By Harrison Poe
Hot, dry, and sunny – the seasons in Los Angeles have little difference, but the summer in my hometown of Houston, Texas is its own unique spectacle. Summer storms create steamy days with both the temperature and humidity cranked up to one hundred percent. The climate serves as a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes who come out to feed during the cool evenings. However, despite the oppressive climate and having to bring two shirts with me everywhere I go, the heat allowed me to forge great memories during my summers in Houston.
I can remember when I was little, walking to my neighbors’ house to pick the figs off of their backyard tree in early June. Years of growth and care had caused the tree to expand across the back corner of our neighbor’s backyard, and this yearly ritual provided my sister and I with enough fruit to last us until the next summer. We were always greeted with a warm smile and a hug as we scurried, buckets in hand, towards our fruity symbol of summer. Throughout the rest of the summer the figs would make their way into salads, preservatives, desserts, and ultimately, our stomachs, and over time summer simply wasn’t summer without the ripe fruit on the dinner table.
As I grew older, the summer brought with it music festivals, exciting vacations, and road trips with friends but, with age, came hard work. The summer after my junior year of high school my dad insisted I spend some time working at the family business. Since my great-grandfather opened Carl Poe Company, my family has been repairing gas meters and selling their parts for over fifty-five years. So, instead of having a nice office job or internship like some of my friends, I labored in the oven-like workshop disassembling gas meters for repair. It wasn’t lazy days spent by the pool or the thrilling vacation I’d desired, but it was a much needed lesson, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Those sweaty hours of swinging a hammer and dismantling meters with my pneumatic screwdriver taught me the importance of preparing for the future. Though I arrived begrudgingly everyday at eight o’clock at the forceful request of my father, the job provided me with experience I’d need when applying to future jobs, not to mention a little extra cash.
Continue reading Summer at Home
By Diya Dwarankanath
Even the global citizen has a special place they associate with home. If you disagree, I recommend reading the short story, A Cosmopolitan in a Café, by the American author, O’Henry. In this piece of literature, a man, endearingly named by the narrator as a “cosmopolitan”, claims to have no piddling feelings for any one place; he says “It’ll be a better world when we quit being fools about some mildewed town or ten acres of swampland just because we happened to be born there.” But just when you, the reader, perhaps start to feel guilty for being sentimental for your own hometown, the cosmopolitan gets in a brawl over a negative remark said about his own birthplace in Maine. O’Henry’s fictional account inspired me to write about a recent family road trip.
Your hometown, home state, or home country means something to you. Often the meaning is small, but distinct – like the fresh smell of the soil when it rains, unique to my home state, Oregon. Actually, I’ve lived in two countries, India and the United States, and three states in America—Oregon, California, and Massachusetts. Whenever I move, people always ask me, “Where do you come from?” and “What’s it like back home?” Answering these questions make me more aware of my roots.
And more aware of what I am missing.
When my family moved to Oregon, one of the first things I remember learning about American life is that families went on road trips. Oregonian families specifically went on road trips to Crater Lake, one of the most famous attractions in Oregon. My friends told me about the road trips they took there, but that it was a multi-day commitment. As a child, I insisted that my family should go, but the timing never worked out.
Continue reading Being Oregonian – My Classic Family Road Trip
By Ida Abhari
When I entered my first year at high school – already a new and uncertain time – my mother told me and my sister that our family would start hosting international university students. I thought it would be a fun experience and, having grown up with immigrant parents, I was no stranger to the joys of diversity. At the same time, I was a little bit nervous too. Would I be able to create an authentically American experience for these students? Would they enjoy my home and family?
The day Yuki (our first student) arrived, we tried to make sure she would be as comfortable as possible. Thinking it wouldn’t suit her taste, we didn’t eat our usual traditional Persian food for dinner; we ordered pizza instead. During dinner, we learned that Yuki had never been outside of Japan but that she was excited and open to learning about her new surroundings and broadening her horizon. I quickly saw how kind and understanding she was and that I shouldn’t have worried about her not liking our home. In fact, she told us she wanted to try Persian food, which surprised and pleased us at the same time.
In the coming weeks, we showed Yuki our city. I pointed out the best tofu house, my favorite boba shop, and my high school hangout spot. Though Yuki went back to Japan after finishing her semester abroad, we were fortunate enough to receive many more intriguing students. Hitomi, Miyuki, Tomomi, and Mae, among others, became part of our household and constituted an important part of growing up for me. From them, I learned how things I had previously saw as ordinary were actually quite extraordinary – Miyuki, for example, was thrilled that we had a grill in our backyard. She snapped countless pictures of this grill, something I had seen as a standard household item. She explained that where she lived in Japan, houses and backyards were often too small for such features. Likewise, Hitomi introduced me to the Bath and Body Works store. With its varied and delightfully-scented cosmetic items, I am forever thankful.
Continue reading A Homestay Home