Allergies going absolutely bonkers by my last day in Palo Alto, I met up with my family friends Tai Wa and Rebbeca Wah for a family barbecue of sorts in their daughter’s backyard. I hadn’t seen Lin Yi in twenty years and naturally neither could recognize the other. She happily told me to ignore my brother’s conviction that I’ll end up in law school, as it’s not a place for creative sorts like me. She said I’d feel stifled. My breathing certainly did throughout the dinner, as well as my normal outgoing ways. Somehow I revert into shy cute Terrence when not feeling too well – it took an hour before I started joining in conversations in Spanish (Lin Yi’s husband Gustavo and his large family hail from Mexico). In fact I only really got the courage to chime in because I realized Mariela, Gustavo’s daughter of around my age, wasn’t terrible proficient at Spanish either, but wanted to practice to improve it. I felt like we were sort of allies throughout the evening – the indie not quite at home types in that awkward between youth and adulthood stage feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed in everyone else’s comfort. Mariela’s also very pretty, and said “You like Iron & Wine, you must be awesome.” But I remained super shy. Silly sinus allergies.
My favourite part of the evening occurred shortly after I finally joined in the conversation at my chosen table (all Gustavo’s family). I’d chosen the table by unconsciously following Mariela. Across from me sat two first years of highschool girls who chatted from El Paso flitting effortlessly between Spanish and English. When our conversation died for a second, they asked me, “What grade are you in?” Look at the wording of that. What grade are you in. Ha! I’m six years beyond being in any “grade”! I had a good laugh with that. Apart from that I found it quite difficult to initially speak Spanish. Switching between muliple foreign languages makes my brain hurt. Well my head at least. I’d been insistent on using Cantonese to speak with my uncles and aunts and Tai Wah and Rebecca to keep it up. So at the barbecue I danced between these two foreign languages and once, even, Mariela and I exchanged a few words of Russian.
Tai Wah insisted that I bring my guitar along and kept prodding me to sing something, which naturally had the reverse effect of making me super shy. I wasn’t terribly confident in my ability to sing anything with the scratchiness in my throat and constantly stuffed up ears muffling the accuracy of pitch determination. About an hour before I knew I had to leave I finally cracked open my guitar case. You see I knew from experience that as soon as I started singing I’d find it hard to stop – both because I rather enjoy it and because relaxed party crowds always clamor for more (I’m much too pushovery to be able to defend against this).
Lin Yi requested I sing Let it Be for her husband, who’d cooked most of our food. I stood in the grass as a stage and sang it for him/them. Everyone was silent and applauded when I finished. Mariela’d agreed to sing so long as I did, but after I finished she became too shy and agreed only to play while I sang. I luckily knew the first song she wanted to play, Naked As We Came and it was on learning I knew it that she made the above comment. My list got passed around, so I followed up with various requests from everyone around, including an abbreviated I’m Yours (I’m a bit sick of singing it by now). At around eight o’clock Tai Wah indicated we ought to leave, and I finished up with I Will Survive. Word came out from Lin Yi that I had a CD and I brought one over to give to table (I’m a horrid businessman, eh?) with my cards. Gilberto, Gustavo’s brother, insisted on paying me $20 for the CD, so I gave him two.
Earnings: $20.00, 1 hour
Song of the Day: Naked As We Came – Iron & Wine