little things of beauty

Sunlight casts geometric shadows on the roofs of the housing development below. The youcai flowers have already disappeared, but green, squared fields sit plump and content in the distance.

The blue sky and breeze on the roof takes me back to Gibsons, a town north of Vancouver and by the sea. We sat on their balcony and ate homemade hotpot in the sun, fish and crab straight from the ocean. My (current) favourite Chinese word describes this feeling: shuang 爽。

Hotpot on the balconyMy floors are clean and my laundry dries on the balcony. I have a cup of coffee and a book to read.

The classroom is full of students eager to learn. I’ve taught this lesson before; each time I do it better. They get it, they engage. The look of concentration, the dawn of understanding on the brow of a young face is enough.

Conversations with my coworkers: this is connecting. And talking about the silly things that were said (“don’t worry, you can’t catch my cold, it isn’t one of those contagious kinds. I just went outside and it was a little windy”) to my foreign friends later. We laughed.

Enriching my mind during talks at the Bookworm Literary Festival. Engaging my brain, and thinking for a change. This is intellectual, this is good for me. Why does literature need labels like “Asian-American” or “novella”? What does that matter, let’s just write what we want, and be who we are.

Homemade bread, salmon from IKEA, lettuce and a slice of cheese. You take food for granted and you are killing a part of your soul. Rebirth happens at the first mouthful.

Children smiling, reaching tiny fingers and burbling nonsense words. That boy I always see climbing that small tree. Young lovers holding hands. Old lovers doing their morning calisthenics in unison. Drunk friends holding each other up as they stumble home. My small town.

My grandmother turned 90 yesterday. In the photos of her party she looks serene and elegant, proud and graceful. I couldn’t attend the party but many did, and that love is beautiful.

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