Whenever I go back to San Francisco now, it’s always the same thing: I spend a week with my friends, usually eating as much Asian food as I can possibly handle. Carnitas too, usually in the form of burritos. For the most part, my home base will be in the Mission, where I lived for five years, with ventures into downtown to work at the local co-working spaces. Maybe I’ll be the very tourist I avoided as a local and walk along the waterfront or go to the Castro.
After that, I hop on the BART train to the end of the line, the suburbs in Fremont. I spend the second week visiting mom, in the room that my dad stayed in before he moved out and has now become the computer room. Or in my case, the guest bedroom. It’s a twin mattress, the bed frame I had as a kid. The mattress is super firm and it feels like a cot in the barracks, probably the most suitable sleeping environment for dad. I usually lie to my mom and tell her that I just flew in. I’ve told the truth in the past - that I’m flying to California but seeing friends first - but she doesn’t take it too well.
Staying here has been fine, for the most part. One part of coming home is always the inevitable English or technology based errand. Burn some CDs, make sure she wasn’t being convinced she was dying of cancer when she gets a English reminder about her mammogram. This time around it was to “fix her TooYoo,” by which she meant, of course, making sure her YouTube works.
I upgrade Flash on her Safari browser.
"What did you do?" she asks in Chinese. "Did you purchase something? They always want me to purchase something."
"No, I just installed Flash," I say in English. She has no idea what I’m talking about, so she leaves the room into the kitchen and returns with a parfait glass filled with pineapple chunks. "I salted them," she said. "Kills the germs."
The most annoying thing is the lack of locks on the doors because of Angela. As a result, mom and her opens the door at random times. Do you want some ice tea? Do you want some hot tea? How about some fruit? I cut up some fruit. Have you showered yet? Most of the time I brush her off: no, mom, I’m fine. Seriously. Mom, I’m okay. The times I eventually give in - sure mom, I’ll drink some water, okay, I’ll take a shower at night - I end up feeling guilty, like I’m enabling all of this to happen as a thirty-eight year old instead of an eight year old.
Angela comes in the room as well. “Is that your work computer?” she asks while I type this.
"Do you have friends and freedom?" she asks out of the blue.
"I guess I do." I keep my eyes on the computer.
"I wish I did. I live in a straight jacket." She leaves the room again.
Just a Thursday evening.