Without linkage to those I swam and climbed out of... I must look like a locked character in a fighting game. However, the only thing I am fighting is my own inhibitions.
Waiting beside the rope swing, my stripes expanded and shrunk under the mercy of a paper sun on fire. It was around that time that you declared my spirit animal to be a tiger. I never before that saw it in myself. The only interesting story I can draw from these growth indicators is the one where someone asked me, "are those whip marks?" in the high school basketball locker room. Was it a tiger mom bestowing stripes of expectation on her cub? What did you or anyone else expect?
By the way, I just wanted to say tiger mom.
I do think about it. I thought about it a lot when we watched that Ben Stiller movie.
Besides, it's been almost seven months since we have started dating. You briefly encountered my dad one night when you drove me home to pick up my vehicle. That one doesn’t really count. I”m not counting it. Just for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to say that you haven’t met my parents yet.
I know you no longer fear disapproval like pale skin fears the unforgiving heat that we first began re-meeting under. But now I am reluctant. You said ultimately it wouldn't bother you because all of your ex's parents thought you were a bad influence on their sons. I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts as always. I’m not used to airing any information out like this, but maybe someone will find relief in the way I am tangled.
Here’s a little story that loosely connects to now. On the rare occasions that my friends used to come over (back in...say...middle school), they'd always ask me, "where are your parents?"
"Work," I responded.
Or when they were home it would already be late and they were enjoying the trial version of repose. They worked hard and still do, and although when I was younger I was reluctant to answer to people what my parents did for a living for fear of being further stereotyped, none of that matters now. All of the roofs I’ve been able to sleep under, I feel pride in having been raised by such hardworking and patient human beings. They are small victories for me as well, and I wear my name with pride. As you do. See, maybe where I’m getting at is a small binding point. We’re both very family oriented in our own ways.
The difference is, I’ve met what feels like most of your living family already. You’ve met some of my close friends and my sister.
I know how that could make one feel, whether it affects you that way or not.
I know some of these explanations are from a past that tries its best to stay out of our current business.
I don't want to reflect too much as to seem bitter, or point fingers that will eventually land their invisible lasers on a mirror gazing back at me.
I just want to let you know that, soon the time will be right. For now, I just want them to not worry too much.
You have an interest in them. You're different. You care, and that's not me discrediting everyone else. This is a pressure that you shouldn't feel. I’ve spent most of this text trying not to mention the looming notions that because they’re Asian, you feel an extra weight.
"Our parents already put so much pressure on us, indirectly or not, that it's more of a protective thing because we fear that those pressures will be projected on our s.o” said my sister, “Nana”, whose boyfriend is possibly meeting our parents for the first time (after a year and a half of dating) tonight. I’m even a little wary, because there aren’t many things for, say, my dad and “Popo” to talk about. There isn’t the luxury of my father saying “Well back in my day we played Sega Genesis and drank soda pops at the sock hop” or whatever…
It’s more like “back in my day, bombs were dropping out the sky and I raised pet chickens!”
Except my parents don’t talk much about those experiences, which comprise a lot of their lives. The rest is hard work in the pursuit of the American dream, ahh I’m straying. There’s really no difference when I do think about it. Your people are the same way. That’s why I love and respect them so much, whether they can sense it or not.
I just don’t want him to be uncomfortable, but I don’t think he will be. Looking at myself from outside of myself, I’m starting to find a little more clarity. But the best things result from moments of newness and discomfort, I believe. Which includes Vietnamese dishes with fish sauce of course.
So let’s use that as a stepping stone.
I settled in and gazed at the glow-in-the-dark galaxy stickers and asked Nana for her advice. I was concerned when I saw her turn away until I realised that she was reaching for her glasses before dramatically adjusting her glasses towards her face by her pointer finger before articulating her thoughts.
By the time they were adjusted, I had already drifted a-slump.