Writing bridges


Photo by Deeksha Raj

Emily fills her journals with snippets of dinner table conversations, with hopes they’ll later spark joy.

Emily Pedroza, Features Editor

After school, I would lean my head against our dinner table — our house too empty, too quiet. With my father gone for business trips and my mother busy writing countless documents for work, their absence fell heavy on me. The little time we had together during rare family dinners was filled with impersonal conversation and small talk about the news and whatever happened to be on TV. I started to see less and less of myself in them, the gaps between us growing so large they became seemingly uncrossable. All I could see was my mother’s red lipstick and my father’s minty Jo Malone cologne. 

Soon, I sought solace through books, quickly becoming obsessed with character psychology and their backstories. Beginning to compose my own pieces, I took notes constantly, storing some elements to use later. This curiosity soon transferred to my parents, their pasts. I remember seeing my father’s old pictures — his messy and bleached-blond hair, and his band’s chaotic gigs at local bars during his college years. My bubbling curiosity soon overpowered my fear of further driving them away by constantly pestering them. He told me about his desire to fit in as a minority in a country not kind to people of color, how he endured the lemon juice bleach solution’s sting as he massaged it into his scalp, how kids beckoned at him to show them his “karate-kid” moves.

I started to realize my parents had so much more history and depth than I could have imagined. From my mother, I learned how she immigrated to America without her parents, spending her free time in high school scanning through English flashcards and babysitting younger cousins. 

Though we have never been the kind of family to say “I love you,” to each other, this openness about our pasts is also a form of intimacy. To take the time out of a day to listen, to attempt to understand. From hand-written cards, published writing or even dinner-time stories — our perceptions of each other enriched, and our bonds strengthened by shared experiences.

I hope in the future, I’ll have more opportunities to learn from more people and hear their stories and perspectives — in turn providing comfort from the shared stories of my own