Sabah, the land of my mother, holds some of its greatest secrets close to the chest. The rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, smells like rotting flesh, takes six to nine months to flower bloom, and only does so deep in the Bornean rainforest, protected from the casual observer. Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest peak, can be seen from flat, neon green padi fields from hundreds of kilometers away, but soon after morning, its craggy face is obscured by thick Sabahan mists.
When I was 11 years old, my parents and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean. Within the first couple of days, I became friends with another girl my age. She lived in Kansas, and I was the first Asian person she had ever met.
Things were new and exciting, and I explored every neighborhood I could, going to strange LA salons and tastings and tours and hosted dinners, in part so I could tell my friends about them later, finishing each story with, “It was soooo LA.” I felt great about my agency, and by god, I was really living.
There was a spider in the sink. It had been there for two days now, and it worked its legs uselessly against the stainless steel, wandering in circles between the pots and plates. I watched it as I washed my dishes, careful not to splash it.
Coachella has once again come and gone, taking with it the ever-flattering flower crown Snapchat filter. I used to think of Coachella goers as indie kids in a Cameron Crowe movie, braving the desert for the sake of their music. Now that I’m reaching the wise twilight years of mid-millennialism, Coachella is no longer the romantic oasis I’d thought it once was, but that certainly hasn’t deterred everyone else.
They were a married couple, middle-aged with college-aged children, and overweight, breathing heavily as they made their way up our front steps. They talked and laughed loudly, and the woman wore too much perfume, the sickly sweet kind.