My family — my brother, my parents and I — decided to have hot pot for dinner on Jan. 4.Amy Chen

For those of you who are unfamiliar with hot pot, it’s a dining “style” — for lack of a better term — where you eat around a pot full of soup boiling on a portable stove. You get an assortment of uncooked foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and noodles and then throw these into the pot to cook them. This isn’t particularly important. All you need to know is that hot pot is delicious and requires plenty of uncooked food.

We spent the entire day together, going to five different grocery stores and three cities. This isn’t what people usually do for hot pot. We usually just go to one or two stores to get the necessities. Regardless, over the course of the day, we went to Zupan’s in Lake Oswego, took a tea break at Tea Chai Té on Northwest 23rd Avenue in Portland and found ourselves at nearby City Market (to use their restroom, but we bought groceries nonetheless). Next we went to Beaverton, visiting Uwajimaya for more hot pot-related groceries, a new, very creatively named Asian supermarket, Asian Food Center, and Seafood Market to buy peanuts before my brother left for college the next day.

Our grocery store escapade makes more sense when placed into the context of my brother leaving. Sure, he’s a sophomore in college and will be back in the spring, but every time he leaves is a reminder that soon, he and I will both be out of the house.

We will, at some point, find ourselves buying our groceries on our own and eating on our own. We’ll miss the days when we used to try every free sample at Costco or snuck popcorn into the cart at Safeway, wondering why we didn’t do those things more often. Why we chose to stay at home watching endless reruns instead of running errands with our parents or why we took homework breaks surfing the Internet instead of sitting in the living room. We will regret watching movies in silence instead of talking over tea. We will miss dinners over a shared pot. We will be homesick.

It’s 2014, and I can’t help but feel the clock ticking as fewer and fewer calendar days stand between the present graduation, and from there, college orientation. A younger me might have rolled my eyes and called myself sappy. Younger students might even be doing that as they read this. Heck, anyone could be.

Maybe they aren’t really fond of the family members they’re stuck with, or they’re upset at them at the moment and would rather be out of the house than anything else. And that’s OK. At some point, however, everyone will miss something: coffee with friends, cuddling pets, eating with classmates, etc.

It’s 2014, and most people have made their New Year’s resolutions: to eat less and work out more, to finally write that novel or find a new job, to stop smoking or drinking, or read more or sleep more, to save enough for that dream vacation to do this and that or that and this — to, ultimately, become healthier or more successful or do more things or be more things. To be a better person.

We resolve to do “big things,” accomplishing goals and stopping bad habits. These are great, wonderful things to aspire to. In this process, however, let us not forget the spirit of our goals.

It’s 2014, and I, Amy Chen, resolve to better appreciate the little things — car rides between destinations, words between bites at dinner, walks around the neighborhood, grocery shopping — so that I might become a better, happier person and that I might not mix nostalgia with regret. I hope that you might choose to do the same.

Amy Chen is a senior at Lake Oswego High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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