When people ask me what I did over spring break, what do I say?
I don’t do any very “exciting” things: I just go home for a week, don’t venture out of the house much, do “work” at a more relaxed place, brainstorm on tangents that I don’t have time to follow during the semester. I talk to Mom about random things, and she walks around the house like she always does and spouts off little stories about her and Dad: regarding her former collection of hairbands in all the colors of the rainbow Dad said, “How many heads do you have?”; she likes to keep the house clean, to the extent that Uncle said “you can put on a white glove and brush the floor and it’ll still be white” (a bit of an exaggeration); how they would plan vacation and Dad would just want to go one place but Mom would try to connect it up with various other points of interest until it becomes a “tour of the US;” how they used to go to book fairs and buying books was more exciting than the books themselves; etc. and it’s remarkable how much they’ve really changed each other.
Admittedly, I don’t think of family very much at school. I have to finish a story for 21W.757 Fiction Workshop this week (as well as Ilona Karmel!) and I was quite stuck for the first half of break, but after some of Mom’s stories I’ve started writing a story about family–a theme I don’t write on very often.
Saturday night before my flight back Mom was helping me pack my bag, and noticed that my left strap was coming detached. As she mends she says to me, she felt like that mom in the Chinese poem, 臨行密密縫, do I remember the rest? I remembered the next line, 意恐遲遲歸, and that was it, I’d forgotten the rest though I’d memorized it for Chinese class long ago. Mom still remembers almost all the poems from elementary school. Anyway, here’s the whole poem, which I now remember, with (my imperfect) translation:
遊子吟 (Song of the wanderer)
慈母手中綫，(The thread in the hands of a loving mother)
遊子身上衣。(becomes the clothes on the traveler’s body.)
臨行密密縫，(Before his departure she sews very carefully,)
意恐遲遲歸。(afraid that he will be delayed in returning.)
誰言寸草心，(Who says that an inch-high grass heart)
報得三春暉？(can repay the light of the spring sun?)
How can we hope to repay a mother’s love for us?
This spring break I “just” went home to see mom, and it was an awesome spring break.