6 min read

Moments, moments, moments

Moments, moments, moments

For 6 weeks I was home. Home, as in Florida, spending quality time with my family.

In July I tore my ACL in a intramural basketball game. The details aren’t quite important, but I’ll give the run down. Down by one. Foul. Hard right step. Ouch. On floor. Ouchhh. Subbed out. Lost game. Emergency room.

A few weeks later, I learn that I tore my ACL, MCL, and lateral meniscus. The pain was manageable, but the tremor the injury presented to me was unique. Normal life things like showering was difficult - I had to sit at the edge of my tub, swing my left leg in, and carefully guide my right leg with my hands. What was most frustrating was that many of the things I loved were put on hold. Years of watching the NBA taught me that I would be out of sports for several months, so no rock climbing, no running, and certainly no basketball.

With much deliberation, I decided to go home for my knee surgery and the first month of rehab- and upon reflection, I’m incredibly happy I did.

In Evan Puschack’s essay I Think the Internet Wants to be my Mind, he write’s about how the internet often robs people from thinking critically and reflecting on experiences. Between experiences, we “should have a break to let [our] mind wander, to examine [our] responses, to write [our] thoughts down, to discuss them with others”. It’s these rest beats, these moments between the cacophony of life that makes a passive experience both active and fulfilling.

Puschack says, “the internet isn’t interested in those gaps, those moments of reflection or conversation”.

While I wholly believe this, I’m not here to write about the internet or social media (again). I’m more interested in the concept of life’s moments between moments. Puschack describes moments as small robbed seconds between phone swipes or minutes after two hours at a theatre. But why should moments be confined by meager amounts of time? Moments can be spontaneous laughs with friends. Morning coffee. Nighttime walks with significant others. Childhood stories with family.

The internet may not be interested in those gaps, but can I say, that if unencumbered, I am? Do I live for experiences and let the moments slip by? Or do I take in all moments, regardless of size or apparent importance, and reflect?

In the strange way that misfortunes precipitate growth, coming home to Orlando reminded me to take in the moments, especially the ones with my parents.

What’s becoming increasingly apparent is that moments are finite. A painful fact is that the majority of dinners shared with my family have already been enjoyed. For a week, we were a full house—what was once previously routine, now a occasion granted by a few weekends and holidays a year.

So, although unfortunate, the injury granted me moments with my family that only arise in spontaneity when we’re face to face. With my mother, that occurred during brunch.

To Mom:

On a Sunday morning, my mother and I went to brunch. Fully caffeinated, and stuffed with eggs benedict and tacos, we unwound her many many identities. A daughter, a wife, a mother, a woman. I’ve pieced together my mother’s timeline over the years, but there will always remains gaps either lost in time or hidden within her mind. This Sunday, however, she shares a new gap, not one of event or story, but of emotion. She shares the conflict of being both a mother and a daughter.

For the years my grandparents lived in America, only a few select events seep the boundary of my adolescent memory. I recall my grandparents visiting the furniture store my parents ran for a few years. I remember solitaire with my grandma. I remember egg yolk tasting like hints of soap (I wonder if my sister remembers this too). But, I have little recollection of much else, like how a Saturday morning was spent or how trips to the park went. My mother however, remembers this.

She remembers a lively full house, yes, but also, one of familial tension. During those years my mother held all identities, and with them came their own set of questions and conflicts. How do I raise children with a full time job? How can I be seen as an adult rather than only a daughter? Am I doing the best I can for my husband? My family? Me?

Decades have past, and without spoiling her story, I can tell you, there is closure. She made personal sacrifices so that she could *be* each identity. Not perfectly, she never claimed to perfect, but wholly, lovingly, and authentically.

The moment started at brunch but carried out over several weeks. We often continue our conversations each day in stride, never losing pace, always on the same page. It’s probably because my mother and I share similar temperaments; we overthink and can be quite emotional. A recipe for honest and long conversations.

During one conversation she tells me that she and my father worked 12 hour day and night shifts to so that me and my sister would never see a daycare. After that, she says, “Look at you both, I think we did just fine”. And in that moment within the moment, tears begin to well in my eyes. They well because I see the privilege and love that I’ve received, and they well because sometimes they’re meant to be seen.

They did more than fine, they did amazing, and for that, I am eternally grateful

To Dad:

If my father and I were placed on the sides of a Venn diagram, our intersection would be thin but vibrant. On the outskirts of the diagram there is our hair type, bravado, and temperaments. In the intersection there is our curiosity, humor, and of course, our stomach.

One of my fondest moments with my father, within recent memory is about the Ch’King, Burger King’s chicken sandwich. In 2021, Burger King finally hopped on the chicken sandwich craze after the apparent success of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich. During our collective COVID quarantine, Burger King went heavy on the advertisement. Every ad break during the NBA playoffs that year saw the Ch’King. It was crispy, crunchy, spicy (if you so chose), and cheap. Despite knowing the advertisement magic behind the crispy facade, my father and I were hooked. Oh, so crunchy it looked. Oh, so juicy.

Unsurprisingly, once we tried the sandwich, the spell was released and we were left disappointed. Crispy turned limp, juicy turned dry. We were fooled.

I love this memory because it highlights the vibrant intersection of my father and I. Our curiosity drives us, often to the point of childlike wonder, regardless of whether it’s general relativity or something as inconsequential as a sandwich. We find humor in everything; despite our disappointment, we can laugh at both Burger King for such an abismal product and ourselves for being entranced. And of course, we both love food. It’s a huge source of our happiness and relationship. Amongst our many edible joys (steak, sushi, Five Guys burgers, fried chicken), there is coffee. Morning coffee.

My father and I developed a morning (and sometimes, afternoon) coffee routine for the weeks I was home. For many mornings, in two thick ceramic mugs, the frothed milk settled up to the brim. The brown sugar swirled and dissolved in the bold liquid. No facades this time. Just good ‘ol, honest dark roast Colombian drip coffee.

For our shared mornings, I would look forward to this routine. Over coffee we would chat about everything from basketball to our future aspirations; his retirement in sight, my burgeoning career along the horizon. Our love for coffee sits at the center of our Venn diagram, but our shared time allowed us to share the differences. Mornings give us space to challenge each others political opinions and for our temperaments to intertwine. Between sips we let our caffeinated minds free, finally awakening from hours of slumber. What do you think about student loan forgiveness? Business idea: Uber but electric vehicles!

However, not all mornings were packed with fervor. Many were calm and terse. We would start with a good morning greeting and eventually my father would ask if I wanted coffee, or sometimes he would just hold the mugs out. And for me, this is what a moment is about. It’s sipping coffee together on a Saturday morning or the discrete cheers whilst I attend a virtual meeting. It doesn’t exist at extravagant time or place, it’s a routine. But it’s our routine.

Moments, moments, moments

Morning coffees with my father are the moments I want to always appreciate. And conversations about my mothers past are moments I want to always remember. In the tempo of life I want to return to these moments. Moments that are finite in quantity but infinite in meaning.

If it weren’t for my leg I wouldn’t have these moments. Despite a few difficult weeks, a stack of medical bills, and hobbies put on hold, I’m grateful for what it has offered me.

To love is to welcome in the potential to hurt a bit.

To my Mom and Dad, I love you. I love you for being you and I love you for our experiences. Experiences past and yet to come, and all the moments and moments in between.

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