This past Sunday, my brother, Julie, Dan and I celebrated my (not so) baby sister's 20th birthday.
We went to Guu Izakaya for dinner. I've been here several times now and not once have I ever been disappointed with anything they made. Everything on the menu is so tasty. If you ever go, make sure you try the fried chicken, the black cod and the beef and mushroom udon. Trust me.
In my opinion, Guu has one of the best atmospheres and vibes in Toronto, especially when it comes to restaurants/ bars. As soon as you come in, the cooks will shout something in Japanese and then the whole restaurant will greet you and clap as you walk in. You can't but blush and laugh while walking in. If you order a bunch of drinks the server arrives to your table, shouts in Japanese and it's like the whole restaurants cheers with you. If its your birthday, the whole restaurant sings and participates, and when you leave the whole restaurant waves and shouts bye! ...lol. It sounds strange or as if everyone's all up in your business but its actually a lot of fun. It honestly feels awesome to come to a place where everyone's just happy and having a good time and nobody is too cool for school, you know what I mean? And in environment like this, you can't help but get drunk because the place encourages you to have such a good time, plus the customer service here rocks.
And with all this being said, why would we not celebrate my sister's birthday here? Plus who can say no to sake bombs on their birthday? Or any day?!
After we fed ourselves to the point we could no longer breathe, we headed over to Bar Plus, a karaoke bar on Yonge St where we continued the rest of our night with more beers and off key singing to the Backstreet Boys and Usher. lol. My poor little sister was wasted by the end of the night. lol.
I remember when my mom was pregnant with my sister and how excited my brother and I were to finally have a baby sister. I was 8 and my brother was 6. One day I came home from school and ran upstairs to say hi to my mom, like I would everyday, but my mom wasn't home. Her husband called home and said they were at the hospital and to just eat without them. My mom stayed in the hospital for a day or 2. I dont remember. On one end, I was sad because I missed my mother but on the other hand I was excited to meet my sister.
Two days later when I came home from school, I ran upstairs and into her room again. Now maybe this isn't true but this is how my mind remembers this moment. The blinds were all open and it was a sunny afternoon. My mom was in a white house gown. White sheets, white blankets and white walls. My mom was carrying my sister in her arms and asked my brother and I to say hello. My brother and I would stop hanging out afterschool and playing Redass or basketball and would come straight home everyday to play with our new baby sister instead.
My brother and I took turns carrying her, playing with her, singing to her, feeding her and watching Barney with her. Needless to say, my sister was spoiled with love from her two older brothers and obviously developed a bit of a sassy attitude because of it. lol.
Having different fathers made things hard for us at home. Not between each other, but with our step parents. My brother moved away when my sister was 6 or so years old and I moved away another 2 years later. Although my brother and I had to leave to keep our sanity, we always felt bad for abandoning our baby sister. I remember, my brother and I would always try to come back home to my mom's at least once a month to hang with my sister for a weekend. It wasn't easy. My brother lived in Brampton. I lived in North York and my sister lived in Mississauga. It was always a lot of fun when we came down though. We would cuddle under blankets and watch movies, we would go on bike rides or go get nuggets at McDonald's and we'd always record silly magic trick videos on the Sony Handycam. But Sunday afternoon's would always be the hardest. My baby sister would cry so much every time Mike and I got picked up to go back home. Like she'd cry so hard it'd make Mike and I cry too. She'd kick and scream begging us not to go. She'd grab our shirts and drag herself while holding on to us while we tried to leave. It was always so heartbreaking. My mom would always call after we left all sad and sometimes crying telling us my sister would always ask "Why does Anh Hai and Anh Ba (Eldest brother and second eldest brother) have to go? Why don't they want to live with us? Don't they love us?" ...ahhh...thinking about this makes me so sad.
My brother and I lived apart from each other and our sister for most of our teenage life and most of my sister's childhood. My brother and I didn't return home to my mom until I was in university and my brother was finishing high school. Although my mom is an awesome mother, it didn't mean my family didn't have its complications. Every time we came back home and tried to lived together something would break us a part and we'd split again. My brother would move out, or my sister would have to move out, someone got into an argument with my mother or we moved and it was inconvenient for someone to get to school or go to work. There was always something. I couldn't but feel that the three of us weren't meant to live together harmoniously. It was never that the three of us didn't want to be together, it was always something going on around us.
When we finally moved into my mom's current house 3 years ago, that was the first time we were all able to live together with my mom without anymore issues. I obviously recently moved out and in with Julie so we could be a family under one roof with Benjamin, but I'm glad we were able to establish a really strong relationship as grown ups even though our childhoods were sort of disconnected. My mom was always at work or resting, but we always tried to at least have the siblings eat together, and even if one of us already ate, we would still sit at the dining table while the other(s) ate. It was important to us that we did. I felt that it was important that we spent as much time together as possible to make up for all the lost years. Plus, you can never take tomorrow for granted. We spend so much time with our friends and/or people who are useless and use us everyday, so why can't we make time to show that we appreciate our family? Priorities. My mom would always say, learn to weight things. What's heavy and what's light? Learn to balance and prioritize.
I obviously left out a lot of details in this post here because it's way deeper and complex than what I wrote but there's no need to get in to right now, nor are some of the details appropriate for a blog. I'm just happy that regardless of everything my siblings and I have gone through that we're still so close, that we call each other all the time. That we still want to hang out with each other. We still gather around the TV and watch shows and movies together. I sure hope my children grow up with the same values my siblings and I had.
No matter what happens, its always family first. Always.
To my baby sister, I love you so much and I'm so proud of the woman you've become. It's so strange to me that you're in university, that you can drive and that you're going to start travelling the world soon. I'm not saying this to be cliche, but sometimes when I see you, I just see the little girl I used to know, running around in her diapers with her Mulan hair clip, holding a microphone and singing to Vietnamese karaoke with my mom. You're an amazing person and I couldn't ask for a better sister. Thanks for always making your big brother's a part of your life and not going crazy on us or being super rebellious during your teenage years. We're glad we didn't have to shave your head and lock you in the attic. lol. You're the best little sister ever.
Thank you to my mom for raising us. We know it wasn't easy, but you did a great job. Thanks mom. We love you so much for never giving up on us.
Thank you to my younger brother, Mike for being a good big brother to my sister when I'm not around and for being a big brother to me sometimes when I'm being stubborn and ignorant.
And of course, thank you to Julie and Dan for a variety of things, but especially for making time to celebrate with my sister on her 20th birthday.
And to anyone who is lucky enough to have undivorced parents and siblings that can all live under one roof, count your blessings. I've fought my whole life to have what you have. You don't know how fortunate you are.
Well, this ended up being a mushy post out of nowhere. I definitely wasn't supposed to be this emo during this post. Sorry guys. lol. But if you know my blog, you can't even be surprised. lol.