My grandmother and I are the same person

Chinese Food And Bicycles

My grandmother mistook a brothel for a restaurant.


I am eighteen years old, writing for the newspaper of a school I have never seen before.

The choice was difficult, although I wish I could say it wasn't. I believed I would end up in New York, imagined myself walking through city streets in a trench coat, peering at Christmas sales through store windows while snow covered my red rain boots. I had secured a scholarship, alleviating the weight of an unknown financial aid package and a well-known need for it, and gratifying the four years of late-night coffee-binge-frequent-nap study sessions. A teacher I held in the utmost respect had recommended New York, and for a gal who often prays for direction, I considered it divine intervention. Atlanta did not exist in my future; there was only security.

And yet, here I am, writing for the newspaper of a school I have never seen before.

When my grandma was eighteen years old, she frequented a brothel for Chinese food. She worked as a secretary, filing papers, scheduling appointments, brewing coffee. Her work ended at five o'clock, regardless of the day, at which point she rode to meet a friend for dinner on a '61 Schwinn Stingray bicycle with white-walled tires and a basket for her belongings.

She told me once, while we discussed our lives over coffee I made with my newfound skills as a barista, she and her friend stumbled upon a little home converted into a restaurant. She met a lady inside who's broken English confused both parties (retrospectively, the confusion most likely stemmed more from my grandmother's presence than the employee's mother tongue), and was able to communicate her wish of a table for two, inside, please.

It was at this point another woman walked inside, wearing "a skirt that barely covered her behind and a provocative little cloth for a shirt" (thanks, Grandma). She spoke to the first women in a language my grandmother did not recognize and proceeded to walk up old wooden stairs to an unknown level above the restaurant. The lady at the front chuckled and mumbled, "It's about time".

When my grandmother was seated at a floor table surrounded by pillows, she was served a bowl of noodles. Unsatisfied, she continued to the bar area, which occupied the majority of the restaurant's space. Her friend was approached by two men, who gently grazed their arms and asked to buy them drinks.

When my grandmother refused, the men proceeded to offer them a "first-class ticket to Alaska", to keep them company. Disgusted, my grandmother left. Her friend stayed.

She later received a phone call from the friend. They had eaten Chinese food at a brothel.


My grandmother and I could be carbon copies of one another, in mannerisms, in appearance, and in personality. She was born in 1949, and I in 2000.

At eighteen, I took a gamble and chose to attend a school I did not know I could afford. At 18, my grandmother took a gamble and chose to eat Chinese food at a new restaurant. I am only a few thousand dollars in debt. My grandmother has a new story.

My grandmother and I are overwhelmed with contentedness.

We've lived our lives making choices; regardless of the outcome, we've experienced things we may never experience again. We've opened doors, we've closed doors, and we've shared those stories with one another.

I've realised I could not live the life she lived, now. I would never ride my bike home, alone, in Denver, for fear of awful intentions and memories of terrible objectification by posh men I swear didn't even use a toothbrush.

She could not live my life, either. She lacked the opportunity and encouragement to research, to write, to analyse and think critically and gamble on a future she knew she deserved.

Call it what you want - feminism, idealism, nostalgia - but I've gotten to live two lives through my grandmother, through sharing our struggles and our choices and our laughter. I've gotten to see two samples of the same person, growing up in different eras, observing civil rights movements and political upheaval and oppression and opportunity and security and an overwhelming sense of content.

I am eighteen years old, writing for the newspaper of a school I've never seen.

I will be riding to class on a '61 Schwinn Stingray bicycle with white-walled tires and a basket for my belongings.

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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A Poem: My Mother

In honor of Mother's Day, that was on the 12th, here is a poem dedicated to my mother.


To the only person who can be my mentor, friend, and leader at the same time

To someone who would make me read my own books before bedtime

And puts everything down to make sure there is a smile on my face

To the person that I find impossible to ever replace.

Somehow you are always right even when it seems wrong

And when the worst does happen, how do you still manage to stay so strong?

I'm not only impressed but inspired by you

Knowing that somehow you'll always know me better than I do.

When I'm frustrated and annoy you, you simply try to understand me

Because you have always told me that even when you can't understand, plain acceptance is the key

You have listened to all my laughs, heard me cry, and felt my emotions like they were your own

You are the only reason I am joyous and the security I need to know that I am never alone.

To the only person who has truly taught me how to live

And watched me grow and make mistakes yet still knows how to forgive

Because that's who she is, certainly not like any other

There are many women but none like my own mother.

Happy Mother's Day!

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