Dad, me, Nainai, Mom, 1981

While going through photo scans for family snaps to display in our living room, I came across this photo of my Nainai and me during my one-month celebration at my parents’ first house in Sunnyvale, California. I must have seen it before because it is in our family albums, but it still surprised me because I remember my Nainai as a gentle, emotionally reserved woman (when she wasn’t replacing my baby formula with Coors Light). It warms my heart so much to see that huge smile on her face. It reminds me that even though there were times when I felt disconnected from my family because of our language and cultural differences, I always truly belonged to them, and they to me.

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I know some of my peers get nervous when they hit the big Three-O but, at the risk of sounding like a complete prig, I feel truly blessed to be alive, healthy and surrounded by my wonderful family (including my brother, who just celebrated his birthday a couple days ago… happy birthday Mike!). In Harry Potter, the strongest spell is not one of the Three Forbidden Curses. In the end, it is love that turns [insert spoiler here] into [spoiler] and ensures that the Dursleys [spoiler] even though they treat Harry like crap, and it is also that [spoiler] that enables Harry to finally [spoiler] and compells [spoiler] to ask about [spoiler] because [spoiler] far outweighs [spoiler], thereby allowing [spoiler] to [spoiler] and [spoiler], even though [spoiler] (yeah, I really don’t want to spoil the Harry Potter books for anyone, because I enjoyed reading them so much).

Some of my friends recently moved back to the States to start the next chapter of their lives. That is one of the most bittersweet part of being an expat — you meet many wonderful people from around the world, but you constantly have to say good-bye. If I were a witch who could weave a spell of protection through love, I would do so for them. But I know they will do well on their own, because they have their own special sort of magic. I’m thinking of you guys! I miss you.