Topsy-Turvy Thanks

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It’s raining with a thick choke of smog above my head, blotting out the sun. The puddles on the street corners surround my feet, getting deeper by the second. People are crowded around faceless now with their stares. A few steps ahead and a few steps behind are three people that I’ve only known for two months. They are determined to make the rain go away…

It’s Thanksgiving 2019 and I am in Chongqing, China. More specifically I am at Southwest University in Beibei, right outside gate number two (Èr hào Mén). My three friends are Zoey, Wanyi, and Monica and they are determined to make today count for my sake. Quickly moving through the crowded streets with our boots splashing against the pavement, we make our way to my favourite noodle shop and eat my favourite dish. We are about to have a Thanksgiving dinner, and biangbiang mein is the new turkey.

From left to right: Monica, me, Zoey, and Wanyi

The meal was deliciously special, and nothing short of a day that I will never forget. The sheer fact that my Chinese friends made sure that this American had a day of thanks, when the holiday is not widely celebrated (rightfully so, it’s rife with historical problems), is just a testament to their friendship. And the noodles, HOLY SHIT the noodles! I miss them to this day and cannot wait to have them again with their wide shape, spicy aroma, and unique taste. It sure as hell beat turkey…

A brisk coolness breathes through the air with warm rays from the sun. Most of the trees have lost their leaves and have fallen to a grave scattered above the roots. The sound of children laughing in the distance and the sight of cars gathered around homes. The scene brings comfort, but also dread. The stillness frightens me.

It’s Thanksgiving 2020 and I am in Springfield, Missouri under quarantine. My mother has been sick with a fever for the past few days and has been staying at my childhood home with my father. Every Thanksgiving that I can remember, has been held there. But not this year. The year of 2020 has been taken over by covid-19, a viral infection that has brought many deaths to the world and continues to take more. Luckily, my mother tested negative the day before and is recovering. Yet still, we are quarantined.

Thanksgiving 2018 with cousins and significant others (left to right): Adam, Kiera, Ryan, Madison, Calvin, me, Hannah, Nicole (sister), and Brady

In about an hour, I will be meeting my mother, father, sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles over Zoom. We won’t be eating together, but we still be able to meet. How could my last two Thanksgivings be so strange? Looking through a screen at another person has become as common as breathing. That thought boggles my mind, yet I am so incredibly lucky to say that each of them are in my life still. My family is still here and I am too.

I’ll end on a happy note. This year may have been one that has had it’s ups and downs, twists and turns, all bent in shape and form. But at this moment, more than any moment of all my Thanksgivings, I am the MOST grateful I’ve ever been. This goes out to you mom, dad, sis, my best friend Ben, my girlfriend Vanessa, my friends, my film community, and everyone I have ever met or will meet. I am grateful to have you and this is my topsy-turvy thanks!

What and who are you thankful for?

Thanks for reading, I’m not Jonesing around 😉

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