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January 23, 2014
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The flight to LA took us 13 hours. I remember crying my 5-year-old self to sleep on the plane. Ma told me it would be fine, and that “Sweetheart, we will be home soon.” So I held on to the blanket, eyes shut tight and fell fast asleep, hoping the hours would pass faster, the plane would land sooner, we would be from home closer.

It had been the longest journey away from home, both in Hong Kong and Los Angeles. It was 13 hours away from my cozy bedroom, 13 hours away from my toy dog Shadow, 13 hours away from the little daisies Grandma planted on our balcony. The flight from home to home, in Hong Kong and LA, was the consecutive times of my humming to the Alphabets Song, numerous counting of fat Suzy the lamb.
And trust me, I'd swear as my 5-year-old self that I would never have to go through it again. I would never want to ever leave home.

I spent the early years of my childhood in LA. We'd go back from Hong Kong every now and then when the seasons changed. The Summertimes spent in LA were the best moments of my life. Family roadtrips in trailers, barbecue parties in the neighborhood; when I got older, I began going camping with friends. We would follow our camping captains to climb rocks, hike mountains, swim in lakes. I had learned to build a tent on my own when I was elevin. LA was home. So was the time spent there.

Somewhere between the countless 13 hours of flying back and forth from LA to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to LA, we stopped. Big girls gotta learn. Big girls gotta settle. It was what they told me. There hadn't been any campings then. Neither trailer roadtrips, nor barbecue parties. It was just Hong Kong. Well perhaps not just Hong Kong, maybe a little bit more - it was just schooling in Hong Kong. LA? Poof. Gone.

I used to think that the 13-hour flight was the longest way from home, until my sister and I went back to LA with two large suitcases - on our own. Our childhood best friend, Britney, picked us up from the airport. I watched her from a distance. The ginger who used to have crooked teeth, messy hair and wore a pair of geeky glasses, now gorgeously waving back at us: wavy red hair in the wind, bright smile that read “CAUTION: HOT STUFF” and the pair of Ray-Ban shades that replaced those thick lame specs. Damn, these four years had grown this girl so well.

The ride back to our place felt so surreal. Four years. In just four years, the trees had grown so big. We didn't even have to worry about finding somewhere to piss because Wendy's could be found every three blocks we drove by. Nothing had been the same ever since we'd left. “Isn't it amazing how things can change so much in just four years?” Britney must have noticed my admiring glance at the new face of LA. Well, what can I say? Things never stay the same. Nothing is ever constant except change. Change is the only thing that is constant.

“Yanda changed the locks,” Britney said, as I took out the old keys from my pocket. Our Godmother had been living in our house since we left. She was the kindest and wisest among whom I had met in the sixteen years of my life. I wondered how much she had changed while we were away for four years.

Yanda answered for the door when she heard us press the bell. I was in tears the moment I saw her. Different was all I could sum her up, despite it wasn't such a huge change, wrinkles around her smile and a few white hairs sold her out. Yanda looked older, more tired; but as cheerful as she used to be.

The feelings hadn't got to me until I went up the staircase to my cozy bedroom. I switched on the lights and there I was, standing just right at the door of my bedroom - same wallpaper, same wardrobe, same posters, same stuffed toys on my bed. It hit me hard when I saw it same as how it had been the day we left. The lump in my throat wouldn't go away, my legs wouldn't move. Figure out this feeling, Demi. I told myself. Homesick. I felt homesick. It felt like homesick but I knew it was not.

It took me so much courage to step into my room. Shadow, my stuffed toy dog, lay comfortably next to my tiny pillow on this tiny bed. I remember cuddling it tightly in my arms when I was afraid of the dark. Now fitting my grown ass into this bed had become the real problem.

This room was full of memories. Memories that I was deeply attached to. Memories that read all the untold stories of my childhood. Memories of all the unsaid things that should have been said but never had the courage to. It was me - this cozy bedroom was my story. The mirror on my drawer was still firmly placed at its position, never moved, never changed. Not a single thing in my bedroom had changed, except one thing. I stared into the mirror at the silhouette from a distance with misty eyes. Change is the only thing that is constant. Everything stayed the same but nothing was ever the same. The bed, it was not made for me anymore. Shadow didn't have to fight with me against the dark anymore.

Nostalgia is a feeling. Memories are only stories. They aren't home.

Home - it is constant but it is change. It is a ridiculous paradox but it makes perfect sense. Home is not a choice. It is wherever I grow up in. Home is constantly changing and it's okay, there's no need to feel wrong. Everyone's got to move somehow.

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