Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Green Beans

My friend Wei-Wei was making green beans the other day, and we talked about how green beans are so good, so wholesome, any way you cook them. I hadn't had any in a while, so our conversation inspired me to get some. As I was meal prepping the chicken, potatoes, and green beans, I was struck by a sudden wave of nostalgia in the middle of preparing the beans. It wasn't quite uncomfortable, but I was slightly shaken by the intensity of the feeling. For what only feels like a split second, I am six years old, sitting on a little wooden stool on the backyard deck, the sun on my shoulders and on the worn, musty wood, making everything smell warm. The AC unit is humming behind me, a slight breeze occasionally rustles the leaves on the vine canopy beneath the balcony. I'm with my mom, and we're snapping green beans, pinching off the ends and then snap! snap! snap! breaking the beans down into small, same-sized segments. Sometimes we talk, about school, about summer; sometimes it's silent. When we're done, my mom takes the strainer full of beans inside to cook, and I sprint down three stairs, out the gate with the bell, and look for roly-polies while I wait for the food to be ready. Soon, the fragrant smells of green beans cooked with pork wafts out of the kitchen, and I run back in without being called. A spatula of sticky rice in a bowl, the green beans and pork and all the juices on top, running into the rice, first to shove into my mouth with complete disregard of etiquette, and then to savor. I always ask to leave some for the next day; I still maintain that leftover green beans and pork tastes even better as the flavors have had more time to sink in.

Then it's back to my task. I finish prepping the green beans, and it's time to cook. I don't have pork, so I make a mental note to myself to pick up some bacon the next time I decide to cook green beans. I inexpertly tend to three large skillets, the struggle of trying not to burn anything burying those memories as quickly as they were unearthed. The food turns out okay, but it's a shame I didn't have pork.

Later that night, I remembered it was also the day of my little sister's birthday, and even though I called her, I couldn't think of a single thing to say. I struggled to figure out how old she was, mistaking her birth year for that of my little brother at first. I felt terrible, but sometimes I forget I have a family. It's been over two years since I've lived with them, a tenth of my life. The one thing that is more or less a constant structural support in most people's lives does not exist in my personal landscape. Usually, hearing my parents' voice is a source of anxiety, and is something I happily do without. Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm missing something. But sometimes, there are little moments, like when I'm snapping green beans, that I think about what could have been, what I had before, but not anymore. ◊

No comments:

Post a Comment