Gecko on the Curtains, Li Hing, Fried Rice, Shoyu Poke @ Costco, and Xi Mui Soda

Gecko on the window curtains

It feels good to be back home, but a bit foreign and weird at the same time. I’ve lived in Manhattan for less than a year but it frightens me how quickly the city changes a person. Both a little for the good and a little for the worse. I always categorized my time during college as time away from home. Three months in school followed by a month winter vacation home in Hawai’i, then five months school, and a three month summer back home. Hawai’i was home base. No matter where I went, I needed to go home to recharge. And every time I went home it felt so incredibly good. A type of good that encompassed both the want and need to return home. It was an emotion which coupled excitement with satisfaction of filling an inherent need. Each visit was wonderful, and then never failed to hurt when vacation was over and I had to return to school. The plane rides to Hawai’i were exciting, and those back to college were depressing.

It was a little different this time around. On Thursday’s flight to Hawai’i, while happily anticipating the trip home, I found myself eagerly looking forward to coming back to NYC. It threw me off terribly and I did not know what to make of it.

Duane the Pig, our new family member

It still feels good now. Just a different kind of good. Perhaps I’ve been away for too long. I caught myself in a slip the other day. My roommate Shann and I were talking about our flight schedules.

“What day you come home?” she asked.

“June 2”

“What? Wait. Oh no, I mean hooome.”

“That is when I…oh! Ack. Home. Like Hawai’i home.”

“Uhhh…yeah.”

“Ahhhh”

That was the first time I’ve called a place that was not Hawai’i, home. A sharp pang hit my stomach the second I realized what I said. It felt like I betrayed someone or something.

Shoyu Poke @ Costco, Saturday Morning

The other day I was talking with someone about the notion of home. That someone was born and raised on the other side of the country but has lived in the city for nearly a decade. He calls NYC home. I think that’s fair. It made me wonder if I could do the same, I mean, same in the way that I could say that with confidence and not feel that sharp pang and simultaneous brain fuck that goes, how dare you so quickly change teams! Time will tell, I suppose.

But lets get on with the day, shall we?

I’m still somewhat under the weather with the strange cough/cold that’s been going around, (thank god for good health insurance :), so I’ve been hibernating the last few days, getting better, and only venturing for family dinners. I made li hing mui apples for breakfast the other day. Though I suppose ‘made’ is the wrong word, seeing as it takes only apples + li hing mui, and about 60 seconds worth of effort. Refreshingly delicious nonetheless, the tart pucker of li hing offsetting the crisp apples. These get gobbled down quick, no matter the time of day, and the only evidence ever left are red fingerprint stains. People on the mainland are really missing out some goodness, huh? I wish someone would open up a massive local food store in NYC and introduce local food to the rest of the world. I’d be there everyday.

Have you had Xi Mui Soda before? It helps a great deal with scratchy throat, though I drink it all the time, scratchy throat or not. My dad keeps this giant, seemingly endless, jar of preserved xi mui in the kitchen cabinet. Pop open a can of 7-Up, drop the xi mui in, pick apart the plum with chopsticks, and drink up. Sometimes I add li hing mui powder when I’m in the mood. But when I’m not feeling well, then I simply replace the 7-Up with club soda and squeezed limes.

For lunch, Dad brought back fried rice from the Mini Garden down on Beretania Street. Finally! Real fried rice!! I sat in the family room, ate the fried rice crossed legged, shorts & t-shirt, while reading the Friday Honolulu Advertiser. It felt so very real. On that note, I’m also trying to get accustomed to having so much space. It just occurred to me when I went to sleep that first night back that my bedroom was bigger than my entire apartment in NYC. Now how ridiculous is that?

Mini Garden

2065 S. Beretania Street

Honolulu, Hawaii 96826

(808) 946-3828

13 Comments
  • anonymous
    May 25, 2008

    I know how you feel. My business and “main” residence is in IL and quite often I confuse the reference to home.But since I was very young I cried every time I left the islands (still think about it)and since home is where the heart is then I guess that for me Hawaii will always be home.Glad to see local kine posts again!Feel Better!Alan from Makiki

  • anonymous
    May 25, 2008

    Hi Kathy,I hope you get to rest up and enjoy lots of food while you’re back here. :)

  • Kathy YL Chan
    May 25, 2008

    Hey Alan!The definition of ‘home’ was pretty clear while I was still in school, but now that I’ve finally found another place where I can truly enjoy myself, the whole notion of ‘home’ becomes a mass of confusion…thanks for sharing your story, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who finds the idea of ‘home’ confusing! ^_^Hey Lori!Thanks for the comment ^_^…enjoying the food is top of my agenda! :)

  • SicklyBug & Cassaendra
    May 25, 2008

    Hi Kathy!Wow, Duane is big! lolIt took me several years to define home as Cleveland, mainly because I hadn’t developed any real emotional attachment to the place. My days are numbered here and I’ll be moving back to Hawaii. Without realizing when I started, I’ve caught myself calling Hawaii “home” again. I don’t miss the geckos and the flying hordes of cockroaches and termites, but I do miss a lot of other things. =)Get well soon! – Cassaendra

  • K & S
    May 25, 2008

    we used to pick a lemon off the tree and stick a li hing mui in there and suck the juices out of the lemon :) can’t wait to see what other foodie adventures you have at home home :)

  • shann
    May 25, 2008

    you know what, when we were talking i actually remember very specifically that point in the conversation and i went “oh, for kathy home means ny now?” or something like that in my brain, it tripped me up too, and i was kind of sad. maybe you can just call it dual stateship hahaha.hope you’re better so you can go out and play!

  • anonymous
    May 25, 2008

    I can relate. Hawaii is no longer “home,” and the first time that happened I felt rudderless. We always look forward to going back, which we will be doing in 2 weeks! Woo-hoo1

  • anonymous
    May 25, 2008

    One can have more than one home, yes? That’s kind of nice when you think about it. But perhaps there are different homes for different selves or something weird like that. Anyways! Hope you enjoy your time in Hawaii!! My parents used to live there for a bit. Before they had me. I have never been. Boo!

  • rowena
    May 26, 2008

    Despite the perks of living in Italy (for the edibles of course!), Hawaii is still home, even after nearly 5 years here. Can’t wait to get back home in September!

  • Kathy YL Chan
    May 26, 2008

    Hey Lori!Thanks for the sweet wishes! ^_^Hey Cassaendra!Duane is pretty huge for a guinea pig, hahahaha. He’s nearly the size of my dog, Buddy! You must be so excited to move back home…geckos or not! hehe ;)Hey Kat!Oooo, that sounds really cool – I’ve never heard it done before. Might have to give it a try! :)Shann!ok, dual stateship it is – it does sound pretty official, yah? ;)Hey Madam Chow!Two weeks?! Aw man, we just missed each other! Have a good time back!Hey Janet!”Home for different selves”…I like that, a lot! :)Hey Rowena!Wow, five years must have passed quick! Enjoy the trip hoomme ^_^

  • anonymous
    May 27, 2008

    Damn, that must be a huge bedroom you have! And I had to look up what li hing mui was… how does it taste and does it go well with most fruits or just apple?

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