I’ve admired Lori from afar for awhile, and only recently have received the gift of getting to know her. And friends, let me tell you: she is a gem. Read on as she celebrates summer with us in the best way she knows how: through story. Enjoy!
I have played the I’m-as-Chinese-as-a-white-girl-can-get card for a long time. Our family lived in Asia until I was a teenager and now, as a late thirty-something, I still squeal when I see Hello Kitty. I let elderly Chinese women have my seat on Muni. (“Respect your elders” echoes in my head…)
Even after living overseas for years, mom and dad were Oklahomans at heart. Every few years our family would return to America and spend a lazy summer at my grandparents’ lake house. To this day, despite the fact that I consider myself Chinese and I live in San Francisco, the red dirt of Oklahoma courses steadily through my veins.
The beauty and grit of those summers are permanently etched in my mind. Summer smelled like boat fuel and grandpa’s Marlboros as he navigated us across the glass lake at dusk. There were notes of OFF bug spray, layered with Banana Boat sunscreen and juicy watermelon undertones. Summer smelled thick with humidity and life.
Summer looked like my grandparents’ bait and tackle shop in the hills of east Oklahoma. I would help run the cash register, watch soaps with G-ma, and drink an ice cold Pepsi, carefully resetting it back in the pool of its own condensation. Sturdy men with thick, slow southern accents and rough “working man hands” would chat at the register and I would study them in awe like the foreigners they were to me.
Summer felt like the hammock under my back as I read Nancy Drew. The cool, dewy morning grass turned a darker green as I made the trek across the lawn to grab the Sun-tea that had been brewing from the day before. Mostly though, it felt like home…a concept that is less tangible, but more important, the older I get.
Even today as I walk the foggy streets of San Francisco, I carry those Oklahoma summers with me. Like a bright token of love from my past, it warms my heart as I walk the vibrant streets of this city. Occasionally I stop to notice a wistful look on a passerby and wonder what token glows within them.
Do they also long for a “home” beyond the nostalgic smells and intangible walls of their memory?
I know I do.
Were you not transported back to Lori’s childhood summer? Thank you, friend, for capturing the essence of your Oklahoman experience! Leave a comment for Lolo below, and in the meantime, submit your summer story today by emailing it to Cara. We can’t wait to further celebrate summer with you!