Letters of Life


Southern California. 

“How ’bout a round of mahjong?” My sister, 21, said.

We were sitting on red foldable chairs in the kitchen of my sister’s two-bedroom apartment, drinking Coke, because this was way back when Starbucks was still sleepless in Seattle. My artsy sister had crafted vintage tea-cups into lamps which swung above the kitchen table.

“It’s midnight,” said Wei Hsien, who had just graduated from a university in Washington, was enroute to Singapore and had come to California to meet me and bunk in at my sister’s for several days. I had flown in from Singapore the day before, a single black suitcase in hand, enroute to a new life at a liberal arts college in Philadephia.

“I can’t sleep. The aliens from the movie are still in my head,” I said to him. “Let’s talk. One last midnight chat.”

“Who wants to play?” My sister got up, set up the card table and the clacking of mahjong tiles began. I didn’t play but there were enough people in the house to get a game going.

“You gotta keep writing, ok?” Hsien said to me. “Like always.”

I smiled. “I’ll send you postcards.”

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