Eye-Opening Moments are real- life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called No Place To Call Home, a moment of an encounter called Expired Friendship, a moment of a perspective called The Meaning of Clouds.
Hello and welcome to Episode #20 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about No Place to Call Home, Expired Friendship, and The Meaning of Clouds.
A moment of adversity called: No Place to Call Home
Mom decided to move me to another state to live with Grandma on the east coast when I was five years old. Nine years was a reasonable amount of time to solidify the foundation of values impressed upon me by Grandma. Grandma thought I should move back to the state Mom was at when I was fourteen years old since Mom and Dad bought a new house, and I had a right to enjoy it with them.
But it didn't feel like home since the values I grew up with Grandma were not the same as Mom's values. They were mother and daughter, but their values differed. Perhaps Mom changed after she got married and moved to America since Grandma had traditional values of her homeland.
I was living with my nuclear family, but I felt like an outsider. My sisters busied themselves with looking beautiful while I could care less. Big sister was driving a BMW while I was used to taking the bus when I lived with Grandma. We ate out every weekend while I was accustomed to daily home-cooked meals with Grandma.
Whenever anyone in the family was unhappy about something, Mom went shopping and bought things to bring harmony back into the family. I was used to Grandma lecturing or nagging at me. Though I didn't miss Grandma's way of dealing with problems, I had a greater distaste for Mom using money to solve problems.
I didn't feel like I belonged in this family; I was different from them. I had longed to be back with my family so no one would say I didn't belong as my uncles did, but I didn't feel at home when I finally returned to my family. With Grandma's family, I was not at home as my uncles made it clear to me. With Mom's family, I was not at home as their values and way of living were in clear opposition to mine. I grew up in two homes and felt like I didn't belong to either house. The warmth, the family I hungered for, did not exist; emotionally, I was homeless.
By the time I was sixteen, I had decided I wanted to go back and live with Grandma; so, I once again moved, but this was the first time that it was my choice. By this time, I was older and going out of the house more often. I could take the bus anywhere in the city, whereas, with my parents, I had no mode of transportation on my own in the suburbs. Homelife became less important.
Soon I was seventeen and getting ready for college; excitedly, I moved to Connecticut and into an international dormitory as most language majors did. For my second year of college, I decided to change the scenery to a different dormitory. In my junior year of college, I decided to transfer and move to California; it was much closer to my long-distance boyfriend of three years. As a senior, I moved out of the dormitories and into a townhouse and shared it with three other roommates. Moving several times didn't bother me. College life was fun, and the emotional need for a home subsided. I was free from being with relatives and financially independent. The ache for a home disappeared at that time.
After graduating college, I moved from a small town to a big city in California. I rented my first apartment. "At last! I have a place of my own! No one can say I don't belong here," I screamed. Happiness was a place I could call home, and I finally got it at age twenty-one. It seemed a long journey to get to the place where when I got home after a day of being out, I would be so happy to be home. Being in a home where I belonged was freedom. It was freedom to be me, freedom to relax and do whatever I wished in the privacy of my own home. I was in heaven!
After living nine years in the apartment, I was getting married, so I moved again. This time, it was a house. I thought I would finally have a home and a family, the warm one I always dreamed of having, but I was wrong.
After getting married, many friends wanted to see my new house. One time, I had one of my friends visit after work. We did not discuss or plan it. Later in the evening, my husband, Anson, learned that one of my friends came by as I shared about it with him. His reaction was that of fury. He said I did not ask him for permission and needed to ask his permission because it was his house.
Yes, he bought the house before we were married, so technically, it was his house. But I didn't know or think I needed to "ask permission." Because Anson felt that way, he screamed at me for nearly two hours. Fortunately, his father came by, knocked on the door, and asked what the problem was. Anson shut his mouth long enough for me to explain to his father that Anson said I needed his approval before inviting friends over because it was his house and not my house. My dear father-in-law had to explain to his son that since we were married, it was our house.
Since that outburst from Anson, I was once again left emotionally homeless. I was married and living in a home where I didn't belong because my husband said it was not mine. I quivered with tears. I wished I still had the apartment I had before marriage. I wished I had another home to run back to and feel at home. Getting married did not create a family or a home for me; disillusioned was I.
After five years of living in that house together, we moved to another city. This time I made sure that my name was on the house's title. It was important to me to have some ownership to have a place called home. With my name on the title, Anson also treated me like an equal partner. This time, it felt like we were newlyweds and we enjoyed married life for a short time.
Unexpectedly, two years later, I filed for divorce, and of course, moved again. This time I bought my very own two-level house with three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a den, a backyard, a two-car garage, and more. Why such a big house for only me? My plan was that should I ever remarry or live with anyone, the other person would have to move in because I was not moving out. I wanted to ensure that the home was my home and I belonged in it. I wanted to make sure no one could kick me out or say I didn't belong in it. I finally had a home of my own.
A moment of an encounter called: Expired Friendship
As I was planning to move from the USA to Taiwan, I decided to brush up on my Mandarin Chinese learning. I searched for a language exchange partner. As it turns out, it was not easy to find just the right one in terms of matching language ability levels and being a compatible conversationalist.
Amazingly, I found the perfect partner. When I could not find the right words to say in Mandarin, I'd explain it in English, and my partner would be able to help me with the Mandarin because her English ability level was high enough to understand me. When she couldn't find the right English words to express herself, she'd explain to me in Mandarin, and I'd be able to help her with her English as my Mandarin was also high enough to understand her in her native language. I was so thrilled to find this perfect partner, Kayla, because I would finally have someone who could help me improve my Mandarin.
To my surprise, Kayla was not only the best language exchange partner, but she was also the best conversationalist for me. We met every week for two hours over coffee, and each time the two hours never seemed to be enough. We later stretched it to three hours. Still, it seemed like we just couldn't run out of things to share. We talked about everything under the sun; we not only shared life experiences, but we also shared opinions, attitudes, and ideas.
One day, she said her husband would be out of town on business, so she'd have an entire day free. She invited me over to her house and said we could finally talk with unlimited time! As it turned out, we spoke for over 12 hours and were only interrupted by brief bathroom breaks. Even when she was cooking or preparing a snack, we were still talking. I only left because I was tired and wanted to go home to sleep!
After a year, it was so sad that I was leaving for Taiwan as I had this great newfound friend, but I was preparing to engross myself in the Mandarin world. Kayla and I continued to connect by phone infrequently as there was a significant time difference, and I was immersed in my new life. After another year, we lost touch as she was busy with a newborn.
But I called her to make plans to meet as I returned to the USA for a week. She couldn't find the time, not even an hour, to meet with me and refused to meet me with her baby. I was infuriated that she couldn't take the time for me and questioned the friendship we had. But she finally said we could meet for an hour on a Thursday. I was so angry that I didn't reply. When I got back on American soil, I was still mad and decided I would not meet up with her and deleted her from my friend list in my mind. I guess I decided that she was not a true friend according to my definition of a true friend, which is that they are there for you. I noticed that she never did anything for me if it would be inconvenient for her, but I chose to overlook that in the past because I loved talking with her.
A few years later, I returned to the USA. Remembering her, with hesitation, I decided to call her. I met up with her, and she gave me a big heartfelt hug as she missed me, but I was still a bit unhappy about what happened last. At any rate, the friendship was no longer the same. We no longer had engaging and meaningful conversations as she was busy online or watching her daughter while we conversed. Suddenly, she let me know that she was going to have a divorce. I wanted to be a good friend and called her several times. I suppose I helped a little as she did share her problems.
A year later, I moved to another city and tried to contact her, but I heard a hurtful statement. "You should call someone else to talk to," she said. I thought, I wouldn't call her if I wanted to talk to someone else. Like food and other things, I guess many friendships have an expiration date, but in truth, you can't turn back time. Still, friendships, however long they may be, we need to treasure the time together.
A moment of a perspective called: The Meaning of Clouds
The roads are bumpy, gravel-ridden with many small rocks; most are unpaved. Some roads are just dirt roads or paths full of weeds or soil. You certainly can't take a nap or enjoy a smooth ride. The rides from one place to another are usually two to four hours or more. Imagine riding in a car on such roads for that long! Despite seemingly unenjoyable rides, memories of my rides in Mongolia bring a smile to my face, and a feeling of contentment engulfs me.
Looking out the window, I see endless fields of grass on both sides. There are no buildings or houses to see. All to see is nature. Just above the areas, it seems, is the sky. The sky is full of puffy clouds. They look as soft as pillows. They look like white cotton candy, and I love cotton candy. They hang so low in the sky that I feel they are within reach.
As the hours pass and I look at hundreds of clouds pass me by, my imagination brings me to so many beautiful places. I imagine that I am lying down and floating on a cloud. I wonder where the cloud will take me. Will the wind blow me over to Egypt, where I could see the mummies and pyramids that are on my bucket list to see? Will I float over to where the first human skulls were discovered? Where will the cloud take me? Can I jump on another cloud headed in another direction if it doesn't take me to where I might want to go? Before you know it, my mind moves me to the dreamland of romance.
One of my favorite novels, A Piece of Cloud, always comes to mind. Most memorable is the beginning of the story. A 20 -year- old girl happily walks home from school, and a ball happens to roll near her as some boys play ball on the street. She grabs the ball and attempts to throw it to the boys but instead hits the ball on the head of a handsome stranger. Full of innocence, she laughs and drops her books. They exchange some glances. He walks over to her and asks what is so funny. She continues to laugh. He picks up her books and gives them to her. Still laughing, she skips and runs away. He yells out, "What is your name?" She turns and says, "I am a piece of cloud." He then yells, "If you are a piece of cloud, then I am a gust of wind." And there begins the romance of these two beautiful people. Etched in my memory is this scene that I can repeatedly see as the author turned the novel into a movie. That is how a piece of cloud is related to romance for me. And since clouds move all over the place, they can transport me to anywhere I want!
As I transport myself to lay on a piece of cloud, I remember my first flight to sunny California from the east coast. I saw puffy, cumulus clouds outside my airplane window as I got near California. I thought how wonderful it was that I, a nineteen-year-old, still a teenager, was flying to California to visit my boyfriend. He fit right into my romance story as I already connected clouds with romance.
Once on my travels, touring inside a cave, I came upon a stall promoting "sitting" and moving in the clouds with a famous mythical Chinese character called the Monkey King in a video. Seeing the image or mirage of clouds grabbed my attention. I ran over to see what I needed to do to be in the video without much thought. I sat on a saddle with Monkey King prancing around me. The screen in front of me showed a reflection of me in the clouds, and I could not stop smiling and smiling. It was as if I was heaven, in my dreamland of clouds. It was a three-minute video, so I must have been smiling for three-whole minutes! For me to smile that long was long for me, but I couldn't stop; I was so happy to be in the clouds!
How much do I love the image of clouds? When I took an intensive Chinese language class to sharpen my skills before moving to Taiwan, I decided to create my Chinese name with the character cloud. Of course, when people ask me how I came to name myself, I let them know it all came from a Chinese novel I read as a teenager called A Piece of Cloud.
Besides daydreaming while observing clouds, I sometimes look up in the sky and wonder when I would see a sky full of low-hanging puffy clouds in a clear, bold, bold blue sky I call a Mongolian sky. I can always picture it in my imagination. They are not only wondrous, but they can also transport me anywhere I wish.
Though I had no place to call home for many years, I finally bought a home of my own, and no one could say I didn’t belong there.
Though I had a friendship that expired, I will always have the memories and can remind myself to treasure friendships because nothing lasts forever.
Though long bumpy rides were not comfortable, I enjoyed the spectacular Mongolian sky and its clouds that transported me to other places in my imagination.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called No to Helplessness, Romantic Moments With A Special Friend, and Fat Calves.
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