Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Any Reason is a Good Reason

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my friends Jovy, Agnes, and Melissa came over to my place for a small party. There was no particular cause for celebration. No one had a birthday. Nobody had a graduation or work promotion. To me the fact that we all had a day off was good enough of a reason to get together. That's why I named the invitation the "Any reason is a good reason to party party." I had intended to have the gathering in my backyard, but it had been raining all morning. Because of that we decided to take the festivity indoor. Melissa was the first person to arrive. A couple of days before, she had convinced me to go ahead with the party as scheduled despite the ominous weather forecast of showers throughout the day. I was a little hesitant at first, but after thinking about it, I really liked her idea. Even if it rains or shines, whether one person or one hundred people show up, we were going to make our time together an enjoyable one.

Melissa brought a homemade pasta dish to the party. Having gone to school and lived in Italy for an extended time, she's not only fluent in conversing the language but also accomplished in the ways of Italian cooking. I wouldn't know the difference between linguine and fettucini, so I won't be able to tell you the name of the dish. What I can say for sure is that it was quite tasty. I liked the creamy, cheesy, tomato sauce with bits of sausages baked into the pasta. Besides, she took the time to make it from scratch, which made it even more special. One of my fondest memories as a child was coming home after school and finding my mom in the kitchen stir frying up a plate of noodle for me to eat. I remember being so satisfied to have eaten a meal that she had prepared for me. It wasn't so much the taste of her cooking that was memorable. More than anything else, it was the wonderful feeling of being taken care by someone you care about that I cherished the most.

My "bui mui" or cousin Agnes arrived about an hour later. Well, she's not my actual cousin by blood. It's a nickname I had given her because our last names share the same pronunciation-"Tam". I tease her that she is not from the true Tam clan, because the spelling of her last name has an extra 'h', which makes her "Tham". According to my uncle, it can be quite an ordeal to visit family members in China. In local custom, anyone who shares the same last name as you do in a village is considered your "brother" or "sister" whether you know them or not. As such, they expect you to offer them money and gifts when you visit from America. It is not unusual for total strangers to follow you to the restaurant, sit at your table, and order meals for themselves! I heard of the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and apparently, it takes a brother/sister to raise a village too!

My friend Jovy was the last to arrive. I felt both surprised and honored that she came, because by her own admission she has commitment-phobia. The closest you will ever get to nailing her down on anything is a definite maybe. Jovy will be moving out of the area in the next couple of weeks, so I'm glad that we've all had the chance to hang out before she goes.

I had a memorable time at the party, from seeing the girls make homemade ice-cream with zip-lock bags to Jovy teaching Melissa how to do Salsa. Jovy also treated us to a wonderful piano performance that you see here.

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