HomeAsian AmericansHow the Simplest of Treats Can Overcome the Mightiest of Oceans

How the Simplest of Treats Can Overcome the Mightiest of Oceans

by Wayne Chan

This last week I had an incredible family reunion.

The operative word is “family” because for me, that’s what it was. The reunion was between myself, my brother Steve, and Jim, a person I’ve known for nearly my entire life, as well as his wife Gloria.

Jim, or “Jimmy” as he will always be known to me, grew up on the same street as we did in the San Diego suburbs. Jimmy was the youngest in his family, with some older brothers. Being the youngest in his family, Jimmy didn’t spend a lot of time with his older brothers, who had interests of their own.

We met Jimmy when we moved into our home. I was about 12 years old and about three years older than my brother Steve and Jimmy. Jimmy was a skinny, blond-haired kid, but full of life and loved to laugh. Soon enough, we all became fast friends, hanging out with each other after school, and on weekends.

We played football in our front yard, or basketball in his backyard. We’d play “Marco Polo” in their pool. We’d watch TV together and get in trouble together. In our front yard we had an olive tree, and we’d climb the tree and pretend it was our secret fort and we were superheroes. I always wanted to be Batman.

We were inseparable.

My parents saw how close we were and unofficially adopted Jimmy as the “third Chan son”. On Sundays, when we would go out to lunch, Jimmy was usually with us, because he knew he was always invited.

One of our favorite restaurants was a dim sum restaurant, and Jimmy scarfed up all the various dim sum snacks like a pro. His favorite delicacy was the barbeque pork buns, a steamed bun with a sweet and savory pork mixture inside.

Years go by, and it’s time for me to go to college. Life changes and time moves on. After a few years, Jimmy moves to Arizona and starts a new life. We try and stay in touch, but for the past 25 years, we see each other sparingly, and usually only for milestones, like a wedding or my mother’s memorial.

This last week, my brother Steve texted me and told me that Jimmy was coming back into town and wanted to see if we could have lunch together. I said I was available, and we started going back and forth about where we should go.

Steve suggested that we find a place by the beach, since there aren’t that many beaches in Arizona. After a minute, I suggested that instead of the beach, maybe Jimmy would appreciate us going to a dim sum place where he could try one of the barbeque pork buns again.

We decided to let Jimmy decide.

He chose the pork buns.

It’s amazing that even after 30 years, while we might not all be aware of the specifics in our lives, after catching up, the same connection is there, even after all this time.

We reminisced about days gone by, and laughed at some of the same things we laughed about all those years ago. And we did it over a plate of steaming hot barbeque pork buns. At the end, Jimmy took a moment to thank us for including a scrawny little kid to be part of our family, and we told him how much we appreciated him being our 2nd brother.

The one thing we missed was to take a picture of our reunion. I guess that just gives us another reason to get back together soon…and share another plate of pork buns.

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