I grew up in Northeast Ohio, the lushest part of the state. When my East Coast friends arrived in my hometown for my wedding, they were stunned by the green rolling hills, the river running through the town, the New England architecture, the horse farms. It is a beautiful corner of the state, a forgotten gem.
My family and I stood out, being biracial and multicultural. My mother, born in LA and raised in New York. My dad, originally from Malaysia with Keralan roots. As a child, I felt safest in our home and yard, being with my family. At the time, I felt out of place. Now, I like the image of the four of us, transplanted there in the green landscape – in it but not of it.
In my early years, we lived in a rural-suburban community. To get to our house from the nearest town, we drove past countless dairy farms. We had sheriffs, not police officers. The closest intersection had a bar, a convenience store, a cemetery, and the township’s ‘museum.’ We only spent a few years there, out of the way, but those childhood memories are still vivid. Each is permeated by visceral impressions of the seasons.
Crisp fall air: a mix of drying leaves, woodsmoke, and apple cider. Icy snow crunching beneath my boots. The balmy summer heat and the cool freedom of pool water.
In springtime, though, I always felt a sense of anticipation. Soon, we knew, life would burst forth, turning bareness to fullness, turning everything brown, green, flooding the forests and streams with new life. As the temperatures inched higher, we felt freer, at home again in the world.
As I chopped onions last night, memories of the spring in Ohio washed over me. I remembered, playing in a patch of woods in front of our house. I loved being between those trees, finding daffodils, bluebells, and green onions, making houses out of sticks, logs, and leaves.
I felt so homesick, in that moment. I missed my family. Even though my brother lives eight minutes from our house in LA, we haven’t seen him this week. I felt homesick for a world that existed with a predictable thrum two weeks ago, a world that now feels perhaps permanently threatened.
Today is the first day of spring. In LA, the landscape looks the same as it did two weeks ago, as it did two months ago. Looking out our bedroom window at sunset, I stared at the row of shops one block from our house. They are closed now, but I sat there remembering the lunch my brother and I had there a few weeks ago with our mom. I sat there remembering how we walked on the sidewalk and how I’d showed her the new coffee shop I loved and how I’d taken her around our new home and she’d said, “Wow, Sarah! This is amazing!” And how much that meant to me.
My family is my home. They will always be the most important people to me. Their voices and presence will always be most important to me. It makes sense to feel sadness, heartbreak, and fear, even though spring – the time in the calendar year for new life – begins today.
Some days, we don’t have to anticipate anything. Some days, we just have to dwell in the present and call our moms.
Sending love to all.