannoli for me" version of that scene from Platoon.
Upon picking up on my subtle despair, my cousin Laurinda said "Wait. You were on a food mission? I didn't realize this was a food mission. I never give up on a food mission! We're going to wait in line!"
We are family. All my crazy cousins and me.
Because you have to be, in order to wait in a line like this for a pastry item.
Well, not exactly "a"... make that a whole stinkin' box of 20!!
We ate well that night. On the sidewalk. And people actually tried to buy some from me. I told them they could have my cannoli when they pried it out of my cold sticky hands.
The next morning, I said goodbye to my house...
And my city...
... and returned home.
Come on kids! We've gone over this. The "Children of Asian parents" contract clearly stipulates Ivy League souvenir clothing items in the Terms and Conditions.
Grandpa, thank you for giving us the strong roots to make all this possible.
In memory of Cheng-Hwa Lin 1916 - 2010