Thursday, March 10, 2011

Auntie Yae

I only remember Auntie Yae in context to being a child. Even though I have grown up with her and have seen her as an adult, I will forever associate with her as if I were 4 feet tall and still naïve to the world.

I think it is because seeing her is always a treat, a secret wonderfulness, a childish joy. I don’t think I ever visited her when the weather was poor. I always remember her house with a beautiful joy, a perpetually sunny spot in the middle of Berkeley. The color of her garden is always bright green and the sky is always a perfect blue. The deck on the side of her house is always perfectly warm and nice.

While she was only a short 40 minute drive away from me most of my life, I never saw her enough. I was so excited to see her. I always remember jumping out of the car and running to her door. The fifteen seconds it took her to answer the door was always forever. I would squirm at the door with my two sisters, anxiously waiting to greet her with our childish enthusiasm. The best part of that moment was that when she opened the door, she greeted us right back with the same enthusiasm. Her high-pitched voice, a little nasal, but always warm beckoned us into her house.

She would give us loving hugs, surprisingly strong for a woman of her age. And we would enter her house. It was always so dark compared to the bright day outside. But it was comfortable. I don’t think I ever fully explored her house. I just remember the living room and the kitchen. I can still smell her house. It smelled like a secret would smell. Hints of an old culture, mahogany, and dust. It smelled like the best secret in the world. There was always an undercurrent of something that was cooking or had been cooked.

And it was the best secret. I would never walk away with anything less than a handful of candy that she had surreptitiously handed me and my siblings when my parents weren’t looking.

She would always ask me how I was doing, what things I had achieved since I had last seen her. I always remember being as polite as possible around her. My manners never wavered around her, I would answer as if by rote memory, and smile and make eye contact. And she would excitedly look at my parents and ask them if they had just heard what Nicky said. Of course my parents knew what I had done already, and politely elaborated on the story I had just told. And she would enthusiastically reply back, and then slip me a piece of candy.

And we would inevitably leave while the most beautiful sunset lit up her street. Her house would turn a beautiful pink red, she would open her screen door, let us out and give us warm hugs. Something for the road.