When the sun rose on Thanksgiving morning, I inhaled a deep breath.
It was a holiday like never before.
As a family with a baby and toddler, no relatives nearby, no help with childcare, and both of us as healthcare workers, we had been running on empty since March. How our chests ached, yearned to see our family! But we chose not to travel, and told our family not to visit us, for everyone’s safety during the pandemic.
“Did you eat today?” In Asian culture, asking did you eat yet is another way of asking how are you?
He tossed his dirty scrubs in the hamper. It was part of our decontamination routine. “For once, I actually ate. I had a short moment to run to thecaf.”
I grinned. “Remember at our old hospital, how we would get pizza in the caf before I worked a night shift, and before you went home from your day shift?”
“Those were good memories,” he smiled, like it had been a past lifetime, pre-covid era.
I remembered the sounds of plates and chatter, and I envisioned the people buzzing to and from the cafeteria.
Then I remembered walking those long basement hallways and turning a corner. My brows narrowed and my grin faded.
~ ~ ~
Suddenly I was transported back in time, and I felt this heavy weight upon my shoulders. It was a crushing pressure that drained every last ounce of my strength, after all my energy had already been emptied from working so hard to NOT go there. Pushing the stretcher up the hall was the most impossible task, like pushing towards Mount Everest.
“I threatened to walk out unless they gave me a real mask… it’s a tourniquet stapled to the mask. I barely pulled and the staples tore away.”
“That’s totally unacceptable!” My jaw dropped open, reading the text from my former classmate, the maternity nurse. “Did you get a real mask?!?” Anger filled my throat; I swallowed it to try to calm down. My breakfast sat on the table untouched. Continue reading →
Thump, thump! Staccato steps hurried down the hall.
“She is wearing a mask,” my coworker whispered. Seeing the patient in the hallway, she ducked into our office to distance herself.
In the setting of a pandemic, I thought it’d be normal to see people wearing masks.
But I understood. We were all a little scared.
~ ~ ~
Forks dropped against porcelain plates in the sink, as my husband washed dishes at home. “What if one of us gets sick? Who will care for our kids?” He worked in the hospital, and they were preparing for the worst. Continue reading →
My husband’s theory is that people love certain foods because of nostalgia; when they eat a particular food, it brings back happy or fond memories. For example, he and my sis in law reminisce about Black Forest Cake, but not just any Black Forest cake, but Black Forest Cake purchased from Sam’s Club. “Whenever we had a birthday, that’s where our family got our cake, and it always stood out to me as the best. That is my cake standard.”
I don’t have that kind of history with ramen; I tried my first bowl of “authentic” Japanese ramen after I graduated from college, married, moved to a new city. Honestly, the first time I tried it, I wasn’t even that impressed.
Gradually, my tastes began to change. The meaty but creamy broth, the chewy noodles, the half boiled egg… ramen had become one of the foods I always crave.