Susan Zhu | Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I have been thinking a lot about sweet potatoes. They are always fresh out of the oven when I arrive home, and the first thing on grocery lists during fall and winter. My mother knows many things about me and that includes my infallible love for sweet potatoes. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sliding a spoon into a smooth, warm sweet potato. They are nature’s greatest dessert and much too good for this world — too pure. I am not sure what humanity did to deserve the gift of sweet potatoes but I thank my ancestors for their assumedly angelic acts.
For me, sweet potatoes epitomize time at home. I, like many college students, did not cherish the feeling of home until I lived in a dorm with 200 other girls and had to fend for myself for eight out of 12 months of the year. I did not cherish the feeling of home until I really only went home for the holidays. I did not cherish home until a phone call was the only way my parents could comfort me during a trying time. I did not cherish home until it became somewhere I could escape to.
In approximately 50 days, I will be flying across the Emerald Isle and spending a semester in Dublin, Ireland. I will be there for four months, and because of my younger sister’s strange school vacation schedule, it will be the longest that I’ll go without seeing my family. I will no longer have the scheduled times of escape during the semester nor will I smell sweet potatoes come out of the oven in my kitchen for 120 days.
I have no doubt that Dublin will become my new home away from home, and that I will carve out a space for myself in such a special place. However, I have to admit that my heart has already begun to hurt when I think about being away from home for so long in a completely foreign place.
I am not sure what my intention was for writing this piece, other than to urge you to really appreciate your time at home. Regardless of your relationship with your family, it is important to remember that they have a bond with you that cannot truly be replicated by other relationships. If you haven’t called your mom or your dad or your grandparents in a while, do it. I always text my mom after I eat a sweet potato in the dining hall because it reminds me of home.
There really is no other place like home. This holiday season, I am immensely thankful for the family that raised me to be the woman I am today, who taught me to fight for what sets my soul on fire and who always pick me up when I am down. All of you have your own version of sweet potatoes. All of have the special things and moments that remind you of home. Cherish it.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.