Sunday, November 04, 2007


We ferried CE to her friend's dorm in USF on Friday night. It was USF's home coming and the parade would wind its way through the campus, passing by in front of her friend's dorm. When I deposited her in front of the dorm just after 7pm, the campus police had already cordoned off the other cross road, and the parade had actually started, to the cheers of the throng of on-lookers filling up the road side pavement.

A round 8.30pm, we heard canon-like noises outside. And when wify opened the window drapes to investigate, the sky was illuminated, momentarily. We rushed out the door, me camera in hand, and bumped into our neighbors who were similarly drawn to the thunderous explosions. There we stood in the car-park of our condo, eyes zoomed to the sky, mouths agape. It was as if we had our own personal pyrotechnic display, the wavy ascent of the projectiles, the brilliance of falling lights in different patterns. For 15 minutes, we stood rooted to the ground, enjoying thoroughly one of the benefits of staying next to a university campus. And I put my camera and my timing of the shooting to work.

Later, CE returned, her hands full with colored beads that were thrown from the parade. And she was going to wear them around her neck for the home-coming football game the next day.

The next day (Saturday), we sent off WJ, on his first solo trans-Pacific flight (solo as in not accompanied by us, relatives, or any known acquaintance). He had stayed with us for close to 6 months, having arrived from Malaysia in mid-May for what started as a two-week sojourn. So this was a home-coming of sort for him, albeit in the opposite direction.

This being his first solo flight, we of course attempted to remind him of things that an air traveler should avoid (no liquid item in carry-on) and always look out for your luggage (always have your carry-on in sight). And he took them all in impassively.

I remember my first trans-Pacific flight, with wify, WJ and CY, more than 20 years ago, when I reported to UC Berkeley as a grad student, a rather green-eyed one I will say. I think it was around the Christmas of 1985, plus and minus a few days. We landed at SFO international airport, seemingly lost in the sea of humanity. Luckily, my brother had arranged for a friend to pick us up and ferry us to Albany, a UCB family housing village.

I forget the details, but I think we checked in with the village office, got the key. And we had dinner around a makeshift table formed from one of our luggage boxes and we slept on the floor (the unit was unfurnished), paved with winter clothing.

The next few days we scouted around The Salvation Army and other used goods stores and gradually stocked up on the furniture and kitchenware. The greatest goof that I made was mistaking a freezer for a fridge, everything in there was frozen the next day, including the milk cartons. We did buy another fridge, but kept the freezer, which came in useful in time, and earned the dubious distinction of owning the largest freezer in the entire village.

Those are great memories, which become even more precious as we age. That reminds me of the last episode of Hero on NBC, when a guy, under interrogation, only gave in after the interrogator threatened to erase his fond memories of his late daughter (well, these heroes can do that as they are endowed with special powers, not unlike the mutants in the X-Men series).

But back to reality, while memories, especially good ones, are great, it's up to us to create those good memories by living at the moment, doing good deeds, helping others, one deed at a time.

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