“I lost my sweater.”
“It’s not lost. It’s misplaced.”
I struggle to get the difference between the meaning of those two words. If I put it in the wrong place then I’ve lost it.
“You’ll find it.”
“Are the kids ready or not?”
“Martha Ann misplaced her sweater.”
“Well she’d better find it and in a hurry. We have to go.”
“I don’t know where it is!”
“You’re not looking for it! Look for it!”
I scramble around my room and find it in the corner, lying on the floor. My mom is watching.
“If you’d hang up your clothes like you’re supposed to we wouldn’t have these problems.”
I had a hard time with all this. Hang up your clothes. Put your shoes away. Make your bed. Everything took so LOOOONNGGGG and there was so much else to DOOOOOO. There was outside. There were books. There was my doll. There was my brother. There were the grownups. There was imagining stories. So much more interesting than hanging up my sweater.
“Come here. Let me button it. Just the top button.”
The sweater was navy blue. The dress was shades of pink.
Kirk was in his car seat in front between my parents. I was alone in the back seat. The sun was low. The light coming in was golden. We arrived at the restaurant, my dad carrying my brother and holding my hand.
“Welcome to Lotus Room.”
“We have reservations. Bill Kennedy?”
“Some of your party is here already. Come this way.”
I felt timid, and hid a little behind my dad. There were hearty hellos and “Sit here with me” and there we were, Kirk in a high chair. I insisted on the seat beside my Aunt Martha. My cousin Linda sat on Aunt Martha’s other side.
“Try some of everything,” said my dad, but what I liked were fried wontons.
Years later, sitting on a stool beside a street vendor’s hot wok on Zhongsan Wulu, a busy Guangzhou street, holding my dish and my chopsticks, waiting for potstickers, I remembered my first Chinese dinner. I remembered my dress. I remembered my misplaced sweater, and the family gathered around the table. I saw how that evening so long ago had been one of the things that brought me to China.