Milk Tea as a Metaphor

Summer heat blows in like a sadness.
I feel it against my skin.
I turn my head to resist it like the first gust of
hot air that escapes from an oven.

It helps to remember that this feeling comes every year.
It’s inevitable: I will feel sad in June.

I feel tiny and insignificant, flying around like a bug
caught in the path of a giant windshield on summer vacation.
I am in danger of being squashed by the heaviness.

It’s been 5 years since we moved to Korea, and it seems to be
getting harder. I look at my kids who barely speak the language,
watch their huge eyes as I try myself to communicate with some
small intelligence.

I am ignorant and unaware.

This is the humbling thing: I live a beautiful life
in the middle of difficult circumstances.

We walk to the big box store
four subway stops from home.
We pass the milk tea stand on our way to the bookstore.
An oasis.

Nearby a lady cradles her older daughter. She looks like she’s cradling arms and legs as she
swings her around and smiles.

When she sets her down,
her white T-shirt shouts across the aisle as
bold black letters bleed in all capital letters:
DON’T FEEL SMALL.

In an instant I don’t. I stand up straighter as I push my boys
toward the sticker books.

The choices we make when we feel a sudden sadness
find us stripped down and thirsty,
and if we’re lucky, sipping milk tea on the way home.

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