I had a plan for today. A schedule. A whole big "Five-to-Seven-Edit-Marry-The-Moon-Draft" and then a "Seven-to-Eight-Study-Korean" and an "Eight-to-Nine-Work-On-Blog" thing.
But then life happened.
I got frustrated with silly things at home, with parents. My mom told me the results from her doctor's visit (of which the prescription was for her to RELAX, but will she? NOPE PROBABLY NOT. I swear she needs a class on how to put herself first for a change). I responded in typical Lena fashion. I started scolding her.
"Take care of yourself!"
"No you don't!"
"I do too! Now what do you want from the supermarket? Do you think I can wash your sheets? What kind of snack should I have ready? How do you like...?"
Cue Lena leaving the kitchen.
I know that sounds spoiled, but the reality is that she keeps asking to do these chores for me, and I keep asking her NOT to do them. My mom's been extremely stressed as it is, and buying my own groceries last month was like the best thing that ever happened to me anyway. I just suck at communicating with my family. I don't know how to tell my mom that I'm worried about her, that I miss being on my own and my chores give me that sense of independence from when I'd had my own apartment. I don't know how to curb my annoyance when tell her to stop apologizing for not making my bed.
So I started prepping a "How-To-Live-With-The-'Rents-Again" post, mostly for my own sanity, and I was halfway through before I scrapped it.
I was on point number three when I got a phone call though. It was for Saturday ESL lessons in Flushing. Between having my mom ask me for the hundredth time if I wanted a snack (I didn't) and rushing to pick my dad up from the train station, I tried negotiating with this perspective employeer. When I was in the car and off the phone, my father asked me about this upcoming semester--my first semester out of school--and what I was thinking.
Now I don't know what it is---when I'm planning on my own or talking with friends, I'm anxious yet collected--but when my parents ask me about the future (from tomorrow's lunch to five year plans) I feel trapped. So my dad asked me about this upcoming Fall, and suddenly I had trouble forming my thoughts into words, and suddenly I gripped the steering wheel tighter, and suddenly I wanted to revert back into some annoying thirteen year old from when I was in the passenger seat and he was driving.
But I told my dad anyway. I wanted his advice on some immediate job questions, and then I told him about the abroad positions I've been looking at.
He grew quiet.
Finally, he responded with "Can't you look at someplace more...safe?"
I rolled my eyes. (I know. Real mature, Lena.)
When I was back in the office and in front of my computer, my dad came in again to ask how long I was thinking of going abroad. I shrugged and said, "I don't know. Contracts are for one year, and there's always the possibility of extending it. I'd like to think about two years."
He fiddled with his fingers. It was endearing. Made my heart hurt for a second as I stared at his bitten-down nails. He stuttered out something about 'how much travelling can you possibly do?' I pushed through this weird clench in my heart and responded by saying that there's a lot I want to see.
"I just...don't really...want to be..." at home--no, that's a lie " in the USA right now." I sounded like a broken Bluetooth, pausing too long between words.
"I know. And I just want you close to the family." I do too. I love my family. I love my home. I want to be here for you all. I'm sorry I'm so bad at this.
In the middle of tip number seven, dinner was ready and my mom called me down. During dinner, I still struggled with that clench in my heart. I felt like I wanted to cry, but I hate crying in front of my family. Especially recently. So I sucked it up (Literally. I hold my breath to keep tears away). The salad was sour, drenched in vinegar, and my mom made a vegetarian version of gemista for me. My dad prompted questions out of us.
Which is weird.
It used to be the other way around.
"How was work, dad?" I was seventeen.
"Work." Then he'd shove a piece of chicken into his mouth.
"Yeah, but like...what happened at work? Ohh! Did you make friends?"
He'd roll his eyes.
But lately it's my dad trying desperately for small talk. About anything. And that made it incredibly hard for me not to cry. Standing from the table, I made an abrupt move to refill my water glass at the fridge. There was a half-filled pitcher on the table.
I spent five minutes after I'd finished eating trying to make up for my earlier curt responses. We talked about the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight. Turns out my brother and I both correctly bet on Mayweather, and my dad's wrestling background led to some interesting conversation. My mom was trying too, but my brother and I snapped at her. We shouldn't have. I later loaded the dishwasher while she sat on the couch. I went upstairs, said "Love you" in a monotonous voice.
I've been doing that too often. Losing my patience, becoming irritable. Saying "I love you" a little more often because I don't know how to say "I'm sorry."
My parents are trying so hard to help my brother and me, to give us advice as both he and I navigate new adulthood. They're scared, and I'm scared. They're terrified, and I'm terrified.
But my parents are trying--
--why aren't I trying harder?
So I scrapped that stupid post I was writing, "Tips for Living With the 'Rents Again." Yeah you need ground-rules like who takes out the trash and personal space and weekends with the friends or whatever. But your parents are people too. They love you. They're going through their own milestones and struggling and thriving and worrying about you too.
And really, the only thing you need to do is try as hard as they are.
Pedagogy and Reflection
We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience