I woke this morning to the sounds of Thailand. Roosters' hoarse voices compete with those of sparrows. Puttering mopeds zing past our house and down the road to the early morning market. Thai country music now plays softly over someone's karaoke machine. In this new house, a sound is missing. The guttural call of tokay geckos has been replaced by the strange coo of pigeons nesting on our roof. Out of the window, I can hear my mother in the kitchen downstairs. She is making rice porridge for my little brother or perhaps a lovely baked treat for her returning college students.
My little brother runs upstairs, causing the wooden floor to shake. He bursts in on me and my older brother, all smiles and ready for us to start the day already.
"Time to get up, Adrian!" he says brightly, clapping his hands. He looks down at me sprawled on the pallet, my hair messy and a little damp from a humid night. Luckily, I was already awake and listening. Another morning I would have been grouchy and sent him away. Instead I smile back.
"Oh, you're already awake! Want to play Legos with me?" he asks.
"Give me a few minutes to wake up, Andy. Then I'll play with you."
"Okay... Lucius! Time to woke up!" He flops down on top of Lucius, who is either unconscious or feigning it. He groans, but opens one smiling eye at Andy, who giggles.
"Go away, Andy. I'm sleeping!"
Andy laughs, then runs back downstairs for his rice porridge, lugging all three of his lightsabers with him. I stretch out, sigh, then force myself to sit up. Eventually, I dress in the bathroom and tidy up my bedding so it is out of the way.
Downstairs, my mom has made pumpkin muffins in the shape of Christmas trees from the new silicone pan Grandma gave her for Christmas.
"Aren't they cute?" she asks. "Don't tell your father, but I put lots of stuff that's good for you in it! I got out my bags of flax and oats out of the freezer and put them in when no one was watching."
"And now we're going to put icing on them!"
"Yeah!" she laughs. "Want to melt the cream cheese for me?"
I do. We also sift the powdered sugar and cream all the ingredients in the KitchenAid. When the frosting is fluffy, I spread it generously on two of the Christmas trees. I sit down at the table to enjoy my breakfast, but Mom is still puttering around the kitchen. I watch her wipe her teak counters thoroughly, then check the KitchenAid, recoiling the cord around the base and adjusting its cloth cover to keep out the dust. Then she washes the already collected bowls and utensils in the sink, never missing an underside or a crevice that might hide bits of food. Everything is exposed to the sunlight. She washes dishes as perspicaciously as she analyzes issues.
Dad comes down after his shower, his wet hair still sticking up in the back even though he's brushed the rest of it into a part. He's wearing his bright green Wickaway shirt and a bright orange sweatshirt on top of that. Very colorful. I like it.
He strolls over to Mom. She smiles as he stands close to her. "Hi, honey!" he says cheerfully. They kiss and smile at each other again.
"Want a pumpkin muffin?" she says.
"We made cream cheese frosting, Dad!" I added.
He raises his eyebrows and makes a comedic hungry noise. He is heating one up in the microwave. Andy brings his empty bowl to the sink and fills it with water. Then he runs over to me asking if I'm ready to play. I sit in front of the extravagant Lego house he built for me. It is made with white blocks and half a dozen Star Wars troopers guard the entrance. . .