The barista hands me a latte, and I smile with thanks. I love it here: this intimate cafe bookstore, the guohua painting lessons a few shops down, the escape room next door, the one with porcelain vases and an unassuming go board that my brother found covering our exit.
I love it here so much it hurts, and I etch this moment into my mind, opening the book in front of me so that everything is perfect. But then I see rows of characters, ones I can't read, and I wonder when my birthplace became my vacation place.
"guohua": 国画 (Chinese traditional painting)
"go": refers to the Chinese chess go