giving thanks, in some way

It came from some Thai place. Neither my mother nor my grandmother were able to place a single ingredient in this year’s Thanksgiving meal. I ate it right out of the styrofoam container it was shipped in, drunken noodles with chicken and shrimp, but at least I used actual silverware and not the plasticware supplied.

This isn’t Thanksgiving how you would imagine it. It’s Thanksgiving alone, in my room, by myself. And while I don’t consider myself a holiday person, it mattered a little to me to be lonely on this one of many occasions. Perhaps a sign of things to come. I always wonder about those older people who do everything alone, but what other outcome could my lifestyle birth? However, I am grateful for this completely different feeling of thanksgiving. Because I am not in a room with family and my favorite food at my disposal, and I am not able to reach out to hug mom or grandma, or Ally. They’re not laughing with us, joking, as they are in the memories I replay. The memories of past thanksgivings with the savory tastes of fleeting flavors.

Time is unforgiving, but the beauty is that we have those experiences to draw on at least as a template. Because maybe we can have a Thanksgiving that includes all of those things if we begin to prioritize them.

This isn’t normal. The distance, right now. But it gives a view of all that I’ve missed. I think myself back to the playground where I played basketball with my cousins and uncle. They were older and much much better. I couldn’t dribble very well at the time, and I would freeze when others came to trap me and steal the ball. But the prospect of making one shit kept me in the game, and it was something I always looked forward to. Despite being an introvert, I could be very social on the basketball court. But then one day it stopped. Nobody knows exactly how. We didn’t agree that it would be our last game together, but suddenly people became busy. It wasn’t long until weeks and months passed where we didn’t see each other at all, and that’s when you realize that growing older sometimes means growing apart. Whenever we saw each other, we planned to go shoot around and hoop again. We made promises we wouldn’t keep, and that’s just how that goes.

Maybe one day we can shoot the ball around. I think that would be cool. Nevertheless, I am grateful for having had the chance to grow up around my cousins and learn the game I grew to love.

Life is long. At least it seems that way, and I believe that one-day things will fall into place. Today, Jeffrey told me his friend Neha runs a 5K every year around Thanksgiving with her dad. That’s a tradition I would like to mirror with my own child if I could. And I don’t know, but maybe the future won’t look exactly how I thought it out to be. Maybe a few little details will be changed around. But I think we should have family unity regardless of the other things.

When my mom arrived here, in this country, she probably felt the same way I do now. I try to remember that when things get hard. That she was completely removed from her home, her friends, familiar faces, and she had to adapt to a new language, new customs, new people. And who to trust? Who to invest time in? That brings me to the concept of friendship. There aren’t many friends like the ones you make while growing up. The ones who see you as you are, not for what you have, for what you think, for what you show. For me, that’s Jeffrey, Jojo, and Nelson. I’m grateful for those guys. But when I look at my mom, grandma, they don’t have many friends. They’ve struggled with that, opting for isolation and the comfort of the homes and faithfully committing to servicing family above the community.

So that’s another thing that would be nice. To be a part of a community, and if not find it, build it. Make connections around similar, positive interests. Share experiences with others. Plan trips, even small ones, to a town or two over.

There is probably no other person who means more to me than my cousin Allyson. She is my favorite person, and I am grateful for her too. I can’t imagine the loneliness she may feel at times, but I am also proud of her strength, her curiosity, and her care as a person. I hope I can be of service to her in my lifetime. I hope I can provide a certain kind of hope and direction, and that she may learn the good things I may be able to teach.

Loneliness is temporary although it sometimes seems everlasting. On days like this, I realize how much of a privilege it is to sit together with family and enjoy a warm meal. But until then, I have to keep reading, keep writing, keep mastering my mind and my body.

Happy thanksgiving.

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