Just the weekend after our trip to Southern California, I found myself back at the airport. This time, I was heading in the other direction. My littlest brother, Noah, was starring in an off-off Broadway production of Shrek, Jr for his middle school. Even if it meant the missed study sessions in the library due to back-to-back weekend getaways and a strained wallet, I wanted to be sure I was in the front row for his debut performance. It was exciting, too, for my mother and I to be able to plan for our upcoming whirlwind Europe trip together in person, for me to turn off my phone and sit down to just play with my cat, and to enjoy some home-cooked meals after getting dinner in the dining halls one too many times.
Before the show, our extended family gathered around some squished-together tables at our local Chinese restaurant for a rare evening out. We argued over which dishes to order and who would drive in which car, just as we always do, but it was nice to look around the table and see my family surrounding me. Not everyone is so lucky to have their family so close to home, so full of love and support for one another. My cousins, grandparents, and parent’s siblings are all just a short drive away, and I am fortune enough to see each of them on my brief trips home.
Many of my family members had seen the opening show the night before, but they refused to answer my most burning question about Noah’s performance – did he kiss Fiona? Noah was only thirteen years old, and the female lead was a full grade above him, an 8th grader, so I could only imagine the youthful drama that had gone on at rehearsal. Of course, he didn’t. But he did give an excellent, stirring portrayal of a surly teenage ogre displaced from his swamp. It was possibly because he simply embodied the same attitude he gave my parents and I when we evicted him from the computer room after a long day of video games.
The day following the show, Noah and I celebrated by going out to the mountain biking trails just down the road from our house. We attempted an intermediate blue square trail for the first time. It was narrow and bumpy and thrilling and steep. We survived, but I wouldn’t say we thrived. Likely, we’ll be spending the next few trips going through Bootcamp, the introductory course, before we attempt it again. But completing the trail helped me share the sense of accomplishment Noah must have gained from his hard work in the school play that weekend. It’ll be a while before I have the opportunity to go home again, but I’m glad I was able to make those memories while I can, particularly in light of my impending long-term separation. Just three months left before I leave.