I can’t pass by bird of paradise plants without thinking of my grandmother’s house. Those bright red beak-flowers, the funny spray of yellow petals, the pointy green fronds. They lined the driveway along the side of the house, against a vaguely brick-colored cinderblock wall. The wall that I loved to climb up and over, scraping my tender young knees and hands on my way. There was a wooden gate with a latch that was usually locked. I would hop over the wall at every possible opportunity. It didn’t occur to me that not everyone grows up doing these things. Now I have jargon to describe how I climbed up that wall and down the other side: cranking, hand-foot match, mantle, stem.
Whenever possible, I drive past that old house. I hear it’s now a convalescent home. My great aunt still lives down the street. I’m nostalgic for those days when I acted as VHS tape courier between the houses, shuttling Chinese and Thai Khmer-dubbed dramas on warm afternoons.
I look at my childhood and look at my present and note the echoes. How I still climb walls, how I am still shuttling between places, how I want to live close to people I love. How even here where the temperatures are cooler, birds of paradise bloom.