2020 began with fireworks in Hilo, Hawaii, preventing Bonita and I from falling asleep well past our usual bedtime. No worries; we had spent New Years Eve exploring a waterfall, eating poke, and watching the sun set at the world’s newest beach.
The rest of the year was already planned out. I’d continue working a stable 9-5 schedule for The Home Depot corporate. In March, I’d visit Taiwan and introduce Bonita to my mom and relatives. In April, I’d co-captain a USTA tennis team with Satish, and be rostered in three additional teams. In June, I’d take my parents to Croatia for vacation. And maybe somewhere in between, buy a starter home in the Bay Area.
And then Kobe died. Then COVID became a reality. Then The Home Depot gave me an ultimatum to relocate to Austin, TX, or be laid off. Then the Taiwan trip was cancelled. Then USTA tennis season postponed. Then my grandma passed away.
Suffice to say, the year did not go as planned. Far from planned. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one going through some tough times as the world went to shit.
But, amid the chaos, there are some things I’ve been incredibly grateful for. As 2020 concludes next month, I’d like to share what I’ve been thankful for this year.
It’s rather difficult to write all the things I’m thankful to Bonita for. She’s been supportive and loving every single day. I could not have asked for a better partner.
We began living together in July. Before cohabitating, I was admittedly nervous, having never lived with a partner before. Turns out there was nothing to worry about. Sure, I now must separate whites from colors when doing laundry. And I’ve been forced to expand beyond cooking the same two lunch and dinner meals for months on end. And of course, I have to deal with fungus gnats loitering around the indoor plants that she loves tending to. Small sacrifices to pay for a fantastic roommate.
Bonita challenges me to be a better version of myself across all things small to large, from something as simple as learning new food recipes or applying moisturizer (lol), to helping me evaluate the best career move for myself. Rather than shutting down the option completely, she offered to move to Austin with me if it would be a life-changing career move. Spoiler: not a life-changing move. Happy with my decision of leaving The Home Depot and joining Truepic.
I’m thankful for Bonita. All she needs to do is to start playing tennis… 😉
I’m thankful for Bonita’s family.
Having to limit social interactions for much of this year, I’m grateful to still be able to see such kind and lovely people. When visiting her parents for lunch, Bonita’s mom always makes sure we never leave hungry. Without fail, she always packs a bunch of fruit and enough food to last several meals, encourages us to be happy, and beckons us to visit again soon.
Bonita’s sister Vanessa and her partner Kim have also been nothing short of wonderful. Simple things like virtual board games (e.g. stressful Settlers), to taking the effort to plan socially distant meals + hangouts, to helping us move in to our new place have meant so much to me.
Tennis + Friends
How the hell did I manage to find a solid group of good people in the middle of a pandemic?
To answer that question, I must first credit Angus for introducing me to USTA in 2019. He kicked off my passion for tennis by inviting me to join his Pleasanton team. Shortly after the season ended, I drove to Fremont Tennis Center out of desperation to seek people to play with closer to home. Stars aligned that day, for I met Satish, a captain who invited me to join his team.
Also in the team was Alex, who eventually introduced me to another captain named Kevin. Kevin introduced me to Allen and Donny. In May, Donny formed a group of competitive tennis players to play responsibly on a weekly basis. To date, the group includes Adi, Alex, Allen, Daniel, Juan, Jamie, and Krishna, all whom are intensely competitive on the courts, but incredibly kindhearted off the courts.
Allen and I talk about this often: how cool is it that a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds have rallied (pun intended) around a passion to the point where we could talk past midnight about a bouncy green ball, net, and racquet? To the point where we record our matches, share the footage, and analyze how we could improve. To interact so frequently to the point where it feels like we’ve known each other longer than a year. How awesome is that? Spoiler: it’s awesome.
I’m thankful for Satish for taking that leap of faith and welcoming a stranger to his tennis team. Thankful for Alex for introducing me to a broader group of solid tennis players, and for coaching me to improve my game. Thankful for Donny for initiating the post-tennis dinners that’s allowed us to bond beyond the courts. Thankful for Allen for our conversations off the courts.
My sister Cindy and her husband Bobby welcomed a new girl into the world this year. Saying goodbye to grandma was hard, but seeing new life in little Anne has been nothing short of joy.
I’m grateful for mom and Cindy for constantly sending me pictures and videos of Anne, enabling me to vicariously watch her grow up. Witnessing dad’s unbounded enthusiasm for being Anne’s full-time babysitter has been delightful.
I’m thankful for being able to call mom, dad, and Cindy any hour and day of the week. They continue to provide emotional support; to listen to my excitement having won a tennis match; to comment on the latest food recipe I learned; to motivate me to continue crushing it in my career aspirations. They’ve always been unwavering in their support, to which I am endlessly grateful.