Los Angeles will always hold a special place in my heart. I grew up flying out there twice a year for family vacation, greeted by palm trees and dusty mountains. I think of sand in my toes and rainbow sherbert, bento boxes and Monopoly games. I think of my grandparents and their beautiful home, filled with food at all hours of the day.
My grandma was a special woman. Though small in stature she had a heart bigger than the state of California. Most of my memories are her preparing food - she was always in the kitchen. Breakfast with rice cakes and Korean pears, then all day making her famous galbi for family dinner. We spoke through hugs and broken English or haphazard Korean, even with our language barriers you could feel how much she loved family.
Good byes are hard. She would always squeeze us tight, smiling until we pulled out of the driveway, where her smiles would be replaced by tears as her and my grandpa waved back to us until we drove away. This is the memory that stands out to me the most right now. I think about her last wave to me, and that I will never see her wave good bye again. I should have visited more. I should have hugged her harder.
I stood over her grave last week. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cloudless with a soft breeze. She’s buried in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, a perfect view. She’s gone, but as I walked away from her grave, I felt her near me. LA, you’re forever special to me. Not because of your good food, your beautiful beaches, or your perfect weather. But because of family.