BY: Eliza Moreno
In this series, I interview friends to learn how they have found love during a time that has asked us to find alternative ways to experience closeness. There is importance in capturing the telling of love by folx whose ability to be loved and to love remains questioned.
Sid chose to speak of his parents.
I am sitting in a corner of my bed, my laptop propped up on two throw pillows in shades of navy blue and pastel pink, and I am talking to Sid over Zoom, a platform that has asked us to think of it as a home, as an office, as a place where reunions are held, birthdays are celebrated, and sit-close conversations are had. He is framed by two electric guitars, one a striking red and the other a warm color, mounted on his wall behind him, and to his right, I make out hung framed photographs he took — some in black-and-white and others in color. He is in New York. The photos featured of him were taken when he was with his parents in Colorado.
He paces as I ask him questions and he allows each question to reach him with the time it needs. He blinks, smiles softly, and closes his eyes for a second too long before he answers.
I ask him to describe his mother for me. He lets out a laugh and tilts his head back, the reaction caused by the “enormity of the question,” he tells me. He pauses before he begins.
When I think of my mother, I think driven. She grows irritated when we start asking the question: how does this work? She just wants to know what it does. She doesn’t necessarily care to know how it does the thing it does.
When I was younger, I thought of her as quite cold… I didn’t go to her when I needed to cry or when I needed a hug. On the flip side, as I’ve grown older, I’ve seen her as very much my equal. She’s always up for an argument and she’s quick to bounce back from any sort of conflict.
I keep returning to her drive.
When she came to the states, she decided she wanted to learn how to swim. She began taking lessons and swam every day of my life growing up — she got very good at it.
She must have been 30 — she decided to learn how to play the violin, she took lessons and has played violin since.
She is extraordinarily good at her work and does not settle for a salary or set of responsibilities she thinks is below her which has its both goods and bads.
I feel as if there are small regrets that she carries with her, although she may not say that, but- the reason she came to the states at all was because she didn’t get into the medical school she wanted to in India. She missed it by a percentage point on some standardized test and I don’t know if she’s forgiven herself for that.
She has a very fun, high energy, extroverted front that she puts on that hides a melancholy and introspective internal landscape. She’s guarded.
Recently, as she’s gotten older, she’s exposed a warmth to me. She’s soft, nostalgic and sends me these ridiculous birthday texts that are super, super kind — which is not a thing I think she would’ve done in the past.
I get my perfectionism from her, he says, and a lot of unequivocally positive things from her.
In her stubborn nature, last year, she wanted to climb a 14,000 foot mountain. They’re called fourteeners. She insisted it would be easy and I kept telling her that she needed to train to climb those. One day, she took a picture of herself at a peak at one of these mountains and sent it to me. She went at two in the morning, and hiked the mountain.
At the end of my time in Colorado, we went to a small, local, hiking place and we chatted the whole way. We were in the midst of a serious conversation, but then suddenly, I felt something slither around my ankle, and I freaked out. It turns out, it was her hiking stick and she found it hilarious. As soon as we arrived home, she told my dad and called her friends to tell them the story.
I ask him to describe his father for me.
My dad, when walking out of a grocery store, will stop, put down his groceries and help someone else load up their car, which is what he’s done multiple times when we’re grocery shopping together.
I think this embodies — he puts others ahead of himself quite frequently. He does it a lot in our family and he did it a lot for me growing up. He does it for those he calls friends and strangers.
He has a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong. He’s been my moral compass, in many ways. He’s very deeply in touch with what he thinks is ethical and what’s not and any breach of that code disconcerts him.
He tells me about how his father is sensitive, but immediately shares how reductive that word feels.
He has emotions — they’re quite strong, and they manifest themselves. He’s not afraid to show his sadness or hurt. More so than me and my mom, he is more likely to get hurt easily. He has so much love and care to give to others.
He’s deeply curious in a way that frustrates my mother but a way in which I enjoy. He is a lifelong learner. He has a tendency to pick up hobbies, and after a year, will drop them.
Photography was one, although that continues to be a pretty big hobby of his. He went through a phase where he was really into woodworking and got a lathe. It’s enormous and took up half of our garage, it’s used for spinning bowls and woodturning. He carried it from house to house as my parents moved for my mom’s job. When I was home for quarantine, he began to use it once again and made bowls for my mom and me.
He was into bikes for a while, but then his knees and back didn’t allow him to actually bike. He acquired these amazing bikes then had to sell them. He got into this idea of offroading and bought an offroading jeep, decided he didn’t like it, and then then sold the jeep.
Currently, it’s guitar and music theory, which I enjoy a lot.
He tells me about the time he spent with his parents in Colorado, amidst the pandemic.
We went from a parent-child relationship to feeling very much like equals. During this pandemic, I had a corner of the house that was mine. We stayed out of each other’s ways for most of the day and interacted with each other intellectually.
He tells me about how the relationships they held for one another has matured. They began to see one another as more than just a kid and two parents. There are complex nuances in all of us, he says.
I saw them as full-formed individuals moving through the world. Four months at home led to that.
Sid shared discussions he has had with his parents on their relationship to whiteness. Sid asks why they chose to live in a white, suburban neighborhood in Minnesota. They spoke of Sid’s trip to India in January and his mixed feelings about his family there. He was able to uniquely speak to them about these issues more fluidly because they were all residing in the same space.
Home in Colorado looks like a beautiful deck that overlooked a blue sky, green trees, and mountains with a dining table that’s been with Sid’s family since he can remember, a dingy one that works well.
We would often sit on the deck and have dinner, especially when the weather got nicer. I would have chai out there and my parents would join me. My parents would sit on either side of me, we would read our haikus, and discuss them out there.
It’s quiet up there, with the wind in the trees and the large population of hummingbirds that keep them company. They would observe the hummingbirds fly about, with the sun settling, and no words would need to be said.
We were sheltered, in both its positive and negative connotation. Being this removed, especially as the world is crumbling amidst a pandemic and with the injustices, being in the mountains and thinking of hummingbirds, it was a sheltered thing. We could choose to opt out of those feelings if we wanted to.
In New York, it’s a lot harder to opt out of the world. I also feel more responsibility not to. It feels a lot more real.
I ask him to tell me about what they did together, how they spent time.
Before the pandemic, I kept some of my interests removed from them. Very quickly, we broke down those walls.
My dad picked up guitar earlier this year and my mom played violin — one of the reasons I picked up the violin.
Every Sunday, they would host concerts for one another.
We would choose one song to work on over the course of the week to perform for each other. Neither of them has performed all that much, especially in adulthood. My mom suggested making cocktails for these events. It was a weekly thing — we would grumble going into it, “I haven’t practiced enough,” but it forced us all to engage with our instruments and to support each other.
Sid talks about the other activity he and his parents would do together: write haikus.
Writing haikus requires very low effort to spark a creative something.
Sid had suggested the writing of a haiku based on a theme. Every morning, a haiku theme would be decided upon and each would read their haiku to one another before dinner.
We did it mostly every day, but some days we would miss, so we would do makeup days and write two haikus.
They wrote and shared haikus for 87 days, making up a total of 260-some haikus. They began to have Zoom calls with extended family and would perform haikus there, as well – a new tradition they were creating with close ones.
How’s it been since you’ve returned to New York?
I felt good at home, for the most part, I felt at ease, I slept more, worked out consistently. I had a dialogue with my parents I never had before. I came back to New York and moved apartments quickly and the whole flurry of activity was disorienting.
This week is the first week where I’ve had every evening filled with rehearsal, writing, and a previous commitment of sorts, and I’ve found myself mourning Colorado. When I was in Colorado, every evening was mine. There was something so comfortable about existing as three individuals in one space.
Now, it’s back to this product-driven world of “what is the output and how do I get theret?”
It’s been a bit disorienting and I miss the level of comfort I had with my parents.
I thought I would miss out on the experience of going hiking with my dad because as he gets older, it isn’t as possible. He really loved camping. He would regale me with stories from his Ohio State days. At the time I wasn’t interested in the outdoors or hiking and it wasn’t until I got to college that it became interesting to me. By then, he wasn’t hiking anymore because his knees weren’t as good and he was too busy. I thought I had missed the chance to engage with the outdoors with my father. To be able to, in some small part, in Colorado during my time there, was really quite nice.
Whether it was going on a hike with my mom or seeing this bear with my dad, I had the experiences I thought I had lost.
About the writer:
Eliza Moreno is a Duke graduate con la esperanza to thread her thoughts and knowings with creativity. Through her work, she wishes to be more than the imaginings of others and to witness the transformations of her thoughts become not-so-secret writings. Moreno currently works in communications and advocacy, hoping to center the lives of folx of color. She is an aspiring writer and creative.