green trees on green grass field during daytime


Miró Myung

It’s a family that lives in a sprawling suburb of Los Angeles. It’s a daughter who cannot stop listening to 1960s Brit-rock from a world that existed before she was conceived. She feels at a loss for the post-pandemic-tiktok-algorithm-AI society that grows on every side of her–deep purple hedges choking out the sunshine. She does not realize that the era of free-love which she yearns for was never that great either. It’s a mother that stares in the mirror applying layer after layer of skin care to her face while listening to Bloomberg news with a passive interest before turning on Ty Segall and then deciding to value silence: cleansing balm, facial cleanser, hydrating mist, replenishing serum, hyaluronic serum, pollution protection day cream, and sunscreen. Her husband flips eggs over on the frying pan in the large kitchen humming to himself, planning out the camping trip for the weekend that will bring them all together like old times. This family loves each other and the long summers cycle through their home bringing every moment closer and closer together until they fizzle down into a jumble of warm evenings on the porch while they watch cars aggressively zoom past them.

The daughter has a friend who comes over and gossips about attractive teachers at their community college where the two of them are taking poetry classes in their victorian-gothic-esque clothing that makes them feel like Julia Stiles from “Ten Things I Hate About You.” Meal after meal is cooked and shared and then cleaned up after in the kitchen that fills and empties with trash and recycling and compost day after day. In the evenings the family walks with the friend to the local dive bar where they sip on strong sugary cocktails and discuss politics, poetry, hot teachers, failed attempts at dating, stories from when the parents met, and what movies they think will dominate the summer box office. Sometimes they run into friends from the daughter and her friends’ high school that is only a mile walk from where they live. Those nights turn into long games of pool, a basket of fried pickles, and the occasional drag of a cigarette. It’s a suburb but sometimes for the mother it can feel like a small town in Alaska or Washington when the doors are closed and the neon lights flicker. It’s a family that romanticizes experiences and memories and potential and they do what they can to make those fantasies a reality for each other because they love the idea of their shared life. They host dinner parties during the holidays and barbecues when it’s nice out and it makes them feel connected to something beyond their four walls and they sleep better at night because of it.

Of course they fight. They slam doors and cry and give each other the silent treatment like the time that the father called out his daughter for dating an alcoholic or the time she was suspended from high school for bringing vodka in a gatorade bottle to the football game. Secretly the parents laugh about her rebellious nature. The mom keeps a drawer with a wine bottle in it but she doesn’t feel like it does much for her other than make her the protagonist in a sad novel that plays out in her head–this keeps her interesting for herself. In the missing boxes of photographs in the garage packed with junk are secrets passed down from a war an ocean away and they prefer to keep it all at bay rather than drown in its horror. This is why the wine bottle is acceptable. The daughter gets upset with her parents when they don’t understand why she is tired of neo-liberal ideals. In reality they do understand her so deeply that they defend their slightly nationalist views to comfort her; this gives her a sense of a structure or a system against which she might protest; they are protecting her from the abyss which is their crushing powerlessness against corporate greed and a climate crisis that will surely get their home insurance pulled.

Boyfriends come and go for the daughter and she nurses her broken heart with long evening walks and drives with her parents as the sky purples. The three of them pile into the old Subaru and go to their favorite Tex-Mex spot and comfort her with chile verde and piña coladas until she is so full and tipsy that she is distracted enough to smile. Soon enough a new man always comes through the door with her and spends a holiday season with them at the dive bar and he finds that her family is like a piece missing from his own life. The parents love whoever she brings into the house because deep down they all understand that they already have something that cannot be taken from them. One day they picture her finding someone who lasts for the long haul and who will go to baseball games with the mother when she’s feeling low and maybe even push the father into learning something outlandish like golf. This new forever-man will become a problem at first for the daughter’s best friend because he will take up some of that precious time when the two women would have been daydreaming about finding a man one day and leaving this sprawl of stucco homes. But if he is the one to stick, then the daughter’s friend will make truce with him and soon enough he’s just another fixture at the dinner table laughing about something a billionaire tweeted or dumping his family baggage onto the plate of lasagna. The mom will serve him another slice and wink at him because she knows what it’s like to feel pain and suffering and she’s so grateful that her daughter’s husband has brought everyone closer rather than further apart.

It’s unlikely that the wedded couple will have children; the economy, the planet in crisis, the geopolitical shit show–all of it makes bringing an innocent face into the kitchen unthinkable. Will their child go to a normal school where guns are brought in backpacks? Deep down there will be a tiny spark of hope that the daughter’s husband carries in him, making him breathlessly wait for her to tell him that she wants to stop taking her pill. It will be exciting when the daughter’s best friend falls in love with a woman at her job and announces to the internet that she is happy by posting photographs of dark curls enmeshed with strawberry ones at a campground as they ugly cry with laughter. The family will love scraping old chairs across the wooden floor to the table that is getting fuller and fuller. The group of them will go out for Tex-Mex often and even put a sheet up in the backyard on which they will watch Gilmore Girls and Mystic Pizza and Practical Magic.

Every year when October rolls around the mother places a parade of smoky sweet candles around the home and they watch their pumpkins melt in the wildfire heat. One fall the mother is diagnosed with lung cancer and the father will start picking on his old nylon string. Tears roll down the face of the daughter as she hears her father’s fear ringing out into the starless night. The family can rally together as it always does. They will be stronger because they have the daughter’s kind and devoted husband to keep spirits up and cook off-putting meals and the best friend’s spunky wife gives the mother acupuncture and energy healing sessions throughout chemo. One day the mother tells them to let her go in a dimly lit hospital room. The mother-father-daughter-family holds hands as she takes her last breath before the daughter’s husband and her best friend and her best friend’s wife stream into the room to hold the two remaining figures as they cover the body with an old family blanket.

Years will pass the house on the suburban road and the daughter refuses to leave her lonely father behind for a new home of her own. This is where she has always belonged–by the creaking oak tree and the jacaranda-littered driveway. The father gains weight and then loses it as he examines the empty chair where his partner used to sit as she would place her smaller feet upon his larger ones as they would bend over bills together sipping coffee from one mug. It is happy news when the best friend and her wife announce that they are going to have a baby during a warm spring afternoon. They pile into cars and go to get Tex-Mex with excitement and regret bubbling up in all of their throats. The daughter grabs her father’s gruff hands at the table and squeezes them. She and her husband will start remodeling the upstairs of the house for the father to have a peaceful space for himself while the younger generation continues to fill and empty the kitchen.

The father moves into the sparkly new upstairs that still has the same view of the backyard where he raised his daughter and he begins to write for the first time in decades. He will write poems and personal essays and even take a stab at starting a romance novel. Eventually he will share these with his daughter and she will pretend to read them but in truth will be too scared to delve that deeply into the psyche of the man who represents the world to her. He publishes small pieces here and there until one day he gets a real book deal and the daughter cries in her bed alone because she wishes that her mother could have seen how much he has grown during his grief. She decides to create a dating profile for her father with her best friend as they giggle like old times and begin to swipe left and right on faces. Initially he gets angry when he finds out what has been done for him and he leaves the house and drives out of the suburbs and into the desert with a blind fury stealing his appetite. The daughter shakes her head in disbelief as her husband massages her shoulder and the best friend’s toddler chucks fruit at the table. The father has never been so mad at her before and it will feel like something is breaking open between them–a vast chasm that has been filled in with bits and pieces of silence.

The father will take one look at the expanding sky over the cool sagebrush and weep behind his old aviators one last time for the marriage he still believes in. He shakes his head and calls his daughter who will answer after one ring, her voice anxious. He tells her that he’s coming home and that if she’s gonna make him date that he will need a makeover. He knows how happy this will make everyone and maybe it would do him some good after all. The Subaru will drive steadily back to the suburbs as the driver eats fast food and listens to Billy Joel. There will be slideshows and mood boards for his golden bachelor era that will make him laugh and turn red and then feel pleased about it all deep down. He is surprised when the daughter’s best friend shows him the woman who he will meet at the dive bar the following evening because she is the loveliest sight he has laid eyes on in a long time. Her long dark hair that is partially gray reminds him of his daughter’s mother and yet this woman’s eyes sparkle in a different way that words cannot express even as he tries to fit it into prose. The family watches with pride as he brushes his hair back nervously and heads out the door for his date for which he has memorized plenty of safety words and a fallback plan for the daughter to come rescue him if needed.

The daughter and her husband and their best friend and her wife cannot help themselves as they stake out the dive bar from their car across the street eating burgers and making up songs for the toddler about pickle chips and feeling bloated on dates. They will duck and scream as he eventually walks out of the dive bar holding the door open for the lovely women because they know he will see them in an instant. But to their amazement he is so distracted by this person that he steadily guides her around the corner to the parking lot where they stand talking and laughing for an hour. With their heads down as far as they can get them they start their car and begin to drive back towards home but the toddler spots grandpa and screams out the window to him. He looks up with surprise and shakes his head at them like they are fourteen years old and have been caught with a bag of weed. His date tilts her head with a smile and waves to them before looking tenderly back at him because she can see that he is the rock to a group of people who love him more than anything and that is the most powerful voucher she could have gotten.

Things will go well for the golden couple as they continue to go on dates and then introduce each other to their families. The daughter will inherently like this new woman because she sees how happy her father is as he hums and types and flips eggs over the stovetop again. There will be a moment of pain for the older duo when they break up over a fight about who will move into whose house and the father has to be driven to get Tex-Mex by the daughter and fed chile verde and piña coladas. In the end he will agree to move in with the woman they have all come to care about and he will face his fear of leaving the home where it all happened for him. The daughter promises to keep his bedroom for him to sleep in anytime making it clear that he will never be replaced. Often he walks back home with her after they go to the dive bar with everyone and he will sleep on his old bed upstairs with the woman whose eyes sparkle in his arms. Despite the birth control the daughter will skip a period and then another period and take a pregnancy test and discover that she too will be a mother. Her husband cries and then goes absolutely pale as he begins to create the master checklist for the nursery and for their lives until she teases him enough so that he can breathe again and kiss her face a million times over. Whether or not they keep the pregnancy they will share this moment in their collective memory as something wild and scary and full of promise. The father talks to the soon-to-be-father and tells him his secret–that a good marriage to your spouse and a close bond with your child is possible if you find your way to a true friendship that goes beyond blood. The soon-to-be-father looks up to this man who has given him a genuine friendship as well.

It’s a family that is one chile verde plate away from their grief and their gains. It’s a grandfather with the love of his life who misses the first love of his life like it’s the water he bathes in but he has accepted with amazement the world they are in together, shielded from the horrors beyond. There is an overgrown rosemary bush in the backyard where the kids will find hidden easter eggs during their hunts even though the family is not religious; they don’t claim to stand for anything other than what they think is reasonable and believable and tangible and beautiful and sometimes when they are alone they admit to themselves that they also believe in the fantastic; a vague wonder that keeps their chins up while they listen to public radio newscasts and never leave their stucco sprawl where it all happened.

Miró Myung is a Korean-American writer, musician, and visual artist based out of Los Angeles. She has co-published a book of poetry “Almanac of Tiny Clouds”, contributed articles to Tom Tom Magazine, published a poem in Luna Magazine, had a poem selected for LA County Library’s “Love Letters in Light” series, and had a photo diary published in Grunge and Art Magazine. She has transitioned from drumming for indie-band Tangerine to directing music videos and overseeing visuals for Tangerine as well as her sister’s upcoming solo album. Miró holds a BFA from UCLA. Also, she loves her two senior rescue dogs Jasper and Raven.