My mother used to call her home, a place further than the universe. 7,765 miles away, over the dark blue ocean, was where she grew up. The reasons why my mother loved that place was not just its scenery, its sky, but the time she spent there growing up. Even though I now live in America, embracing the American dream I had always wonder how her life was back in china. My mother always told stories about her childhood; however, those stories always seemed so different compared to mine. Even though I have a tight connection to my mother, I have always felt there was something about her I didn’t know. Perhaps it was her life before coming to America, or maybe who she was as a person. Her past was something I didn’t know too much about. I couldn’t find much information on it, other than it was 7,765 miles away. I have always wondered how life for her as a child compare to mine. Along with how and where the traditions and culture we have right in our household came to be. I knew they didn’t appear out of thin air. So, I journeyed there with my mother to learn more about my mother’s past, and to see the place with my own eyes. To see how different, or similar we are, to see a new world.
An adventure into a new world.
The sun was at its highest and sweat trickled down my forehead. It was way too hot. My legs were going numb, my back ached, all the while waiting for the bus. I never figured out how people could live in such scorching weather. I got tired and sat on the ground. I didn’t get to sit for that long, as the bus soon pulled up and stopped with a jerk. It’s engine letting out a deep sigh. The crisp air circulating throughout the bus hit me as I entered. Ahh, I was finally able to escape the scorching heat. I sat there in a daze you wouldn’t believe how fast you get worn out standing in the hot sun. I stared outward as the world flew past me. I couldn’t believe how different my mother’s home city was. I felt like I was going back into the past. But time kept moving on, unchanging. The sun was still glowing brightly, as we soon headed deep into the countryside, it’s light blinding me as I tried reading a sign far in the distance. I was energetic. As seeing new things was something I enjoyed. As the bus cruised down the twisting road, trees, farm animals, and patches of rice started to appear. I loved it here. Everything was so new and pleasing to see. But I did start to miss IL, nothing here reminded me of my home. As we continued down the road, the patches for rice started to stretch in every direction. Oh, how exciting this was. The houses in the distance had an old fashion look, something you would see in a history book. Even the tools that were lying around seemed centuries old. As the bus slowed down again, we got our stuff and headed out. It was back into the hot humid air. The engine sighed again for the last time before heading down the dirt road.
I couldn’t believe I was at my mother’s village. Standing outside the gate peering into the village, I felt a deeper connection to my mother. It was the place where my mother grew up. As I looked around there weren’t much to see: an old shack that was falling apart, a school and, the old fashion gate that leads into my mother’s village. The sun was still beating down, as we walked into the village passing under the gate. Damn, I missed the air-condition. It was way too stuffy. But walking around the place, I felt like I was entering a fantasy world. As I looked around me, nothing felt real to me. I couldn’t believe how different the place was from my imagination. The buildings around me were old-fashioned, yet charming at the same time. The scenery was one of a kind, something you would see in a sci-fi/fantasy film. The pretty design of each building influenced by the culture of this place.
We continue to follow the beaten path, coming upon a group of houses. As we weaved in and out of the streets, we came up to an old looking house. “Home sweet home,” my mother said quietly to herself. As I looked at the house, I couldn’t believe how different her home looked compared to mine. The green roof tiles which had lost its color after multiple battles with nature. Plants, trees, and vines covered the walls and fence. The outside walls of the house carved with Chinese art/culture. Its unique design that only an early Chinese home would have. As I headed on inside, my mother already had her stuff on a chair, turning on each of the fans that we had. It was still hot, I was in a pool of sweat. The inside of the house was different alright. The ground was covered in beautiful tiles, yet the furnaces seemed as old as the house, from the table to the chairs. I headed up to the second floor where my mother was setting up for the night. The uneven stairs made me walk up each step carefully. It was a long way up. I walked through each room, each having its own unique feel, its history untouched for decades. I was in awe as I went from room to room. There were so many things I have never seen before, from clothes, toys, and books. As I headed towards the main bedroom, the huge windows leaked the beautiful scenery that was outside. The huge hill in the distance covered with trees, the river that ran through the village, a stone bridge with an old rusty bike on it, and the field of flower, trees, and grass in the distance. The sun was already gone by the time we unpacked. It was still hot, but as the sun disappears, natures music’s came out to play. The sound of crickets and cicadas filled my ears, as I laid on the ground.
I looked up with into the dark room thinking about how similar yet different I was to my mother. As she left so much in the past, many stories/tales I have never heard of. Yet on the other hand there were many stories she told me about her childhood and how her life here was so different than is in the United States. That many of our family tradition and the style of food came from this household. This journey I had with my mother was something I wasn’t going to forget, as I slowly dozed off into my dream world.?
An adventure back home.
It was strange, being back home after so long. I love my hometown. It’s warm, crowded, and pretty. I still remembered everything even after I left this place. But I felt sad. Being away so long, I soon realize that many things have changed. The old bus stop was moved. The guy that sold noodles was gone. It wasn’t the same anymore. I felt distanced, yet I still felt connected here. I was excited to go back home, but the bus wasn’t here yet. I could hardly sustain the crowd of feelings that crowded into my mind. At first I wished to hurry on, for I longed to see my home; but when I drew near my village, it all became a blur. My son shook me from my trance as the bus pulled up. I slowly walked up the stairs and headed towards the back. I placed my bags down and stared out the window as the bus started up and headed down the road getting closer to the village. I still couldn’t believe how similar yet different this place was. It was as if time was waiting for me to come home. Everything looked the same, the old shop that sold the sweetest candy was still there, the field that had the battered bike, the golden wildflowers that sprouted near an old house in the distance. Oh, how I missed the good old days. Memories of the past came rushing back to me, I was. It was obvious that the gaping hole I left on departure hasn’t fully healed, but I could feel that void filling back up.
The journey to my village flew by. It was like an instance. I couldn’t wait to see how much the place changed. As I walked through the gate, nothing seemed different. The academy I went to, decades ago, was still the same. Maybe my eyes were getting old, but I couldn’t see what changed in the village. As I walked over the bridge that led into the center of the village, I remember that my friends and I would fish, catch frogs, and spend the whole day there. We didn’t have phones or computer just our imagination. I remembered, spending all my days outside playing with my friends or picking fruits off trees. Everything here was so different from IL. I couldn’t believe that these two worlds are so close together. On top of this bridge, I could almost see everything. The Hill in the far distance where people buried the dead. I have to say its scary walking near that hill. Sometimes as a kid I would see a bone or two would stick out. But the thing that scared me the most was the creepy decoration they put up to honor the dead. I even heard tales where the hill caught on fire randomly. Who knows, maybe it was a ghost, maybe it was a monster. Along with the hill, I caught a glimpse of the park where my friend and I would never go near. It wasn’t a fun place. Criminal got shot there, so I tend to stay away. Next to the park, I saw the field of flower that would blossom every summer. I would never forget the time I first saw it as a kid. It was wondrous. From the bridge, I could almost see everything, except my home.
Leaving the bridge, I continue walking towards my old home. I walk down the cement-paved track covered in weeds and grass getting closer to my home and my heart both sinks and rises all at once. I passed through scenes familiar to my youth, but which I had not seen for nearly 17 years. My heart aches as the place I used to run and play, weren’t the same anymore. Yet coming back to the place where I grew, I felt so safe. It was a place of more love and warmth than anywhere else in my life. It was a wonderful site to see when the house came into view. The green paint had faded since I had last seen it, but I still recognized it. The tree next to the house where I use to climb it with my brother was still standing. Even the watering-can was still there. As I enter the house, I set my stuff down. It felt like I was in a dream as I soon remembered the good times I had in this house. From playing hide and seek with my friends, listening to stories about ghost and monster, to picking fruits. Every memory big or small came rushing back to me. I could see my younger self, running around with a big smile on her face, as I crossed path with my past.