Which Home?

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.”  - Pierce Brown, Golden Son

My first apartment in New York City sat atop five flights of stairs in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria.  There were three bedrooms, four official roommates, and several more unofficial roommates scattered on couches and spare planks of floor at any given time.  One block away was an above-ground subway station.  At night, I would leave my window open and fall asleep to the steady sound of train on track.  Or I wouldn’t fall asleep, and I'd take comfort in the cry of someone else awake.

In the one block between my apartment and the train were a few things that captured the essence of the neighborhood for me.  There was an international supermarket filled with memories of my Chilean past, like strawberry-flavored cookies and queso fresco.  Alongside this market, at all hours of the day and night, were men sitting on crates; the kind of crates I had never seen used for anything other than to teach kids how to ice skate. These men didn’t seem to be associated with the market at all. In fact, I am fairly sure they were actually trolls guarding some sort of magical treasure, although I never found any definite proof of this.

Across the street from the market was the Athens Grill, proudly serving “Authentic Mexican Food.”  And next to that was my favorite Astoria spot: Number One Chinese.  This restaurant had everything I loved-- good prices, late hours, and lo mein. Life was good.

Then I moved.

Wontons no longer outweighed the cost of life at the youth hostel (my apartment), so my friend and I tied our mattresses to my car and moved them seven blocks south.  Just far enough away so that Number One Chinese could no longer be our life blood.

But never fear.  This is New York City, where one is never far from a cheap Chinese restaurant.  I’m not sure how or if these restaurants are related to each other, but many of them seem to have the exact same menu. And the exact same pictures on the walls.  So when we found a nearly identical Chinese restaurant on the corner of our new street, we were thrilled.  It had the same menu, but also had less accommodating hours, and, in my biased opinion, slightly less incredible food. We never bothered to learn the name of this place, we just called it Number Two Chinese.  

So, into my phone the number for Number Two Chinese went. Because sometimes the only nightcap that will satisfy a long day of city life is egg drop soup with a side of scallion pancakes.  And God forbid I have to wait the two minutes it would take to scoop out the soup and wrap up the pancakes, so I call from the train and give them a two-minute warning of my arrival.  I’ve done that once or twice.  Maybe a hundred times.  I don’t know.  I don’t keep track of these things.

The same is not true for my phone.

A week ago I upgraded to the iPhoneSE, which, among many new features, has an updated Siri.  She can do several new things apparently, but the most noticeable update I have found is her sassy new attitude.  

New Siri, at least the one who lives on my phone, seems to see every chance to speak as an opportunity to voice an unsolicited opinion. For example, if I say “Hey Siri, what time is it?”  She doesn't just state the time like the obedient robot she most definitely is not, she says “Late… 11:20pm.”  Which I take to mean, “I was sleeping. Business hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.  Please try back then.”

Last Saturday I dared make a simple request. “Hey Siri, call home,” I said.  To which she responded, “Which Home?”  And then listed the numbers for Home, Mom, and NUMBER TWO CHINESE.  It appears New Siri has a sense of humor.  

Or maybe she just has a more advanced understanding of Home than I do.

Love Love Love,

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